The morning dawned sunny and bright. The intense and glorious fragrance of the jasmine on the window permeated her room. The endearing sparrows, the early summer morning visitors, were already chirping as if asking her to wake up. Vibha looked at her table clock; it was still half past five.
She relished her terrace room where her small container garden provided a whiff of fresh air and a secluded place where her thoughts found a creative outlet in the mayhem of suburban Delhi. The mixture of flowering shrubs and tall grasses provided a forest-like feel in the large brown city. The terrace room gave her a private corner away from the prying eyes of her parents along with all the perks and warmth that living with the family provided.
She got up lazily to smell the fresh jasmine that popped up at night. Vibha had planted this fast-growing jasmine last year, and it had covered her window completely, adding a bubbly pop of color.
The shimmery calm of the early morning was interrupted by the faint commotion. The movers were unloading the household items from the truck and carrying it to the vacant apartment facing her terrace.
She filled up the watering can lazily brooding over the loss of peace and privacy of her reclusive oasis. Her eyes fell on a handsome man holding a guitar. He noticed her too, and their eyes met briefly. She immediately lowered her eyes and turned her back. She promptly came downstairs and picked up the newspaper from the balcony. His mystifying eyes were still glued to the terrace.
She wore her favorite rust colored churidar kurta that not only enhanced her curves but also gave a shiny glow to her face. She had an extensive collection of handloom kurtas, but this one got her maximum compliments from her college friends. She also adorned herself with her absolute must, vintage silver chandbalis which took her traditional fashion game one notch up. She was still admiring herself after putting her on a black bindi when her mother called her for the morning breakfast. She quickly grabbed her spinach beetroot sandwich and rushed outside to catch the bus to her college in Lajpat Nagar.
She came back home in the evening with her blue canvas tote bag full of books from the library books. Her mother was vigorously beating the coffee and sugar in the big red mug. Her evenings were mainly spent reading novels in her quite reading nook on the terrace. She often told her mother that she was born to read every romantic story written on the planet. But she knew hers would be perfect and unparalleled.
Her mother told her that a senior government officer, Mr. Sinha has shifted here temporarily till he gets an official accommodation. Her mind was distracted the entire day. The moment when their eyes met briefly, had ignited an unusual spark in her. She went to her room upstairs and placed her books on an already crowded bookshelf. She went outside and saw two chairs on the opposite balcony. She came back to her room, she had a class assignment due, but her thoughts were not with her today. She picked up her hot pink journal notebook and scribbled some random thoughts.
Her day started with watering her plants and then reading the newspaper. She devoted a reasonable amount of time reading the morning newspaper before leaving for college. She felt as if she was being watched. Instinctively, she looked at the opposite flat; the same mystifying eyes were looking at her from behind the newspaper. His gaze penetrated deep inside her.
She wore white lucknowi kurta with red bandhani dupatta that day. As she stepped outside the house, she saw him sitting in his white car buckling his seat belt. She could see his reflection in the rearview mirror. Their eyes again met and Vibha wanted to smile. But she soon recollected herself and headed off towards the bus stop.
Vibha started looking forward to every morning when they used to steal a glance at the other. Not a word was said, but she knew it was the beginning of something splendid and unforgetful.
Then one dull morning, she saw him chatting jovially with a woman with a cup of tea in their hands. He didn’t notice her presence, and she felt utterly awkward and embarrassed. Her mind was distracted the entire day. A deep unknowing pain had stung her heart.
That morning at the bus stop, she saw him sitting in his car. She walked towards the vehicle taking quick steps. He opened the door for her, and she sat. Her heart was pounding as if she was masturbating.
She somehow gathered herself and walked towards her class. The classes were over for the day, so she went to the library. Libraries are generally empty; she could breathe and think about what happened.
He was telling her about his marriage and his daughter, and suddenly his hand went towards her white salwar. She was not wearing churidaar that day, and damn it was so easy to remove the salwar.
Her face went all red, how could she allow a married man to come so close to her. Was her chastity so cheap, that she let a married man….a married man? She went through the usual pangs of guilt, morality, and ethics. Everything that she had seen in Hindi movies and all that gossip about the other women by mohalla ki aunties? What do they call these other women…a slut? Whore? Home breaker?
Fifteen years went by quickly. He was there for her in private, but in public, the façade of marriage was pretty much on. After she adopted a two-year girl, her parents stopped pestering her for getting married. His grown-up daughter was a student of commerce at the same college where she taught sociology.
No, she wasn’t a home breaker. When did she ask for a home with him? She just wanted him. She desired the man who was married to someone else.
She had no name to trace the bond that she shared with him. It wasn’t loved. Na, not per this society. The society describes love as pure, pious and sacred. The marriage gives sanctions to it. Love has a certificate, a mangalsutra, kumkum, and mehndi.
Society names her alliance as lust, a sexual desire. Yes, her body craved for him, for his touch. But her mind and soul also longed for him.
To her, it was lust for life, lust to break free of everything, her guilt, and her morality.