A Strong, Beautiful and Amazing Woman
The ghost of her dead husband also lost out to Sania’s self-possession.
ania powdered her nose, put on some lipstick and contemplated her reflection. Brown eyes that had lost a tad of their sparkle looked back at her. ‘You are a strong, beautiful and amazing woman, Sania Shenoy,’ she recited dutifully, just like the latest self-help book, Take control of your life! recommended. She squared her shoulders, feeling better. Rohan sauntered over, a ghost of a smile warming up his pale face.
"Chanting mantras will not give you control of your life. Balancing the cheque book and paying your bills on time will give you control over your life. Have you paid the electricity bill?" he asked. Sania was a little careless with practical things. She often misplaced important documents and had trouble paying bills on time.
"I'm going to do it on my way to work," she said, turning to him in exasperation. “Don't worry so much." She put the cap back on her lipstick and shoved it into her purse. She went into the kitchen to grab a quick bite before leaving for work. She rummaged through the fridge and took out the bread and butter and had a quick slice along with a glass of ice cold water.
"One slice of bread and water? That's it?" asked Rohan incredulously. "How much time does it take to make an omelette or some idlis? And why are you packing that leftover pizza for your lunch? I can't believe how unhealthy your diet has become. You just aren't getting the hang of living on your own," complained Rohan.
Sania turned around and glared at him. "Enough! I'm sick of you haunting me and lecturing me every day for the past two years. You really have to move on, Rohan. I have!"
A deathly silence ensued. "I'm only here to make sure that my leaving hasn't caused you any problems. If you want me to move on, then I will. You don't know what it's costing me to hang around in this world when I've already earned my place in a much higher plane. If you don't want me around, I'll leave." Saying this, he vanished.
Sania felt a pang of regret when he left. Rohan was her husband but he had passed away two years ago. Due to his extreme anxiety for Sania's wellbeing, his spirit continued to linger around her. When they were married five years ago, he had promised to take care of her for as long as they both were alive and he was now taking his promise a bit too seriously.
She picked up her purse and walked into the living room. He was sitting on the living-room sofa and sulking. Sania softened. "I'm going on a date tonight, Rohan. Don't wait for me and don't worry about me. I might be really late."
was so startled that he forgot that he was supposed to be sulking. "You're going on a date?" he asked, looking at Sania distraught. Intellectually, he knew that this day would come but he still wasn't quite prepared for it. He reminded himself that he would never be enough for Sania any more and it was ridiculous for him to expect it, but the thought still tore into him. Here he was, thinking he was providing her comfort and support but all he was really doing was offering her legal and financial advice. What was he good for anyway? He couldn't catch her when she tripped or hold her when she was sad. Hell, he couldn't even magically double her bank balance when nobody was
" I can understand that you must miss the physical part of our marriage. I think I have a solution. There's Sumant in 504. He's a nice guy, looking to settle down. He's good- looking and is about to become a partner in some architectural firm," he said gruffly, avoiding her eyes. " I think he'll suit your needs..."
looking. Being a ghost was totally overrated.
He thought of all the things he missed about her. She would never walk around the house shedding her clothes with a naughty, mischievous look in her eyes any more. Now, when she took off her clothes, she was really just changing her clothes. She wasn't trying to seduce him. The thought rattled him a bit. It was so typical of a woman. When you wanted to have sex with her, she wanted to be up all night and talk. Now, when all he could do was stay up all night and talk, she wanted to go out and get to know other men and probably sleep with them too. The thought was disturbing.
"I can understand that you must miss the physical part of our marriage. I think I have a solution. There's Sumant in 504. He's a nice guy, looking to settle down. He's good-looking and is about to become a partner in some architectural firm," he said gruffly, avoiding her eyes. "I think he'll suit your needs..."
"Oh my goodness! I don't want to talk about this with you. Did you hear what you just said? What are you doing? Are you a pimp now?" Sania was shocked at what she was hearing. When she had accepted a date from Mihir, who had been her boyfriend in college, she hadn't thought about a physical relationship. All she wanted to do, was go out with a real man for a change instead of always having dinner at home with Rohan for company. It was a simple testing of waters. A first step in finding out if she was over Rohan.
She had bumped into Mihir at the supermarket near her house. He had been offered a job in Bangalore and had moved here three months ago. Most importantly, he was still single. He had wanted to establish himself in a career in marketing before he got married, he had said when they were together. He was now a regional sales manager in a computer hardware company. Mihir was the perfect choice. He was familiar and she already knew they had great chemistry.
"This has nothing to do with you. You don't get to decide who I go out with. Even when we were married everything was always about what you wanted, wasn't it? The move to Bangalore for the promotion you wanted, the house you wanted, even this sofa. You were the one who wanted this sofa. I wanted the cream one. Well, guess what? You don't get to decide anything any more. The day you chose to go out drinking with your buddies and driving around drunk instead of coming home for dinner, you stopped having any say in my life. Do you get that?" She stormed out of the house and slammed the door behind her trying to put some distance between them. He could always follow her in a heartbeat if he wanted to, she knew that, but he didn't.
She could still remember that night as if it happened yesterday. That awful phone call from the police telling her that Rohan’s car had met with an accident and two of his friends had died along with him. They had gone to a pub to celebrate Rohan’s promotion and had been a bit inebriated when a truck had come and hit them from the side. She shivered and tried to shake off the depression that was slowly beginning to settle around her. ‘You’re a strong, beautiful and amazing woman, Sania Shenoy!’ she muttered dispiritedly as she made her way out of her building.
that night, Sania lingered outside her apartment, wondering if she should invite Mihir inside. They had had a great evening together. He had made her feel so vibrant, so womanly, so wanted. It was something she hadn't felt in a long time even after chanting her mantra religiously every day. What was it about a certain man's touch, breath and voice that could make all the cells in a woman's body come alive while many others couldn’t even make her take a second glance? She had missed this. She wanted to surrender. She wanted to belong to somebody. She wanted to melt into the hard planes of his body. The musky male perfume pervading her senses, the warmth of his body and her own vulnerability was adding to her weakness.
Mihir was moving closer now. His mouth hovered close to hers and one hand had slipped around her waist. "Why did we break up, Sania?" he asked, his eyes almost liquid with emotion and alcohol.
Sania looked up into his
Mihir was moving closer now. His mouth hovered close to hers and one hand had slipped around her waist. "Why did we break up, Sania?" he asked, his eyes almost liquid with emotion and alcohol. They had had a great evening together. He had made her feel so vibrant, so womanly, so wanted.
eyes, some of her passion fading. "You went to Delhi to study, remember? I stayed back in Bombay. We just drifted apart after that." She stroked his arm and rested her head against his shoulder. "Do you want to come in, Mihir?" she whispered against his chest and felt his arm tighten around her.
“Yes," she heard him mumble softly against her head. "Really badly."
unlocked the door, carefully scanning the room for Rohan's presence. She already knew that he wasn't there. She could always feel when Rohan was with her. He had obviously taken her little speech this morning seriously. "Would you like some coffee or tea, Mihir?" she asked, darting glances towards the kitchen. She didn't think Rohan was there but it didn't hurt to be careful. She felt like a teenager who was smuggling her boyfriend into her bedroom while her parents were asleep. She ignored the feeling.
"Don't worry about that. I'm fine. Why don't you sit down and relax?" He pulled her on to the sofa and began to kiss her. His hands began to move under her shirt.
She shot down the mild sense of discomfort she felt. "I really need a cup of coffee. I've had a long day and the wine's made me sleepy. Would you like a cup?" she asked, breaking apart from Mihir.
"Er...okay...sure. Maybe just a little," said Mihir, smiling at her awkwardly.
She turned on the television for Mihir and went into the kitchen to make the coffee. She checked the balcony and then the bedroom while the coffee was brewing. It was almost midnight. It was unlike Rohan to stay away that late, she thought.
"Are you okay in there?" called out Mihir. "Do you need any help?"
"No. No. I'm fine," she answered back. “Just coming."
She brought out the coffee and changed a few channels. "Hey! Dil Chahta Hai! I love this movie. Do you want to watch?"
Mihir finished his coffee and gently put down his cup. "You seem tensed, Sania. Don't you want to do this? I don't bite. Well, not unless you want me to," he joked.
Sania laughed politely. This was beginning to feel like a bad idea. She decided to be honest with Mihir. That was what strong, beautiful, amazing women did. They did not lead men on. "I don't think I'm ready for this yet, Mihir. It's been two years since my husband's death and I'm still not comfortable being with anybody else." There. She had said it aloud. She had been brave. She had taken a chance and now she was asserting herself. Just like the book had taught her to.
Mihir sighed. "Maybe it's just as well. Some things are better off in the past. I'm getting married in three months, Sania. It's an arranged marriage. I shouldn't even be here, should I? It's just that, seeing you that day brought back all the old memories and I got kind of carried away. I'm so sorry."
Sania sat back in the sofa and waited for the pain to take over. The last time Mihir had left, she had fallen to pieces. It had taken an almost perfect Rohan with his perfect looks, manners, intelligence and charm to get her interested in men again. But this time she felt nothing. Just a sense of relief that she hadn't hurt Mihir’s feelings with her rejection. So this is what closure felt like, she thought to herself after Mihir had left.
next day, she was fixing herself some cornflakes when Rohan appeared. "I guess the date didn't work out, huh?"
She looked at him seriously and added some milk to her cornflakes. "It worked out, Rohan. Probably in a better way than I had anticipated."
Rohan frowned in that endearing way that he did when he thought that she was being totally flaky and irrational. It was the frown that had made her fall in love with him and she felt sad knowing that she had to get used to not seeing it ever again. Just like she had to get used to never seeing his smile again.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"Last night made me realise that I can live without you, Rohan. I don't need you; I don't need Mihir; I don't need the guy in 504. When Mihir left me after college, I was devastated, but I carried on. Just like how I'm going to carry on without you." Her eyes glistened with tears. "I think I have to let you go now. I don't think I will ever love anyone like this again but I still have to let you go, Rohan."
Rohan was silent for a long time.
"What? You understand what I'm saying – right?" Sania asked as she came and stood before him. "This isn't really healthy for either of us."
stood perfectly still in front of her. "I don't think I'll ever love anyone like this again either,” he said sadly. “I’m sorry I screwed everything up.”
He was gone in a second and Sania knew this time he would never be back. She could just feel it deep inside her soul. This was how it was supposed to be, she consoled herself. Deep sobs wracked her body as she cried harder than when Rohan had died. When the sobs lessened, she washed her face and redid her make-up. She had to go to work. She had a life to live. We
"Last night made me realise that I can live without you, Rohan. I don't need you; I don't need Mihir; I don't need the guy in 504. When Mihir left me after college, I was devastated, but I carried on. Just like how I'm going to carry on without you."