Of No Avail: Web of Wedlock — 3
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“Have you become a Socrates of sorts or what?” she said in all admiration.
“It’s not like that,” he said in all humility, “and simply put, life teaches us all through though we refuse to learn, but in my case, maybe, fate forced me to grasp its hardest lessons. So to say, nature devised food and sex not only to sustain life but also to make it joyous to the living and towards that end it endows the earth to cater to the former and contrives the sex ratio to ensure the latter. However, in nature’s scheme of things, and by the very character of their functions, food furnishes life from birth to death while sex, as it is a latecomer, makes an early exit albeit after an exhilarating run. So instead of lamenting on the lackings of life, prudence lies in making the best possible use of its limited sexual span, of course buttressed by one’s libido. Surely the elders, privy to this aspect of life, should advise the youths to pick up the low hanging sexual fruits to satiate themselves, as other wants of life can wait for their eventual fruition.”
“Oh, what lessons of life!” she said admiringly.
“Now I want to hear about your learnings,” he said.
“But our agreement is different, isn’t it?” she said smilingly.
“Why are you so adamant?” he said exhibiting his curiosity.
“Why read the last page of a mystery beforehand?” she said turning coquettish as if alluding to her intended ending of their current encounter.
“You always have a way to stump me,” he said reminiscently.
“But now the ball is in your hand, isn’t it?” she said half in jest.
“So to continue my tiresome tale,” he said in resumption, “at last, as if Chitra’s fate was fed up of the tortuous wait, it induced a widower to own her sister’s older hand. So with the decks to her marriage thus cleared, and the astrologers having concurred, soon she entered into my life to celebrate her thirtieth birthday as my wife, and that was ten years back. I plead guilty for revealing a woman’s age.”
“Pardoned, because it’s not mine,” she said smilingly and added endearingly. “You’re lighter than your forty-four.”
However, noticing that he checked his instinct to lend his voice for the admiration for her gorgeous looks that his face has been conveying to her, she presented him her guilt-filled visage, which only stirred his innate feelings for her.
“Priya,” he said, “let me picture the material arena into which I ushered her in from the altar so that you can have a true perspective of our marital life. You know neither money enamored me nor ambition courted me, but strangely my professional qualification became the bane of my career. My search for a proper job landed me in a state government undertaking that has since gone under; so no use taking its name now. Since I loved that job as a purchase officer, I exerted myself to excel at it, and my boss, for his part, was keen to see me making great strides on the career ladder. However, when he had all but set the stage for my crucial promotion, unfortunately for both of us, he was sidelined by the minister to bring in the sibling of a political bigwig as the departmental head. Somehow, the new arrival was averse to engineers in what he perceived as a commerce domain, and so he sat on my promotion as if he was on an indefinite sit in. The fact that I made a late start in the corporate world too didn’t help me to make it to the greener pastures that anyway my love for this place further restricted. So, with no progress on the marital as well as the career fronts, it may not be hard for you to picture my plight then.”
“What an irony that a superior education should yield inferior career returns and no wonder that company had gone under,” she said equally affected.
“Whatever, when my father came to know that my salary was no better than that of a bank clerk then, he wondered of what avail was his ordeal in financing my technical education, with hostel bills and all,” he said feeling sad for his disappointed dad. “Likewise, after an agonizing wait, marriage led an unwary Chitra into a failed career setting, and it showed, readily at that. Yet I couldn’t fault her as it was I who failed to deliver what my qualification had promised in her dream marital home. So, soon after she came into my life, she entreated me to refurbish this flat and refurnish it, and held that her earnings would lighten the debt burden. Though it was against my nature to live beyond our means, but still, against my better judgment, I went along with her to try to set the right marital tune in our home. Yet, setting her sights much beyond the monitory reach of our home, and thereby lamenting over its material lackings, she made us miss most of its marital offerings at that vantage station of our life. Oh, what a hell of a companion a sulking spouse doth make!”
“I can see it from your face,” she said pressing his hand.
“That being the case, what else I could do then than sharing my philosophy of life with her,” he said holding her hand. “But while the averments of the have-nots on the irrelevance of wealth lack credence, the hypocrisy of the well heeled on that count carries conviction in public perception, and that’s the irony. Yet, I tried to make her see that everyone’s life is a unique package of creature comforts and emotive kicks; the former displaying the standard of living and the latter defining the quality of life. If only the ethereal facets of the packages that have a bearing on the quality of life were also to be visible for public view, then possibly people would suffer less in material comparison for it would be apparent then that life gives with one hand and takes away with the other; what’s more, adverse times dent its bigger packages more than the smaller ones. So to say, I tried to make her see reason to make our life as amiable as was possible but to no avail.”
“Had I married you then, I’m sure my wooly head wouldn’t have let me fare any better than her,” she said and thought ‘so whatever happens happens for good.’
“Maybe, you know that better,” he said and paused as if to come to grips with the pain his recollections caused him, and she was gripped by guilt for being the cause of it all.
“So we dragged our marriage into the second year thus,” he resumed his woeful tale. “But even as our life became a farce, fate imparted an inimical twist to it. Latching onto my colleague’s jesting about the under-the-table worth of my purchase desk and my naivety in not realizing that, she began pressing me to become worldly-wise. Oh, the tricks she played to seduce me to graft our way to happiness would surely make a treatise on the subject. Yet, finding me unyielding, she first took to moral blackmail – though in a position to take her on joyrides in sedans, how unfair I was in reducing her into a pillion rider etc., etc. Since I remained stubborn even then, she took to sexual blackmail to heighten my frustration, but as that too didn’t bring about my surrender, she became unimaginably cantankerous that is to put it mildly.”
“In spite of it all, what gave you the strength to stick to your moral ground?” she said as much in surprise as in admiration.
“Like with nature so is the case with human nature, it has some invariable dimensions to it,” he philosophized. “It’s possible that my innate disregard for money enabled me to withstand that irresistible feminine pressure of an amorous woman that too in the prime of our life. But still, as captured in Jewel-less Crown, it’s the character of money to corrupt the ardent, tease the vacillating, and curse the indifferent, and curse it did.”
“Oh, how true it is,” she said in the flashback her own life.
“Finally, on the third wedding anniversary that symbolizes the flexibility of marital durability, she chose to roll the dice on its longevity. That day when she said that she would quit her job, her idea of idleness was a ruse to make me fall in line for shorn of her salary my budget would be in the topsy-turvy. She knew that deprived of her contribution, I would be really hard up to repay the loans I took to cater to her whims and fancies, and so she reckoned that I would fall in line as I won’t be able to make both ends meet with my income alone. Well, she thought that she called it right but still as I hedged my bets, she quit her job and what’s worse resorted to wasteful practices to further strain my finances.”
“Wonder how you could endure all that,” she said taking his arm and holding it endearingly.
“While my patience wore thinner, the threshold of her impatience too became lower,” he continued to recap his matrimonial predicaments, “and in the end, she threatened to sue me for divorce and her maintenance to boot. So to say, her threat of divorce made me only feel relieved for I always believed that it’s unfair for man to ditch a woman at any time, more so past her prime, when she would be most vulnerable to attract another mate. Maybe she wanted to make me realize that my uprightness at office wouldn’t let me square it up at home, and surely the prospect of providing for her maintenance out of my overstrained financial position unnerved me. But still I thought I’ve had enough of her and so didn’t yield to her, maybe making it untenable for her to hold onto our marital ground. So, ending our over two year marital ordeal, she walked out on me to sue me for divorce with maintenance.”
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