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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Anniversary

Kanchan sat on her porch sipping coffee with her best friend, Mita. It was one of those days when the cool breeze made one shiver for a mere second but the warm sunlight made it feel like a contradiction. It was one of those days when Kanchan looked forward to Mita going home so that she could go to her bedroom and cry alone, or with him. It was one of those days when Kanchan and Mita met up for their regular chats. It was one of those Fridays. And it was one of those anniversaries.

Mita was unusually quiet that day so Kanchan could go back into time and talk about the love of her life. Once more. On the anniversary.

Kanchan had met him during a conference in Chicago. He was overwhelming tall, and looked like a giant to the 5 feet tall Kanchan, and had the warmest brown eyes, overshadowing the crow's feet, she observed. Clad in a black business suit with no wedding ring made him look like the most eligible bachelor to Kanchan who had lived to be a 35-year-old single mother to a 12 year-old daughter.

And soon enough, Kanchan shocked herself by asking him out to a coffee. And sooner than she knew, he shocked her by obliging. Long discussions about educational laws over coffee and socioemotional development over dinner, soon turned into longer days of companionship and longer nights of romance and love making.

The day Kanchan's daughter went off to college, he proposed to her, like how she had always imagined since she was a little girl. Man down on one knee, flowers, a solitaire, tears, kisses, and a promise. The next month, they wed. It was a small ceremony with close family and friends. Some were happy and some not. Some felt like it was a perfect match and some felt that his dyed hair did not disguise his age. Some felt that Kanchan could have married someone younger while some felt that his age was not a barrier.

The same night, he suffered a stroke. He lost movement in his limbs, and his short-term memory.

Today was the anniversary of that dreaded day 15 years ago.

Today, she was his care-taker.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Newly-Wed

On the 14th of April, 1997, Kshipra looked breathtakingly beautiful, clad in a heavily embroidered mauve saree, with her long black tresses hanging just below her shoulders, and her face shining even more than the full moon that night in Mumbai. At 20, her eyes were as innocent as that of a puppy. And as she stood next to her new husband, Mahesh, she only had dreams that every happy bride has. Of love, family, a home, and contentment.

Months later, Kshipra walked out of Mahesh's house. She could barely be recognized with her petite body now appearing malnourished, her eyes having sunk in, and the gleam having disappeared from her face. Mahesh had avoided Kshipra like plague, had asked her to sleep in a separate bedroom, and had requested her to keep away from him the same night that Kshipra thought she would lose her virginity. Kshipra knew why when Mahesh came home just a few days later with another man. Mahesh's boyfriend. Kshipra realized then, she was only his scapegoat, to hide the fact that he was gay, from the world.

Kshipra spent the next eight years in agony. She spent sleepless nights crying, and her days were lonely. As each friend of hers engaged, wed, and gave birth, she felt like she was scarred for life. Men walked in and out of her life offering her physical love. But none wanted to marry a divorcee. A scarred divorcee. A flawed gem. A gem who had never been touched. Only been legally wed, once upon a time. She lost all hope of fulfilling the dreams she had had as a bubbly teenager. She would die a lonely woman.

When Shashank saw Kshipra standing behind the counter at the hotel he had checked into, he felt an instant surge of warmth, a feeling of wanting to hold this woman who looked forlorn in a room full of people, a need to comfort her. Months later, they were close friends, and a year later, Shashank proposed to Kshipra. And Kshipra passed yet another sleepless night crying. She knew if she told Shashank about her past, he would perhaps leave.

On the 23rd of May, 2007, Kshipra once again stood smiling amidst extravaganza, dressed in an expensive gold and red saree. This time, she was in Bangalore. She was not shy like she was ten years ago. Her face was not as bright as it was ten years ago. And a fear gnawed at her. Will Shashank, her new husband, forgive her when he found the truth out about her past? Kshipra stood there with an awkward smile. That night, she would tell him.

On the 30th of May, 2007. Kshipra woke up in Shashank's bedroom for the 6th morning in a row. Shashank had not asked Kshipra to leave after she told him about the unfortunate episode of her life ten years ago. Shashank asked her to stay. Shashank had not been angry. Only heartbroken. Shashank had decided to leave her and his apartment. Kshipra was alone, once again. The divorcee would be a divorcee once again. The gem was now cracked.