Friday, February 18, 2011

Indian Woman And Her Lost Appetite - Part I

Warning: Sapna is a fictional character. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely co-incidental and unintentional.

The black sari
Sapna is a middle class Punjabi girl married to a bank employee. She lives with her husband, son and mother-in-law in a suburb of Ludhiana city. Though pretty well educated as compared to other women of her age and place, her marriage was an arranged affair organized by her parents. As a girl she always wanted to marry a very rich and handsome person, preferably an NRI. But fate had something else in store for her. Anyways, married for five years, her marriage has been a very smooth affair without any significant hassles and issues. Her husband, Madan, works in a central bank and is earning a decent salary. Her mother-in-law, though quiet old, is overall in-charge of the house. Madan still prefers to hand over the entire salary to his mother and let her manage the house. Sapna like a normal Indian female has never complained and has been obedient throughout her stay in her husband’s house. She hardly gets time for all such issues concerning dominance. She is engaged all the day managing the household stuff and her family. Her son, Rahul, a small brat, keeps her busy and brings a smile to her face with his little pranks.
Sapna always wanted to continue her studies after the marriage and do a job. But her responsibilities as a wife, as a daughter-in-law and as a mother couldn’t let her pursue her career. She sacrificed without ever complaining and blaming anybody. She hardly gave it a thought after her son was born.
Like any other woman, Sapna is very fond of clothes. She has managed to afford a decent wardrobe for herself since the day of her marriage. She has a thing for colors. She always manages to make a style statement at the family functions. But the credit goes more to her beauty than to her clothes and style. She has always doted black since she was a school kid. Black tiffin, black sketch, black shoes, black skirt, black dupatta. When she grew older she wanted to marry somebody with black eyes and a big black contessa. She simply adored black. But she hardly got a chance to manage all this black stuff in her mama’s home. How could she? Black is inauspicious, depressing and sad. Her mother never allowed her to wear anything black. She once wore a black skirt gifted by her aunt. She was just nine years old, small enough to hardly understand any consequence. Her father lost his wallet the same day while returning from office. It contained the month’s salary. She was scolded badly for wearing that color. Not only that the skirt was burnt down and the remains were flushed in the drain. She watched her favorite color getting burnt down in ashes. Since the day she never dared to ask for black.
She grew older and her marriage got fixed. Somehow she managed to buy a beautiful black chiffon sari while the clothes and jewellery were being purchased for her wedding. She slipped it into a hidden compartment of her wedding suitcase and brought it into her husband’s home. She is a free bird now. She has her own house and own life. Nobody can stop her now from wearing her color. She opened her suitcase on the second day of her marriage and took out the crumpled sari from the hidden compartment. She got it ironed and wore it to her skin. She looked in the mirror and smiled. Her eyes sparkled. She came out of her room. All the relatives and friends were waiting to bless the new member of the house. How could she dare to wear such a color on the second day of her marriage? Her mother-in-law got furious and rebuked her for bringing bad luck to the family. She ordered her to change it immediately and wear something flashy and colorful. She rushed inside her room and cried. Since the day she never dared to wear the black sari in her husband’s home again. Her dream was sealed in closet forever.
Sometimes after completing the routine stuff, when her mother-in-law is asleep during the afternoon hours and nobody else is there at home, she goes to her room, locks it from inside and draws all the curtains. She drags the big suitcase from under the bed and takes out the crumpled black chiffon sari from the hidden compartment. She touches it to her skin and looks in the mirror. She irons it carefully so as to remove all the wrinkles and wears it quietly inside the closed door. She looks in the mirror again and adores herself as she has never done it before. She smiles and feels like dancing. She unlocks her hair and lies on the bed relieved and contended. She closes her eyes and begins to dream what she couldn’t dream otherwise sleeping with her husband on the same bed every night for so many years. She lies there for hours together in the warmth of that color. But then Rahul usually arrives from school and begins knocking the door. She gets up in surprise, changes, hides the black sari in the suitcase and is back to her work again.
She commits this crime whenever she gets enough time to do it. Somehow she manages to be a free bird wearing that black sari. She manages to dream and think for a change what she could never do otherwise. She manages to be promiscuous with that black chiffon sari wrapped around her skin while being committed and faithful to her wedlock.
This is the only time she feels like breathing.
And this is the only time she lives for herself…