And he said he was bored. Burdened. That it would never work. That there is love but not enough to want, to try. To be. In the same voice. In the precise voice I had taught myself to love because there was so much love to take.
What else is a woman supposed to do? Of course, you do what you get and don’t think beyond the taste of that kiss.
The same soft as raindrops, thick as jungle honey voice made promises to never forsake, to never stop loving, to never leave. So we came together. Every day for months on newspapers, on the bare floor, on a pink quilt that he argued was purple, on a pink pillow that I bought to match the pink quilt and the pinkness of my skin after being loved so thoroughly.
What else was to be done? Of course, a woman has to coördinate colours.
We blended over coffee, iced tea, endless chicken rolls, and Andhra meals, and pasta and a bottle of wine that got me thoroughly drunk, enough so I added his name to mine and signed that feedback form, and while we left the restaurant, they called me a “Mrs.” and I felt married. And I felt married again when on the day of the pooja I really fell in love as if for the first time, felt attracted, cried, and held on as if I would never let go and he splashed all that red kumkum between my forehead and kissed me endlessly, gently, so gently that I cried again. The tears wouldn’t stop and love and rain overflowed that night. So I made him the humble Consort and slaved away long and hard at him so there was no longer a trace of the queen I was.
What else is a woman to do when she has fallen in love against her better judgment? Of course, she erases everything she is.
The tears didn’t stop three days after the first betrayal too but he held me that night and whispered urgent promises of not ever making me go through pain again. And then months later, he called me a psycho, a mad woman who knows no limits, who is capable of anything except being strong. And now there is only pity. And death. We lost the baby we had made. We lost the dream that we had shared. Now he says we lost it in December and I don’t even remember that because I was so in love I could only try and give and give and give. And believe and believe and believe even when there was nothing to believe in except ourselves and no sane woman would have done that. Except the thousands he knows who would. Apparently.
What else does a mad woman do except believe in fragile dreams? Of course, she threw a fit, darling, but really, what else could she have done?
And he says in that syrupy perfection of a voice that I complained bored me to death, he says, ‘Really? Did you think we were working? Did you really believe everything I said? How naïve of you; I say that to everyone.’ And I just sat down and cried and cried and cried. Then something burned in the distance. Tyres maybe or just grass. Or maybe all of me. I felt the heat, the flames scorched my skin or my skin made the scorches hotter but I couldn’t smell the stench of burning things. I couldn’t sit. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t even really cry. But I did all of that. And I thought of how I had killed the blue-eyed baby that will never be born because I fell in love with a man who had his own child, and realised I needed to change the curtains of my house.
Because what else is a woman to do if not decorate her house when her life is over? Of course, she starts to see the world in fabric swatches, sweetie.
He said in that molten voice like liquid gold that sang me songs of an older age, he said that I was perfect because I thought like a man and I knew who Irene Adler was, and was not materialistic. Yes, I didn’t even get a birthday gift, or a birthday kiss, or that night of companionship. In the end, there was nothing that I got, nothing except all those memories that cling to me like the way my scent clung to the seats in his car. And now that doesn’t happen. I have no smell. Or taste. Or look. I am that insistent sound like a conscience pricking, saying, you cannot do this, you cannot do this, this is not right, this is not right, this is wrong. And I think of how this will ruin me. Of how this has already ruined me. Of how I need to be released. And then for a second, I sit tall as I type and think about materialistic things, listening to Joan Baez and remembering other men, other husbands, other unborn children. And so then I think about colours of eyes and curtains and cushions, but crumble again because, hell, I just need to be held not released. So I give up on everything and sit and write.
Because what else is a queen without a title to do except write the deed that will seal her fate?
And she said that she couldn’t do it anymore. She needed more. She needed release. She needed surrender. And she needed him – baby, please, please, don’t leave me. She needed that promised life because it was colour-coordinated and perfect and came with a daughter. And she needed. And she. And.