Sunday, April 08, 2007

Nandini by night

And so she scribbled in absolute fury ‘must show betrayal…MUST!’ and underlined the second appearance of the word after circling it. To be able to show something that slaps the person seeing it and commands attention was what she was seeking. Her task for the day.


The silent silk curtains danced a dull ballet to the soft breeze that held them and carried them around the limited real estate. The bright orange that burnt the blue outside had turned charcoal black and left a numb feeling to the beauty the sky boasted of each sunrise. The mini-bar gazed back affectionately at the sulking silhouette of a woman on the couch in the main living room. It had been motionless for a while now. Nothing had stirred since the last time something had been scribbled on the coffee-stained notepad a few minutes ago.

Nandini looked out at the cold nothingness and wearily got up. She flung the notepad mercilessly on the spotless glass-top table and walked towards the spacious balcony that overlooked almost all of the Queen’s Necklace. Standing on the twelfth floor of the marvelous residential complex for a moment she forgot her role in the universe. She wrapped her arms around herself and frowned in subtle frustration.

She had to find out…soon.

‘Must!’ she screamed and walked back into the apartment. Expensive china and imported liquor seemed to look at each other and stretch their arms out to help. But even they knew that nothing could aid the woman at this point. This was her process and she had to do it on her own.

‘OK…!’ she said out loud and started pacing up and down the drafty room.

‘So let’s see. She is a working class woman…about twenty seven years old…no wait…lets make it thirty-five. No one wants too much cliché….’

She hopped back to the brown-themed and dog-eared notepad and started scribbling on a fresh page.

‘Hmm…and she is with some government funded agency…single child to her parents…brought up with love and affection…arranged married to a mediocre office assistant….makes a tight amount of money….hmm…what else…’

She lazily strolled up to the bar and shot down whatever remained of the idle scotch from earlier that afternoon.

‘And what else…oh yeah…she has three kids…not too apart from each other in age…maybe 10, 8 and 6. Two boys and a girl. Surabhi is the little one’s name. God I love that name….’

The telephone started ringing at this moment. A few rings later a mechanical voice requested the caller to leave a message. It was her husband. As always he had called to say he would be late and that she should not wait up for dinner. He also mentioned he had tried calling her cellular phone but it seemed that she had switched it off.

He was familiar with her ‘process’. This was a crucial phase for her and he chose to let her be. Even if it meant staying back later on purpose to give her more ‘herself’ time.

She ignored his message as she continued to pace the room with renewed alcoholic power.

‘Surabhi is her favorite…a mommy’s girl…Srinivas is her husband….boring guy…can be insensitive at times…kind of a lazy bum…doesn’t help out much…helps with the kids homework on good evenings…doesn’t pressurize for regular sex but doesn’t keep the messages subtle either…she is on birth control constantly…not interested in any more kids…Srinivas is a always horny…even in sleep…’

She rhythmically started slapping her hand on her thigh as thoughts started to ooze out from the part of herself she referred to as her ‘creative shell’.

‘Hmm…what else…Sanjay and Saurabh are the boys…handful of sunshine they are…naughty and always getting into trouble…she takes care of them like a Godmother when they get into sticky situations…she has paid for all the windows they have broken playing street cricket…out of her OWN salary!’

She quickly turned another sheet and jotted in a hurry ‘must arrange with Sethi for a middle-class looking house…price negotiable…must have poor ventilation…not too drafty…’

‘OK…’ she sighed and continued ‘…nothing too fancy…regular couple until one day…Srinivas decides to have an affair with another woman…sexually insatiable misfit that he is…yes…all the love…all the joy…all the pain have now found a context…’

She smiled to herself before breaking into a giggle.

‘..Oh poor woman…she spends her day behind a desk pushing paper and the husband is banging someone on top of one…men are sick…disgusting creatures…’

Her thoughts are again interrupted with another phone call. The machine, faithful as always attends to it. Another wannabe producer on the line. Another name to the never-ending list of people who want to work with Nandini. Her last venture had been such a huge commercial success that she had surprised herself with it. Her unmistakable ability to connect with the masses and their issues under a glorious hidden theme had become a best seller over the last few years. Her love and passion for her trade had only grown with time.

And all those things had begun with a process. Something she was about to embark on…again.

‘Betrayed!’ she yelled out once the machine had done recording a nasal voice with a funny English accent.

‘She is now betrayed…she is hurt…shocked…horrified…lost and angry…mad woman…a mad woman she has become…she wants revenge…she wants justice! Does she not matter! What about HER?’

A few heartbeats of intense silence and she continued.

‘What should she do? How will she encounter this? Should she leave Srinivas? What about the kids? Where will poor Surabhi go? She is still a baby! What happens to the boys? Is it not fun to let those brats figure things out on their own! Oh yeah! Lot of fun! Wait! No…that can’t be. That’s pathetic! That is sick! She is first a MOTHER and THEN a wife! Yes. She has to be calm…she cannot be like the loser she is married to…no…she needs to get her priorities straight…she needs to SHOW him how betrayed she feels…YES! Betrayed!’

She closed her eyes to let the images sink in. The emotionally injured woman, the callous unapologetic middle class man, the clueless pain in the bottom boys, the sweet and cute Surabhi in her corner with the toys, the crumbling house with a leaking roof, the pretentious furniture and the crowded living room…

An annoying alarm piece went off at this crucial juncture. A spot in time where Nandini was getting her thoughts together about this character she was creating – had now been burst into extinction. Her eyes opened to a pale dark blue that had started streaming in from the window crack. She looked around and found things that were just too familiar. A large baby crib in the corner of the room with little Surabhi still asleep. The boys making hushed noise already from the other room where they slept. Her husband snored with his hairy armpit next to her face adorned with a hint of cheap alcohol in his breathe.

Before getting up for another day Nandini closed her eyes again – to see that famous movie maker she had fancied herself to be just minutes ago. No. She was gone. Faded into another complex fabric of thoughts and emotions. Disappeared into another maze of dreams and ambitions. Invisible from the reality of the betrayal she had faced not more than a month ago…yet had lived on. Had survived. For the boys and for the little one who slept oblivious of what nightmares Nandini was being shown. Nandini knew that nothing was scarier than a beautiful dream that was impossible to achieve.

She looked forward to another night.


© 2007. Shashi Krishna. All rights reserved.

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