In a handsome chalet, whelmed by dense snow of January, and miles away from the chaos of the metro city, Sandhya laid on her bed with an incessant gaze at the ceiling. She blinked after a long, and her puffed eyes reached the windowpane. White streaks of snow resembling cotton units, stuck on it, and the sky continued showering more and more of them.
Sandhya mustered all the calcium in her bones to rise from the mattress, on which her husband Chirag was snoring. Her world whirled like a merry-go-round when her feet kissed the wooden floor. She inhaled a large dose of air to pace down her pounding heart. The pair of slippers she wore then sent warmth to her cold feet. She tightened her bun by pulling her hair back in hope that the cyclone in her head would slow down. She dragged herself to the washbasin. After a few splashes of freezing water on her face, she faced the mirror. The woman she confronted was lost; lost in a web of rights and wrongs, lost in the sea that held pearls of her identity to the deepest, but she didn’t know how to swim. Her collyrium that complemented her brown eyes the previous night, was haunting the hell out of her.
The mirror had also seen her last night. Back then, she had faced a woman of her esteem; a woman whose fierce orifices lit a fire of dignity in them. Now, the water of slavery had extinguished those flames. Her overloaded heart unburdened to a small extent when the water from her eyes got one with the water on her face. She didn’t let her, the woman in the mirror, know that she was shedding tears, and wiped her face with a towel.
She made herself a mug of strong coffee, a part of her routine, and sipped it in silence, near the fireplace. The floor was cold enough to run a chill in her spine, but her body didn’t send stimuli to her brain. Her eyes were glued to the fire burning the wood bundles to ashes, in a strive to regain her own fire.
The clock said 9, and it was time to water her green friends. She reached, with a watering can, to her yard covered with a wooden roof in order to protect the flora from heinous snow. Though the breeds of z-plant didn’t need much moisture as they stored their fuel in their pulpy leaves for an emergency, other plants needed Sandhya’s attention. Ficus, money-plant, and lilies woke up with ecstasy when drops of water fell on them. Now she reached to the rose, and a huge blossom wished her morning. The air around the flower entered her nostrils, and seeds of feel-good hormones sprouted in her brain, for a fleeting second.
“Good morning, my love!” Chirag caged her in a bunny hug from the back and pecked on her cheeks. “And a very happy birthday.”
Sandhya liberated herself and her eyes searched for culpability in his eyes. She had presumed that she would find a face drenched with guilt. She had thought he would find it hard to meet his eyes with hers, but he was smiling full lips, a smile that was reaching his eyes. Chirag shook her and she was brought to her senses back.
“Thank you,” she faked a half-smile. The snowfall outside, as cold as her optimism for the day, caught her attention. An intense stare soaked her eyes, and after a minute or two, her dehydrated lips moved, “Chirag? Can we skip the party?”
“What?” The shock was obvious. “What happened, all of a sudden?”
“Nothing,” shrugged Sandhya. “It’s just……it’s just that I’m not feeling myself.”
“But everything is planned already; your favourite lavenders are on the way to us, chandeliers are all set, caterers would be here any moment, and all our guests must have left their homes till now,” Chirag sang. He cupped her face in his palms. “And you would feel awesome once the gathering and party would start. It’s just dizziness brainwashing you.”
“Forget ifs and buts, and get ready for the day,” Chirag cut her. He plucked the big rose and went on his knees.
“Remember?” He balanced his weight on his left knee. “The day I proposed you? The whole college batch was there, and I was begging you, with a rose.”
A smile, genuine this time, glimpsed on her face as she recalled the day, but her heart that pumped the blood of today’s trauma snatched it from her. “Yes, I do. You had to ask for the gardener’s permission to get the rose.”
“Yes. But today, I don’t need permission,” the pride of the owner reflected on his face as he curled his moustache up. He didn’t give his next word a second thought. “Because the garden is mine, now.”
This arrow of speech crossed Sandhya’s heart and the numbness she wore vanished in a second. She clenched her teeth and pulled the rose from his hand.
“No, Chirag,” A sharp voice, holding extremity of torment, escaped her mouth. The effort her throat put in, made her eyes leak. Hot tears rolled down her frozen cheeks as she continued, “This garden is not YOURS. I have raised it. And you have to ask for my permission every single time you pluck a flower. Every fucking single time!”
Her last words echoed, and Chirag was taken aback. He couldn’t help but bow down his head. His face reddened with guilt igniting inside him.
“I’m…….” Broken words slipped from his mouth. “I am so..rryyy…”
(This is a black moonless night. A tired Sandhya searches comfort for her aching back, changing her position every now and then. Chirag runs his fingers through her hair, which relaxes her head-cum-volcano. She closes her eyes and just when sleep is about to hug her, a pair of hands grab her curves from back to press them. It hurts her. After a while, she feels a tickle below her blouse. The finger moves down and revolves around her belly button, which gives her uneasiness more than the ecstasy that is expected from it. She distances herself a bit, trying to free herself from the firm grip.
“No, Chirag. I don’t want this,” whispers Sandhya. “Not tonight. I’m dead tired.”
The whisper isn’t very loud, but audible enough to the man of his desires, sleeping beside her. Later, he eats her body mistaking it with love bites. She falls prey to his horniness. Though she tries her best, his muscular body is hard to push away. And then he has his part of sex, knowing that sex is never about one. Sandhya’s lifeless body moves up and down just like the furniture she is getting exploited on. The moment his orgasm discharges into her body, he unties himself to sleep, and in a handsome chalet, whelmed by dense snow of January, and miles away from the chaos of the metro city, Sandhya lays on her bed with an incessant gaze to the ceiling.)
Sandhya didn’t utter a word. She surpassed him, took her towel, and entered the bathroom. Again, the mirror saw her. Unlike some minutes earlier, she beheld a woman carrying her fallen esteem altogether; a woman whose fierce orifices lit a fire of dignity in them.
“Happy birthday, Sandhya,” Her unshaken voice fell into her ears.