Smita’s family was not affluent. But it didn’t matter to Smita. She was a dreamer since she was a child. Being a dreamer, Smita had her own dreams of romance and love. Of a Prince Charming sweeping her off her feet one day. This was a school girl’s dream. She could live in her own world of dreams for hours everyday. Beauty, love and romance were her constant companions. Flowers of different colours and exotic looking butterflies attracted her. Pictures of handsome and debonair men, lovers looking in to each other’s eyes or in an embrace, is all that she searched for on the net. She continuously read romantic books and dreamt of a husband who would love her to death. She would often look at herself in the mirror, leaving her long and luxurious hair open, turn them and toss them in different ways, nonchalantly, but try and guess how she looked her best. She saw a pretty reflection of herself in the mirror and had no doubt that her prince charming was somewhere out there and it was only a matter of time before he found her.
She was married off to Abhijeet Sen when she was nineteen. She protested, but her family was only too happy to find a well to-do groom for her. Abhijeet had a secure government job and a fair sized house provided to him by the Railways, where he was a senior section engineer. What else could Smita’s family ask for ? She became Mrs. Sen. Abhijeet was in his late twenties and …not too bad looking. But he was the regular kind of husband material. Like many government job holders, he was stickler to time. He was programmed to fear the seniors and dominate the juniors or those weaker than him. Smita fell in to the second category as far as he was concerned. He had been taught to treat the wife with a certain amount of power and power came by never getting too close to the wife. Except when in bed. He was far removed from the kind of dream-man Smita had always dreamt of. In fact her dreams were shattered like a mirror smashed to the ground breaking in to million small pieces. She knew that she would never be able to put the pieces of her life back together again. Just like the broken mirror, her life would now exist in pieces.
Soon she was pregnant and had a boy. But it was a loveless marriage. Abhijeet loved her, albiet in his own way. He believed that for a man to express his love was a sign of weakness. Being romantic with the wife was dangerous, since it could make her arrogant and less respectful of the husband. So its always better to keep a distance so that the wife is on tenterhooks, never revealing your true feelings for her. Smita’s heart felt like flying in the sky, to far and distant places. She would see a beautiful photo of an unknown mountain or the ocean and break in to tears when alone. Morality thrust upon her by her parents and religion did not allow her to see a man’s picture, other than her husband’s, without feeling guilty. She would often pass girls in the marketplace and start thinking about their lives. Her soul would want to jump in to another girl’s body and live a new life, to escape her own loveless existence. Her heart would bleed and her soul wanted to breathe. The rains would bring back memories of her teens, but on the wings of memory, the dream of romance and love came flying back in to her heart. She felt as if someone had stolen not just her dreams, but also her life. She was not meant to lead this life. This was bound to be a mistake committed by God. Some other girl….like her friend Soma was leading a beautiful life. ‘ But how ? She wasn’t even a romantic’ thought Smita. ‘Had Soma seen the dreams of romance in her eyes and stolen her dreams ? When did Soma quietly steal all my dreams? Oh God what am i thinking ? How can someone steal the dreams from a friend’s eyes ? Or is it possible’ ? This is how uncontrollably her mind would go on thinking.
Smita also thought about the alternate world and an alternate existence being a reality. She thought that in the alternate world her twin soul was living the exact life that they had dreamt of. She was married to a man who loved her with utmost passion, showering her with love and rose petals everyday. Smita kept fantasising about her twin’s life. She was truly split in her mind, heart and soul.
Her son Arnav was now eight years old. For nine years of her married life Smita had performed all her wifely and motherly duties meticulously with the help of habit, because she was never completely present in the present. She had programmed herself to smile and laugh at the right moments. To pretend that she was listening when Abhijeet spoke or someone else spoke at a get together. She chatted with women at these boring birthday parties of kids or any other such functions. But she was too afraid to ask them if they were happy. They all appeared to be happy. Were they hiding the truth like she did? Were women great at pretending ? Or was it just her, who laughed when she actually wanted to cry ? Smiled, when her throat seemed to be choking with emotion. She practiced Yoga and meditation. Heard and read discourses of spiritual masters on the net. Read the holy Gita. It would certainly bring calm to her being, she would think that she has managed to change herself by looking at the larger picture of life. Complacency would set in..and then she would again descend in to the abyss of her mind. Life felt like quciksand. The moment she felt relaxed, feeling she was getting out of her messy thoughts, it pulled her back in.
She had reached a point where she started doubting the stability of her mind. She once screamed when alone, ” If i want it i want it. I want love. I cannot breathe and live without love.” She quietened down the next moment. She was in tears, sobbing, but she heard herself say, ‘No religious practice, no amount of listening to discourses, nothing can take away this deep need for love from my heart. I need to be loved Oh God ! Only love can heal me. Only love.’ She sobbed until evening. Then she knew that she did not have the luxury of shedding tears anymore that day. Abhijeet and Arnav must be on their way home.
Wonder if she found love ? We shall find out in the next chapter.