I was married to a businessman. My husband owned a biscuit factory at the outskirts of Delhi. He was a tall man with broad shoulders, oval face and a patrician nose. My father had selected him for two reasons. Firstly, he was industrious by nature and secondly, he was having an amicable tone of voice.
On the first night of our marriage when he entered the room meant for nuptial consummation, I was a bit nervous.
‘Hindu marriage ritual is so hectic. Isn’t it?’ He asked pulling out his suit jacket.
I nodded in conformity from inside the veil which covered my face upto chin. He changed his clothes and then sat beside me on the bed whose corners were decorated with marigold flowers. I was shrinking my body preparing myself to confront the touch of an alien body. The fragrance of jasmine scent had soaked the atmosphere of the room. For a while he kept on staring at me trying to elicit affection from his big round eyes. I was glancing sideways to evade his upfront gaze.
You are very beautiful’ he said holding my chin. I trembled and reddened with shyness.
‘You must be too tired. Take rest,’ he said gently patting my back with his palm.
He lay down on the bed staring straight at the ceiling fan. Within a few minutes I found him breathing deeply, his eyes shut in peaceful sleep. The smell of light cologne emanated from his body. I too lay down beside him. But sleep had evaded my eyes.
I was thinking about the abrupt changes in the course of life just after marriage. Being transported to an unfamiliar house from a home where I had passed almost twenty two years of my life was a daunting prospect. But then I consoled myself by thinking of the fate of every other female of the world who at some stage of her life had to undergo this statutory ordeal. Pondering deeply I too fell asleep.
It was in the wee hours of morning when I woke. I found my husband’s left hand resting over my breast. I silently tried to shift his hand. Suddenly he woke up. I pretended to sleep. But he grabbed me tightly under his arms. My breasts squeezed under the warm force of his chest. He kissed me on my cheeks and then he shifted his lips upon mine. The touch of alien saliva was making me uneasy at first, but after a while it filled me with a strange sensation. I was burning with a kind of sudden fiery sensual upsurge. Lastly, embracing palpable pain as a matter of nuptial necessity, I completely surrendered myself at his will.
The next day the guests who had assembled during marriage started to leave. And one day the house was empty except for me and my husband. My husband was an inveterate businessman. Starting from morning till late at night he used to remain deeply absorbed in business affairs. I could tell that he was not greedy for money. But he loved to try his best to expand the biscuit factory bequeathed to him by his late father. He enjoyed managing the entrepreneurial struggles coming in the way of business. Our home smelled of the varied flavour of biscuits. Our residential building was inside the premises of the factory fenced safely by prickly metal wire. From the roof of the house I used to see him monitoring the supply of manufactured biscuits in coloured trucks and freight jeeps.
Sometimes he used to wander around with both his hands clenched together at the back and inspecting the store house, the accountant’s office, snubbing the laborers rubbing tobacco while working and then vanishing in his small office room situated at the extreme corner of the factory. The ghost of business chased him not only throughout the day but in the nights too. He used to mumble in his sleep about the supply of sugar to be used in biscuit making and the recovery of payment from a dealer and so on.
I felt lonely in the large house. Besides cooking, I had nothing to keep me occupied. In the afternoon I used to devour the pages of magazines like Griha-Shobha, Grihalaxmi, Meri-Saheli and the likewise. But the qualitative contents of these magazines had practically nothing to impart to the loneliness of my life. It was not that my husband had any particular intention to distress me. In actuality he was a very sober man with strict adherence to industrious discipline. His mind was not moulded to think beyond business. And before the vehemence of his hard work I felt it unfair to distract him from the most lovable priority of his life.
Four years went by since the day we got married. I was happy to see the rapid rise of my husband multiplying his factory outlet to the city of Kolkata, Indore and Kanpur. Now he made frequent visits to these cities to monitor the ongoing affairs of those factories. Sometimes he used to take me to accompany him which offered me some relief from the monotony of my life. We spent enjoyable moments. Sometimes he also used to take me for sight-seeing.
In a nutshell — after undergoing a tough post marriage life for about three years my bond with my husband started growing. The boredom lessened. Perhaps the complacency after building a large business empire compelled him to divert his attention towards me.
It was the noon of December when my husband rushed inside the house jumping on bed with ebullient joy.
‘Darling, I have been selected for the best entrepreneur of the year award. I will be awarded by Governor of the State on 15th January.’ I hugged him tightly and kissed him on his cheeks.
‘And you know I will be touring USA on government expenditure with a selected delegation of entrepreneurs from India. We will stay there for one month,’ he informed joyfully.
‘Will they allow me to accompany you,’ I asked inquisitively. His face was suddenly filled with sadness.
‘Dear, the government says that since it is a kind of training programme for the selected entrepreneurs and it will demand hectic itinerary and sincere involvement, so family accompaniment is not allowed.’
I felt disheartened, but, somehow, concealed my emotion.
‘Anyway, darling, I will ask Aakash to take care of the home. He will be coming next week from Russia on a two months vacation.’ Aakash was my husband’s brother and was eight years younger to him.
On sixteenth of January my husband flew to USA. Aakash was spending his vacation at our home. Most of the time he used to remain busy working on his laptop, finishing some project related to his medical studies. Daily he used to rise early in the morning and go for a long walk. After finishing breakfast he used to shut himself in his room. In the late noon he used to assist me in the preparation of lunch. He was not adept in cooking, but his culinary interest encouraged me to involve him in works like chopping onions and carrots, peeling vegetables and boiled eggs,grinding spices. In a duration of fifteen days he grew closer to me. The hesitation and unusual formality that existed initially disappeared now.
It was a Sunday evening, when Aakash had gone out promising to return within an hour. I was busy kneading wheat-flour in the kitchen. I was dressed in a sleeveless yellow tee-shirt and a red wrap-around skirt. Suddenly I found someone’s hands pressing my eyes from behind. I was damn sure that no one else other than Aakash could try this mischief on me . I tried to rescue myself by pulling his hand. I hit him on his belly with my elbow which made him fall over me. The feel of his body was compelling. And it initiated an impromptu amorous act. Later a sense of guilt preoccupied my mind. Perhaps Aakash too was feeling ashamed. For the rest of the days we did not interact unless we had very urgent reasons.
On 16th February my husband returned from USA. I went to the airport to receive him. I was elated to see him coming out of the exit door of the airport wearing black goggles. The one month foreign stay had made him fairer and smarter. His face glowed with redness. Aakash was inside his room by the time we reached home. I knew that he would not dare face his brother because perhaps his sense of guilt exceeded mine. Upon being summoned by my husband he shyly appeared before him and touched his feet.
‘Oh Aakash, it appears that the burden of study has changed your sense of joy. Come on bro,’ my husband said pulling him closer to hug him.
It was after three weeks that I discovered that I was pregnant.
My husband used to touch my ever growing belly and sometimes superficially kissed the baby inside my womb. At this point of time I started suffering from a a guilt which never left me. The day I delivered the baby people flooded my home to congratulate me and my husband. It was a male baby. In that celebratory mood of the occasion my heart sank. The baby exactly resembled Aakash. I wept quietly not letting the drops of tears come out of my eyes. A momentary perverseness had punished me in such a way that the hurt will never heal. A nagging sense of guilt had occupied my mind. But the past can never be wiped out and this mistake stole the peace of my life.
Till today my innocent husband has not been able to detect the truth about the child whom he considers his own. He loves him more than himself.
Aakash returned to Russia never to return. He turned 48 years and did not marry. My husband’s insistence for getting him married proved futile before his silent repentance.
One day we got the news from Russian embassy that he had committed suicide in his room by hanging himself from the ceiling fan.
I am dragging my life for the sake of my son whom I have fostered for nine months inside my womb and also for the sake of my dearest husband for whom my care and affection have grown to an extent that sometimes his happy smiling face bestows me temporary relief from the sin of the past.Published in