A thin stream of light pierced through the fissured window pane and fell on her face. The dark circles that engulfed those dove-shaped eyes shone under the effulgence of the pale yellow light. Shradha rubbed her eyes fervently and stared at her reflection. Her hollow, unblinking stare revealed the creases on her forehead. Tiny and dry specks of blood lined her chapped lips. She was just a year older but it felt as though she had aged considerably.
She shoved the blanket aside and got off the bed. Droplets of water cascaded down the faucet and she let them soothe her parched skin. The dingy and damp space felt like a haven and she felt a tinge of peace coursing through her veins. Everything felt surreal. The lather washed away the grime on her body while the unbridled tranquility gently stroked her aching soul.
A thud followed by a bang on the door dragged her out of the little utopian world she had created for herself. Washing away the lather, she let the rough fabric cling to her wet skin. She knew that it would soon feel like her skin was set ablaze but she chose to focus on the series of voices she heard.
The moment she stepped out of the washroom, her husband placed the baby in her arms. The once-wailing baby now chuckled as she rocked him back and forth.
“Only you can handle our son. He becomes cranky in your absence,” her husband remarked.
Absence was a strong word. She was available at the snap of their fingers all day. Yet a few minutes for herself was considered a mistake. An unpardonable one. A wry smile escaped her lips.
Her son clung to her bosom and reveled in her warmth. Her love acted like a cocoon and relieved him of the angst. He cooed and his father aahed and oohed. Soon, the fabric showed its true colors and she felt a burning sensation in her arms. It felt as if she was stung by a thousand bees
Knowing that a stitch in time would save nine, she placed the baby on the bed and removed the Kurti carefully. A handful of moisturizing lotion found its way onto her skin and let the pores absorb the panacea.
A few seconds later, she felt a warm breath on her neck.
“Is everything okay?” asked her husband with his eyes fixed on his phone.
Thoughts roiled in her mind and the emotions that were bottled in her overworked pumping organ threatened to spill out into the open and destroy everything around her. The red-colored patches on her skin were visible. Yet her husband chose to ignore it. Not that he didn’t love her. He did. He cared for her. But only in ways, it felt convenient to him. He loved her. Only till a smile adorned her lips. He cared for her. Only till she multitasked without any complaints. The moment tears rolled in her eyes or words laced with sorrow escaped her vocal cords he displayed his shield of defiance and transformed into an indifferent soul.
“My skin is burning. Please handle the baby while I take a rest. He is your son too,” she controlled her inner voice.
The last time she tried to voice her concerns, she was labeled as an attention-seeker and troublemaker. Her mother had taught her to be an open book.
“Transparency is the key to a happy marriage,” she remembered her mother’s words.
She tried to follow her advice to the T. She spoke her mind and voiced her feelings. But it did her more harm than good. She was tagged arrogant and nagging. She was manipulated and gaslit from time to time. Her emotions coursed freely and people stomped on her heart, leaving their mucky footprints that eventually transformed into scars.
Her married life was on the verge of disruption. It was when she sealed the leaves of her book. She dumped all her emotions in an imaginary bag, locked it tightly, and threw it into an unused, dark corner of her heart. Her life became difficult with time. Pregnancy and motherhood weren’t easy. She was tempted to bare her soul to her husband and family on numerous occasions. Knowing that being an open book and letting her emotions cascade into the open will help her unwind, she tried to express herself. But she was nicknamed a complaint master.
Days passed. Seasons changed. The bag that held her emotions was overfilled. It was on the verge of ripping apart. But she continued to fill it with unsaid words and unshed tears. An evil stench emanated from her soul and it strangulated her every night. A tight knot formed in her chest and an empty sensation swept over her stomach. She hoped that someday her loved ones would tap on those obscure chambers of her heart and listen to her eloquent emotions but all she ever got in response was a disappointment.
“Is everything okay?” her husband’s endearing yet disinterested voice jolted her back to the present. He inquired about her well-being but was he willing to listen?
Those tears, words, and feelings were carefully packed and shoved into the bag that was torn at the seams. The bag wouldn’t be of service to her for long. She would soon be coerced to find an outlet. But until then she would harbor secrets in every nook of her mind and heart. The skeletons in the closet would often bang on the doors of her mind but she wouldn’t succumb to the pressure.
The leaves of her life were sealed, tightly bound, and locked forever. The passcode to unlock her soul would remain with her till the end of time and then vanish into thin air.
Forcing a pleasant smile on her lips, “Yes, everything is more than okay,’ she said. The lotion had done its job. She donned the Kurti, held the baby in her arms, and walked to the kitchen. A new day and a truckload of responsibilities awaited her and nothing except death could stop her.
“I love you.” These three little words are uttered on an everyday basis. But do we abide by its meaning? Do we know how our partners feel? Do our partners know about the thoughts running in our minds? Are we an open book or a box of secrets?
Pause, reflect, and tap on those unspoken words. Watch life unfold beautifully before you.
I wish you all a happy new year.
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