What was that? Startled, she forced her eyes open. She must have been dreaming, she thought. Feeling disoriented, she could not make out where she was. Gradually her eyes adjusted to the darkness and then she remembered. Its her hotel room. Mansi was on a vacation.
Glancing to her left, she could see Tej asleep. She searched for her phone which she normally kept beside her pillow but could not locate it until she saw it lying on the floor to her right. That explains the sound.
She peeked at the time by the watch resting on the corner table,5.11 am. Wondering why its still so dark,she alighted her bed and picked up the glass of water in the table beside. Slowly,Mansi made her way to the balcony still trying to remember what she dreamt but in vain. Pushing aside the curtains, she stepped outside. It is not so dark after all.
The sky has a whitish grey hue. It is dawn. Mansi sat on the chair, staring into the oblivion, not sure for how long. She turned around and saw her husband spread out in the bed. A faint smile appeared on her lips. This vacation was their second anniversary gift to each other. In these last two years, they have been so invested in their careers that they could hardly afford any time to go vacationing. So when Tej told her one month back he might be able get a week long leave in October, Mansi could not help planning and anticipating their lone time ahead.
Tej and Mansi were neither similar nor opposite in nature . People say opposites attract while others argue that like minded people always make the best pair; however they were neither of the two .They bonded like friends at times, quarreled like enemies for certain others and loved and lusted like lovers for all the rest. She could not say everything in her marriage was to her liking. In all probability, umpteen number of things would come up which she didn’t mind adjusting in bits and parts to her liking. She might not complain if Tej displayed his affections more openly time and again. Of the two, Tej was the sensible one, and Mansi the sensitive. Her husband was all about control and all she wanted was to let go. But Tej wouldn’t be the man he is, if he acted anything otherwise. Recalling the episode at Krishna Aunt’s house warming party three months back, she was all the more convinced that she liked her man as he is.
Krishna Aunty was her father’s cousin and all her relatives and friends were invited for the party. Varun, who was Krishna Aunty’s friend’s son was there at the party too.. He also happened to be Mansi’s friend having spend most of the afternoons hanging around at her aunt’s backyard with him all those adolescent and teenage years. Their friendship would have surely turned into something more if Mansi was willing with Varun always being vocal about his feelings towards her. She did have some feelings towards Varun in those earlier days. May be with some persuasion those could have turned into something not so platonic. However at that time he didn’t feel like the right person to her. Varun was upset by her rejection. Nevertheless they did remain friends but not as thick as before.
When she saw Varun at the party, all these thoughts hit her at once. Did she regret rejecting his proposal?. No, she didn’t. She glanced towards Tej. He knows the equation between Varun and his wife. Turning her attention again to Varun,she could still still the longing in his eyes. May be, not fiercely as earlier, but she could see a glimmer.
Varun came over and sat beside her and popped up the ice breaker, “So, How’s life?”. She replied with a smile, “Good”. She could also see Tej looking at them through fleeting glances every now and then.
“Heard you are in Delhi now. Since how long?”, Varun asked
“Three years”, she replied,
“…and before that?”
“Gurgaon”, she replied.
“So you have shifted to Delhi”, Mansi questioned
“Yes, new job, posted at company head office at The Plaza. That’s where you work right?. I was hoping we could catch up after all these times.”
“Yes, sure. Why not. How are your parents? They still in Nagaon?”, Mansi asked.
“Yeah.Still there. They are the reason I have shifted to Delhi, you know.”
“Really, How so?”
“They want me to get married. I am still not ready. Everyday for the last one year, they have been pestering me. So I decided to follow the policy of – out of sight,out of mind”, he chuckled.
“What’s so bad in getting married? It will do you good.”.
“Well,not every day you get a girl to your liking, and the one I liked chose another”
“Oh,” she replied deciding its time she ended this talk before someone says something which is totally unquotable .All this time, she realized, Varun was intently gazing at her and she was getting hugely uncomfortable.
Mansi again glanced at her husband. He was talking to Uncle Nripen. She suddenly felt very angry. Which self -respecting man would allow another man to cosy up to his wife in public. Mansi very well knew Tej saw her talking to Varun for good ten minutes. He might not be privy to their conversation being at a certain distance from them but she was in no mood to defend her husband’s indifference at that point of time. She being overly sensitive one expected Tej to come over and and say something, just for once to show possessiveness. She could feel tears building up in her eyes. She felt stupid, what is there to cry about!.
She excused herself and made her way towards the washroom deciding to recollect herself. Grabbing a tissue she dabbed her glistening eyes. “What is wrong with her?”, she thought. “Here is her husband who trusts her so much so as to leave her in Varun’s company and respects her enough not to make a scene at the party by going all territorial and she was crying. But that’s what she is and she can’t change that, she internally battled with herself justifying her emotional outburst”, she tried to justify herself .
Mansi liked her man to knows how to assert his presence. Not that she needed any protection and neither was she dependent on him financially or otherwise. But as much she loved her independence and self-reliant nature, she also couldn’t help wanting to the apple of her husband’s eyes. She wanted him to show it the whole world that she is his and he doesn’t share. Call her desires primal but that’s what she was. Oh Lord! If her friend Momi heard her now,the latter would have told her in no uncertain terms that it was due to her reading all those adult fiction novels in her teenage days. May be its true. Sigh!
The ride back home was silent.
Tej guessing my sour mood asked,” What’s the problem?”
She said,” Huh! No Nothing”.
Tej retorted,” Come on speak it out.”
“Nothing”, Mansi maintained.
His face turned grim. He didn’t pursue any further. Tej didn’t like one worded answers. She knew.
Mansi was taken aback when he again casually asked her, “Why is Varun in Delhi?”
“He changed jobs. Posted here now”, she replied still wondering where the conversation is going
“Ohk. Where is his office?”, Tej kept on with his eyes still on the road.
“Same as yours?, he said trying to confirm. She replied in affirmative.
She could see his knuckles turning white as he caught on to the steering wheels too tightly.
Mansi asked,” Why ? What’s the problem?”
“No Nothing”, he grunted.
Her lips involuntarily spread out into a smile. Her husband was upset and there she was grinning like a fool. Mansi looked outside the car window on her left, looking away from Tej feeling ecstatic at his display of emotion no matter how little that was. She knows he just respects and trusts her way too much to work on impulse. All her anger of the evening just evaporated.
The cool breeze suddenly hit her and she came to present times. She could feel a faint blush creeping into her cheeks recalling the passionate night that followed thereafter after reaching home that night.
Mansi again turned around to look at her husband and was not at all surprised to see him already awake,resting on his right elbow sideways and looking at her with a smile on his face. He normally wakes up by 5.45 am. His biological clock is probably set to it after years of waking up at the same time.
She wondered what going on in his mind.
Well that’s story for another time.