September 16, 2014
25th May 2014.
I have been waiting for my husband’s call with great excitement. Who am I? At this moment, my name is inconsequential. It is unimportant. The importance lies in my tryst with destiny. Tomorrow will be a day to remember for all of us. Believe me, tomorrow my husband will take oath as country’s Prime Minister at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Would I be invited to this momentous event?
I live in substandard and ill-furnished two-room house. Do you think I am crazy to address myself the wife of Country’s Prime Minister? I am not looking for any unmerited name and fame. This is the truth. I am Prime Ministerial candidate’s wife. Tomorrow onwards you too will join in chorus of approval and will address me as ‘Prime Minister’s wife.’
I do not own this shabby place. I have been living with my brother’s family for so many years. The dependency on my brother, his wife and their children is unquestionable. My brother runs a grocery shop that is attached to residence. A door from shop leads to entrance of our house. It opens out to our living room. The worn out table is best what we have. A variety of grocery items are stored disorderly in living room. Next room is our kitchen cum bedroom. We have to manage our living with best available options. A small TV set is positioned over a tin trunk at the corner.
Do I live in pitiful and miserable condition? How could ‘would-be’ Prime Minister’s wife is so inadequately placed? Prime Minister travels in posh cars, luxurious aircrafts and classy helicopters. Assistants, helpers and security guards escort him at every step. He is known for sartorial dress sense and healthy dietary habits. Is it a national shame? Prime Minister’s wife has no house of her own. If not for my brother’s shelter, I would have been in greater crisis.
Does it sound pathetic and unpleasant?
We were married in the year 1968. Then he was eighteen and I was seventeen. Plausibly we lived together for first three years of our wedded life. However, it is debatable if we ever spent time collectively for more than 3 months. Born in a close-knit community, our fathers were great friends. They proposed and arranged our marriage. I respected the tradition and accepted him as my husband without any deliberation. It came to my realization much later that he had unwillingly married. Eyewitnesses confirmed, he had requested his father to cancel the wedding a day prior to marriage. Nonetheless, his father had declined citing expected adverse reaction if backed out from commitment. His intentions were noble. He was not prepared to inflict distress to our family members.
I have a question to all honorable men who are married by parental pressure. Do you abandon your wife and run away from marital commitments? Do you leave her in weak and helpless condition? Of course, he was obsessed in political ambitions. Believe me; I would not have hampered his growth. I would have been supportive and would have drawn pleasure from his achievements.
During initial days of our marriage, he showed interest to converse. He helped me in kitchen work. Gradually he drifted away. Party work turned out to be his priority. He preferred travelling and infrequently appeared. Like any other newly married bride, I too eagerly awaited for my husband to get home. It was like sitting at dried up sea and waiting for tide to come.
Tide of life never turned on my favor. Woes and miseries continued. His initial interest in me slowly died down.
As a teenage girl, I had dreams. Who does not have dreams? You must be inquisitively pondering if we had physical intimacy while we stayed together. I would rather not answer this question with due respect in keeping up dignity of marriage. Steadily, he had begun avoiding me. He stopped visiting my in-law’s home when I was present. He stayed with his parents while I was absent. If we met by default, he always asked one question.
“You are young. Why can’t you continue your education?” Now I assume his intentions were obvious. The means of escape from relationship was already devised.
Perhaps the dreams to be a national leader were already in place. Commitment towards marriage had become irrelevant. I was ignorant. My wishful dreams continued to live within me. A normal married life could have had been wonderful. I hoped he would return to my life and turbulence will end. That was not ought to be. He remained self-centered. I was trapped in a dark tunnel, searching for corners of light. I was not educated enough to be on my own. He was focused in his political ambitions. I was signaled ‘undesirable’ with no role to play in his life. He reveled being in public limelight.
The situation tested my character. I had to recover before losing out weak and defeated.
The defeat, the heartbreak and the loss enthused me to endure adversity. Finally, I had decided and shifted back to my father’s house. At seventeen, I had left my education halfway due to marriage. In 1974, I appeared for grade 10 examination after six years of forlorn married life. I became a teacher in 1978 after passing teacher’s course. Teacher’s job went on until 2009 and ended up with retirement. After the death of my parents, I lived with my brother and his family. They have been supportive all these years. I am beholden and indebted to them.
Being human, I tend to be critical on his attitude towards me. What was my fault? I had been victim of circumstances. Once he even asked me to marry someone else. I could not even think of it. Despite living separately, I have always accepted him as my husband. We have never considered legal separation. Hence, I believe, he will always be my husband and I am his faithful wife. I too had dreams of having a family like any other married couples. Little I knew what fate in store for me. In a way, I should not blame him or anyone else. Perhaps life is driven by destiny.
Fulfillment of wishes in life is always probable and not guaranteed.
In contrast, my husband’s life has been always choice driven. He did not wait for success. He went after it. He is my husband. I have kept a close watch on his moves. I have read articles and news stories about him. I have seen his campaigns, rallies and speeches whenever covered by TV channels. His term as chief minister of state had been one my proudest moment. Nevertheless, they were his moments of life. Would there be ever ‘our’ moments?
Do I deserve this? At times, bitterness lingers within. May be, in life everything happens for a reason. We were wedded to live together in marriage. My dream shattered into pieces with no fault of mine. I had lost my hope. However, the recent development kindled a new hope of reunion with my husband.
“Forget him. He does not deserve you.” My brother has repeatedly advised.
It could be true. My husband has shown no signs of coming back during last forty years of unofficial separation. I do feel sad while evaluating his lack of emotions towards me. It is not that we have never met. We happened to catch up couple of times. Once he had visited our town on party work. Overwhelmed by emotions, I had rushed to meet him. He had injured his hand and I had applied ointment on his wound. Second time, he played a role in a drama that was staged here in town. Super excited by occasion, I had watched the stage play. Soon after play was over, I met him joyfully at green room.
“Congratulations. Your acting was top class.” My expression was breathless.
“Thank you.” His reply was short and impassive.
He showed no interest to cure my inner wounds nor displayed any eagerness to play husband’s role in my life. His detachment recurrently pained my inner self. Dreams come as package with every married woman. I too had desires of home of our own, warmth of husband, joys of pregnancy, playful noisy children, and to play a role in their growth. I wanted to experience the mission of married life in keeping up family healthy physically and mentally. Sorry to say, nothing happened. However, one thing is true. If we had lived together, I would have helped to prevent ghastly riots in 2002 and if not, would have certainly tried to minimize damages.
At this moment of life, I am 62-year-old retired teacher living on pension. Most of time is spent on devotional and religious activities. My daily routine includes temple visits, sharing consecrated food with devotees and children. I had believed that my life would never change until my last breath. In a hopeless condition, a new hope ascended like crack of dawn. Now I should be poised to step out from darkness.
The party had already declared my husband as prime ministerial candidate before national election. On ninth of April 2014, my husband while filing nomination mentioned my name as his wife. Supreme Court’s judgment had made it mandatory to fill spouse name in nomination form. If he had indicated his marital status as single, I would not have gone public. He was aware of our unspoken agreement.
However, by publicly acknowledging me as his wife, he had responded from his heart. He felt no shame in declaring truth. He could not betray his conscience. Somewhere, deep within he cared and accepted our relationship. I was moved.
My confidence in him suggested he would become the prime minister of this country.
I prayed endlessly and went for pilgrimage for his success. Pre-election poll signaled he would end up victorious. The waves of his triumph were visible everywhere. Election results were declared. It was conclusive victory for my husband’s party. Opposition had suffered heavy defeat. I was delighted and thanked God.
What is wrong in having swarming desire to attend my husband’s swearing in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan?
I have been waiting for his call from last one week. I am sure he would invite me. My heart says so. He would be the Prime Minister of our country. He can reach me no time. People are aware of my relationship with proposed Prime Minister. Government agencies should be having my address and telephone number. The oath ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan will see more than 4000 guests including chief ministers, political leaders and well-known celebrities. Government heads of neighboring countries will attend with their delegations.
In a way, I am surprised. I am his wife. I am yet to receive a call. Why is it so? I am not tired looking out my window expecting some government official to turn up. Prime minister can easily arrange airlift by helicopter. In today’s world, travelling is as easy as pie.
“Cops are here to meet you.” My brother appears from Grocery shop.
Cops are here! My heart skips a beat. There is always light at the end of tunnel. All these days I had this intuition. My dream will come true. Perhaps my husband has done arrangements for me to be present tomorrow at Rashtrapati Bhavan. This could be a turning point of my life. If all goes well, my right to live at 7-race course road will be a reality. I am overpowered by emotions like an irresistible surging sea.
“Namaste.” I customarily bow to greet them. “You must have been advised by my husband.”
“We have instructions from central government.” The cop replies.
“I know my husband wants to me witness tomorrow’s swearing in ceremony at capital. Time is short.” I eagerly go on.
“I am not aware of it.” He shrugs off. “We have made arrangements for your security. As Prime Minister’s wife, you will be eligible for 24 hours protection. Four armed police officers in vehicle will keep a watch on surroundings and movements in this town. A constable will be present with you round the clock.”
‘Why do I need security? I believe in God for protection. All I wish is my husband’s presence in my life.’ Words come readily to my tongue that I withhold. I look around trying to hide the tears in my eyes. I feel mocked by shabby hut like house. Sensing the defeat, I gently walk inside.
….. …. ….
26th May 2014.
Today people of all ages of our country are glued to their TV sets to watch Prime Minister and his cabinet’s oath ceremony. Sitting in front of TV with my brother’s family, I look at my husband as he walks towards podium at forecourts of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
“I... do swear in the name of God.” He declares. “That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established, that I will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of … that I will faithfully and conscientiously discharge my duties…”
I watch the proceedings with lack of attention. Preoccupied with thoughts, questions swirl in my mind. Is it worthwhile to prioritize the commitment to country with no responsibility towards wife and family? Can all desert their spouses with pretext of social and patriotic reasons? If such tendency turns customary in our society, what would be the fate of institution of marriage?
‘You failed in fulfilling marital commitment. However, People of country have given you clear mandate with great expectations. Please do not disappoint them.’ My heart crackles in exhaustion, igniting fire of words within me.
Disclaimer: Though this story is inspired by news reports, the narration, dialogues & expression appearing in this story is work of fiction. Any resemblance to real, living, dead is purely coincidental. Most important, any similarity to those living/nonliving with dead conscience is entirely accidental & unintentional.