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The Shattered Illusions

Discussion in 'Stories (Fiction)' started by GeetaKashyap, May 1, 2018.

  1. GeetaKashyap

    GeetaKashyap IL Hall of Fame

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    (Here is an effort to catch the mind of an innocent young woman on the threshold of married life and her transition from fantasy to reality.)

    The Shattered illusions


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    I sat on the balcony and watched the sea and the people coming to the promenade at Bandra, a western suburb of Mumbai. I was not voyeuristic or anything like that, I genuinely loved watching the vast sky, the grey Arabian Sea, its lashing waves, the tetrapods, families enjoying with their kids, fast-paced dog walkers, joggers, young lovers, the cars and the sellers of the roasted corn cobs, cotton candies, balloons and what not! To me, everything was new and attractive as I had not seen anything like this in Pune. Watching life pass by helped to keep my mind active and pass time.

    I was born and brought up in Pune. As kids, my younger brother and I would visit our Shamu kaka in Mumbai and pester him to take us to all the beaches of Mumbai. He would always allow us to enjoy the water and sand to our heart’s fill. And then of course when my wedding was fixed with Anmol, who had a sea facing flat in Mumbai, my joy knew no boundary as I would get to watch the sea every day. Anmol worked for a foreign bank in Mumbai and had a hectic schedule. On a regular day, he would leave for office by 8:30 am and return only by 8:00 pm. The whole day I used to be home alone. Unlike in smaller cities, in big cities, nobody talks to the other. I got to know that Bandra is a premium locality and very rich and famous people live here. Who was I to them!

    After seeing off my hubby to work, every day I used to read newspapers sitting on my 3rd-floor balcony and sip coffee as the warm sunlight would light up our balcony. Later, after an hour or so I would catch up with my studies. Well, I was married immediately after my final year degree but Anmol had assured me that he would allow me to pursue my Masters in Psychology, in Mumbai. Since I did not desire to squander my time, I was studying for my Masters in advance. Again by 5:00 pm, I would be on the balcony for an hour and a half. Then I would prepare dinner and wait for Anmol.

    Even as a child, I had always enjoyed watching the clouds and the various shapes they created. Similarly, watching people and predicting their next actions was an amusing game I had invented to amuse myself. Most of the time, my predictions were right and it made me really happy. I would often imagine myself as a great Psychologist who could look at people, predict their problems and resolve them like magic!

    For a while, I used to observe how a foreigner walked his most obedient dogs. I would guess what would happen next, like, he will stop to talk to someone, he will turn back to look at the woman who jogged past him or he would stop to do some stretches etc. When he became too predictable, I lost interest in watching him and his dogs. Then I also used to watch a rich brat in his twenties who came there quite often. Every time he used to get different imported cars and girlfriends. He would try to get people’s attention with his flair and pomp. I guessed him to be a film producer’s son planning to get into films as a hero. His girlfriends would pamper him and his ego. Sometimes they would put up with some humiliation too. Are you wondering how do I know all these? Well, in full public view he would shout and gesticulate! Then there was a maid who would come with a 3-4-year-old girl in a pram! That child never ever got off the pram or played. She would watch the sea and the people quietly while the maid would get busy with her male friend. I used to feel sorry for that child. Was she a physically or mentally challenged child? I had often felt a strong impulse to approach the child and check out personally. But I could never muster enough courage to do it.

    Once, while watching the sea and the promenade, my attention was caught by an attractive girl in a pink Salwar suit. Her hair was unusually curly and it resembled a beehive. She sat on a bench for a while and then impatiently moved looking around, shielding her eyes from the sharp evening sunlight with her hands. As she suddenly waved I thought she must have spotted her boyfriend and I was right! There he was, in blue faded jeans and a brown jerkin. Helmet in his hand indicated that he had a two-wheeler. As he came, he put his arms around her. They seemed so happy and they did not care for the world around. They started walking towards the tetrapods and then settled somewhere there. I could not view them from my balcony. As this pair caught my attention, I named them ‘The bee-hive pair.’ As a new bride, I too had imagined such bold display of love from my husband. But soon after my marriage, I realised that he was a little too self-conscious and would never even hold my hand in public. Somewhere in a remote corner of my heart I was terribly disappointed but then his other actions had compensated me sufficiently!

    The next day was a Tuesday. I wanted to see if ‘The bee-hive pair’ would return. She came in another pink dress and I concluded that pink was her favourite colour. She did not have to wait for long as he joined her quickly. Hand in hand they vanished behind those rocks. My mind started imagining as to what would they be talking about? Were they happy together or did they fight?

    That night I told my hubby about my guesses regarding ‘The bee-hive pair.’ Anmol started laughing and said, ‘Amita, do they come here to talk? How childish are you?’ I was left embarrassed. My protected life at my parents’ place and being with a gang of friends and cousins always, never gave me time to think of the other part of a man-woman relationship. Though I had read enough about these, somehow it had not sunk in. Soon I got diverted by a call from mum and dad.

    On Wednesday, again I was there on the balcony. With my new knowledge, I waited to observe ‘The bee-hive pair.’ I saw her coming in a pink skirt. I thought she looked very pretty. He was already there in blue denim and a white tee shirt. Their happiness was evident. I could feel the goosebumps when she almost embraced him in full public view. I missed my Anmol at that moment and my imagination was running wild. I imagined them doing a Bollywood-style song and dance routine. I shivered with excitement. I felt like phoning Anmol then and there but held back myself knowing how he would frown. He did not like unwanted phone calls during the office hours.

    On Thursday, I was on the balcony; I was like a curious kid discovering something new for the first time. I was too shy to share my little secrets with anyone else. I saw her coming. He was already there and he walked restlessly. I looked in her direction and she was almost running. I wanted to shout and tell her, ‘Your love is waiting, relax.’ As she reached him, she stood there panting. Even as she gasped, she started explaining him something. I didn’t like it as whenever he made her wait, he never explained her anything…then why was she explaining? I saw them purchase corn-cobs and walk towards their favourite place. My imagination was working overtime now. I imagined a romantic make up, hugs and kisses, a routine of whispering sweet nothings…..

    On Friday, as always I waited for ‘The bee-hive pair’ but they did not turn up.

    Over the weekend I forgot all about them and we decided to go to Pune. I stayed back there for a week as Anmol had to go to Delhi on some official work.

    On that following Monday, I stood on the balcony a little ahead of time. I had missed my routine for a week and I waited for my favourite bee-hive pair to arrive. At the appointed time she came. Her body language conveyed no happiness. I wondered what transpired between them in my absence. She was lost looking at the sea. Today she wore a dark pink dress. Almost twenty minutes later he came with his helmet in hand and he too dragged his feet. I wondered whether they had some misunderstandings or a fight as there was no display of happiness when they met! Mechanically they walked towards their favourite spot. I was naturally disappointed as nothing happened according to my imagination.

    That night, I told Anmol about my observation. He casually remarked, ‘They must be breaking up.’ I was shocked! I thought Anmol was a cynic. How could he be so heartless! I argued with him about wonderful emotions like love…pure love….eternal love and love beyond the constraints of the society…but Anmol simply interrupted, ‘Ma’am, you are reading too many Mills & Boons or some such trash. Come back to the real world and grow up. I did not expect you to be so naïve like an uneducated villager.’ I was aghast. My husband was calling me a villager! Tears started rolling down my cheeks. I was very upset with Anmol. He was really heartless! I cried for myself and ‘The bee-hive pair.’ I slept on the couch that night and did not yield to Anmol’s apologies. In one sentence he had turned all my beliefs upside down! I remembered my cousin Charu’s words, ‘Men are cold without emotions. We, women, are the emotional fools.’ How correct she was! I was inconsolable.

    The next morning, I had a severe headache due to previous night’s emotional outburst. I did not even look at Anmol or yield to his sweet talk. After he left, I did not follow my routine. I ate all the chocolates stored in the fridge and slept again.

    By evening I was more collected. I waited for ‘The bee-hive pair’ to arrive. I wanted them to be happy. There he was! He came before their usual time and looked for her. He took out an envelope from his pocket and gave it to the corn cob seller and left quickly without even looking back once. I was impatient and angry. I feared that Anmol’s words were coming true and I did not want that to happen. I got up and leant over the balcony to see if I could spot her. I said to her in my mind, ‘Hey girl! Come soon. Run for your life today. Your boyfriend is leaving. Catch hold of him.’ Almost two minutes later, I saw her in a pink salwar suit walking hurriedly. Her head was bent down and enthusiasm was totally missing in her gait. She came ….Looked around restlessly. She repeatedly looked at her watch and mobile. Just then, the corn cob seller called out to her and handed over the envelope left by her boyfriend. She looked around nervously (I imagined) before opening the envelope and started reading it. I wanted to know what message was there in it. Did the letter mention a change of venue or did it mention a change in programme?...Then when I saw her wiping her tears, my worst fear seemed to come true….That guy must have really dumped her! As she quietly walked away, I too had tears in my eyes. I felt like consoling her, as it was not only her dream but also my illusion of love that was shattered.

    I realised at that instant and with a long sigh and sniffle, I concluded, in life, theories and practicals are very different!

    ********************************************************************************

    (The image has been taken from the internet for representation purposes only.)
     
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  2. nandinimithun

    nandinimithun IL Hall of Fame

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    Wonderful write up geets. You have perfectly captured the emotions of a married stay at home woman, in her early years....
    lost in a big city, and trying to create illusions and living with them....
     
    sindmani and GeetaKashyap like this.
  3. satchitananda

    satchitananda IL Hall of Fame

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    As usual, beautifully penned Geeta. I really felt sad for the bee-hive girl. Was it a misunderstanding, a fight, family issues (objections to marriage)? Did he literally leave her holding the baby? Who knows? Sad, but that is how life often pans out. The initial 'love' is very often nothing more than infatuation or physical attraction. Once the realities of life dawn on the 'love'birds, all 'love' flies out of the window. Hope bee-hive girl found someone who genuinely loved her and did not ditch her when things were no longer so hunky dory.

    The shock faced by a naive young woman who has just got married, when she faces the realities of life is wonderfully described. What amazes me is the fact that despite seeing so many women and how their lives change after marriage, so many young women still harbour such romanticized notions of 'love'. Or is it the triumph of hope over observation/experience?
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2018
  4. iyerviji

    iyerviji IL Hall of Fame

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    Congrats for the nomination. I second Nandini and Satchi. You are very talented .Usually I have no patience to read stories but I like to read your stories
     
  5. GeetaKashyap

    GeetaKashyap IL Hall of Fame

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    Thank you so much, Nandu. I love the way you empathise. Looking forward to your contributions this month.:)
     
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  6. nandinimithun

    nandinimithun IL Hall of Fame

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    Working on it geets, will surely post this month
     
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  7. GeetaKashyap

    GeetaKashyap IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Satchi,

    Your observation and experience have come out so beautifully in your comment. Thank you so much.

    This is actually the truth in most infatuation cases. Life begins to them as a bitter pill. The worse case scenario is when the girl is impregnated and abandoned.

    I guess everybody believes that their case would be different and theirs would be the most beautiful story with a 'happily ever after' ending! Is it hope, confidence, lack of pragmatism or plain ignorance? Like you, I too wonder:) Some of the cases in IL's Relationship forum often disturb me and leave me sleepless. BUT...it has not made a pessimist, I always see a bright light at the end of the tunnel and often such difficulties bring out the inner strength of a woman which under normal circumstances would never surface. I salute all the women who never give up their fight for survival.
     
  8. GeetaKashyap

    GeetaKashyap IL Hall of Fame

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    Thanks a lot, Vijima, for your love and appreciation. I feel blessed.
     
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  9. iyerviji

    iyerviji IL Hall of Fame

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    My pleasure dear
     
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  10. Star25

    Star25 Gold IL'ite

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    Awesome write up..was so interesting to read ..truly enjoyed :thumbup:
     

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