Friday, July 09, 2010

Virtuous Lady: Fast Track

Renu and Ashok got married a year ago. They grew up in the same neighborhood. Ashok never dared speak with Renu in those early days. He eyed her from the sidelines and secretly crushed on her. Renu was lovely and vivacious. She had many friends. Ashok did not know how to make friends. Renu would break into giggles whenever she caught him staring at her. Then came Ashok's big break. He qualified for the joint entrance exams and got into a prestigious engineering school. Renu congratulated him with a winning smile. That was a wonderful day for him. Fate had unexpectedly catapulted his suit right to the front lines. How could Renu's art teacher ever hope to compete?


This morning, we find Renu sitting by their bedroom window.. Her eyes are puffy from crying. She is knitting a sweater for the son she is expecting in another three months. Her life has changed rapidly and unimaginably since her marriage.

Renu bleakly remembers the days Ashok begun pleading with her to give up school. Her college demanded a daily two hour commute. Ashok sometimes returned home before her and hated not to find her home, or when she returned home exhausted. A BA in art history is not that hot. Did she really need to complete it? Ashok was so well placed. Why would she ever need to work? Renu could do a computer course of sorts. That would give her a lot more job options she was told. Half heartedly she had agreed. The computer course never started. Before she knew it, Renu was a full time house wife. To be honest, in the beginning she thought it was fun. Staying at home and cooking interesting meals, dressing up for Ashok every evening. Having so much energy to go places and even make love end of the day.. it was exciting. It wasn't going to last forever, right?

Ashok begun to bail on their plans every so often saying he was tired, or, it was too expensive. Renu was left listless and bored, or, keyed up with a day's full of unspent energy. She grew estranged from Ashok. Her mother-in-law complained that she wasted time in front of the mirror, or with her story books and magazines. That, she paid minimal attention to housework. That, she had way too many friends calling on her all the time. Why did his wife have a dozen male friends? Why did Renu chat not less than 30 minutes at a minimum with somebody or the other whenever she stepped out of the house? Ashok felt compelled to speak to Renu about it. Renu's friends picked up the unpleasant vibes and begun to disappear.

Six months into their marriage, Renu discovered she was pregnant. Most others felt happy with the news. Her mother felt thankful that she will now have an anchor to rein in her restless spirit. Thats what a woman needs to settle her down, she was convinced. The gushing all around made Renu felt guilty about not feeling equally happy herself. Renu had tried to insist they have protected sex. Ashok hadn't listened. He coaxed her saying this was the safe period of her menstrual cycle. Renu thought they were pushing their luck being on the borderline... and so it happened. Ashok acted so enthusiastic with the news of the child. He refused to look her in the eye long enough for her to voice her uncertainties.. let alone voice options for an abortion. She seemed not to have many choices left in life.

This morning her friend Kanika had called excitedly to give her the news that she had gotten a job in Delhi at a museum. Renu congratulated her and asked for a treat. Inside she felt horrible with regret. That job could easily have been hers. She felt so betrayed. What had she ever seen in that stupid fool of a man! She had taken up knitting of late to keep her temper from boiling over. It was not good to be emotionally disturbed in her condition.