In our last phone call, my husband yelled at me, “You are the most absurd creature on earth!” I go for movies alone. I’m often seen at cafes and bars alone, with a book in my hand. Work, for me, is not just a profession. If not for some over-enthusiastic friends, I would have been alone on my birthday, as I am on most festive nights. I drink a little. My friends say it’s not a little but a little too much. They think I am illogical, stupid, bizarre and that I’m ruining myself, when all I’m doing is trying to find a speck of happiness and just BE.
I still love my husband. He doesn’t love me. He’s in Mumbai and I’m in Kolkata and we talk once in two months and even that conversation is toxic. I am contemplating legal separation but my thoughts fade, because I still love him.
I wonder how long it will take for him to realise that I forgive him for all his flaws. And that he too needs to forgive me for mine. That we made a commitment and that we need to work on it. Why should we shy away, run and hide?>
My relationship with my husband hangs on me like an albatross and will probably lead me to my end. I should realise that maybe it’s over. But I have hope. A tiny little bit. This four-letter word stops me from moving on.
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My decision hinders people from falling in love with me and I crave love. If someone did fall in love with my absurdities, maybe I’d have been able to come out of this state of limbo. People friend zone me. My femininity is ignored. I’m a friend to everyone, and even sometimes the ‘bro’ too. I have counselled many. Given many company. But when it comes to me, no one takes that extra effort to check. I was alone this Diwali. I cleaned my house. Cooked. Lit diyas. Shooed away ‘Awelokhhi’. But I never felt so lonely. The next day, deciding to not be a loner, I made uttejona plans with a friend and successfully managed to coax another into it.
That evening was stranger than the previous one emotionally. With so much physical exhaustion, I fell asleep and when I did wake up, it was the early hours of the morning. There were some missed calls on my phone. Some called to confirm, some called to inform me that I’d screwed up their Diwali, some called to check up on me. Some were inviting me to parties. But my inner voice couldn’t but help scream out and ask, “It’s night. You will probably not let your girlfriends and wives step out of the house alone at this time. Don’t you think I’m a girl, too? Why do you ask me to come? Why won’t you take the effort of coming to pick me up?” Why am I the one going to meet people? Why don’t they come to meet me? But perhaps this too, is too much. I’m quiet, I don’t say a word.
There was a man I fell in love with. He used to come to our house and hang around with my husband and me. We had a deep connection and he could make me laugh and dance. Now that my husband is not here, he avoids me as if I have some sort of disease. Now I’m suddenly the friend’s wife. I wonder what happened to the gazes we shared.
I wonder if ever a man will stand by me, simply stand up for me and speak when I am silent, in a world that is increasingly becoming selfish and insensibly insensitive.
I often see friends with children. I love seeing them grow up. It’s amazing how their hands and feet slowly unfurl from being a ball and steady over time. It fills my heart with glee as their gurgles begin to make sense and they form their first words. I have often thought of adopting a child, but agencies are not always pro-single mothers. I work. I live alone. Who will take care of my child? I wonder if I will ever have one, a child of my own.
I’m accused of becoming bitter. I feel like telling all who judge me, “How often do you think of me?” What am I, if not just a girl, standing in front of the world, just simply asking to be honestly and wholeheartedly loved?
(As told to Joie Bose)