Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Of the life gone by and the life to be lived

She stared out of the window, perched on the sill, staring at the trees that arched the road. The evening
was peaceful, the kids away at a camp, the husband away at work. She was alone, all alone.

Alone with her thoughts, she pondered about her life gone by, the life she was leading. The perfect life. She had chosen her career, her job, her husband, everything. Her parents, bless them, had given her all kinds of freedom. “I want to take up finance,” she’d told them firmly. Her mother was convinced she’d be better at languages, but never took away her freedom to make her life’s decisions.

She sighed. Maybe she needed some more convincing? Or maybe a mother who had controlled her life just a little bit?

After college, and hating every minute of it, she was now an investment banker. Whatever that was, really. “Little Ms. Finance and all that”, her friends mocked her. “I love finance! What makes you think I don’t?!”, she asked, sounding more convinced than she felt. No one else was convinced either. 

What were her talents, really? She could converse well, loved the languages, was good at them and loved to read. But were these talents? Not unless she did something useful with them. 

The clock steadily ticked away. Her thoughts strayed to the life she could have led. Settled in some strange land, where no one knew her, where there would be no prejudices, no pressure to please and fit in. Some place that would consider her plain looks exotic and not just another face in the crowd. 

Why hadn't she take up a more creative field? At least something that didn’t have a bloody dress code? Even the people she kept running into were like products of a sausage factory. Identically dressed, full of numbers, stock markets, the Wall Street…she wanted to scream!

The friends thought she traveled to a hundred different exotic countries every year – so lucky! Sure.

Again, she’d meet the same type of people, just with blue eyes or different hair. Scratch the surface and they were all the same. The business trips were the worst. Always in the best, most glamorous of hotels, too much splendour, everyone on their best fake behaviour. Before she knew it, it would be time to come back to the children’s homework, deciding what the husband would like for dinner, preparing more presentations, the obligatory sex…

Her thoughts cut to the time in college when she’d first started dating Nikhil. Nope, no exoticism there either. They were classmates, friends, part of the same group, grew to love each other.

In hindsight, did she actually ever love him enough to marry him? He was a very nice person, a dutiful husband, a loving father, a wonderful son, the perfect son-in-law – the list of everything amazing he was, was endless. He’d do anything to keep her happy, but then…why was she even having this conversation with herself?

“Time to face the truth, hon”, she told herself. She’d married Nikhil out of some obligation. She was incredibly fond of him, but it was more indirect parental pressure to marry that ‘lovely boy’ and the lack of a concrete excuse to not marry him, that led her to say yes. Marrying Nikhil was like marrying a beloved friend. There wasn’t a life without him, but was the one for her. Did she want someone Bohemian? She didn’t know. Perhaps someone who wouldn’t be so conventional about life, who wouldn’t have the next twenty years panned out in advance.

What would she do, if given half a chance to start all over? Well, she’d throw caution to the winds, truly this time. Be a hippie, begin with that tattoo she always wanted, move on to making a bonfire out of her business suits, then major in French or German, move continents, travel alone, the list was endless. Why wasn't it legal to sometimes forget that you had a husband and children, and just do what you wanted? 

What wouldn’t she give to not pretend she was the dutiful wife she wasn’t, in her head? She wanted to
glob trot, live on her own terms. For once, she didn’t want to be tied down to the shackles of marriage,
the constant adjustments and compromises that came with it. When had she lost the freedom of walking
out, for good?

Suddenly, she was scared. Very, very scared. What was she thinking? She had everything anyone would ever want from life. But that was the thing. Anyone would want the life she was leading. But not her. She wanted to do something about it.

But where does one start taking charge of one’s own life?

Her thoughts were interrupted with the ring of her cellphone… “Nikhil Baby”, it said, merrily.

“Hello babe. Have you left office?” she asked.

“Yep. Home in half an hour. Dinner had better be something good. I’m famished!” he said.

“Yeah. Come on over. Dinner is something you’ll love,” she smiled.

“Great! See you. And I love you, wifey,” he said, hanging up.

She quickly busied herself heating dinner, making rotis. Nikhil liked dinner ready when he came home from work, and that was the least she could do, wasn’t it? Her mind began making a mental to-do list: Presentation for tomorrow, dishes to be done, the car to be given for servicing for next day, helping the kids with their projects…it sure was a long day ahead.

She quickly got busy with her list, trying to knock off work so as to sleep on time. A long list of chores was waiting for her.

Restarting her life? That could wait. She had dinner to get ready, first.


Sakshi said...

Whats up cow.. both your posts were, well.. sad and thought provoking!

But glad that they came up! :)

Yasmeen Akhtar said...

Hi Mukta.. I have been following your blog from quite sometime, but never commented earlier, and you can say I'm on a commenting spree now.. :P

First of all, you write so well, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading all your posts. Your entry for the 99Labels contest on Marriage was hilarious, and I actually dragged my friends to read it too..

And these 2 new stories you posted are awesome too. I have added you to my blogroll.. :)

Plain Vanilla said...

Moo, You.must.publish.your.story.you.fool!

Kunal C said...

Nicely written.. good to read a glimpse of what goes on in woman's mind.. calm and composed outside and a turmoil inside..
Hope you are doing good.. its been long time..

Sreejit said...

You are definitely getting better with every post Moo, keep it up. Hope someday I read them in a paperback...

Kali said...

Amazing post. Also a little scary because I felt like looking into my future... all the best :)

Buba A. said...

excellent story -- very real! i'm sure million so-called happy wife can relate.