An Animal Attraction-contd...
by Prema Sastri
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An Animal Attraction ... continued
One evening when she arrived home Lipika was nowhere to be seen. Deb was in the drawing room reading, with his legs stretched on a mora.
“Lipika has left.”
“I’m sorry.” Manasi meant it. Lipika had pushed her out of a cave, into the fields beyond.
“I’m not. Now we can go back to our routine.”
Manasi stood still.
“Are you saying we can pick up where we left off …. before Lipika?”
“Why not? Lipika was a fever. It has gone. All will be as before.”
“It will never be . I can’t forget being rejected.”
“I will make it up to you.”
“Listen!” Manasi used the Bengalee form of address, ‘Suncho.’ Well bred Bengalee women, did not call their husbands by name.
“You have broken the vows you uttered before the sacred fire. You have made me look a fool in public. I cannot live with you.”
Deb looked at her as if he was seeing her for the first time. His eyes lingered on her changed appearance.They brightened. He took off his spectacles and rubbed them, as if trying to remove some deeply ingrained dirt.
“Where will you go?”
“I’ve been offered a job as the administrator in a woman’s organisation. There is a room to go with it. I’ve already accepted.”
“That’s ridiculous.” The words implied it was a come down for a director’s wife. She laughed.
Deb looked shaken. He leaned forward, his eyes fixed on her.
“Forgive me. I have been a brute, and a beast. It is my fault. You don’t have to leave. It is time we thought of getting Amulya married. He needs us. I need you. Don’t go.”
Deb fell back in his chair. His tall, strong body seemed to break. He closed his eyes.
Manasi looked around. She saw the room she had put together with so much love and attention. There were Jamini Roy prints on the walls. Vishnupur fabrics, woven with stories from the Ramayana, made colourful table covers, Throw rugs from Nagaland warmed the floor. In a corner was a Bankura horse next to mud pots which she herself had painted, Visitors had praised her good taste. She, Deb and Amulya had spent many happy hours here, entertaining guests, listening to music, laughing and chatting.They could spend many more. She knew she would face trials and indignities in the low paid job she had taken. She did not know why she was leaving. Was it because of Lipika, who was now less than a shadow? Could it be due to her own hurt ego? Did she want revenge? Outside, the birds called out, as if asking her to stay. She took a step forward towards her husband..
At that moment he lifted his head. She looked into familiar hazel eyes.They were the same eyes that had been fixed on Lipika, like a hungry animal. It was the same body which had left her to an empty bed.
She stepped back, and went to her room She threw a few things together, as she called for a taxi. When it arrived she was waiting at the door, suitcase in hand. She left without saying good bye.Deb remained slumped in his chair.End Return to - An Animal Attraction -Previous page Return to Short stories main page Return to Home page