God didn’t make Nandini Roy the woman she is today. She herself did, or rather, her choices did.
Nandini, Nandini Chaudhry Roy has made her life so with the sole desire for revenge. To tell everyone where she actually belongs; where women like her belong.
She is just like water. Put her in a hole in the ground, and she will act as a well to quench your thirst. Drop her from a height, and she will show you how a cascade falls. And leave her to herself, and she will flow till she reaches the ocean.
Married at the just ripe age of twenty two, Nandini had just changed her initials from N. C. to N. R. She never understood those customs. She didn’t understand why did she have to change her name? Why didn’t he change his name? There were many more like questions wandering in her head, but she pushed those thoughts behind. After all, it was her day.
She was sitting on her new bed in his room. There were his things all around. His clothes in the almirah. His smiling faces on the wall. His read and un-read books on the shelf. His towel lay semi-wet on the arm chair. His shoes rested outside the bathroom door. He was in the bathroom. Her eyes stopped on the closed door, and she smiled.
Life was very new to her. She never knew being a woman would be so different. She never knew she would experience this phase of her life so quickly. She had so many more things to do as a girl. Dance with a stranger. Do a course in creative writing. And, fall in love, not with her husband though.
But, “This rishta is very nice. You will regret later on.” Her parents had said. And so, she had done what they felt was right. After all, she was like water, mouldable. And here she was, cooking and managing the household of her husband, Dibaker Roy, a businessman. He had given all the comforts in life. A big house to stay in, endless money to spend, two children to love. But there was one thing which he could not give her. Love.
She craved for it, longed for it, but he failed at her expectations. She was a very happy woman back then, but, poor she, she didn’t actually know what true happiness tasted like. She wanted him to come home from office and greet her with a hug, kiss her on her forehead, but he didn’t. He just came, ate his dinner and slept. After conceiving twice, he never felt the need to make love. It was as if he had done his duty. Their life was completely mechanical. Everything was set in place, but nothing worked without the human touch. Love was her human touch. She needed it badly.
“We are going to London.” He had said one day
The kids, Mohan and Reshma were extremely excited. So was she. They were going for a trip for the first time after their honeymoon.
“But”, he added, “You two are not coming with us. Mamma and I have some work there. You will be staying at Grandma’s house.”
Their initial excitement had been brought down.
“Dibu, why can’t the kids come along? You do your work. I will take the kids around.”
“I have decided that I am opening a new art gallery in London. And you will take them around? You uneducated woman.” And he had laughed. Though he had just joked, she knew that well, but it hurt her. She felt she had been stabbed, right in the chest, on her bare skin.
“If I cannot talk to anyone there in English, why are you taking me along?” Nandini had asked.
“Because, if I have you by my side, the investors will be more pleased. Try and understand. A woman makes her presence felt. She just adds to the charm.”
She had wanted to pick up the butter knife on the dining table and kill him right there. She wasn’t a show piece. No woman was. But she was meek. No one had taught her to speak. Such a non-stern, plain loving husband had melted the weapons she had inherited from her mother and grandmothers. She remembered them by heart. She had also recently read them in a Tagore story; the force of her tears, the fire of her anger and the snare of he glances. All lay idle in her. But she knew, sooner or later, she will have to take them out.
He didn’t even care about her in London. He just left her at the hotel and went about his job.
“I will take you to them only when the deal is almost finalised.” He had told.
She didn’t even dare go out. She didn’t know where she would go. And even if she did, her tongue wasn’t polished enough to ask for the way.
One day, while sitting in her room, the door knocked. She knew who it was. It wasn’t Dibaker. She had just ordered for something to eat. French fries. And there came an Indian woman, bringing her her snack.
“Indian?” Nandu asked her.
“Yes.” She replied.
“Hindi you know?”
“Oh yes I do.” She replied in Hindi.
“Thank God. I don’t know English.”
“Where have you come from?”
“Kolkata. Oh My God. I am a Bengali too.” This time, she said in Bengali.
Listening to her language made her feel so proud. Not that it never did, back in her hometown, but here, on this foreign land. She felt fabulous.
“What a coincidence.”
“Oh sure, it is. By the way, what are you doing here? Why aren’t you going anywhere? I am seeing you from two days, and all you go is to the hotel gardens.”
“My husband has come here for business, and does not have time.”
“How can I go about alone?”
“No no, nothing that way, but, I don’t know where to go, and plus I am a zero in English.”
“That does not matter. Come on, get ready. I am taking you out.”
“But your job?”
“I’ll take a leave.”
And then she had gone with her new friend, Amrita Bose. They had gone to the London Eye, Madame Tussads, and many other places alike. But, her favourite was the park. She didn’t remember the name, but that was her favourite place, until, she saw him there. Her Dibu was sitting on a bench, hands in hands with a woman. She was as much an Indian as she herself. Only that, she had not a single inch of Indian clothes on her body. She was beautiful, much more than Nandu, or so she thought. Maybe, it was just her thinking. Nandu began to panic.
“No she is not more beautiful.” She said to herself. Nandu was wearing a pink saree. She imagined the lady on the bench in a nine yards. She would not look more beautiful than herself.
Amrita and Nandu hid behind a tree and overheard their conversation. It was in English. Amrita was the translator.
“I am giving Nandini a divorce. I cannot live with her. She is nice, but she is not my type. I have to go to so many parties, and I go alone. She should be there by me, but she isn’t. She doesn’t even try to learn to be modern. She just wears her sarees, and roams about the entire city. And then, she expects me to take her round the world. She looks like an aunty.” Tears had welled up in Nandu’s eyes. For the first time she had heard him call her Nandini. She had always been his Nandu. She had hated this name, but he had liked it.
“Plus” he continued, “I love you.” No translation was needed now. He had said it in Bengali. Fifteen years of living together had at least taught her that he only spoke genuine things in Bengali.
She rushed back to her hotel, holding back tears. But once I her room, cried, cried and cried. And then she asked Amrita for a favour. She wanted a ticket back to Kolkata and wanted to know a little bit of English, only that much that was necessary for tonight’s scene.
When he returned, she was ready. She now had to speak up. It was now or never.
“I want a divorce.” She spoke in fluent English. He was first stunned.
“You heard me. I want a divorce.”
“What are you saying?”
“I don’t want the blame on myself. I want you to leave me and get married to that woman with whom you were sitting in the park.”
“Blue crop top, black slacks, golden ear rings. All better than this saree and studs.” And she left the room. Now no acting was required.
Her suitcase was waiting in the taxi, with Amrita.
And she left him forever. They were divorced as soon as they could be, sharing one kid each. Poor kids.
She indeed proved to be like water. Water that flows tirelessly. Water that also destroys. For the power to destroy is as much a part of water as is wetness.
Bibliography: All images above have been taken from Google. None of them are clicked/created by me.