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by Anu Chopra
Yes she was beautiful and what beautiful taste in clothes she had. She was picture perfect with her porcelain looks. We were meeting after so long. I was really really happy to see her. Sheena and I hugged each other hard. I gave a good look to Sheena. She was back in my town after a gap of so many years. I looked at her and wondered what happened to the fragile beauty I knew.
I remember her clothes were the talk of the town. Whenever she would walk people would stop to look at her. That was the effect her mesmerizing beauty had on people! And now she was fat and had lines under her eyes but the warmth in her smile remained. There were remnants of the beauty I had known. The chiseled features were still there. The long hair, though now salt and pepper were still there.
She was wearing a salwar kameez…Sheena, who wouldn’t ever wear any Indian outfit.
I had known her from the day I had got married.
Our in-laws had been good friends for a long time. Some thing in her warmth her sincerity struck a chord in me and we became good friends.
But unlike mine, hers was a very tumultuous marriage.
She had got married in this rich business house because of her beauty and I think her beauty and her attitude and her class became a barrier in settling down in her typically business family with strong middle class values where you were weighed according to how well you managed the house.
I had seen her battling with all kinds of problems.
She had very low self-esteem because she could not be the perfect wife like her bhabhis
Sometimes talking to her I knew she would be not all there.
I remember once her husband had been very angry with her
And she had smiled diffidently and said, “ What to do my hands keep getting dirty and it is so tough to clean them all the time. So I cannot cook in time.”
She looked normal and with a wry smile, she went in to wash her hand again.
Her father-in –law had then walked in and said quietly but loud enough for Sheena to hear, I do not think you should stay with her, there is something wrong with her.
Sheena probably heard it and pretended to ignore it.
But I could see the heartbroken look on her face.
Mehul her husband kept quiet.
She was really a trophy wife, who was no longer a trophy but lying in the shelf totally neglected and someone who had outlived her utility.
Mehul, her husband was so confused and so sad. He wanted a trophy wife who could cook like a dream and look after his dominating parents and totally subjugate herself to them.
But for Sheena it had really been tough.
She tried hard …but I think she had collapsed under the stress.
Sheena had disappeared.
She was not well, her family said.
When ever I tried talking to her father-in-law would come and say listen she is not well and she does not want to speak to you.
And then I found that she had a nervous break down.
She had been on treatment and she never really recovered.
I had seen her so many times talking on a tangent.
Like once she called me and started talking about how devils came through the electricity that is why she had switched her electricity lights.
I was shocked to hear what she was saying and finally I called up her husband who said she has good days and bad days
She was put on medication, which made her lose her memory and sometimes she would forget what she was saying.
And then she went away.
Her husband divorced her.
I think he loved her a lot but living with her was near impossible. How does live with a mad woman however beautiful she is.
He finally gave in to his father’s wishes and left her.
Strangely he married a complete antithesis of his wife Sheena.
She was fat florid and stable, which Sheena never was and would never be.
And she took good care of Mehul and his family.
But I think Mehul only loved Sheena.
He could not get this beautiful demented woman out of his mind
He listened to his father.
He had always listened to his father.
But what would his father know about a broken heart.
How could he tell his father that whatever Sheena was he loved her and there are many thing that have no reason or logic behind them.
Sheena had to leave, if Mehul’s father had his way he would have just put her in a lunatic asylum, and forgotten about her.
Sheena really had no family to fall back upon and all she had was Mehul.
But Mehul saw it that she was comfortable, had a flat and a car. He shifted her to another town.
Sheena and I met after a long time. She had come back for her ex father-in –laws death
I invited her home.
We sat down to chat.
She looked at me and laughed, “ Do you think I am normal.”
She laughed again and said, “I am all right.”
She was the old Sheena I knew bright witty and happy.
“I coped badly after Mehul left me.”
“I still believed he I was playing games with me. I knew he loved me madly passionately and I could never believe that he dumped me one day. But he did!”
“Thankfully he kept me well provided.”
“By that time knew that I was schizophrenic, and it really was not my fault or any ones…maybe it was my genes.”
“I know I had to fight it my self.”
“I started yoga and meditation…whatever I read and heard, I tried everything. I have to be on medication all my life, but I feel much better.”
“I now stay in a hill station where I teach in a school and also work part time in an orphanage.
“I love working in the orphanage. They are the children, at least one of them could have been mine.”
At this point Sheena’s eyes brimmed with tears and said, “I have been wanting to adopt but I feel I will not be doing the child justice.”
“And of course Mehul has always been there whenever I have needed him. We are still very good friends.”
I looked at her with admiration .She had coped so well.
Sheena then looked at me and smiled… “Can you tell me where the bathroom is because my hands keep getting dirty? And I hope there is no geyser because sometimes devils come in through the water.”
I just stared at her!!
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