Suspicion for a Breakup:
“So he's a distant cousin, right?”
Sita knew where the conversation was gradually leading to. She kept her head down, feeling helpless, seething at the injustice of it all.
“Did you two ever go to the cinema? Did he buy you some nuts or icecream during the intermission? Was there anyone else accompanying you? Were you two holding hands? Cooing in one another’s ear?”
Sits still kept quiet. Answering him when he was in such a foul mood, would only complicate matters.
“You know what is wrong with you? Your tactfulness in keeping things to yourself. And never letting more than what is necessary out of the bag…,” Anirudhdhya, Anirudh in short, said and finding it was time to watch Prime Time TV, retired to the next room. Sita stayed there alone and wiped the corners of her eyes with the end of her sari. The darkness of the outside was slowly making an inroad inside their room as well.
Sita was nearly 21 when she got married. Her father was a gentleman and told Anirudhdhya before marriage that a local boy was making life hell for his daughter. One of the reasons why he had started advertising in the papers. The other reason was the ravishing beauty of his daughter. She was of medium height and build. Fair with the most strikingly beautiful eyes you will find on a human. Added to this were the tresses that adorned her face as she kept tucking them behind her ears from time to time. It was difficult not to notice her even in a crowd. Her beauty was what drew Anirudh to her. The marriage ceremony was performed within days of the couple meeting one another, setting up in the process what was to be a life of hell for Sita.
It was not that Anirudh was always like that. In his best mood, he could have been an ideal husband. ‘Sita, let's go to Baro Massi's today,’, ‘Would you rather go to a movie instead?’ and so on. But once he had the shadow of suspicion overtaking his persona, there were very few to equal his devilry.
Sita was cutting the vegetables for dinner on a lazy Saturday afternoon, when there was a knock on the door. She kept the half-peeled vegetables aside and hurried to open the door. Tapan, Anirudh's first cousin, was outside. Of the same age, they were never fhe best of friends. Though there was no denying the good looks of Tapan.
“Hi, Tapu. What a surprise! Where have you been lately?” Sita queried.
“I'd to go to Kolkata on business. Came back this morning only. Thought would say ‘hello’ to you. How have you been?”
“As someone in my situation is supposed to be. Anyway, I ain't complaining.” She quickly tried to wrap up the conversation with a dry smile.
“Would you like to come in for a quick cup of tea?”
“So that that monster of your husband can push you to the wall again? No, Bhabi, a fool doesn't go to the same mistake twice…”
Sita's face reddened as she kept recollecting that incident.
Last time Tapan came on an errand. He lingered a little longer. Anirudh, on his return home, started passing cutting, scathing remarks at both of them.
“What do we have here? A pair of lovey-doveys? If love is what is driving you two, why don’t you go behind the pond? No one will come in your way there…” What really hurt Sits was how blatantly he made fun of them. Tapan stopped coming to his cousin's house from then on.
And behind the pond Anirudh caught them next time! He made a big issue of what was a trivial matter. Tapan had caught some fish from the pond but there was no way he could send it to his cousin and bhabi. He sent words asking Sita to come there, if it was not a big deal.
The crimson sun was descending behind the bamboo and banyan trees, when Sits turned up. Tapan covered them with a heart-shaped kachu leaf and handed her the prize. Both of them kept quiet at the prospect of an impending doom. There is a saying which goes like: Where there is a fear of ghosts, the evening descends early. As Sita was about to turn back, Anirudh could be seen cycling his way towards them. How she wished her father was there. Not that Anirudh would have cared. He tongue-lashed his cousin first.
“If you find it hard to stay away, why don't the two of you lovebirds run away?” And then turning to her, he let loose a volume of abusive words. “If a whore is what you wanted to be, why did you marry me?....”
He was ruthlessly brutal in his attack. Sits fled holding her ears with both hands.
That was the last seen of her. Initially, Anirudh thought that she had run away to her parents’. Later, his suspicion proved unfounded. She simply seemed to have vanished from the face of the earth.
These days, Anirudh is getting ready for his second marriage. The girl is an orphan and lives at her maternal uncle. Anirudh, throwing away the pan-spit acrobatically from his mouth, quips,” The date has been fixed on the 25th of this month. Your presence is highly solicited.”