I rested my head back on the bus seat feeling nervous. I fidgeted with my wedding ring, trying to calm my nerves. I shook my head in exasperation. Jeez! What was wrong with me? I am married to this lovely woman for twelve years, but today I felt like I was sixteen. I don’t remember much of what happened in my Sixteen. How would I? It was a long time back. Nithya came into my life twelve years back and turned my life upside down. I closed my eyes still fidgeting my ring thinking back on that beautiful day when I met her.
She sat there with rigid formality reflecting my stance. We were apprehensive, uncomfortable and filled with self-doubts and second thoughts.
“Am not sure how this would work out!” she said looking at me over her cup of coffee. Surprisingly both of us ordered Latte.
“I don’t know what our kids were thinking!” I murmured. I mentally chided Varun for this mess up. He had signed me up to some forum, and that’s how I came to Nithya. Am pretty sure, she was in the same situation and that kindred a warm friendship.
“Adolescent kids, they tend to romanticise everything” She smiled.
“I know!” I sighed. “You should see Aarika’s room. She just twelve and her bedroom is already a shrine for Surya. She laughed, and I must admit it was beautiful. It started from her full lips, created a cute little dimple on her cheek and spread to its magnificence in her eyes that crinkled ever so gently. That moment the cozy café we turned on their music. The lilting tones of Harris Jayaraj’s “She is a mystery….” sprung to life and it was perfect.
“I quite like this song” she mused. “Riju plays this in his stereo everyday.”
“Either love or he’s covering up some other noise” I smirked.
“What?” she chuckled with shock “Should I be snooping?”
“I could you help you in that line. I have… ah, let’s say experience in that area” we laughed.
“Aarika is on the cusp. Should I be getting, you know… sanitary napkins now?” I asked her hesitantly. Somehow asking that question to Nithya felt very natural.
“Maybe I could talk to her!” she offered, instantly abating all my apprehension.
“That would be great!” I smiled the conversation then flowed into a comfortable silence as the song switched to “Kaadhalai yaaradi mudhalil solvadhu…” and it sent a jolt of shock into my system. How could Songs of the present still evoke these sensations in me? Or is it because of the woman sitting in front of me? There was no answer. The emotions that I thought were dead or dormant stirred awake inside me ever so gently.
The next time we decided to meet with our kids. We said it was to embarrass and mock them, but I knew we were assessing each other for the next step. We met in the next two weeks, by then we made sure both of us knew everything about the four kids. The conversations lasted to wee hours of the night, and we texted each other concerns, past and recipes on how to make cookies.
The meeting that we dreaded turned out to be one of the most beautiful days of our lives. The kids took to each other instantly, and I fell instantly in love with Riju and Roshni. Varun immediately took to Riju as his cool bro and off they went talking whatever guys talk when they are together. I know its games and girls, coz, unlike women we men like to stick to the same topic for centuries. I could see Aarika slowly bubbling and blossoming in the warmth of the two women who spoke to her. Later while Roshni joined the guys, I saw Nithya gently touching my daughter’s head while she ardently listened to whatever Aarika spoke. She listened and murmured something back to my little girl. I was stunned to see my ever so rigid daughter get back hug Nithya and shed silent tears. I knew it was the moment I fell completely in love with Nithya.It felt like a dream. As if on cue the café filled with the tunes of “Kanave kalaiyadhe” I watched her with content, hoping the lyrics told her what I wanted to tell her.
We exchanged rings in a quiet ceremony after a month. Life was a magic of quiet joy and comfort after that. We had four kids who needed their parents more than ever. We watched them grow together. Aarika’s first period did not turn out to be a major disaster as I had dreaded it would be and Riju’s first ever heart-break did not get as dramatic as Nithya feared it would be. We were a happy family, filled with laughter and slowly our kids turned into adults, things became a blur after Roshni got married and Aarika stepped out for her masters to the US. I realised it was just Nithya and me after this.
Thinking back, I realised I’ve never really told her any of the emotions I’ve felt for her. We made us available all the time for our kids, and there was not much time left for us. There were some fleeting moments of passion, few stolen kisses, but mostly it was a warm friendship founded on mutual respect and love for our kids. It felt like the right time to notch things up a bit. And that’s how I fell into the grasp of Valentine’s Day drama. I cooked up a plan with my ever romantic sons and came up with the official theme of rose, wine and cake. My daughters sighed with exasperation.
“Make a gift for her daddy” Roshni suggested.
“Make as in, buy my glitter paper and wrap things up?” I asked her
“No dad!” piped in Aarika, “Make as in, sit whole day in front of a pottery wheel, make a vase and then wrap it in glitter paper.”
“Don’t create a ruckus!” I said, partly to escape from that dreaded plan “Your mom might hear!”
“We are in a conference call, and there’s no way she’ll hear us” Varun added quietly.
“Daddy make a gift” they started chorusing in the phone, I slammed it shut as they laughed, but making Nithya a gift made absolute sense and my mind fixated on an idea.
“Sir! Your stop.” The conductor gently nudged me; I woke up from my rewind wheel and picked up my heavy shopping bag.
“Where did you go?” Nithya asked as I entered my home.
“Some shopping” I replied.
“I’ll be back in a couple of hours!” Nithya said as she left, “Need to pick up some reports from my assistant… and” she hesitated. I looked up at her. “Can we go for dinner somewhere? I know it’s sappy but it Valentine’s day and I realised that we’ve never actually celebrated one” she blurted.
“Yeah, sure!” I grinned at her.
I had everything ready by the time Nithya came back home. The Chardonnay filled our glasses, the dinner I cooked perfectly in place, lights down and me in my wedding tux.
She opened the doors and stood stunned. She slowly absorbed her surroundings as a slow smile of surprise and disbelief worked her face.
“Whoa!” she breathed. I walked towards her and handed her a bouquet of pale pink roses.
“Are you ready for our date?” I asked as I led her to the dining room.
“I… I have a gift for you” she said as I pulled her chair for her.
“Oh!” I was surprised. She took out a beautiful Tissot box from her handbag.
“I have a gift for you too!” I whispered. She gave me a radiant smile. I handed her the Pen drive
“I made a mixtape for you!” I grinned. She burst out laughing.
“Oh! Raghu I love you” she said through her smile.
“Let me see if it still says the same way after you’ve heard the songs,” I said as I led her to our Hall for a cozy dance on our first ever valentine’s day.
To know what was on the mix tape Please read Sylvian’s blog here 😉
This post is written for the ‘love theme’ contest by The chennai bloggers club( insert url – chennaibloggers.in) in association with woodooz http://www.woodooz.com/ and Indian Superheroes http://indiansuperheroes.com/
It was hot. It was hotter than the milk my mommy gave me every evening. My big brother used to play matchstick game, and my mother scolded saying the fire was dangerous, it’ll burn the skin. So, why did this uncle not know it? He poured petrol on me and lighted a match stick. I remembered my father scolding saying it was dangerous. The uncle threw the hot stick on me. The fire started spreading all over my dress. My favourite pink gown was slowly becoming black. I started crying. I wanted to tell the uncle to stop, but I couldn’t speak. He had gagged mouth and tied my hands and legs. I couldn’t move. The fire started running all over me. It touched my skin, and I winced. I looked at the uncle with pleading eyes; he just saw me for a moment and ran away. I closed my eyes as the unbearable pain started building in my body, the girl parts the uncle touched were already in bad pain, but this was too much. My mommy’s beatings were never this painful. I wanted to tell my mommy that I would be a good girl. I wanted my daddy to come take me out from the fire. A foul smell started filling my nose. I couldn’t bear it. I closed my eyes shut.
Suddenly it felt good. I felt like I was floating around. I could still see the fire, but I could see other images. I could see my mommy packing lunch for me, I could see daddy searching for his socks, and I could see my brother hiding daddy’s socks. Mommy can always find where my brother hides the socks. I could see my birthday celebrations in the big hotel and the blue Barbie my friend Rithika gifted me. I was playing with that evening. Suddenly the evening came to my view. I watched it all happen right in front of me once more.
I was playing with my Barbie in the portico, wearing my favourite pink gown. My mommy was making my sandwich in the kitchen. I saw a shadow and looked up. It was the uncle on the third floor. He was a friendly uncle who sometimes moved like he was dancing. He smelt terrible. He smiled at me, and I smiled back.
“Want to play with me?” he asked after looking at me for a long time.
“No Uncle! I’ll play all by myself” I said to him smiling
“Come on, kid! Let’s play!” he leered
I panicked and opened my mouth to call my mommy. He jumped on me suddenly closed my mouth with his one hand and carried me with the other. He ran up the staircase, unlocked his door, threw me on the floor and closed the door behind him. He scooped me up again, and I screamed. He closed my mouth with his hand and pinched me hard. He carried me to the other room and took a smelly handkerchief from his pant pocket. He thrust it in my mouth. I tried to spit it out, but he threw me on the bed and quickly tied a cloth around my mouth. I tried to control my tears as my breathing became suffocated. He pulled my wrists together and tied it close with a rope. He did the same with my ankles. I was petrified; I couldn’t move.
For two hours, the man paced to and fro while I watched him with fear. Downstairs I could hear my mommy and daddy shouting out my name. I wanted to call back to my mommy asking her to come up, but I couldn’t do it. He hurried his pace. I could hear my brother and Sarala Aunty shout my name. After some time somebody knocked at the door. The uncle threw a blanket on me and went to answer the door. I could hear Sarala Aunty talking to him, asking about me, I slid a little and reached the corner of the bed, but the uncle shut the door and came back in.
“What do you think you’re doing?” he asked in a scary tone.
“I raised my pinky finger and showed him” my eyes pleading. The uncle was so scary that I wanted to pee.
“Come!” he carried me to the bathroom and put me on the toilet seat. I looked down at my tied up hands and looked back at him.
“Oh, what the fuck” he muttered and reached up throw my skirt. I panicked and started struggling. He was going to touch my girl part. It was a bad touch. I shook my head vigorously. He smiled then. He smiled a cruel that was scarier than the other things that he had done. I cried as he carried me back to the bed. He lifted me into a sitting position and removed my gown. He tore my teddy bear panties and stared at me.
“Oh, my!” he smacked his lips and smiled.
He pushed me down and bit me hard everywhere he could reach. He touched and tasted all the places my mommy had said as wrong in the “bad touch” game. Finally, he removed his clothes and cut down the rope that bound my ankles. I tried to kick him down, but he slapped me hard across my face. I broke down with fear. But the pain across my face was numbed by the terrible pain that suddenly spiked up in my girl part and my stomach. I could see the uncle doing something, and the pain kept coming every time he came closer, suddenly he went down and started putting his mouth in my girl part, I fought hard not to pee as my mother had said not pee on the bed and it was bad manners. But I couldn’t stop myself as the uncle kept licking there. I kicked my legs as the salty pale liquid started flowing and the uncle once again moved up and kept pushing. The pain started building to agony, and soon everything blacked out.
I woke up wishing it was all a nightmare, but the pain between my legs told me a different. The bed was wet and smelly with urine, blood. My body had something white and sticky like glue all over me. I wanted to throw up. The uncle was dressed up, and he looked at me with shock when I woke up.
“So, you’re not dead!” he murmured as he came near me. He smelt awful.
I kicked him with my leg, and the action made him furious. He grabbed my neck and started squeezing hard. I struggled for my breath trying to move my hands. He tightened his grip, and suddenly everything became dark.
I saw it all as I floated about, but I didn’t feel a thing. I saw that my body was completely burnt and lay there as a terrible mess. I felt wise; maybe it was a thing. I could see the stars clearly, and an angel with white wings that looked like my mommy opened her hands wide open to receive me.
“It is like going to bed” she whispered gently.
“I am supposed to pray before I go to bed” I smiled back
“Yes, dear!” she smiled kindly. “Say your prayers!”
“Dear God!” I whispered “Please don’t let this happen to any of the girls,” I said.
“Or any of the boys!” I finished and walked on.