Joined: 09 January 2006
Joined: 04 June 2009
Joined: 10 July 2005
Intro, Page 1
Part 1, Page 5
Part 2, Page 7
Part 3, Page 10
Part 4, Page 12
Part 5, Page 13
Part 6, Page 15
Part 7, Page 18
Ah, the wonders a shower can do. I smile into the mirror while threading out any knots from my wet hair. It's been over a month now, I think, since my "marriage." One thing after another, who knew getting married, was such a big affair! I swear, half a month passed while I sat and acquainted myself with women of various sizes and shapes as they squeezed in through the door with big, beady, expecting eyes. Oh Rab ji, thank god that is over! I recall thinking how I would want to rip my hair out… Anyhow, ek museebat kaafi thi ke ab ek aur (as if one problem wasn't enough, there's another). I can hear the giggles and chiding laughter coming from downstairs as a rather unpleasant topic is being discussed… yeah, the dreaded honeymoon. As if life couldn't get any more complicated! Oh Manthan, tum kahan ho, the thought suddenly drifts across my confused mind. And then I remind myself, this is happening only so I can be with him, remember?!
As thoughts of Manthan bring a tingle of a smile on my lips, my eyes wander dreamily away… undecidedly settling on a gray object flying past my feet to towards the armoire. Oh-my-god! And so I do what I can… precisely, scream! "Aaahh" And run around the bedpost to the other side, only to climb right up to the center of the large mattress. My breathing, I can feel it run a mile, while my body lags on trying to understand… About two seconds later, I can sense a presence at the door but refuse to look up from the ground in case the damned rodent comes forth.
"Kya hua, tum teekh toh ho… aur… what are you doing up there?!" (What happened, are you alright… and…). Dude, how many questions can someone ask!
I watch distantly as Tannu and Dadu browsed the net for places I could go with my wife. I'm not exactly jumping for joy, but then seeing the smiles around me, any source of rebellion plummeted to the pit of my stomach. I imagine her upstairs, fuming with anxiety when she heard… The look on her face at the table this morning was, priceless. Hmmm, I don't know why but I felt a smile cross my lips. This would be one heck of a "honeymoon"… And then I hear it… Before anyone can think over it, "Main dekhta hoon" I propose and leave everyone startled in their occupation.
I can feel beads of anxiety bubble on my forehead, but ignore them in the hurry. The trot up the stairs seems unusually long, while the short distance to my room elongates into miles. Finally, I find myself standing slightly breathless at the door to find her standing on the centre of my bed... What! The anxiety plunges into the forgotten, while the brief moment of vulnerability quickly dissipates into curiosity. Between these feelings, I find a sliver of annoyance tingle my skin, but it is quickly lost in the face of the amusing scene. If I am correct, and from her startled eyes, I am, then she just noticed my entry. I watch her flail her arms incoherently, while mute words escape her lips. This is interesting. I can feel the curiosity bubble within my chest. Crossing my arms, I lean against the door frame, watching, observing, trying to understand something, someone so completely incomprehensible. Interesting thought altogether, is it not? Yeah, so I thought...
"Jahan taq mujhe pata hai, bed par log let kar sote hain... Pehli baar kissi ko aise khade hue dekh raha hoon" (As far as I understand, people lay down and sleep on a bed... I'm seeing someone stand on one like this for the first time). Smart ass. Even in the midst of my anxiety, I can't help but allow the voluntary thought interrupt. Almost as if it were being painted, the scene comes clear to my blurry vision. The still room, the circular bed, myself on top of it, the shadowy man against the door frame... a stealthy, passive smug expression on his face, a flicker of a smile resting righteously on his lips. Damn those lips. My life is in chaos and that's all he can do, smile... He should be on one of those commercials for toothpaste... but then I've never seen him smile like that before. This was different, this inexplicable, lazy grin sliding over his crimson lips... Omg, I can't believe I'm fretting over his stupid half-smile in this critical moment! Get with it Maithali! Ok, so where was I?... Room, bed... me on top of it... ceiling... floor... mouse... mouse!!! Hai rabji, kitteh phas gayi main! (Where have I gotten myself to - Punjabi).
The fear hovers over me like a cloud, I can feel its liquidy presence with the beads of perspiration forming on my forehead. "Vik... Vik... Vikram... woh... wahan..." I try and gesture to him where I saw it, not exactly aware of his presence anymore. My eyes continually explore the floor, hoping it was all a nightmare... a nightmare within a nightmare I suppose, since I am living a nightmare! Lost in the muddle of my own scattered thoughts, I finally realize a presence standing on the floor next to me... I turn, bug-eyed towards a face. His face. His eyes are laced with concern, but veiled from exploration. He takes my shaky hand, "Kya hua?"
And then it all comes tumbling down: "Woh-wahan-pe-choohah-tah-maine-dekha-usse-Mujhe-choohon-se-bahut-dar-lagta-hai..." (There-was-a-mouse-there-I-saw-it-I'm-really-scared-of-mice...) I look back at him, his expression calm, unchanging. For a moment, I remember who he is, who I am, where I am, "... Sirf choohon se... aur kissi se nahin... darti main..." (... Only mice... I'm not afraid of... anything else...) I state with faltering determination. Something has changed in his face, although I can't tell what. And then suddenly I'm back in my haze. Moving towards his calling arms, I grab one of them and point blindly towards the hidden rodent. He says something and releases himself going towards where I was... Shaking his head, he returns by my side as I step back. "Wahan kuch nahin hai..." My hands are still shaky, he must have noticed. "Acha teekh hai, main inspection waalon ko bulata hoon, tum neeche uthro" (Ok fine, I'll call the inspection people, get down). I hesitate. "Acha teekh hai, main neeche chalta hoon, tum yahin khadi rehna..." (Ok, I'm going downstairs, you can keep standing here...) Panic branches within me, I can feel the ends of my nerves tingle... "Nahin!" I call towards him, thankful for his retreating steps. In slow advance, I step towards him, taking his offered hand I walk with smaller, slower steps.
Hearing her predicament, I release the tension in my muscles. In place of the tightening concern, I can feel a tingly laughter chide my nerves. A mouse? God seriously must have had a lot of time one day… I can feel the bubbling in my chest, but let it subside without a trace. Instead, I find myself offering her a hand, she takes it, stepping towards me, while not really knowing where her feet were. Her eyes frantically darted in their sockets, not once turning to acknowledge the neck around which her shoulders clung, nor the arms gathering her in their grasp. "Kya khaati ho tum?" (What do you eat?) I wondered aloud in pensive amusement. "Kya?... Meri jaan niklti ja rahi hai… aur… tum… tumhe khaane ki padi hai…" (What?... My life is on the line… and… you… all you can think about is food?). I realize she has not heard me correctly and the chaos writ on her face indicates that she could care less. But still, there was something. "Shaadi ko toh abhi ek maheena hua hai… Sach kehte hain log, shaadi ke baad sab badal jaate hain," (It's only been a month since we've been married… True, people say that everyone changes after marriage, so true) I spoke into the tightened air. Looking towards the door, I could feel her black eyes shift towards my face, contorted in a building angst. I could feel a tug somewhere, the silent desire to capture those eyes… their blackness, it was mesmerizing how expressive they were. But resistance is a virtue I have mastered. Her lips are likely finding words, yet they failed to find her tongue. Despite myself, I felt a tingle at the edge of my mouth.
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