A FULL CIRCLE

The out­come of a hid­den plan.

Woman's Era - - Short Story - By Tan­ima Das Mi­tra

Dariya was seated in front of the mir­ror do­ing her hair while her hus­band Rishi waited for her on the comfy leather sofa with an air of ap­par­ent calm.

It was like a silent game be­tween Dariya and Rishi. Any sign of rest­less­ness from Rishi would make Dariya slower than she al­ready was. In­side, Rishi was fum­ing be­cause the movie that they had planned to watch was about to start in less than 10 min­utes and the mul­ti­plex was 30 min­utes away from their home.

Dariya could smell the angst in her hus­band and she se­cretly felt very happy. Her shade of lip­stick seemed to match per­fectly with the high­lights in her hair but she sud­denly wanted to erase it and ap­ply a new shade that went well with her scar­let out­fit.

Some very rude words al­most flew out of Rishi's lips but with ex­treme re­straint he shut his mouth. Pleased, Dariya ap­plied the new colour quickly and pre­sented her­self in front of Rishi.

“How do I look?” she asked him.

“Like a princess out of an ex­otic fairy tale,” Rishi an­swered truth­fully as he sprayed a musky per­fume all over him­self. Dariya was not happy with the an­swer. But she could not fight a tech­ni­cally cor­rect an­swer so they both had to set­tle for a draw that day.

Dariya and Rishi had started off as a happy cou­ple who got mar­ried out of their own will. But they now got plea­sure only from en­rag­ing each other and in prov­ing each other wrong. It was a mar­riage that had started with heavy duty pas­sion and nei­ther of them had any idea that things would go so wrong one day.

Dariya used to be the class queen in her col­lege days. She was the girl ev­ery­one wanted to be with. A hand-picked bunch of tall and sculpted boys had been al­lowed by Dariya to be a part of her friends’ circle. Many of them had come to re­alise that it was just too much work to have Dariya as a girl­friend and had given up on that dream. But there was one El Kay who be­came Dariya’s boyfriend. His orig­i­nal name was Lokesh Ku­mar but he con­ve­niently ab­bre­vi­ated it to make it sound cooler.

El Kay and Dariya made quite an adorable cou­ple and for a long time they were very much in love. Rishi also went to the same col­lege but he was a year se­nior and also stud­ied in a dif­fer­ent depart­ment. Ini­tially they were un­aware of each other’s pres­ence.

Rishi and Dariya had first met in the crowded col­lege can­teen. The stu­dents were scat­tered in

Dariya and Rishi had started off as a happy cou­ple who got mar­ried out of their own will. But they now got plea­sure only from en­rag­ing each other and in prov­ing each other wrong.

ran­dom bunches all over the place. Some were hum­ming new tunes while some were play­ing cards. Oth­ers were quite con­tent with be­ing aim­lessly loud and bois­ter­ous.

Dariya en­tered the can­teen and looked around for her friends. None of the known faces was present. Feel­ing off al­ready Dariya walked up to the mid­dle of the can­teen. She never loved cor­ners. She had this un­quench­able need to be at the cen­tre­point of every­thing. A boy was writ­ing some­thing at the cor­ner of a rather long table. Dariya looked around for an empty table but all the other ta­bles were al­ready taken by other groups who were al­ready cast­ing ap­pre­cia­tive glances at her. Pleased with the at­ten­tion Dariya sat her­self at the long table and pre­tended to be aloof to the very pal­pa­ble ex­cite­ment in the air caused by her pres­ence.

But a cur­sory glance around told her that she had got­ten the at­ten­tion of all but one. The one boy with whom she was shar­ing the table was still fo­cused on his ex­er­cise copy.

He was Rishi. Now Rishi was an av­er­age guy in all re­spects. He looked av­er­age, thought av­er­age and even aimed to blend into the mul­ti­tudes of av­er­age. The thought of stand­ing out in a crowd made Rish panic and un­like many oth­ers he was quite happy by the medi­ocrity al­lot­ted to him by na­ture.

He was try­ing to write a poem for Man­isha. Man­isha had been his friend for around a year and through­out this whole year they had both tried to pre­tend that they were not in­ter­ested in ex­plor­ing any­thing that can­not be termed as pla­tonic. But then came a point when both just gave in to hu­man phys­i­ol­ogy and ad­mit­ted their feel­ings for each other.

Rishi of­ten com­posed songs and po­etry for Man­isha. She too was an av­er­age look­ing girl with av­er­age am­bi­tions out of life. When she found Rishi, her senses ex­pe­ri­enced per­fec­tion for the first time in the ef­fort­less blend­ing of their per­son­al­i­ties.

Dariya’s first emo­tion at see­ing Rishi was prob­a­bly the truest. His re­fusal to be stunned by her pres­ence en­raged her. She inched closer to him seek­ing a suit­able mo­ment to start a con­ver­sa­tion.

Rishi never looked up from his ex­er­cise copy. For­get­ting all her man­ners she started to read the poem. It was beau­ti­ful one com­par­ing the beauty of a river to an un­named woman. She was in the mid­dle of the sec­ond stanza when Rishi au­di­bly cleared his throat.

Dariya looked up and found Rishi look­ing at her with an of­fended ex­pres­sion.

“I’m sorry…i just love po­etry and hence I peeped over without ask­ing,” Dariya de­cided to be­come a po­etry lover in­stantly. “You write re­ally well. Ac­tu­ally I’m not sorry that I read your poem. I’m glad that I did.” Dariya said with a voice that sounded like the mu­si­cal bells of a tem­ple.

Rishi thanked her in an un­com­fort­able tone. He also added that he was try­ing to write a poem for his girl­friend.

This was the point where he truly man­aged to cap­ture Dariya’s fancy. In her ex­pe­ri­ence men usu­ally looked up when she was in close prox­im­ity. Se­condly, when­ever she had in­tro­duced her­self to a man, she had al­ways found them claim­ing to be sin­gle.

Dariya could not get her thoughts off Rishi ever since their first meet­ing. The first whiff of chal­lenge made Dariya’s pri­mal hunt­ing in­stincts come alive.

Rishi on the other hand for­got com­pletely about Dariya the mo­ment she left. To him she was a very beau­ti­ful and some­what weird girl who was most def­i­nitely out of his league. More­over he was truly happy with Man­isha.

But he had no idea what be­ing hap­pier felt like…

Dariya turned up at the most un­ex­pected mo­ments to catch up with Rishi and de­spite his best ef­forts to re­sist the in­va­sion, Rishi started to en­joy her com­pany.

Then a day came when Dariya sadly con­fessed to Rishi that no one had ever writ­ten a poem for her. Rishi stayed up that night writ­ing the most beau­ti­ful poem for Dariya.

There is noth­ing quite in­tox­i­cat­ing as the hint of new love and that night Rishi let his feel­ings pour freely into the cast of po­etry.

The next day Rishi waited for Dariya in the des­o­late lane be­hind their col­lege. A gentle breeze seemed to soothe Rishi’s nerves as Dariya joined him. The fra­grance of some un­known flow­ers com­bined with the mel­low win­try sun to cast a spell on Rishi. He for­got all about his com­mit­ment to Man­isha and told Dariya that he loved her.

In re­ply Dariya stared at him for a long while without a word. And then she guided Rishi through the me­an­der­ing lane to a pond and sat him down on an aban­doned log. She her­self then sat by his legs and rested her head on his lap and ut­tered just one word, “Yes.”

The joy that Rish felt at that mo­ment was in­com­pa­ra­ble to any­thing else in the whole world.

El Kay and Man­isha were bro­ken up the very next day. El Kay was rude and sore about the episode while Man­isha re­served her tears for the hours be­yond mid­night.

El Kay was ac­tu­ally an hon­est guy with a good heart and a frail ego. Within a week of the un­cer­e­mo­ni­ous dump­ing he used his fam­ily con­tacts and got him­self en­gaged to a beau­ti­ful coy maiden which promptly erased the po­ten­tial tar­nish on his so­cial im­age.

Years passed and Dariya and Rishi had got­ten mar­ried too. Prob­lems started when Dariya’s high from ac­quir­ing Rishi started to wear off. She needed the next chal­lenge and Rishi failed to pro­vide one.

Man­isha was an in­tro­verted woman who never let any­one know what the snub felt like to her. She did not keep in touch with Rishi and he was kind of re­lieved to know that he would not have to deal with the bur­den of guilt over and over again.

Rishi and Dariya were quite ju­bi­lant as a cou­ple. Rishi re­alised that he could achieve so much more than just av­er­age with Dariya by his side. Maybe it was the lack of mo­ti­va­tion that made him lead a lack lus­tre ex­is­tence.

His ca­reer path shone and he went on to bag one of the most pres­ti­gious jobs. Dariya too was elated to be with Rishi. His love was some­thing that she had to fight and earn for her­self. Every­thing else had come to her too eas­ily ex­cept for Rishi’s adu­la­tion. That she had to work for and that brought the max­i­mum plea­sure to her.

Years passed and Dariya and Rishi had got­ten mar­ried too. Prob­lems started when Dariya’s high from ac­quir­ing Rishi started to wear off. She needed the next chal­lenge and Rishi failed to pro­vide one.

Rishi too was un­happy in cer­tain ways. Yes, he had won a tro­phy wife who pulled him out of his com­fort zone and pushed him be­yond it but there were times when he wished to be pam­pered as well. But Dariya could never un­der­stand that need.

When­ever Rishi com­plained of an ill­ness Dariya talked about an­other ill­ness of her own; when­ever he sug­gested a trip to some­where Dariya man­aged to edit her pref­er­ences into it and when­ever he sug­gested a new po­si­tion Dariya cer­tainly de­cided against it due to some kind of life threat­en­ing risk.

Re­sent­ment started to build up al­though they kept on pre­tend­ing that noth­ing was amiss.

Then one day Rishi came back from work un­happy and sullen. The pro­mo­tion due for him had been given over to the guy he hated the most.

And all that Dariya could of­fer was a hug and the words, “I will al­ways be there for you.”

The right an­swer was, “You are so much bet­ter than him.”

And from that point on­ward Rishi too de­cided to stop fu­elling her ego. He cut off his doses of com­pli­ments and de­cided to be truth­ful all the time.

Hon­esty can be quite a dread­ful thing for a mar­riage. And when the lit­tle com­pul­sory lies went miss­ing from their mar­riage, Rishi and Dariya slowly turned into foes who fought mind games day and night.

It was at this point of time that Rishi hap­pened to run into Man­isha. He walk­ing up to his of­fice on a cool and bright morn­ing when an at­trac­tive face caught his eyes. Within a few sec­onds he got a big shock to re­alise that it was Man­isha. She was dressed in a pair of trendy jeans and cold shoul­ders top. The streaks of red in her hair gave her a fancy ap­peal that Rishi could not trace back to the past. Man­isha seemed to look straight at him from be­hind her pho­tochro­matic glasses.

Af­ter the first few mo­ments of hes­i­ta­tion they started to walk to­gether to­wards a tea stall. A cup of tea and a lot of shared laughs… that was what their past was like. They talked a bit about rou­tine stuff and Rishi found out that she was cur­rently work­ing in the build­ing next to his of­fice. Stand­ing by her side Rishi looked around. Screech­ing cars, beep­ing phones and rush­ing peo­ple were seen in all direc­tions. Amidst such chaos the pres­ence of Man­isha seemed to wash over him like waves of peace and calm.

They walked away with smiles and without ex­chang­ing num­bers. Rishi was ab­so­lutely against any af­fairs and with her it was never go­ing to be just friend­ship.

Around the same time Dariya re­ceived a friend re­quest from El Kay, who she was sur­prised to found out, had been re­cently di­vorced. Dariya too was not keen on hav­ing an af­fair. It looked nice to have a sta­ble mar­riage. But at the same time she could not re­sist the temp­ta­tion of the po­ten­tial bar­rage of com­pli­ments that she could get from El Kay.

A few months went by.

Rishi be­gan to meet Man­isha for lunch ev­ery day. They were ob­vi­ously in love again but like ear­lier they pre­tended that they could stay just sup­port­ive friends to each other.

Dariya and El Kay too talked on the phone ev­ery day and had gone out ex­clu­sively for a cou­ple of times. Each time Dariya com­plained to El Kay how Rishi had changed and how he bla­tantly ne­glected his mar­i­tal du­ties. El Kay’s shoul­ders were very com­fort­ing in these try­ing

El Kay and Dariya made quite an adorable cou­ple and for a long time they were very much in love. Rishi also went to the same col­lege but he was a year se­nior and also stud­ied in a dif­fer­ent depart­ment. Ini­tially they were un­aware of each other’s pres­ence.

When­ever Rishi com­plained of an ill­ness Dariya talked about an­other ill­ness of her own; when­ever he sug­gested a trip to some­where Dariya man­aged to edit her pref­er­ences into it and when­ever he sug­gested a new po­si­tion Dariya cer­tainly de­cided against it due to some kind of lifethreat­en­ing risk.

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