by Geetika Sodhi Lohan
Shivanya sat there looking at Shishir in the hall as Interval finished and the movie resumed. Just 10 minutes back Shishir had declined her request to buy popcorn.
"We took meals just before we started from home. Why do you need popcorn now?"
Shivanya looked at all the husbands who treated their wives with interval snacks while Shishir's insensitive words echoed in her mind and ears.
Ten years of marriage, two kids and still nothing about Shishir had changed. He was an insensitive boring lazy lad interested in watching TV whenever he was not working. Shivanya loathed her "un-happening life" which was a desert where nothing blossomed and Facebook, flooded with vibrant lives of her peers and friends, added to her pain.
Shishir was a decent guy who fulfilled the basic duties but never entertained ideas of recreation until it was a proposal of a Salman Khan movie he himself wanted to watch. He fulfilled his duties as a father as well but for revamping kids looked up to their maternal grandparents in Himachal Pradesh who ensured outstation trips for them and Shivanya almost twice a year. For them it was sheer bliss as Shivanya was the only child and their slow old lives would gear up every time their grandchildren and Shivanya would show up.
It was Summer of 2017. Shivanya had just returned from another trip with her parents and kids to Chail. Shishir welcomed them with a smile and a news that his elder brother had lost his wife. The death was sudden and she had passed away while in sleep. This was indeed a shock as Naina (the deceased) was happily married with just one daughter who was studying abroad. They said it was a case of overdose of depression pills. No one ever knew Naina was suffering from depression.
With almost 125 photographs uploaded, at a time, of various trips with her friends and family almost five times a year, Naina was indeed the envy of every woman in her friend list. Shivanya always compared her stale life with that of Naina's. Shishir was rigid about the way he didn't want Shivanya to dress while at the same time his real elder brother had allowed his wife the freedom to dress the way she wanted to. This too had choked Shivanya at times.
What could have gone wrong? How could someone be depressed with such a celebrated and free life? Speculations were buzzing in the prayer meet. Naina's death had left a comma to Shivanya's track of thoughts. She had suddenly quietened. That night after finishing everything Shivanya stood alone gazing at the Full Moon. She could see Naina's face in it. The depression part was troubling her. Shishir soon joined her and Full Moon romanticized the ambiance.
"You have lot of complaints with me because I am not active and you don't get to project photographs of an exuberant life like others. I know I am far behind the world in social terms." Shishir as if alarmed with Naina's death started a conversation he had been avoiding for years.
Shivanya thought of leaving, for, of all days, today wasn't the right time to talk about a subject which had poked her peace for so many years. Today she only wanted to think about Naina.
Shishir stopped an uncomfortable Shivanya and continued,
"Naina and Bhaiya had sour relationships. They were seeing a counselor, Ma told me. Bhaiya was probably having a hidden affair outside. Naina had questioned him several times and the home had turned to a battle ground every now and then. She blamed Bhaiya for nonchalance and Bhaiya complained she was too critical and was always busy socialising with people around, attending stupid and money dumping kitty parties and trips. Even after he returned home he never saw her until late in the night. All this made him feel incomplete and depressed. "
Shivanya was baffled for this couldn't have been the story of someone like Naina who uploaded lovey-dovey pictures and photographs on Facebook with Bhaiya and the latest being just a week old.
"Shivanya I know I don't plan trips for you, I don't gift you very often, I do not pose with you for photographs, I don't go to the mall or shopping with you but I really Love you. Why can't we live our lives without this showbiz? Why can't we just be satisfied simply with what we have. I am simply saying stop comparing your life with that of others. Stop judging books by their covers. What the social media displays is far from reality. Truth of life and marriage is far beyond the photographs you see on Facebook."
"You know what Shishir you
don't understand. I may be wrong in judging people based on their social media life but if photographs were the only target of going out and enjoying then I would have uploaded something on my Facebook profile about all the trips my parents had planned for us. I guess you never observed that I never did so. Because that is not the purpose. Purpose of wanting you around me is simply that I love you and having you around just makes it all more meaningful. Comparisons I know had worsened my expectations and had lead me to anxious and depressed times, and I confess that the moment I heard about Naina I knew what about my life had to change. But with your words I am not convinced, if, in ten years you have actually understood my problem. I just wait to see your hidden love in small things like buying a popcorn for me in the movie hall."
Shishir couldn't resist laughing. Shivanya hadn't forgotten the popcorn he wondered.
"Comon Shivanya you remember once you had rejected a seat offered by a man to you in the metro train, because you believe in equality? Equality would have been, had you gone and bought popcorns for both of us knowing that I am lazy and wouldn't prefer to move; just like I don't wake you up from sleep even if I am hungry because I know how much that nap is important for you. I never agreed to the concept of treating like queens and being kings. I mean the Kings who treated their queens with royalties had ten mistresses waiting for them every night and the queens stayed happy with all the money and lavish lifestyles ignoring their kings sleeping with the mistresses. Is this what women of our society crave for? Money and Reputation on Facebook irrespective of whether there is Respect and Love or not. Is that what you look upto for motivation in your relationship? I do not get social because this cheesy concept doesn't please me. If I go to a trip I would rather enjoy the place, the food, the history and all the fun I can have with my family instead of clicking photographs being a king and showing my wife like a queen.
I admit my mistake that I don't join you very often for recreation and honestly Naina's Story has left me scared. I came tonight to request you to never let your self get weak. Trust me Shivanya I can't imagine a day without you. I miss you more than the kids when you guys are away. I know in the end it will be just US living and caring for each other. Since the day I fell in love with you to date I have never thought of hurting you but my bad luck that I have done that very often."
Shishir left without paying heed to what Shivanya wanted to reply. Shishir was right. She could have bought the pop corns herself. How could she forget that she was an independent woman with great deal of self respect. How could she judge her husband's love based on the fake photographs of people who in reality didn't know where their life was heading. She was not the woman she had become and had no one to blame for it but herself.
Shivanya is happier now for she doesn't much care about her social media profile while Shishir remains more attentive to needs of His wife and Kids and joins them for trips and recreational activities more often .
Our society I see has become more dependent on social media. Family trips have become TV Shows where everything is scripted and for every scene dresses are changed. The concept of travelling has materialised to competition on Facebook and Instagram about who went by and far and who looked sexier.
The love, in which we looked in eyes of our partners under the stars on a beach where we didn't carry our phones, has vanished and a lot of women and men have sulked into depression due to shortage of required resources to look RICH on social media.
I wonder where are we heading as a society. Where are the relationships and the depth that they had in past? Where are the families which dined together, laughed together, travelled together and had more memories in their eyes and lesser photographs. This is an alarm for all of us who are wasting our time and lives to look synchronised with the trends of social media. The hidden desires are further raising depressed kids who are totally dependent on Social Media and Appreciation as a mark of success. ***