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The Agony of Win

by Malavika Roy Singh

“Why is the measure of love loss? Why are there more downs than ups in love? Why is there more dejection than affection?”The questions in her mind were endless and were tearing her apart.

Amrita slumped on to her revolving chair. As she probed into the disturbing episodes of her life with Sunil, she kept on questioning the integrity of her futile attempts.

Shaking her head, a swollen eyed Amrita looked up and asked, “Have I been too foolish to judge him or is it simply a one sided affair?”

Seeing her friend in sheer distress, Sangeeta looked at her and sighed.

“Look, I think you know what it is, so there’s no point in starting it all over”, Sangeeta replied coldly, who was now pouring a cup of coffee from the coffee machine.

Half choking, Amrita replied “What do you mean starting all over? You think it’s all my fault, isn’t it?”

“As a matter of fact, I do”, replied Sangeeta calmly, who sat with the steaming coffee, flipping over the pages of a women’s magazine. No sooner had she said those words that Amrita burst into tears again.

The whining and wailing continued to the point of hitting Sangeeta’s nerves. Irritatingly, she got up, threw the remaining coffee into the sink and banged her fist on the kitchen slab. She turned around and shot back, “For goodness sake, get a hold on yourself. Do you have any idea of what a mess you’ve made of your life?” “When I tried to get you back on track, you did not listen, so at least now you should not be whining, complaining or even expecting me to support you in this muddle.”

Sangeeta picked up her bag hurriedly and said, “I’m out of here because I don’t really think you need my advice or support. You will do what you feel is right, no matter how wrong it is, so let’s just not waste each other’s time ”. Saying this, Sangeeta, who looked half-angry, half fed-up, threw the magazine on the table and closed the door behind her with a loud bang.

More than the sound, the words made Amrita flinch. They had hit the target at the right spot and they had because they were absolutely true and spoken from the heart.

Brooding and now almost regretting over her acts, Amrita zoomed into her past, the day when she had first set her eyes on Sunil. It had been the day when Sunil, with his family had come home, seeking hand for marriage. However, the proposal had been for her twin sister, Madhu and not hers.

Amrita was never approached with matrimonial subjects as then, she used to shun the concept of matrimonial bliss. A young Amrita, who had remained quite unapologetic and unabashed after refusing several marriage proposals, did regret later when she found a charming man in Sunil. Good looks and educational qualification had bowled Amrita head over heels. After all a management graduate in late seventies was a big deal and charming enough for her middleclass household.

As for Sunil, his physical attributes had done him quite good in the past and he had sailed quite smoothly. A fling of affairs was prima facie to that. However, no option had looked as lucrative as Amrita as she was a perfect, unsuspicious plot, allowing him to exploit her financial and emotional resources to the fullest.

Soon after marriage, a flamboyant Sunil was often found teasing his sister-in-law more than quite often. What started as a leg-pulling gesture turned into something forbidden by the rest of the family members. Within a couple of years, the blossoming charm became a thorn in the eye of the married sister.

And one fine day, the catastrophe had hit. “I don’t want you to talk to her.” An enraged Madhu had finally blurted out sharply to her husband.

“Why? What happened?” inquired Sunil with a well cast concerned, innocent look on his face. Though Silent outside but, his insides were restless. He cursed his fate, which was going all haywire. He had already played his game well and was already on the receiving end of his efforts, when the bomb had exploded.

Despite the imploring look, Madhu had waved away her husband’s consoling pursuits and carried on, “I just don’t like the way you two huddle and scheme things in corners. It looks strange and now people also have started saying stuff.” “You don’t understand what all I have to hear from them”, she cried out.
“So you care about people and not me? Is it a kind of an accusation?” he had asked innocently.

Madhu was firm and she had replied, “Yes it is. Considering your old habits, I am bound to think like that but, let me remind you if you don’t mend you ways, I’ll have to speak to her.” With that she had barged out of the room, picking up her two-year old son then.

And indeed the warning came in like a life threatening disease to Amrita. After just a few
days since the duo left, Madhu had called Amrita.

“Enough damage has occurred and I and my family are not in a position to bear another blow, especially if it is from my own sister. So please promise me that you will never share any kind of communication with Sunil from now on.”

Amrita was devastated. No communication, no connection? How will she survive alone in the lonely bad world? She had started cherishing the companionship as it was a route to freedom from monotony and loneliness. A bond, from which she had expected support and friendship, and maybe a harmless little more, stood ruined by the foolishness of her sister, who she thought had a narrow minded approach.

When the matter was confided by Amrita into her close friend, Sangeeta, she too had surprisingly no supportive words to soothe her.

“I think she is right. Even I would’ve reacted the same way as Madhu has.”

Amrita still remembers how coldly and unsympathetically Sangeeta had continued, “You’ve got to understand dear that you might be ruining their marriage in the hope of a friendship, which will spell nothing but doom into not just one but many people’s lives.” For Sangeeta the only way to maintain dignity was by severing all ties with the man who had brought a whole new meaning into Amrita’s lonesome world. What if she had to splurge material comforts on him? In return he gave her peace of mind, which was more vital than anything else.

Had she told her to sever all ties with the rest of the world, the idea would have seemed sensible but, the actual plan suggested, was heart wrenching. But, Amrita did not execute the plan. On the contrary she had stuck to her wisdom.

Irrespective, of the harshness in those words, she had gone ahead to share a clandestine relationship with Sunil, which remained out of focus from the eyes of the other family members.

Since then, her secret world with Sunil had been challenging. Her life had witnessed several turns of betrayal by Sunil but, each time she rose as a winner. Her desperation and foolish wisdom had allowed her to have Sunil as a trophy at the cost of her dignity.

Amrita was rejoicing her moments in fool’s paradise, when the brick hit her again. A couple of months ago, a credit card fraud had left Amrita a little better than bankrupt. Family members had poured in financial support but, the one from whom she expected the most had backed off.

“I have a family to look after dear. I cannot go about giving you a lakh of rupees. That is just too much for me. I am a married man Amrita, you can’t expect this from me”, a frustrated Sunil had suddenly spoken to her harshly over the phone.

“See Amrita, I cannot let my family suffer because of you. It’s the question of my children’s future, damn it”, a heartless voice had boomed through the receiver.

The familial concern in his voice had surprised Amrita. She remembered how she had generously extended her unconditional love over him again and again. She had splurged a fortune on him and much more on his children and now there the chameleon was, changing to his true colors.

Amrita wiped the fresh tears from her face. She was shaking badly. More than Sangeeta’s words, it was her own act of foolishness that was driving her crazy.

Infuriated by herself, she slowly got up and went to the washroom. As she checked herself in the mirror, she found an irrational but, a self assumed smart woman staring back, who had been fooled again and again by life, by love. She had spent more than half of her life clinging onto the words of a deceptive man, who had been cleverly sweet for material reasons. How foolishly had she allowed herself to fall prey to him? Even though she knew the answer to this, she could not help but think of him. She still found herself eagerly waiting for his phone call.

As if through telepathy, the phone rang and was soon answered by the answering machine

A familiar cherry sounding voice of Amrita said “I’m not at home, please leave a message”.

Amrita froze when she heard the voice.

“Hi, Sunil here”, a firm masculine voice spoke. “Congrats on clearing away the credit card mess. I knew you will get out of the mess. Do call me soon” and the line had gone dead.

Amrita tiptoed near the telecom and picked it up and heard the tape again. In a fit a rage, she banged the handset on the wall, shattering it completely. She stared blankly at the bits and pieces of the tangible item that had been the sole and integral link into her world of fantasy.

Overcome by guilt and remorse, she decided to give herself one last chance. Shivering badly, she bent down to gather the remnants of the handset, forcing herself to accept defeat and rise as a winner, yet again.

The end

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Feb 10, 2012
Hi Malavika!
by: Geetashree Chatterjee

Welcome to iww! A nice story perhaps inspired by real life incident. One sees and hears of such clandestine relations in today's so called liberal Indian society. Its not that these never happened in the past. They did but under cover and were only spoken about in hushed tones. Now its all in the open. The Sociologists and social commentators will have many justifications for such behaviour. But ultimately at the individual's level it is self destructing and deprecating which tears the fabric of family life.

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