Short Story: Of Dreams and Delusions

29May06

Based on a true story.

I was in one of those ominously energetic moods when I met Alex and Kavitha for a Sunday afternoon lunch at The Tamarind. The conversation over the meal was typical with our usual doses of gossips when I made a casual remark, “Wonder what made Smita send such a mail to the group all of a sudden, seeming too desperate trying for a job. She could do with a little more patience, couldn’t she?” There was a short pause and Kavitha responded cautiously, “I need to tell you guys this. Some weeks back I got a long mail from her. One of the many she had sent me.” And with a heavy sigh she added, “Smita has divorced her husband”.

“WHAT?” my jaws fell open and I almost dropped the fork down. My eyes gaping wide with disbelief. I still remember when I saw Smita the last time around, which was 4 years back, on the last day of completing our Masters. I remember her last conversation with me, “You know, I always admire you for your amazingly quick wit. Honest. Believe me.” And she added with a chuckle, “Oh, and I’ll never forget any of your irritatingly funny antics.” And she had walked away giggling at my smile.

Two weeks from that day she would be married and leaving the country to be with her husband, Rajiv. Rajiv was born and brought up in the US. “He was educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, must be a brainy guy,” Smita used to proudly tell her closer friends. For her part, I knew she was bent upon settling down in the US. Her friends say she had this as the foremost condition to her parents while looking for a guy – “he must be based in the US”. And she seemed to have got what she wanted.

I didn’t manage to go to her marriage, but whoever had gone told me it was nothing short of a grand affair. And with smiles and a lot of dreams of seeing her aspiration about to succeed, she left the country a fortnight after marriage. And that was the last I heard about her.

Until two weeks ago, when she sent a mail to our Yahoo groups sounding impatiently desperate to find a job. And this afternoon answering my remark about that mail, Kavitha told me the remaining part of her story.

Smita seemed to get everything she wanted in her new Milwaukee home. She had her own car. Rajiv took her out every evening. She had her own room and the bedroom that she shared with Rajiv. Only that they were never allowed to sleep together in that bedroom.

If this were not enough, her husband often took his mother out to a particular Psychiatry hospital. Smita was often at the receiving end of some strange hysterical behavior of her mother-in-law, who shouted and cursed her apparently for nothing at all. The lady was under constant medication but Smita was not given any explanation. A few days later, Smita noticed her husband sitting in the darkness of their bedroom talking to himself.

“The CIA would take care of it”. This was all that Smita could understand. The rest of his words were quick, mingled and incomprehensive. She walked into the room and tried to ask what he wanted. But what she got was more curses from Rajiv and his incorrigible words about some nonsense, talking to himself. He received support from his mother for cursing her as well. The curses and abuses continued over a few months to more than a year, in which period neither was couple allowed to sleep together nor was she spared of the hysterical behavior of her husband which seemed to rise unpredictably for many nights.

Smita was also working and on the way to work one day she noticed her husband going to the same psychiatry hospital. With some help from her co-workers Smita managed to find out more. Her husband was suffering from a form of schizophrenia and took to talking to himself and turning hysterical at unpredictable times. Doctors said his mom also had the same condition and in this particular case the condition was genetic and hereditory and therefore hard to cure.

The fact was somehow hidden at the time of her marriage. No one knows how they managed it. No one knows if her parents remained so careless that they never enquired properly about the family. But then, sitting at Chennai, it’s always hard to verify the background of somebody in the US. As a result, in return for her dreams and aspirations, she got delusions and abuse from a schizophrenic family. Going to the limits of her tolerance, she eventually divorced Rajiv. That was 6 months back.

“But why the hell didn’t she get back to India, to her parents’ place?” I asked Kavitha. “Her mom was there with her in Milwaukee during the divorce episode and has come back now. Smita doesn’t want to come back, because she fears the wrath of her relatives who are sure to treat her as an outcast who doesn’t know to live with her husband. She fears the society. And having lived out a fear, she doesn’t want to get into another one. So, she decided to live alone and single there.”

“And what does she live on?” Alex asked taking a sip of water. “She has moved to Connecticut.” Kavitha replied. “She lives alone there with some friend of hers who seems to be helpful. And she’s looking for a job.”

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7 Responses to “Short Story: Of Dreams and Delusions

  1. 1 Jax

    I wonder what the ending of this story would turn out to be.

  2. 2 Kishore

    Jax,
    Let time decide the ending. And hope that would be a good one.

  3. 3 Usha

    so sad! Must have been a shock and so difficult for ayoung girl to handle.
    I hope your friend gets over the shock and takes control of her life.

  4. 4 Kishore

    Usha,
    Thanks. I too hope so.

  5. that’s frightened me of this whol;e marriage game even more. it’s always such a gamle. I don’t even know your friend and i don’t want to feel sorry for her but what a waste .. i hope she manages to get on her feet again and start over afresh.

  6. 6 Vidya

    Sad to hear about your friend. I hope she gets a job soon . I can understand why she choose not to come back to India ,the relatives would have made her life difficult out here .Its easier for people to talk rather than really understand what the person is going thru …

  7. 7 Kishore

    San,
    It is a big gamble. But then, there dont seem to be too many options at hand. We need to gamble, and hope our common-sense and discretion comes to our rescue.

    Vidya,
    Societal pressure is the reason for half the intra-family trouble. Hope someday people shut their gossips up.


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