The Slamming Door….

The slamming of the door had never been  so welcome before…

The concrete pavement outside was hot, burning in the afternoon sun… a stray dog registering the banging door with a twitch of its tail…

The auto veered towards her in a drunken lurch, the driver taken by surprise by her appearance, its not usual for a woman in a cocktail dress to be wandering the streets of Pune.

Her nails were still edgy from their trail across the walls, long red talons, chipped and cracked at the edges, plaster still clinging underneath, like an unwanted memory… painful, gritty and hard to ignore…

The hot wind blew circles of dirt on the road, swirling in their own crazy dance of abandonment… her black dress streaked with creases of dirt…  the auto driver staring repeatedly at the rear view mirror, craning a lecherous eye for a better angle…
It had been a special day, 2 years back, the day when they, classmates at college, got engaged… no. Not the exchange of rings… it was the day he promised her his heart, his life and so much more… and in a swirl of flower petals and scented candles, she promised him all she had and ever would… with no witnesses and staid ‘I dos’ they had agreed to live their life as one…

Months later, the families got involved… and the rules and procedueres of the game were firmly established… it was us and them, as her parents said. ‘We’ need to make sure that ‘They’ do not take us for granted, you can never be too sure about such things… and she solemnly nodded her head, firmly ignoring the little voice that piped up inside her head… taken for granted? Him, and me? Yet she nodded her head, more vigorously the second time, attempting to be on the good side of her parents… to help them see the match in a better light. Didn’t he say, it is important that our parents agree to the match.. after all, we are all they have…

So a date was fixed and the caterers booked, invitation cards distributed and curious questions warded off…’Love Marriage hai kya?’… arrre, it is ok now… whatever had to happen has to happen.. times have changed’…

A precarious minefield of rituals… a crossword of traditions…’Us’ and ‘Them’…

The wedding went by in a series of ceremonies and camera flashes… till the two of them went away to the mountains… leaving the increasingly complex mechanisms of relatives and rituals behind…

It could only get better from this point on… they thought, happily ensconsed in the comfort of the other’s presence… comfortable in the safety of plans far enough in the future to seem possible…

She was working then… happy and successful at her work..a combination so rare it made her an anomaly in their circle of friends…

She went numb the day he asked her to quit her job. It was for the better he said… we need at least one of us to manage the house… the parents, the kids to be… me

She thought, and believed and in her immense trust in her relationship, she quit her job. Her colleagues were surprised…and then understanding. We will remain in touch, for sure.

After the first couple of months, when the trickle of phone calls from her ex-colleagues altogether stopped, she was scared to sleep alone at night.

He kept going away on work… to different places… Its hard for me too..he said… i too miss being at home.

She was sure he was right… ignoring her urge to say that she wanted to get out of the very place he missed when he was away…

So she stood guard over the symbols of their relationship…. a hall and two bedrooms… and a bathroom with tiles grown dull with age and chipped at places …like her own self image…

She paid the bills and ate solitary meals… and looked after relatives when they came around… ‘He is at London right now’, yes it is a 3 month assignment, yes he is doing very well in his company, got promoted this year.

He, defined her.
Yesterday night, her friends invited her for a girl’s night out… Just like old times… You, me and Manisha.. lets paint the town red babes….

So they all dressed in their best, she wore her cocktail dress, the only one that still fitted her, with a slit up her thigh scandalous enough for him to raise his eyebrows…well he was not expected back till today morning… and she really wanted to let her hair down this one time…

They went to the same old college hangout their cirle of friends frequented when they were at college.. the bartender recognized them… and offered a drink on the house…and they still played ABBA on the dance floor….

Before she knew it, she was drunk and grooving away to ‘Dancing Queen’… and when the waiter took the last order she realized she was too drunk to drive back home

In the morning her friend’s husband dropped her home on his way to office, she smiled when he saw his car parked in the driveway….

She got into the house calling out his name, and stopped short when she saw the menace in his eyes…

He silently took in her dress and the sound of a car revving off their driveway…

‘you bitch, So this is what you do when I am away?, guess I should I have known it all along…you spend nights with other men while I slog it away to feed you !’

She stared at him, suddenly too tired to really care if words really mattered at all… if all the nights spent alone on an empty bed really had any meaning…or if the promises she had made for a lifetime could help her tolerate the man in front even for the next second…

She slapped him and left, her nails dragging along the walls of the lobby… the door banging in her wake…
The slamming of the door had never been  so welcome before…
 

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