I sipped my tea and glanced sidelong at Anubha. She sat with her cup, in her own world, ignoring me and my presence.
Her husband Sudesh came in with a ‘Hiya darling’, and for a moment there was a flicker of joy in her eyes.
I did not like Sudesh. I like macho men, no, not really but I like those dependable men who act and behave as men. Sudesh’s mannerisms are effeminate. His walk, his talk, everything. And I can’t digest the fact that my best friend agreed to marry this person. Well it is a long time now since they got married-fifteen years in fact and …..
‘You have never liked him, isn’t it?”, Anubha asked me. Obviously she had read my face. Anubha and me have been friends ever since I remember and both of us can read each others expressions very well.
‘No, nothing like that’, I mumbled.
‘Don’t lie to me, Sukriti, you may be a Doctor but I know you’
Sudesh came in again and said,’Anu, I have a meeting and will be coming in late but you have your dinner and sleep, Ok?’
I was looking for a way to escape.
‘Anu, I will leave now, have to make some notes’, I said
‘But you said, you were free today’
‘No, I won’t let you leave. With a lot of courage I have decided to tell you everything and I am not letting you go now’.
My heart sank. I have heard worst marital stories but when it concerns your own loved ones, you need a mountain of courage.
‘Nobody knows my secret other than my mom and of course Sudesh but you know I am not able to face you because you have been my chum always and I do not like to hide things from you. It was Sudesh who said that I should tell you everything and that then I will be at peace with myself.’
I was at my wit’s end, did not know what to say and what to expect.
Anu carried on, Do you remember that I was going steady with a guy in college.
I nodded a yes
‘We were so much in love. After our B.Sc final year exams, he came in one day, met my mother, asked my hand in marriage. My mother agreed. He was handsome, belonged to a good family, would be joining his father’s business and there was no cause for worry. With no male member at home to search out matches for me, she agreed for the best one available. One day he took me to the old fort on his bike.’
She carried on,’I was very happy that day but little did I know what was in store for me.’
I sat motionless, too afraid to know what happened further.
‘Four of his friends were already there. I suppose you can understand what happened next’.
Again I nodded.
They left me home battered, bruised. We went to the police station to lodge a complaint but halfway we returned home.
‘Why?’, I asked.
‘There was no point Sukriti. They were powerful people. I had to think of my mom and my younger sister too. But even without lodging a complaint we were stalked, threatened and my sis was followed to her school and back.
Finally we decided to relocate to another city’
‘And all this happened when you had not kept contact with me for 3-5 years’, I said.
‘Yes’, she said, ‘We went to another city, I found a job but I had lost my faith in humanity. Sudesh was a colleague there. Because of his mannerisms, he was made fun off and many actually asked him, whether he was gay. But he would just smile and carry on with his work. One day I came to know that his family had approached my mom for my hand.’
‘Then’, I asked.
‘I refused but then one day he cornered me and asked for the reason of my refusal ‘
‘What did you say’, I asked.
‘Initially I did not say anything but then when he asked me whether my refusal was because of his mannerisms, I had to tell the truth’.
‘Then?’ I asked. My curiosity was at its peak.
‘When he had heard me he had tears in his eyes, he just took my hands and said-We can’t change the past but let us make a beautiful future. From that moment on he has been true to his words. He has made each day special. Even when he came to know that I can never be a mother, even though he knows that I can never trust anyone fully ever, still he is always by my side.’
‘Tell me Sukriti, what is important? Is it important that a person’s looks and mannerisms conform to our standards or that a person stands true to his words.
I sat mulling. Ashamed of my own prejudices and behavior.
This is fiction and is not related to any person