Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Snobbish Doll

“…no, now, that’s mine!” Maya yelped at Shushma whilst snatching that latest Barbie model from the embrace of her best-friend. It was gifted to Shushma by her parents on their last visit. A lot of fight and ordeal went into over the possession of that doll; which finally ended up in the tight embrace of Maya, ten, a girl much like Shushma, but narcissist. Shushma gave-in as Maya was stronger and taller and therewas no way, at least not now, that she could have won her precious doll back.
A Snobbish Doll
Shushma, much in a disheveled form, made a note in her mind, as now it was futile fighting over the doll, of complaining it to her parents the next time they come over to see her; and now, once she gets to the hostel she would complain to Mrs. Warden.

“Now, I’m the mother!” Maya’s face showed the pride of victory and no regret. She shocked the very soul of Shushma who from the past week had started raising up her little doll as her beloved daughter. Nothing had broken her this much, not even her father’s scolding. She was aghast by this sudden change of motherhood that this little 10 year old girl couldn’t comprehend; felt a heavy gas squabble pushing down her throat and then through chest in the most strenuous way she had hitherto, leaving her in tremendous pain. Shushma couldn’t hold back her tears; whilst noting the things to do after getting back to hostel from this secret haven of theirs, an old fishing circle neatly placed in the middle of a wooden bridge above a meandering river separating two land-masses, which was no more than a hell to her. She brought herself up to spew a few sentences full of curses, shocking Maya to her very spine.

“I did so much… I shared everything, we could’ve played with this one too, but guess what, I’m done with you as you’ll never change. You are plain selfish and self-centered; learn to share. Mostly learn to deal with other’s happiness. You can keep this doll, but I curse you that despite having everything you won’t be contented ever. You’ll be full of insecurities. You won’t find happiness.”    

Maya, now even more furious, went straight and hit her. Even, Shushma did not hold back and brawled with full strength on the bridge over the mighty river. Their bout got them on the edge of the bridge, with Maya being pushed up to the railing of the bridge, bending backwards. Shushma, went for a big blow, right for Maya’s face, with all the adrenaline rush gathered whilst taking her arm right behind her shoulder to gain maximum power. She punched; Maya, courtesy her reflexes, managed to stoop in time making Shushma miss her shot and lean forward straight above the railing and eventually going off-balance and falling in the river.

Maya, twenty years later, was a practicing psychiatrist in the heart of Banglore. She married Ravi, an orthopedic and an ex-classmate. They shared a few common classes in college, where, Ravi won her heart; married her after three years of completion of their courses. Maya couldn’t make many friends, mostly because of her nature, but she had two friends to her credit: Ravi and Sanjay. Ravi, the most handsome guy in the college, wanted to win her heart and Sanjay was Ravi’s best friend and did whatever Ravi did or asked for. Those three spent their whole college tenure together.

Maya, post the accident with Shushma, was left with an indelible mark on her mind. At times she felt haunted by Shushma and her final words. Maya lied to the authorities about the accident and also kept the possession of the doll. Later, she was moved to a different hostel in a different city. Growing up made her forget the past and move on, but Maya never changed, at least for her nature. She became demanding, craving and vying for the best by any means. She would often store much of her prized possessions. She couldn’t stand anyone in possession of anything better than that of hers. She grew self-obsessed and snobbish, but also tall, slender and enchantingly beautiful.

“Surprise…!” barged in a happy Ravi with Sanjay on his tail.  It was their 5th marriage anniversary. Maya was overwhelmed with joy like she always had. He had again swept the floor beneath her feet and made her fall head over heels in love with him. Ravi made her life beautiful by providing her with everything she’d asked, needed or desired. He also got her social life, which was not possible for her because of her otherwise behavior. He never let the love die by the perpetual surprises and gestures which delighted her. Other women envied her for such a perfect lover, which made Maya happy. He was an ideal lover!

Maya seldom returned any gestures except for a smile, hug, kiss or passionate love making.

Ravi had arranged a small party at home with close-ones. The evening went blissfully with chatting, drinking, munching, cake-cutting, and dancing to soothing, romantic music in the background. Everything went perfect, still Maya couldn’t sleep post party. She was brooding over in the balcony after Ravi was asleep. Something had pinched her deep, right there in the party. Something YOUNG!

She had lost her focus and mind, as well. She observed Ravi for some time, as to study him.

He is perfect. He loves me. I don’t think he can do this. Definitely not to me. I’m just losing my mind. He loves me!

Taking the advantage of time, as Ravi was asleep, she slipped into his phone and started gathering evidence. She often checked his mobile-phone without his knowledge, this time she felt ashamed, but couldn’t control the urge to lighten her mind and have a sweet slumber. What she saw got her eyes more widened and kept her up the whole night!

The next morning, Maya wasn’t herself, she was in pain. Ravi could see the change but didn’t confront her as they both had to rush for work. Maya’s behavior changed a lot she started keeping to herself and was always found brooding over about something. She didn’t have any close friends to talk to. She didn’t know how to confront Ravi or whether whatever she was inferring was true? Her incessant thinking was killing her.

“What’s wrong, babe? Rough day?” Ravi would ask and show concern but she would only avoid by saying work pressure. He often suggested her to take a leave and plan a small vacation with him, she averted that as well. Later that party night, she kept slipping into his phone repeatedly and read all the chatting; especially of a particular person.

I need to know the answers. This feeling is killing me. It’s been weeks now. The chatting is not stopping. Has he got her? Their chatting seemed quite casual though, or were they flirting? They make fun of each other, quite often. Those nicknames… God! I must put an end to this. I’ll make Sanjay speak on this, he must have all the answers. Tomorrow!

‘What the hell is going on between my husband and that bitch?' Maya's patience was at its lowest ebb and she was ready to burst.

Sanjay knew that she was serious. 'Look, Maya. There is nothing going on between the two of them. Just a little bit of healthy flirting, I'd say.'

'Flirting? Healthy flirting? Really Sanjay . . .' she rolled her eyes in disgust. 'That's what you men call it? There is nothing healthy about flirting, Sanjay, not for a married man.’

Healthy flirting is a term introduced by perverted men who want to lend legitimacy to their extramarital dalliances. Flirting invariably has a sexual connotation to it.' She got up from her seat and walked around the room gesticulating and muttering something to herself. Suddenly she stopped, turned back, looked at Sanjay and asked, 'Did my husband sleep with her? You are his friend. Did he ever tell you anything about it?'

‘Oh, God! Maya! Don’t be a child. You know how much he loves you. How can you even infer this that too just from a chat?’

‘That day, when she stepped-in in the house for the party, I knew they two shared some kind of chemistry. Their dance had flair. She was so beautiful, energetic, friendly and YOUNG! Ravi must be feeling like a champion amongst his peers for doing such a beautiful trophy, doesn’t he?’

‘Maya, she’s his apprentice, he is her teacher. That’s the only chemistry they’ve. Also, she took your permission to take him from you and insisted him to dance, didn’t she? Although, all the attributes about her are true but I can assure you that Ravi is not into any women but you.’

‘Oh, you’d only take his side and defend your best-friend. I’m only your best-friend’s wife, after all!’ Saying this she left with trickles of tears falling down.

Later, Maya made Sanjay promise on the secrecy of the conversation they had. One week later, Sanjay broke his promise.

Ravi, already worried over the change of Maya’s behavior, had been trying hard to cheer her up. All his actions proved futile. After Sanjay’s disclosure, Ravi meticulously made sure to minimize the chatting or to delete and edit the chat from the day. Ravi showered even more love, care and affection but all in vain, as for Maya, she only perceived it for a deceit to overshadow his extra-marital affair. The more he showered love, the more she got pushed towards the edge.

Weeks passed. Months passed. Ravi had tried everything to cheer Maya, but she didn’t budge. It only made things worse between them. They hadn’t made love to each other or even touched. The atmosphere had gotten weird. She hardly spoke with him. She was deeply sunk into her imaginary world of them making love, laughing, walking hand-in-hand and living a married life and every single thought of it made her more lifeless.

Maya had realized that the seed of doubt was ever growing into a humongous tree, because of which she hadn’t been eating, sleeping, bathing regularly; she had gotten herself thinner and paler. She had resigned from work and would lay in a corner or in the balcony like a dead furniture for whole day. Weeks!

‘…but I can’t stop thinking of you two when you’re at work,’ Maya would always put this up as defense to silence Ravi who had nothing left to prove that he was not guilty. Having tried everything and also not wanting to end the marriage, they both agreed on changing the city, as a measure to solve the problem. 

They agreed upon Mumbai. Soon, the process of relocating began. Finally, they were talking to each other, restricted to shifting.

One day, while packing stuff, alone at home, Maya went into her store room to ascertain if anything of importance that they needed to shift to the new home is not left behind. She came across a box labeled ‘Childhood’. Much delighted she opened it and went through her old stuff only to come across an old, shabby doll.

That doll!

–Sagar Ghadge


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