Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Old Flame


(Woman’s Era, August (First) 1992)

[Magazine blurb: For years she had been plagued by doubts---- now she had a chance to give him a taste of her own torment!]

Sixteen. Not one or two or a dozen, but sixteen. Sarita didn’t consider herself jealous, but sixteen photographs, her husband’s arm around a different girl in each one--- was a bit too much.
They had not been mailed to her in a brown envelope. Nor had she discovered them in some secret cubbyhole. They were there for all to see with other photographs in the album of Sagar’s trip to the USA.
He had been there for a year. His company had sent him on a course to a University there before their marriage. Sagar himself had shown her the album soon after their marriage. He had even told her the names of some of them. The others, he said, he did not remember. Didn’t remember, or were their memories too precious for even their names to be disclosed? Even then, her heart had constricted, but she had felt she was too new in his life to claim the right to know everything, even though she was his wife. Especially because she was his wife. An arranged-marriage wife.
“So these are your American girlfriends”, she had joked, hoping he would deny it, or at least give some explanation.
“Yeah”, he had said with an exaggerated American accent and a smile. Was he laughing with her, at himself, at the alleged tendency of Indian men to go berserk abroad? Was he smiling reassuringly? Or, horrors, was he laughing at her, at her ignorance of some secret, private memories?-------

---------Sometimes she built up such a case against him that she seriously considered making him feel the way she did. How would she feel if she suddenly produced snaps of herself with some other man’s arm around her? Or, if he came home to find her having coffee with an old flame of hers? But then she wasn’t a casual person like that. She hadn’t even held hands with anyone. There were no old flames to rekindle, even in pretence. ----------

----------Her silence seemed to bring Sagar out of his usual reticence.
“Look Sarita”, he said, “do you expect me to smile upon casual relationships just because I was in America for a while? There is such a thing as false broadmindedness you know.”-------



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