THE LAST STRAW
So, what repaired it?
Prava had tried to ignore the line of thought that Ranit’s behaviour nowadays encouraged. All the signs were clearly pointing to the presence of another female in her husband’s life. But she desperately wanted her marriage to work.
Prava was cooking breakfast in the kitchen while her husband Ranit waited calmly. She was still wearing her night gown while he was fully dressed for office. The clamour of the utensils in the kitchen contrasted the quiet at the dining table.
Shrimp pasta in white sauce with garlic bread was served along with a glass of fresh orange juice. Ranit put away his phone; his movements a bit too rushed to go unnoticed. And he tried too hard to focus on his breakfast.
Prava sighed to herself. They have been married for
Ranit got up when he was done and waved a polite goodbye before leaving. As Prava watched him through the window driving the car towards the big complex gate her heart seemed to break from the weight of pain and she let out some of it by shedding copious tears.
nine long years and she suddenly longed for the early days of their marriage when her burnt toast elicited the happiest of smiles from Ranit. She sat on the other side of the table pretending to look at the newsfeed in her phone while Ranit busied himself with the meal.
Ranit got up when he was done and waved a polite goodbye before
leaving. As Prava watched him through the window driving the car towards the big complex gate her heart seemed to break from the weight of pain and she let out some of it by shedding copious tears.
Another day when her husband did not make any attempt to start a conversation. Another day when he was absolutely indifferent to her unrest. Another day when she spotted him trying to hide the phone when she walked in.
rava had tried to ignore P the line of thought that Ranit’s behaviour nowadays encouraged. All the signs were clearly pointing to the presence of another female in her husband’s life. But she desperately wanted her marriage to work. No, it was not perfect in any way but she still wanted to make it last.
As she flopped down on their marital bed her thoughts drifted back to a long time ago. They were both young and energetic. They had big ambitions. And they had love. Prava and Ranit were madly in love when they got married. When Ranit got an opportunity to move abroad Prava was extremely supportive about it. She willingly gave up her high flying career and followed her husband in search of a new life.
‘I’ll find something to do there,’ she told herself happily. ‘Being with him is the most important thing for me.’
However, it turned out to be very difficult for Prava to find a job that did justice to her qualifications. She even tried to explore her long buried hobby of painting expecting to take it somewhere phenomenal but “the struggling painter” phase never seemed to end.
With the passing years Prava’s smiles started to rearrange themselves into a perpetual frown. Her unspent energy went into cooking and Ranit felt pleasantly surprised to notice the upgrade in Prava’s culinary skills. He had always let Prava choose her way of life and he simply had no clue about his wife’s inner turmoil.
This went on for a few years. For Ranit work paid well, wife cooked well and travelling the picturesque countries suited him well. Prava on the other hand went on struggling to accept the role of the dependent rich wife.
At this juncture people from their families decided to remind them about the ticking clock. They were told to plan for a baby at the earliest. Prava would have definitely decided to have a baby had people not told her to do so. Her already depressed soul took it as an insult and decided to postpone the step indefinitely.
anit was crestfallen R when he heard about her decision. He had hoped that Prava would be glad to utilise her career break to raise a baby but it was not meant to be. His wife was now firm in her resolve. She had to reinstate herself as an independent career woman first. Motherhood could wait.
At her behest Ranit grudgingly moved back to India. It would be easier to restart her career in her home country, Prava thought with a heart full of hope. Her decision was not entirely wrong. She did get a job within a month’s time but when she found out that her reporting manager was younger than her by almost a decade she quietly resigned making up silly excuses.
And that’s when Prava completely gave up looking for a job. Life went on as before but perhaps she had also given up on life as well.
Their families had gotten tired of prodding them for a baby. They had been finally accepted as a rich and happy couple who did not need a baby to complete their world.
At such a point of time one fine day Prava saw a stray dog outside the complex gate cuddling her litter. And the scene did what human words had failed to do. She started to long for the touch of her own infant. After a few days she had hesitantly brought up the topic to Ranit. To her surprise he was overjoyed. After a long time they stayed up all night planning for the future. They already felt excited to imagine the happiness a baby would bring into their life.
But the joy was short lived. After months of futile attempts in getting pregnant they decided to consult the doctors. Their worst fear was confirmed. They were not capable of having a biological child.
ife again came to a lull. L Prava cried herself to sleep on almost every night and Ranit could not find the words to console her or his own saddened heart. Time does not really heal any pain; it just teaches you to handle it better. And with the passage of time Prava decided to adopt a child to fill in the emptiness.
Ranit had always given in to his wife’s wishes but this time he said a no.
“I’d not be able to love the child as my own. It wouldn’t be fair to the baby. I’m sorry.”
Prava could not let go of the idea. Ranit had his work to keep him busy. But within the solitary confinement of her plush home Prava felt like the poorest person in the whole world and she longed more and more for a little baby.
And that’s how distance started to creep into their marriage. Every day Prava looked at Ranit with hope that he would change his mind. And every day Ranit had to find out ways to ignore her silent pleas. Slowly Prava became more and more resentful of Ranit’s inflexible stance. And Ranit started to feel that he was made to bear the brunt of Prava’s initial whims.
They lived under the same roof but the gap between their hearts was
Prava sighed as she traced the way her happy marriage had come to the present day’s shambles. She slowly got up from the bed and proceeded to prepare for her cake workshop. Of late she had started to conduct free cooking workshops.
becoming impossible to bridge.
Prava sighed as she traced the way her happy marriage had come to the present day’s shambles.
he slowly got up from S the bed and proceeded to prepare for her cake workshop. Of late she had started to conduct free cooking workshops. Interacting with young people completely clueless about cooking made her think of her happy younger self and it made her feel a little better.
As she mixed the various creams and colours to make the icings her mind
again wafted to her husband’s thoughts. Ranit had lately started taking good care of himself. He was looking quite fit and handsome for his age. As Prava looked at her flabby frame in the mirror she felt a feeling of pity flood her senses. There was no way Ranit was doing this to impress his wife. She tried not to imagine the girl who had ensnared her husband’s attention but the more she tried to think about something else the more prominent the image of a tall and svelte doeeyed girl became in her mind.
Suddenly her phone rang. It was Ranit. He called to say that he would be late and would have dinner outside.
Prava wanted to ask him right away if it was a woman. When they were younger Prava was quite the jealous wife. If she ever caught Ranit checking out another beauty she would start a fight immediately. Prava’s angular eyes, full lips and triangular face rava and Ranit carried P on with their almost broken marriage. Prava often wondered what it would be like if they got divorced. But she realised that she had no life left outside her marriage. Ranit on the other hand would have his career and a brand new love. And she resented him more for destroying her completely.
She decided that she would have to find proper evidence about his cheating ways. And then she would plan her next move against Ranit.
The next few days went in trying to read Ranit’s text messages or emails. But she had no luck. His phone was biometrically locked and his email id could not be hacked into. She remembered the days when Ranit and she used to share their passwords. But those were the days when Prava never had the need to not trust him.
Prava’s repeated attempts to gather proof were met with failure. She had almost given up on catching him red handed when something happened unexpectedly. Prava had gave her a ferocious and feline look that Ranit simply adored. And when she got mad it usually ended up in a night of wild passion. Ranit did not mind his wife’s possessive streak at all…it kept the magic alive in their life he used to think.
Recently Ranit had often made excuses about work to come home late but Prava had never found the courage to confront him. Perhaps she was afraid that he might accept it without any resistance.
Every day Prava looked at Ranit with hope that he would change his mind. And every day Ranit had to find out ways to ignore her silent pleas.
been out of home to get some fresh air. But after a few minutes she started to feel tired and came back from half way.
She was about to enter her home when she could hear Ranit speaking on the phone with someone.
“Yes…i can meet you tomorrow. Which place? Sins Café? Hahaha…nice choice!...yes I will be there…i’ll make up some excuse…no problem…6:30pm sharp.”
Prava had heard enough…she quickly ran to the lift and went to the community library. She picked up a random magazine and sat down burying her face in it. Surprisingly the tears refused to come out today. She could only feel a shiver rake her whole body. Till this point of time Prava had hope – maybe a thin hope but still there was hope. But now that was gone; she had heard Ranit plan out a tryst with her. And now she had to make the decision of when to confront Ranit and what to do about it.
fter a long time Prava A decided to postpone the decision making bit. She would catch them first. Then she would slowly decide what to do. She felt a bit stronger and she headed back home.
She found Ranit watching an EPL match with a glass of scotch when she walked in. He was indifferent to her entry in the room. Prava quickly rushed to the kitchen and fried some sausages to go with the scotch.
While tossing the sausages she realised that she loved her mundane routine a lot and the fact that it was about to end made her cry again.
When she handed the plate of starters to Ranit he smiled and murmured a word of thanks.
For a second Prava was happy to see him acknowledge her presence. But her happiness vanished when she realised that it was a smile out of pity and guilt.
“Did you have any serial to watch now? Would you like me to record it for you to watch later on?” Ranit asked.
rava suppressed her P sigh…how little Ranit knew about her daily routine. She had given up watching television a long time ago.
“No…i’ll just rest a bit.” Prava retired to the bedroom.
It was now impossible to not cry. At dinner Ranit noticed that Prava’s eyes were red and asked her casually if she was well. “I’m a bit feverish.” “You should visit the doctor tomorrow. May be at Arogya Institute? Shall I make an appointment for you?” Ranit sounded enthusiastic.
Prava knew the reason. Arogya Insitute was located not far from Sins Cafe.
“I’ll do it myself. Would you be able to pick me up from there at 10pm or so?”
“Sure,” Ranit agreed immediately.
The next day Prava woke up energetic. Perhaps the clear conclusion in sight gave her strength. Or perhaps the lack of recent excitement made her get worked up at the sudden twist of fate.
Prava entered Sins Café at 5pm. She found a corner facing the kitchen and decided to wait there.
At 6:35pm Ranit walked in. And he was not alone.
To her surprise Prava saw him walking in with a young man.
Ranit’s companion was dressed casually in a T-shirt and jeans. He had a strong build and a nice face. It was impossible to detect from his appearance that he was gay.
‘He is trying too hard to look like a heterosexual,’ Prava thought.
Then her eyes shifted to her husband. Her husband of nine years; her friend of 15 years. All these years with him and she had no clue about him being bisexual.
Prava saw the excitement in Ranit’s eyes and it felt like a rude stab.
Suddenly emboldened by the incident Prava got up.
She walked briskly and parked herself in front of their table. Both the men looked up. Both of them looked shocked and scared. The air stank of naked guilt.
“Sorry, Prava madam,” the young man stupidly apologised.
“Shut up. You speak up…ranit,” Prava felt herself coil up in anger.
“I’m extremely sorry, Prava. I think it all happened because our marriage was slipping away from our grip…fast…very fast.”
“So you decided to sleep with this man? How can he help you to strengthen the grip? Tell me! Tell me all the lurid details…i want to know!”
A few people looked up from the adjacent tables. The cafe manager came up and politely asked them to maintain decorum or leave. The decision was easy.
All three of them were soon outside fuming over different reasons.
“I did not sleep with your husband,” the young man quickly clarified.
“You were intending to,” Prava was sure.
“I am not gay and I have a girlfriend to vouch for it,” The man spoke up in his defence.
“Prava, will you stop making a fool of yourself. Sorry, Neel. I’m sorry about what happened just now.”
“Oh..to him you can apologise so easily?”
“Prava, we are not in a relationship. I’m not gay. Neel is not gay. Period.”
“He is not? Then is he a pimp? Look I know that you are having an affair behind my back. Don’t try to hide things from me any longer.” Prava was confused and angry at the same time.
“Just tell her the truth, sir,” the young man was now red with embarrassment.
“Well, Prava…neel is actually a spy. I hired him.”
“A spy? Are you involved with some top secret work?
While tossing the sausages she realised that she loved her mundane routine a lot and the fact that it was about to end made her cry again. When she handed the plate of starters to Ranit he smiled and murmured a word of thanks.
Some classified alien project?” Prava was sarcastic.
“Prava, please... I hired him to spy on you. I thought you are cheating on me.”
“What? But why? Why would I cheat on you? You are the guilty one!”
“I have seen questionable creams and desserts hidden in your cupboards. I thought that you were making something to surprise me in a kinky way some night. But obviously they were for someone else because you never offered those to me.”
“They are for my cooking workshops.”
“Your what? See how far you have moved on from me. I don’t even know what you do these days.”
“You never cared to find out. I spend most of my days cooking for you.”
“Another attempt at overcompensating for cheating on me. ” Ranit was confident.
“I am not cheating on you. What did this guy find out? He should be able to tell you what I was really up to.” Prava looked towards Neel for the first time with some respect.
But Neel lost his chance of making his mark.
“I didn’t really find anything against her. Here is the file containing the information I stole about madam. But I don’t know about any cooking class or workshop.” rava sighed and P requested Neel to leave.
“Can you please sign on this and write a good review?” Neel held out a printed form.
“But you failed to do anything good!” Ranit protested.
“You don’t have to pay me. I have a day job…i do this as a hobby. The good review will make me happy.” Neel looked at them expectantly.
Suddenly his small eyes looked like those of the puppies that Prava had seen through her window and she promptly wrote a raving review and signed it.
Neel profusely thanked them and left after wishing them good luck.
“So, Prava…where is your alibi?” Ranit asked once Neel had left. “What?” “You now know that I was not cheating on you. How will you prove the same to me?”
Taken aback Prava was quiet for a while. Then she resolutely said, “Let’s go to the club where I conduct the workshops. That will clarify the matter.”
As she started to walk Ranit held her hand and pulled her back.
“Let’s go to the doctor first…your fever is the only thing that is not fake today.”
By the time they managed to drive back home it was late in the night. riving in the lonely D road Prava and Ranit were both reminded of the long drives in their initial days. “You know Prava…all these months I had only one thought running through my head.” Prava looked at her husband feeling a bit unsettled. “I kept thinking that I would have changed my mind regarding adoption had you not decided to betray my trust and have an affair.” Prava instantly broke into a happy smile and let out a deep sigh as she rested her head on Ranit’s shoulders. That night they both slept well after a long time. The next day would bring a new beginning.
Suddenly his small eyes looked like those of the puppies that Prava had seen through her window and she promptly wrote a raving review and signed it. Neel profusely thanked them and left after wishing them good luck.
A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things. There will be sleeping enough in the grave.