Monday, May 31, 2010

Take my hand: Then and now...

Continued from
Take my hand: Sunday edition

Seema was wearing a pair of gold hoop earings today. The earrings had been a gift from Ashfaque, her ex fiancé (see Laundry Lunch). Seema discovered the earrings this morning while going through an old purse. As she held it, she couldn't stop herself from recalling that Ashfaque had licked her ears when he put them on for her, one by one, in turn.. After their breakup, Seema had painstakingly returned all gifts she'd ever received from him.. categorized and discarded items that reminded her of him.. how does one close the chapter on 6 years of one's life? These earrings had escaped her. She decided, what the heck, she'd wear it!

No matter how determined you are to start afresh, its hard to neatly tuck all the memories away. And what is worse is that good memories have a tendency to linger.. while bad ones fade with time. A year and a half ago, when she'd broken her engagement, she was furious and strong... now all that remained was a sense of desolation, futility.. and Ashfaque did love her.. parts of her felt guilty for having perhaps misunderstood him; for perhaps having given him wrong signals about what she would and would not stand.

Seema met Ashfaque the other day on google chat. That ID had not come alive in so long that she'd forgotten it was there. When the "hi" popped up, it had seemed childish to refuse to answer. Ashfaque has a son now, Yarek, from his first wife... he sent her his photographs. The kid inherited distinct features from his father.. On that picture, only the innocent sweetness came through.. Seema had felt a tug at her heart and her eyes had clouded with unreasonable tears... Later, it seemed pointless to share this with Giri! G came home with a flu. He decided to sleep separately in the guest room so S wouldn't catch it. Seema cried some more in her empty bed that night.

G took the stance that marriage was a partnership. How many men truly did that? Seema supposed she was lucky. When G'd agreed to marry her, she'd thought him to be a "I'll take care of you" kind of a guy. G was not that person. G expected her to hold her own. He didn't molly coddle his mother either. S wasn't sure if she truly enjoyed this latitude or felt neglected by it. She was used to assertive male figures. Ashfaque for example, had always maintained a principal partner presence. Giri was very hands off.. It made Seema wonder if G was truly devoted to her, or still hesitant.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Take my hand: Sunday edition

Continued from
No swing.. yet

Anish was raking a thick layer of tiny white flowers, that is courtesy of a tree in their backyard that he did not know the name for. The tiny flowers came down copiously with the breeze everyday and was not fragnant at all. How maddening! Giri appeared in the doorway leading to the garden. Anish looked up.

A (breaking into a wide smile): "Are!!! when did you get here?"
G(smiling): "About now.. (breaking into a chuckle) Ev put you up to this?"
A(shaking his head in mock exasperation): "Do you have plans for your backyard this year?"
G: "We kept planning all of last year! Neither of us actually did anything.. I think this year's going the same way.."
A(with a grin): "I'll let it out to Ev that you want it.. she will make sure it gets done."
G (with a grin as well): "I know.. and so I forbid you to do us that favor. Now move.. they are making luchi I believe. Some exercise will do me good."
A (promptly straightening up to hand over the rake): "Only too happy to oblige my friend."
Giri notices that Anish is wearing a white T shirt with things written on it with markers.. innn probably Ev's hand!?
G: "Interesting T shirt there!"
Anish quickly looks down and with an embarrassed smile, crosses his arms to cover his chest: "When Ev was away on the east coast, she would write stuff up on these Ts.. and then we were supposed to do them when she got back (his smile had become a sheepish grin) ... so I got quiet a collection of these Ts with corny language.. I use'em for nightwear.. (chuckling slowly) I'll go change."
Giri said:" Waaait a minute.. " (and tried to read). Anish had no intention of letting that happen and sort of ducked indoors saying, "No, dont, please."
Giri did read one interesting suggestion in there. And was smiling to himself. It is so like Ev to come up with this stupid plan! But it was sweet.. and come to think of it, sexy.
Seema came to the door and saw G with the rake.
S: "Bah... get practice and you can do it again tomorrow at your own house."
G: "I am working out for the calorie overload you guys are planning for us. I am not doing this at home.. and dont mention this to Ev because she will come over with the plants and the rake.."
S (grinning): "Then we'd at least have something. I think thats what I'm going to do to get us motivated.... You know I put on 5 lbs, since I've come here. I've been working out, but still end up gaining." She begins to press the slight hint of adipose around her waist.
G (looking over S in a mock leery way and beginning a wolf whistle which did not turn out quiet right.. he abandoned that attempt): "All in the right places, me love!"
Ev came in on them: "Finish the raking or, I wont serve no brunch, amigos." Seema danced her eyebrows with a grin and departed.
Luchi (hand-made deep fried puffed flour bread) and begun bhaja (fried eggplants) were eaten in the newly cleared patch in the garden on a cotton mat aka sataranchi .

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Take my hand: No swing... yet

Continued from
Take my hand: Purple Haze (not that other thing!)

Lies say more about you than you are willing to say at all. Giri and Seema were chatting the other day..

S: "So how do you like working with Ev?"
G: "OK I guess.."
S (make a face): "Can you elaborate?"
G: "Whatever you want to know, you should ask me directly." Seema cant get Giri to talk about Ev, ever!
S: "I just asked a simple question. Isn't it natural that I want to know?"
G: "I dont understand what you want to know. She' great. Lets talk about something else. "
S: "No, I want to talk about this. "
S: (after a bit of a pause..) You chose all those songs for her. I borrowed the CD back and.. frankly, I was.. feeling a bit jealous." Seema shrugged. There, better out than in.
G: "It was her marriage anniversary! Its all on my hard drive anyways. How long does it take to choose 12 songs you liked. Its not as if I sat and composed them!"
S: "Why are you becoming agitated?"
G: "Why did you ask me how I liked working with her, if this was your real question?"
S: "I.. well... its not that I am really concerned.."
G: "Dont be, I love you. And I thought you liked Ev? How can you be friends and yet ask me these questions?"
S (with a sigh): "I like Ev.. I really do.. but with due provocation, you never know.. she is pretty volatile. "
G (breaking into a smile at the last bit): "With due Provocation! And what would be due provocation, you think?"
S: "She told me about your team building exercise from work the other day."
G screwed up his eyebrows. "Say what?"
S: "You know, everybody draws their neighbor on a yellow post it."
G: "It was the silliest thing I ever did.. what about it?"
S: "Consider.. staring at the face, at the eyebrows, at the eyes, at the nose.. absorbing the shapes of the mouth.. it could be provocative with the right neighbor."
G (grinning now): "Good god, Seema! We took one look at the person who sat next to us and finished him off. And by the way, guilty as that sounds, I know her face very well.. I cant draw, but if I could, I wouldn't need to stare at her to draw her."
S (smiling too): "You are a slippery customer, mon ami"
G (shaking his head): "When have I ever been less than honest with you? Tell me one time."
Seema sat quietly looking at Giri for a bit. She wore a half amused, half mock suspicious expression.. and then said..
S: "Ev keeps saying, What scotty doesn't know cant hurt Scotty.. "
G: "Go bug her. I never said that. But I can tell you this. Ev cant keep secrets. I can. She cant."
S: "I disagree."
G: "Thats your prerogative.. Now lets not talk about this anymore.. can you make me a sandwich?"

Seema got up to make the sandwich. After she left the room, Giri closed his eyes and sat their musing. He hadn't lied to Seema or anything. On that particular day, Ev was not his neighbor. He'd drawn an androgynous human face, like everybody else, without any attention to details. He didn't even know the guy he drew. However, he'd become conscious of Ev looking at him several times from another table, and couldn't help but look at her askance as well. It seemed like she'd chosen him for her subject! Somewhere along, the thing had stopped being light hearted and became a tease...he'd noticed her expression change, he thought. He'd gone around afterward to ask her for his portrait. Ev refused to admit that she'd drawn him at all.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Take my hand: Purple Haze (not that other thing!)

Continued from
Take my hand: Allure

I was leafing through a copy of the Sharodiya Desh and felt no desire to abandon it to get dressed for tonights dinner at a couples' we really don't gel that well with. However, it was almost 7:25. Although they lived a few minutes away, I knew it was time to move on. I tried to see if the bathroom light was on from my position on the sofa. No, there was no one in there yet. "Anish, sona... do you want to freshen up first?" I called out to my husband. There was no response. "Darling, We should set out in another 20 minutes or so...", I called out a second time. Silence from the bedroom again. Hmm.. Keeping my book away I walked over into the bedroom to find Anish snoring. I went close to his sleeping form and started to gently run my fingers through his hair. "Honey, you remember about tonight, right?" Anish opened sleep reddened eyes. "What, tonight you mean?" This did not sound good to me. I could feel the stirrings of an unreasonable anger. He never remembers these things! The onus of public relations rests on my shoulders in this family.. but.. no point in spoiling his sleep just now! Too many sleeps and evenings have been wasted on the issue, without effect. I breathed deeply to calm herself. "Yes, sona, tonight... in fact in another 15 minutes.. Do you want to use the bathroom first?" Anish ignored the question and pulled me close for a soft sleepy kiss. I loved his warm balmy breath on my cheeks.. see what I'm saying about no point in arguments? I wished he'd wake up and prolong this caress into something more... not gonna happen. So I shake him some more, firmer this time. "You've really got to wake up darling, I don't like to be late.." "You go first.. " Anish rolled to the other side of the bed. "I'll be along in a few minutes". My mood begun to sour again, but I controlled myself.

I begun to wonder why is it that our magic seems always interrupted with silly frustrations between us these days.. I remembered the time around two years ago when Anish and I were forced to live in two different cities, 3000 miles apart, because of our work situations. Every two or three weeks I would fly overnight to visit him for a weekend. The travel was exhausting. Anish'd be there to pick me up at the airport. Everytime I saw him after those breaks, I'd really notice him... not like seeing someone everyday. I'd really register his face, his sharp pointy nose, his long eye lashes.. As I'd get into the car, the smell of him, a mixture of his cologne and a pungent something else, would hit me with a familiar wave of longing... the tiredness from the journey would just melt. It was not a new style he wore, or, that he was specially thoughtful.. it was the simple effect of a break from monotony. I remember this one time we went to a beach straight from the airport, sat there in the warm sun and ate luchi and dry potato curry that I'd prepared the day before, packed and flown in! This, from someone who often is caught without supplies for as much as a sandwich these days! I'd come home and look over my plants, take stock of the kitchen and in every way feel renewed in my domesticity. I'd have had to (of course!) threaten Anish on the phone from at least 3 days prior, so that a sink full of dirty dishes and unwashed laundry were not part of my welcome committee... It was never arranged exactly how I'd want either (I always want things just so..) But it was.. enough. Since I'd come on Saturdays mostly, we'd try to catch some music and spicy fluffy empanadas at the local farmer's market some days... come home with an armful of fragrant peony blossoms or whatever struck my fancy. After the long abstinence, we'd each delay touching until we couldn't anymore and it would be so perfect every time. Though I Hated to leave him behind afterward, I miss the magic from those days....

This marriage anniversary I decided, I will make some special effort.. no easy gifts, complicated vacations, or boring eat outs. Well, to be frank, I'd toyed with the idea of a vacation, but I delayed too long to book anything! And Anish's gifting record is pretty dismal.. to date includes a pink micky mouse watch.. a plastic rose.. a pair of dull metal earrings.. a toy monkey.. I have a box to keep these miscellaneous useless items... so anyways.. I got goat meat that I cooked with dry prunes and loads of other spices, tangy sweet and hot.. a Mediterranean recipe you should try. We had vegetable biriyani and dil raita as well. After finishing off the cooking around 4, I called Seema up and we met at Macy's to buy a dress for me. I got a red halter neck dress and red shoes. Shopping with a friend provided there is no list to go down, and the ocassion is to splurge on yourself is an awesome thing! I hurried back around 6... Seema stuck around for a bit helping me light candles and arrange roses... Anish was thankfully out of the way at the gym. I'd feel embarrassed doing this just for ourselves with Seema and Anish both hanging about. Anyways... my good friend Giri also did his bit. And I think this particular bit finally made my anniversary incredibly sweet... So Giri knows most of the songs that embody the concept of romance for me.. because they were the ones from our college days that we'd fallen in love with together. He put together a collection of songs on a CD from Bryans Adams, Backstreet Boys, and Michael learns to rock. He dropped it off with a sumptuous chocolate cake and a really good bottle of Chianti when he came to pick Seema up. Anish loved the music. I was happy to deck up and cuddle up to dance .. really just soaking in the warmth from his arms, from the glow in his eyes, and the music in my soul.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Take my hand: Allure

Continued from
Take my hand: You're always on my mind

The other day walking by the beach, Giri and I were discussing about men and their fixation with physical appeal. I was irritated with him for defending the attitude. To me, it is plain stupid. To me, every person has some beauty.. Giri insisted the concept did not make sense without some sort of perfection of the physical form. Men are just hardwired. No matter how concieted, how asinine, Ms Perfect 10 always wins! Giri countered that intelligence, humor, poise.. these qualities are valued.. just some.. (he paused here) more agressive traits are negatively scored. He gave me the single eyebrow. "Certain smart self assured women who shoot their mouth a lot... can come across as insincere, cocksure, dominating. Its not endearing." I could see he was goading me. I could not ignore the taunt. I said "That could be an error in judgement, you know.. I think of both insincerity and confidence as sexy traits. Dominating could mean an active and provocative partner. Seema live up to that?" Giri did not answer. I couldn't stop. "Why did you suddenly decide to marry after all those years of waiting, at 33? Seema too pretty to pass up?" It'd crossed my mind that Giri's wife possessed all the things he has just described as positive attributes.. and by the same token, I'd come out somewhat short. Not that I cared. Really. And G was just saying things.. he couldn't be the friend he was to me if had issues with aggressive women.. though I like to call myself emphatic.. whatever!

In answer to my impertinent question, he cooly looked at his watch and suggested we walk back. Wrong move. I couldn't let him dismiss my question. Insufferable. Not to be borne with. "Tell me Giri, how it is between you? I can see Seema is beautiful. But she is... whats the word, passive, isn't it? She ever give head?" Shock flooded his eyes. Giri said: "Are you crazy? Have you no filter in your head? How can you ask me this?" As soon as I'd said it, I knew I'd crossed a line. Not that I have anything against the activity, but I do realize its not something I can ask a friend about his wife.. I resorted to a tactic I hate. I said, "I have always felt that your obsession with beauty was why we did not work out! I am sorry about what I said just now." And then mustering what dignity I could, while I felt perfectly mortified, I about-turned and walked away from him.. as fast as my legs could carry me. I heard Giri scream, "What the f*** do you want me to say, Ev?" I did not answer.

I sat in my car waiting for him because his vehicle was still parked at our office.. What I said in the end was not wholly untrue, you know. Except that today it no longer mattered and I shouldn't have taunted him about Seema in that way. Giri's refusal to pursue me had hurt my self esteem more than I'd ever admitted to anyone. May be his reasons were different than what I assumed, but I could not shake the feeling that I was right. And that hurt. He never gave me any reassurance. I walked out on him because I couldn't bear to have him walk out. Somehow G had been a foil against which I chose a man like Anish. I wanted someone whoes intrinsic perception of the female appeal was wholly different from the stereotype. With Anish, our relationship blossomed because he really hadn't come to me with any preconceptions of the opposite sex. We were free to define the man woman relationship on our own terms. We were free to evolve. We've experimented with sensual freedom beyond just sight. And there is soo much to explore. My self image has undergone major reorientation since those days and no thanks to G.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Take my hand: You're always on my mind

Continued from
Take my hand: Skeletons in her cupboard

Contrary to suspicions you may have, I did not follow Ev into my current position. This was the right opportunity for me. I love the work I do. That said, having Ev around is a bonus. I am not exactly immune to the spice in the nature of things between us, beyond of our obvious friendship. But I care for her too much to mess with her. If something were to happen, I have a gut feeling that she will not be able to handle it. Perhaps I should've married her. Why didn't I? Its just one of those things you are not ready to decide at 20. By the time I was ready, she'd moved on. After all these years, its great to see her again.. going to work together, working on projects together.. seeing her get annoyed at something I've done better than her, just like in school.. seeing her getting mad if I have ignored some of her suggestions.. She has changed and yet has remained very much who she was before.

Anish, her husband and I often partner in tennis. He is sort of intense, which does get to me sometimes. But he is thoughtful... comes up with interesting insights about things.. has a sense of humor that is aligned with mine.. He's way different from Ev. I guess you could say they compliment each other. My wife Seema gets along much better with Anish than me. With Ev you are either thick like honey or thin like air and you are never in any doubt where you stand.. at least I can tell easily. With Seema you will always get some traction. But she privately despises many people she knows! I think Seema and Anish really do get on well together. I've carefully tried to assess this. Never asked her outright though. Things between us are frank and yet not so frank. I could ask Ev anything. And I mean anything. And I totally can tell when she is lying to me. But I cant ask Seema anything I want. And I cant tell when she is lying. I am still feeling my way around her, it would seem.

Seema and I, we met past the age when lovers gush and moon and trust instinctively. And so, we are still working each other out. Seema is given to a bit of despondency. Ev's influence has been good for her. For example, that birthday party, pleasantly, surprised me. Seema is someone who'll let me sleep on the sofa for nights together and not complain. It takes a great deal to get her to act.. we rarely argue, which would seem like a boon.. but its not. Discussions with her on most topics feel academic, as if it does not really concern her. With Ev, every answer is personal. You are either on her side or on the other side. With Seema, all of them is a distilled point of view. I used to admire S for her objectivity. But I'm growing a bit weary of it. I want to break into her soul and intuit what she feels.. not be told things!

Seema remains beautiful and unruffled, to me. Her aloofness maddens me, really. She does not lack in passion. Just that, even when aroused she maintains a kind of detachment. Her desires are a secret that I cannot read in her smoldering eyes, while I am helpless in the throes of mine. She never takes charge or guides me. It may be a self defense mechanism of sorts. Don't demand, and therefore don't be disappointed. Or, perhaps she is made like that.. I certainly hope with time she will learn to trust me more and experiment. In fact, I am counting on Ev to infect her with a little of her self-abandon. Seema was my parents choice, but today she is also mine. I am fascinated by this woman. I've never regretted my decision.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Take my hand: Skeletons in her cupboard

Continued from
Take my hand: Waylaid

Seema told me a story today that I dont know if its her own or really that of an unnamed friend. The girl was just 12 or 13 at the time. She spent her summer holiday afternoons, mostly playing hide and seek with the other kids in the locality. There was an old man. He would join these kids in their game. Often he would sit with the kid who was to be the seeker, making sure he or she does not look where the other playmates dispersed to hide. It started innocently like that. The hands that held those restless eyes shut, strayed. For the girl, it was enough to get a hint on which way her playmates had gone so she could find them fast and be wowed for her skills. One thing led to the other. How far did it go? The girl doesn't remember too well. She remembers having seen the man naked. But was there actual penetration? She does not remember. At the time, at the back of her mind, she had realized what was happening was sort of wrong. But how wrong? What did it mean? To her, it was a strange mix of feelings.. there was some awakening to a purely physical pleasure and also the pleasure of having a naughty secret to keep.. and there was also the fear that she hadn't spoken out first when it happened.. she does not remember any pain... until later the whole memory of it was painful.. unendurable. It'd continued until school started back and then it stopped. Perhaps the man had grown tired.. or fearful of the child's ability to keep the secret.. we wont know why it stopped. It did.

The story emerged while we were waiting for a free HIV screening test that was being run in our locality. I was shocked. I tried to say that AIDS could be some dirty needle sometime somewhere! It does not have to be this, although the virus does lie dormat for years. No matter what, this story did not have to come out now after all these years, if it was indeed her, as I faintly suspected. People say these things should be said in the beginning. But how could she share this shame with someone in the beginning? And then after she'd known him some? Could she risk the budding warmth of a lovely romance? Could she risk breaking hearts? Could she risk the censure, the judgement, the rejection? It is easy to tell oneself that you never needed to know. That the girl who's shameful secret it was her burden to carry was a wholly different person. For God's sake, she was 12 or 13 at the time!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Take my hand: Waylaid

Continued from
Take my hand: Anish

The other week night, I was working late. I called Anish at 7:00 and told him I'll be late. Around 9:00 he says he tried calling me to check how much later. My cell phone was in the silent mode. My desk phone had shifted off the hook somehow. He could not reach me.. deciding to wait some more, he dozed off. About 2:00 am, he woke up to realize I am not home yet, haven't called. I was still not answering either of my phones... he called Giri. G convinced him that they should check my office before heading to the police station since he has an access card to get into the building. A picked G up on the way.

And so it was that I found a sleep groggy me staring into Giri's face as he shook me awake. He must have been relieved, which means he must have been worried prior... because next I knew, he was planting soft kisses all over my face with a couple of "thank Gods" here and there. I'm typically pretty slow to become fully concious after I am awakened at 2:00 AM. And so without quiet thinking about it, I did what I do when I am kissed. I kissed back. Sometime later we both came to what was happening and broke apart.. I hurried out with G following. Anish was waiting in the car. I profusely apologized.. I thought he'd be livid, now that it was plain that I wasn't in any danger.. just been irresponsible. But he held me tightly listening to the explanations with closed eyes. Giri offered to drive up to his house. Anish and I rode at the back of our car while I rested my head against him. I heard G calling S on the phone.

We have been avoiding each other discreetly since, or, at least I have been avoiding him. He did not seek me out. Today I got a call from Seema. Its G's birthday. She's planning to have a couple of us over. My task was to keep Giri from going home until about 7:00. I couldn't find any excuse to refuse. She also said she had already spoken with Anish and A will go to Seema's directly from work.. she had some stuff for him to help with. Around 4:00, I gingerly went to G's cube and asked when he was planning to leave. He gave me the single eyebrow. I said I needed a ride home. Great line! Seeing as I was trying to avoid being alone with him and live only about 20 minutes away .. how was that going to solve delay up to 7:00! And not to mention my own car sitting in the company parking lot.. but G didn't know that.. he did not ask me about my car. He just said he'd be ready to leave in another 20 minutes. "No rush, just whenever you are ready", I said lamely.

We didn't talk en route.. actually talked but the conversation did not pick up. When we reached home, I asked him to come in. Not, "Will you come in?" You see, I had no choice now.. Or, I could just tell him that his birthday party was planned, that he not please head home until 7:00. Perhaps in my situation, option 2 was better. I did not do it. I asked him to come in. And then offered him wine. As I am pouring a Merlot into his glass, he stands with his elbows on my kitchen counter and asked me, "what exactly is going on?" So I tell him, "Nothing, I thought we should talk.. on our own for a bit." He narrows his eyes, twists his lips, but says nothing.. he does not break eye contact as he sips his wine. I cant look away either.. I notice every move he makes with flicking his eyes, or darting out his tongue to wet his lips. Next he says, "When is Anish due back?" I was supposed to say I dont know. I said instead, "not until later, past 7". Vah! And then I have this curious desire to giggle.. I am not good with controlling giggles. G's lips curve and he says, "Are we talking until then?" I said, "Yes, sort of. Unless you want to watch a movie?" Privately, I am astounded that I am considered above average intelligent! Where exactly am I going with this.. .think, I willed myself silently!! "We could do other things.. innnn an hour and a half" he said checking his watch." My heart was pounding and I wondered he couldn't hear it. He said, lets go walk on the beach and we can catch the sun set...

I changed into jeans and a red sleeveless collared blouse that I was saving for some special occasion. I am happy to count today as one. I also put jewelery, a bit of makeup, and a multi colored knitted stole around my neck.. I put on red sandals and received a single eyebrow.. I discerned approval of sorts in them this time. We went to the shore-front and walked on the paved path bordering around it.. I dont know what it is about guilt. It smothers you just as suddenly as it can evaporate. I felt purged with that walk.. exercise is a good way of getting things off your mind. Where G is concerned, I am loathe to introspect too much. I am scared to find something that I cant walk back from...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Take my hand: Anish

Continued from
Take my hand: The laundry lunch

Evie and I met in college. For a long time I used to think she did come from Venus. For better or worse, Mars and Venus got together.. you could say they are still light years apart. We are working on it.

Ev loves people. She has friends that will swear by her. I've met some of them. Most of Ev's friends are really nice. Of late, I've met Giri. Ev has a habit of effusive reminiscencing. I am annoyed, bored and amused in equal parts by this habit. Yet mostly I am not sure what is true and what is story telling. She is complicated. You have to read between her lines..

I like Giri. I actually like it that he cares for Ev. Thats for anyone to see. I guess I am curious too. I never had friends close to me like that. And I am intrigued by Seema. She's very beautiful. I haven't known too many women well. Seema attracts and repels me at the same time. Attracts because she's really smart. Repels because she's a bit on the morose side. She's different from most of Ev's other friends. I'd like to know her better. The other day at the movie theater, we couldn't agree on a single movie. Seema and I chose the same one. I suggested each of us see what we liked. My suggestion was not serious. Seema agreed to the proposal out of the blue. You can trust Ev to give up on reason at a time like this. If she did not like the idea, why she couldn't say "I dont think so", I dont know. She flashed her eyes and almost stormed away dragging Giri by his hand. Seema was smiling at me. I am not sure what was on her mind. We ended up watching this gory movie together. And then I could see Ev was in one of her moods. At times like this I am at a total loss. I have no clue how to turn things around. I just wait for her to recover.

Ev is frantically planning a vacation with the four of us. I feel ill at ease committing hours for vacations. But once Ev gets something into her head, it gets done or there is no peace. Actually, let me recant that. I do enjoy the trips if the company is right. Unfortunately, Ev is usually pretty indiscriminate.

We have come to the Redwood Forests National Park. The trees are so tall. I can easily believe that a dinosaur walked this place. The floors are covered with gray green moss, as is some of the trees. It looks like a scene out of the Jurassic Park. The tree barks are wet and peeling. The tree roots look deep and tortuously knotted. It is wet, cold and abysmally cloudy. But this seems to go with the place. We hiked almost a mile without talking.. any one of us. That is so unusual. The atmosphere here gets to you. You cannot laugh out loud in a temperate rain forest. It will feel weird. "click, click...No photographs please!" Whenever we go out on hikes, this screams in my head. But Ev is beyond stubborn. She is however reticent today (thank goodness!) Giri and her are walking ahead of us. So, Seema is walking next to me. Silence can be opressing and silence can be companionable. Right now, I want Ev to come walk with me. I am used to being quiet with her. Its diffcult to be quiet with a stranger unless you are willing to ignore her. I couldn't exactly ignore Seema somehow.

I dreamt of large trees closing in on me all night.. it was terrible. Ev says she woke up twice during the night and caught me mumbling pretty loudly. She shook me but I did not wake up. Just stopped the talking. She is looking freaked out. Poor girl. I tell her this is nothing. But I am pretty spooked myself. The forests are having a strange effect of me. It is so quiet here. So dark. So peaceful. You lose sense of time. Even the concierge at our hotel wore a disturbingly vacant expression. Seema had similar dreams she reports. Dark black shapes stifling her... not allowing her to breathe! Wow!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Take my hand: The laundry lunch...

Continued from
Take my hand: Volare

After I had my say, Seema opened up... rather more than she had ever done in the past.

"Coming clean isn't just about disclosing facts.. I was engaged to marry Ashfaque for 6 years. I met him as a student in UK. On the eve of our marriage he told me he has a Saudi wife back home and that I was to be his second. He said he really loved me... that I was to be the intellectual companion .. blah blah. But he could not let go of the first lady. This is legal in Saudi Arabia; people do it all the time."

Seema continued.. "I broke the engagement right away. I couldn't live as wife #2. But, for Ashfaque? I think he did love me. His first marriage had occurred when he was 16.. how much control did he have over it? And then, he'd been immersed in this completely different culture for so long... perhaps he was tempted to negate his past. He had taken his chances with me. You see, I think he thought of polygamy differently than me because of who he was. Fact is he lied and we broke up.. but both of us took something home from that experience and thats the important stuff.. not the lie or the break up... Can you really communicate that take home to another person.. specially at the beginning of the relationship when you have no idea which way things will go.."

"I have already told you I dont care about your little incident. But I want you to know why I dont care... its not because he has told me it wont ever happen again and I believe him. I guess despite.. or because of.. my past experiences, I no longer look at things in black and white. When I married Giri, (and by the way, I knew about the two of you before you told me. Giri told me before we married).. "

"What did he say?" I blurted out before I could stop myself. She paused and gave me a half smile.. "Paraphrasing of course, he said that you both had difficulties to adjust to sex.. as yet another dimension of the human relationship.. that you distanced yourselves to purge your minds." She stopped again and then continued, "What I am saying is, Giri and you go much further than that kiss... if I am to be afraid, I should fear that access you have to his soul." I didn't have anything to tell her... She continued.. "I dont want to be fearful. I am happy to give him some rope. I trust he will know what to do with that rope. But I would like to trust myself more.. that I go on." I sat thinking about what she'd said. What is strange is she feels she has that choice.. who chooses fear ever?

What does it mean to partner for life? The more I think, the more I am convinced, it is nothing more and nothing less than lifelong friendship. A lifelong friend, of either sex can be fulfilling. And sex.. is just another dimension to the human relationship, as Seema said. I think exploring sex with either sex could be equivalent if you are talking release, talking satisfaction.. I am going to leave reproduction for another time now.. because I think thats the bias that skews us up. Its the connection that matters. No two people are a 100% alike... so you need a set to meet your needs. I think this concept is ultimately more beautiful than the one and only idea. More complex, but more genuine. Whats the point of a bovine and loyal partner... really!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Take my hand: Volare

Continued from
Take my hand: Now and Then..

Summer is here and I am happily greening my backyard... I have the matoes and the okies.. And japanese eggplants and cauliflowers lined up. Three trips to Home Depot has done wonders for my soul! Anish is ignoring me firmly. Because of course an upshot of this has also been no breakfast this saturday morning.. and it is now nearing noon. The Raha's it would seem is coming to our rescue. I observed their car pulling in and Seema emerging with IHOP plastic bags.. Ah, pancakes! I surmised happily. Pancakes dripping with butter and maple syrup. Ummmmm... good. Anish complained, huh? Seema is smugly smiling at me. "Of course he did and I have left standing instruction that he can holler whenever you are in these moods of yours.." Are you telling me that you never slip? Because Giri has never called me for rescue. Seema says, "He calls you for lunches in which I am not invited!" I screw up my eyebrows. What are you talking about? We work at the same company.. of course we share the cafeteria grub! You are always welcome to it. "No, I meant the other time, when you guys had the burrito on the beach." I stood looking at her speechless. Good grief! Giri emerged from the sidelines. I made a face at everybody and sought refuge amongst the greens! I couldn't even think of a good exit line! Giri followed me there and commented that I am looking good in my gardening gear.. I've never gotten a compliment from him in my life! I felt pleased, and suddenly self concious in my shorts and flip-flops. I looked away from him frantically because my red face had become a top priority to conceal.

After the pancake feast, we decided to go catch a movie. Anish and Seema love horror flicks. Giri is neutral and I am dead against. We were gathered at the Century 21 but couldn't reach a concensus. After some back and forth, Anish suggested that we each go see whatever we like. We could meet outside later for the ice-cream! What!!! Guess what, Seema agreed! I and Giri looked from one to the other. Two can play this game baby! I grabbed Giri and headed toward one of the theaters. I sat there not enjoying the movie at all. How could Anish make this stupid suggestion! And Seema it seemed to me at that moment, was always agreeing with Anish. After a while I felt G whisper, "lets go out"... we did. But I was brooding mostly... Mind, I am NOT suspecting them of any foul play whatsoever. It was just plain annoying. But I was worked up and didn't feel a thing when Giri linked his hands with mine... at 4:00, we arrived back at the theater to pick A & S up.. I didn't look at Anish, but I had to look at Seema with a smile. What I saw there gave me a shock. Her eyes held an understanding that was a revelation. Seema had noticed whatever it was, or was not, there, between me and Giri. His suddenly switching jobs could've come across as odd .. She'd been married for less than a year to this guy.. their alliance had been arranged by their families. It has probably been challenging for her to accept, to understand, to move on. Even while I was being friends with her, I'd pretended with her, I'd been less than honest... and she had had to let it go...

I called Seema and we have come to lunch together, just the two of us, this Sunday afternoon. I've told her everything I could about my relationship with Giri... about our friendship, about our fallout and about my current feelings of affection for both of them. I couldn't bring myself to tell her that I still feel attracted to G. I just couldn't.

Perhaps it did not matter as long as there was no substance to it.... What that means is that it does not matter when infidelity is in your mind. It means that it does not matter if you watch pornography. Stupidly, it suddenly mattered if you "did" it. I agree, the logic of it is warped, as warped goes.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Take my hand: Now and then...

Continued from
Take my hand: Shall we dance

Giri and I grew up together.. Made mad plans, shared our deepest wisdoms.. And yet... our relationship did not survive what happened toward the end. I guess I was too deeply entrenched in the chastity paradigm... despite my open rebellion of every conventional notion.. despite the smoking and the alchohol abuse... the bravado was all superficial.. I couldn't do what I thought I could do.

My problem was, Giri never said he loved me or anything like that. That we cared for each other, there was never any doubt... but that was not enough... To him, this was a new fun thing we had discovered. He was obsessed with lust.. For me, sex had to be packaged as part of now and forever, and from the one and only. It just wasn't something friends could do. I felt bruised by his lack of empathy.. he lost patience with my teary eyed idealism.

Seeing him again now is very different from back then. I remember the nice things.. even that brief episode makes me smile.. its not revolting at all.. anymore. This daliance with him now is sweet. I believe its also inconsequential. The good thing about it is that, its refreshing me. I smile more, I take care how I dress, I feel more aware of myself as a woman. Seeing Giri again has helped my relationship with Anish. We feel closer together most nights... we'd usually just be exhausted and hit the bed... but he's doing things that we just did not have the energy to do before. We are talking more.. he's taken well to these two sweet friends in our life.

Would I sleep with Giri sometime in the future? I am not worried. I dont plan on it and though its on my mind, oh yes, it is.. its there more in an academic sense. I dont want to obsess about it. You cant work everything out in your head. I think we've both gotten over sex for the sake of it. So, if it happens, it will. And in those moments, we will belong together.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Take my hand: Shall we dance?

Continued from
Take my hand: Moody Blues

Tango is the new love of my life. After about a year's nagging, I have finally managed to get Anish to accompany me to a local studio where they teach this. Both the music and the dance is sooo sexy, and emotive. Its got speed and depth. The dancers are supposed to look into each other's eyes, while their bodies glide as one.. its divine! Isn't that what sex is all about? Giri refuses to join us... Seema and I are both working on him. I'd love to Tango with Giri I've told him several times.

On the subject of divine dances, Seema tells me that the best part of their lovemaking is kissing. Her opinion is Giri does it well. She adds, that it was the only part of sex she had alternate data to compare with.. and Giri won the round. I did not tell her that I have some idea of what she meant about Giri's skills. For me, it started on a trip to Santineketan when we were about 17.. the last night of the trip, with the dancing to the romantic hits and some drinks, we were all high. Into the wee hours, dragging Giri out, I nestled close to him.. and touched my lips to his, wet and balmy. He started to kiss back. I did not like it.. it hurt because Giri was super excited and using his teeth too much. I tried to push him off. He pinned me to the wall with his weight and held both my hands above my head. "Shhhh", He tried to calm me down and put soft pressure with his mouth on what parts of my face and ears he could access. He kept whispering.. "We can do this... tell me how.. I'll fix it." His breath was hot and sweet with alchohol. To this day, I am totally aroused with the slightest hint of liquor on Anish's breath. Anyways... so I quietened down and we figured things out bit by bit.. with halting directions on what felt good and what did not.... I have discovered over the years that while setting things right was easy to do with a dear friend, it does not come that easily for most. Its difficult to voice sexual disappointment... people silently take blame, or, assign blame.. feel deprived, but still fake it. If you are only willing to go the extra mile, you can change your experience of it forever!

When Seema and I returned from this week's Saturday shopping, I noticed that Seema had picked all of Anish's clothes. I recalled it being punctuated by ""this will look good on him".. "this will go well with his gray jeans"... At one point she had said, she loved the length of Anish's eye lashes and wished she had such long ones herself... I reflected on our afternoon together with amusement. I didn't pick anything for anybody but myself. Seema chose Giri's things as well. I found it hard to contemplate Giri in one outfit or other with Seema breathing down my neck.

And now, a bit of sensational news for my readers.. Last month, Giri was offered a position with our company in my group! He accepted and is set to join in another week. It happened quiet out of the blue really. One Wednesday morning recruiter sends me Giri Raha's resume. Since he did not tell me that he'd applied, I did not to tell him that I will be part of his interview panel. At his presentation, Giri looked delectable in a great-fit gray suit on his six feet, slender frame.. I watched him closely, with a private pride, not really listening to what he had to say. Just looking at him. I could never do this ordinarily, right? I watched his thin lips as they formed the words, watched him come alive as he was explaining his work, answering questions... watched his dark skin glow as he moved around. Giri was mesmerizing.. I could see people respond to his charm. I waited for my 45 minutes of one on one with him. The first question I asked was "Why did you apply for this position?" He said he was intrigued by the possibilities for him. Boy, Me too! Next I asked, "How do you resolve conflicts? Give me an example." He said, "Conflicts happen if people dont share a common understanding of their role. My strategy is to align expectations all around." Interesting, I thought to myself. As far back as I can remember, Giri has never resolved any conflict we had. We never said sorry or talked to "make up". Usually the next time we met, we'd just ignore the fall out and go on. I think his real skill is in neatly shoving conflicts under the carpet... I'd have liked to discuss the point further.. Unfortunately, I had to ask some technical questions as well...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Take my hand: Moody Blues

Continued from...
Take my hand: Sweetened by time

Over the past two months or so, we have fallen into the habit of getting together for something or the other, pretty often... The other day Giri and Seema had come to pick us up for one such potluck gathering. I was getting out of our garage when I saw Giri leaning over his steering wheels and kissing Seema, pretty heatedly. Quickly I stepped back and hid myself. I could feel my heart racing. I couldn't tell exactly what it was. I wasn't jealous or hurt, but, then maybe I was, a bit of both. Of course I knew Giri loved his wife! And they had been married for hardly a year! But... I was sort of moody all evening. Giri came over to whisper something in my ear and I catapulted out of my seat. He raised a single eyebrow at me. Humph. Anish asked me if I had a headache.. I felt irritation at being so transparently disturbed. I made an effort to pull myself together.

This manifested in the form of loud guffaws and repeated requests for my Rita to be refilled... I begun to feel a bit dizzy and a headache had actually materialized by this time. Seema drew me out on the verandah by my hand. The slight chill from the outside air felt good on my flushed skin. Our hosts had put mini-bulb streamers over their railings. The effect was very festive. In all that glow, I felt tearful.. unable to handle my moodiness and the alchohol and the meaningless chatter of the past two hours. Seema put her arms around me and rested her head on my shoulders. I was comforted by her presence there with me.. We came home and Giri did not even look at me when we said bye. I suppose that was fair given that I hadn't behaved very well with him all of the evening. Anish and him had made plans for playing tennis the next day. I declared I was unwell and made them cancel the plan. This is so uncharacteristic of me that everyone fell silent. I knew I was bungling things up... but couldn't seem to be able to get a grip.

"Giri Calling" said the display on my cell phone. This was Tuesday of the following week. I let it buzz away... "New Voicemail". I quickly dialed my vm box. Giri's message said: "I am coming to pick you up for lunch at 12:30. Dont disappoint me". Hmm. We hadn't spoken at all since Friday. I'd wasted gallons of tears over the weekend. Anish was disgusted with me. By the way, I wasn't crying for Giri at all. Honestly, no!!! By this time, I was seriously grieving. Why did I lose two pregnancies? Why do I feel so empty! Why could I not be totally happy with Anish? I was severly strung up. A busy day at work on Monday had me cured pretty much.

Today, I was feeling embarrassed and wondering how to fix things. Not quiet ready to face Giri on my own, I called Anish and asked him if he wanted to join us. Of course he said no. Spoken gruffly and impatiently, he made me feel foolish for asking. At 12:35, I got another call from Giri. I walked out of the office without picking up the phone. He was waiting right outside. We went to Taco Bell and picked up Burritos from the drive through.. then we went to the shore-front and ate our lunch sitting side by side on a bench. We chatted easily, as usual, but I could sense he was watching me.. waiting for me. I really did not know what to say. And then I forced myself to look at him straight in the eyes hoping to find the words. No words were necessary.. He touched my cheeks gently with the tip of his fingers.

Sometimes we communicate nonverbally things that we dont know how to say out loud... Thats why, some disagreements melt away when in you are in bed with your partner versus arguing about it ad nauseum.. That's why long distance relationships are so difficult. Giri and I spent an hour talking, about nothing in particular. He ignored Friday, did not bring it up at all. While he had not called over the weekend, he'd bothered to come down here today. It was sort of out of line. But, I was just grateful and happy. Seeing him today had helped me fully unwind. I also decided to let go trying to rationalize over what had busted in my head...

I picked up some flowers on my way home and made a special dinner that evening to make up with Anish. We had shrimp cutlets, smoked eggplant marinated with spices and raw vegies (best translation I can make for begun pora) and chapatis. Also, I baked a walnut chocolate cake at home because I know that is Anish's favorite. My sweetheart was all for making up and making out. It turned out profitable all around.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Take my hand: Sweetened by time...

Continued from...
Take my hand: DUK there's a fidelity gene

Giri and I went to learn swimming when we were about 12 or 14 at a pond near our house... Giri's mom took us there. One by one she waded with us a little ways into the pond and instructed us to hold on to a huge floating log of wood ... we were to kick the water hard and thus learn to stay afloat. After a bit, when she let me go, I must have stopped suddenly.. I remember this visceral feeling when my feet hit the mossy bottom and I slipped. I could find no anchor but my poor companion and thus pulled him in with me... we nearly drowned that day... we were pulled out by our shirt sleeves, hair, limbs, coughing and gasping... that was the end of our swimming lessons. We went home and I remember eating masoor lentil curry and rice with fried rohu fish and lemon. After all that vigorous exercise, I was ravenous and I've never forgotten the taste of that meal. Giri's mom fed us in turns from the same plate, which was pretty typical (yes, even at 14, we would demand it of her and she was an incredibly sweet lady). Giri tells me that he never learnt to swim since. Anish taught me how at the campus swimming pool in college. Its something I really enjoy doing.

The four of us met this evening at our apartment poolside. The pool looked really cool with its aquamarine bottom lit with neon bulbs and light steam rolling off of the heated surface... Anish, I and Seema promptly went in. Giri sat on the edge with his feet dipped in the water in T shirt and shorts! He was sipping white wine and keeping watch on the rest of our glasses.. offering us filled ones if you waded up to him. This was as irresistible as it was uncomfortable for me. There is a generally accepted idea that romance resides delicately in hearts and heads for women! It was residing quiet in the pit of my groin this evening! Seema and I were laughing about this, safely skirting particulars on the subjects of our respective desires... which was pretty fuzzy anyways, because both men in our entourage looked comparably ahh.. whats the word I want.. I'll settle for compelling! I would catch Giri's eyes and the mad twinkle in them made me weak in the knees. Anish was smiling at me too. Over the past few days, my preoccupation with Giri Raha had not escaped him. I was a bit bothered that he wasn't bothered. What is wrong with a little old fashioned possessiveness!

But I sort of understood how Anish felt. Some relationships reach this unequivocal level of, for the want of a better word, trust. Its about knowing a person so well, so organically, that you know where your standing is in that person's life, without a shred of doubt. They are second nature to you.. I am not sure if thats a good thing or a bad thing. It can happen because you have conciously made the decision to stop letting yourself think otherwise. For example couples with kids often think that children give them that indisputable hold on security. Thats not what I mean... its not about being with each other because you are out of options... because you dare not break what you have. This is different... its a sense of belonging to each other. Its passionless almost.. its the ground state. Anish and I have been married for 8 years and known each other for even longer. Things between us are neither peaceful, nor violent.. but we can sense each other the way the blind can navigate in the dark.

We chatted late into the night sitting on the steps of Giri's backyard patio. After a while, Anish and Seema and Giri begun to sing old Bengali numbers... it was just so perfect in the moonlight... specially, old Nachiketa melodies with their haunting loveliness...these are songs I have grown up with and they melt my heart. Anish sings Manna well as does Giri. Seema mostly sang along with them. My tenor never matches with men's, so I kept quiet. I closed my eyes, huddled up and listened. Nobody prompted anybody else to sing.. an annoyingly popular practice. That, and I also hate tone deaf singing with cheap karaoke! I was specially pleased at the choices of the songs that went so well together... I must have grown colder than I realized. Giri walked over with his jacket and I allowed him to drape it around my shoulders. I looked at my friend gratefully for the warmth. It felt like I had come home.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Take my hand: DUK there's a fidelity gene?

Continued from...
Take my hand: hasta mañana

Let me share some developments since that walkout on Giri (read run out @ h.m.). I've invited the couple for dinner today, which is Saturday of following week since the lunch. Anish, my husband, is looking peeved. This is well known behavior in our household whenever we have guests come over. The original line was Anish gets upset because we were not spending time together. This notion is now smoked. Many cozy evenings has passed us by, un(der) appreciated. Of course that too is my fault, as I am simply not interesting company! These complaints from someone who is himself pretty unsocial, are classic symptoms of the "only child syndrome". They are never happy not to be the center of the universe, even for a day. I digress. Although not exactly elated with Giri (his turning up with Seema on what was to be our clandestine lunch still stung).. I was sort of bouyed by the old flame aspect surrounding seeing him again, wife or sans wife. I ignored my peeved companion. The menu was to be sour moong dahl with fish cutlets, lauki kofta curry and mutton. I had fruit chutney with vanilla ice cream for desert. After a day spent in needless imaginary competition with whatever Seema's culinary talents may be, I felt reasonably pleased with myself at the turn out.

Anish hurriedly entered our bedroom as I emerged from the shower. Usually phenomenally obtuse, at these times, I develop an uncanny sixth sense. I knew exactly where he'd been. Poor guy had lunch on the thin side this afternoon (also typical when guests are due) and direly needed nourishment. And single child right? He just had to get a head start on what has been cooked for the guests, nearly impossible to accomplish peacefully under my vigilance. We looked at each other and started to laugh. After that I had to let it go.

Seema turned out to be umm.. refreshing. I feel squirmish to admit I liked Giri's wife.. specially because the first two times around, I had her stereotyped and was perfectly at peace with that notion. Today, she changed that. I found us discussing Rhett and Ashley as husbands. Was it purely physical what Ashley and Scarlett shared? What had Michelle meant? It was never really clear in the novel. Seema said it was beyond sexual.. more like a magnetic attraction for scarlett's vitality. I was inclined to agree. I watched Giri come around and stand behind Seema from the corner of my eyes.

Michelle seemed to say that if Scarlett ever had half a chance at finding out who Ashley really was, she'd have gotten over him and perhaps found happiness with Rhett. After a point in life, what makes sense to try? What makes sense not to try? Specially in relationships... I asked Giri what he thought. I wanted to know where he stood on the issue of outside talent in these matters. Giri said, they'd been together long enough. Scarlett just always wanted what she could not have. Hmm... distressing. Anish says as long as some lines are not crossed, its vital to explore. I'd get into what these lines mean. For me, thats the biggest challenge. I dont understand lines...

Giri helped stack the plates in the dish washer as I cleared them away. In the soft yellow kitchen light, the lines and wisdom that separated us were blurred. We stood shoulder to shoulder and I nudged him twice with my elbows while we discussed work, old friends, nothings.. Anish and Seema now know that we had been best of friends at one time... Just not the last little bit. I know that thing still stands between us somewhere. We both have wondered if that was just a passing fancy after all... we didn't have the patience to find out then...perhaps after all these years, its time to talk with my old friend again, woman to man.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Marriage Mantra

She was bored of looking on. Bored of hoping against hope that her disappointment with life was going to fix itself. She stared at her husband of 10 years lying on her sofa. Ria believed in this man. But she was also a romance addict; eternally looking for that spark that seemed to have fizzled out from her life. Always hoping for a warm pair of eyes to find hers and fulfill this desire for a deep human connection. I wished I could tell her, "Grow Up!" If it has happened for you once consider yourself doggone lucky! It ain't happening again...

Now there IS a different kind of love.. less exotic, that has to do with commitment. Basically signing a contract and paying your bills. Its considered passé. Its also the only real thing in business. When passion is done, romance is cooled and the chips are down, you begin to sense that this man matters to me. I care if he has cold, if he loses his job. I care for his tears. I dont want to be without him ever. Saying this to yourself is like a rarity. We do it when we are faced with danger... not at normal times.. it makes you ask what was I worrying about, little short change stuff... when I have this. You know, put back the toilet seat, take your plate to the sink, clean up after yourself. That stuff doesn't matter. I love him... there's the mantra... it re-energizes you if you can get yourself to say it and mean it. It changes nothing. Its the same "ram chhagol" as a dear friend put it... same stubborn, unreasonable, selfish, useless man.. but there you are... in love garb, anything goes.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Take my hand: hasta mañana

I'm taking a mini vacation on the beach today... to deal with stuff in my brain! I'd put on moderately flattering swimming gear that was a huge find from forever 21.. Three hours of disciplined foraging and here was this orange and gray and white creation, not too clingy and enough skin to firm up even the lowest of self esteems. I've painted my nails with orange lacquer. I've lapped on sunscreen till I am slimy with the stuff. I lay on a straw mat under a brilliantly colored umbrella. The considerable difficulty dragging all of this over the hilly pathway leading to the beach, was so worth it. I am in heaven. The warmth is just right and the breeze is not too cool and not too strong. I closed my eyes and let the sound of the waves and the laughter from the kids fill my mind..

Giri and I had been close friends in school. Until puberty got in the way and turned innocent laughter into deep sighs and unfamiliar longing. I met him yesterday at a party with his newly wedded wife, Seema. It was an interesting encounter. We recognized each other but pretended not to. But we smiled longer than new acquaintances would at each other. I wonder if anyone noticed. Last we met, we did not part on good terms. But that was sooo long ago. It did not matter. He looked good. He looked mature and kind and the kind of wonderful husband material I always knew he could be. I wonder what sort of a couple we would have made. I'd spurned him and hoped he would come after, which he did not. My ego was bruised and we battled our wills about who would make up. When you are buddies its easy to say sorry. When you are sweethearts its a much tougher deal. Giri's wandering hands and inexperienced kisses infuriated me and yet made me yearn for them like there was no tomorrow. He would smell garlicky.. I remembered... yuck! But he smelled Old Spice now.. how quaint and sweet! ooofff.. what the hell am I thinking!!!

Why think of this on my lovely getaway on the beach!!! I wondered what Anish, my husband would think if he knew about these sporadic men friends from my past.. I and my closest girl friends, ones who could make a living out of blackmailing me, often have this argument. Why didn't you come clean before you married the man? I still dont see why one needs to. I maintain its hardly disloyalty! We both had a life before we met. These incidents and people were never relevant to the me that fell in love with Anish. What would be the point in Anish's knowing about these? Can one really ever share all of oneself? I think its almost insulting. Personal space is a human need. Not even marriages should violate that.

Giri called me this morning... early. I get up way before Anish on Sundays. Giri knew I used to be an early riser. We'd gone for so many morning walks together. Walking weird places in early dawn... we'd end it with a tea served in earthen pots from a particular roadside chai place.... I dont know how he got my number. I did not ask. We chatted about this and that... time flew. Before I knew it, I promised to meet him for lunch for tomorrow. And now, I am now going crazy trying to break this to Anish or, turn Giri down. I dont know what to do. why cant I take this casually. I haven't told Anish, I knew Giri from before. Now, how can I tell him I am going to lunch with someone I met yesterday!! Oh, this is absolutely crazy! The things I get into. At the same time, I also feel a bit rebellious. I can choose to go for a clandestine lunch. Is that a sin? Why does my husband need updates from my daily calendar! Its preposterous. Its not as if I am having an affair, I am going for lunch!!!

Seema and Giri came together! What a let down! I could scream and claw at him. I spent 40 minutes choosing today's outfit to work and my ex, if even that, comes with his wife. I could read the amusement in his eyes. We could always read each other so easily. I tried my best to act naturally and answer inquiries on where I bought my skirt to Seema. Giri spoke little and very correctly. Damn him. I shall have my revenge. Apparently Seema thought Anish and I were supposed to be together too! Really? The rogue man. My husband works on opposite side of the town. How were we going to come to lunch together? And why on earth would we choose to do that with Giri and Seema on a Monday afternoon! I had blocked my calendar from 12:00 to 3:00. I got up at 1:00 sharp and hurried out! It was unbearable. Anish, darling, wake up and rescue me. This is preposterous!!! Midlife crisis at our door? Please unclog your ears. Your wife is going crazy and will stray if you do not hear the alarm bells!

Saturday, May 08, 2010


Drown, they had said and I had wanted to... it was scary how much I had wanted to. Thankfully, fear won the round. I knew where to draw the line. Sometimes I try to imagine what would it be like... When you look at me like that... if I ride the electricity that courses through my veins.. what would that be like! Perhaps it would be no different. With or without that momentary indiscretion. Perhaps I preserve nothing after all with my rigid self denial.

I often remember without meaning to, your eyes. When they plead with me I am helplessly in their grip. In my dreams, it is always the same. You mock me as I weep.. I beg you to give me respite. Have you ever felt that something is chasing you constantly? I feel like that with your eyes. I've learned to turn away from their lure. But you do not let me forget. You do not let me forget.

I am afraid to be alone. When I am alone, I have to confront you. You do not let me hide, you do not let me lie, you do not let me pretend to be happy. You invite me to forget myself, to lose my way, to slip away. Dear god, it is hypnotic. I am so desperately attracted to the morbid promise it holds. Slipping away. It is insane.

But you shall not be allowed to win. You cannot win. I will come back to burn in the pyre you built for me and emerge victorious. It will be glorious.. I shall rejoice in the agony and the ecstasy of my being. My fight is not done. You could not seduce me then, you will not seduce me now. I promise you that.