Married Strangers

Weekly writing challenge #20: Write a story or description of a stranger for seven minutes. You can just describe them visually, you can write about what you think led them to this point in their day or even what you think they are going to do next. You can even invent an entire story about them without any visual descriptions at all.

Here goes nothing!

They leave together for work, as they do every morning. It’s one of the many little things that they DO together. They’ve been married almost a year now. An arranged match that was engineered by community elders, a marriage broker and possibly the temple priest.

On paper, she was more than a catch. A certified Chartered Accountant working for one of the city’s largest MNCs, she was well educated and it reflected in her pay check. An added bonus, she was pretty — fair, slim, with shiny, thick hair that fell below her shoulders and eyes a man could drown in. All important requisites for an Indian bride. The only spot that marred the picture, she was almost thirty. In this country, almost at expiry date. If they hadn’t found a suitable boy for her in a hurry, she would have remained on the shelf. The profile was detailed but it lacked a few pertinent details. Like how she was an independent and sometimes rather stubborn woman. It didn’t say that she was a city girl who liked her martinis dirty and her after dark activities dirtier. Instead it said she was well educated, quiet, and that most prized of all virtues an Indian woman can possess — ‘homely’. Clearly no one had bothered to pick up a dictionary and see what the word actually meant.

His profile described him as tall, handsome and an MBA from a good, god fearing family. Reading between the lines, she had concluded — like other women her age — that it probably meant that he was a slightly pompous and possibly slightly fanatical prick, whose bald spot was still not terribly visible to the naked eye. However, she was also aware that at her ‘advanced’ age, she could not afford to be too choosy. And there had been considerable persuasion of the emotional blackmail variety from her family. So she had agreed to meet him and was pleasantly surprised. He was actually good looking, and even better, he was actually nice. There wasn’t much opportunity for conversation — in any case, good girls from good families did not talk to strange men, not even potential husbands — but he managed to slip her his number, thereby neatly leaving it up to her to contact him if she wanted to.

Both families had agreed to the match almost immediately and negotiations were speedily conducted. The ‘romance’ was whirlwind and also very under the radar. Geography had not helped matters much, but that was where cheap air fares, accumulated air miles and package deals came in. And then, they were walking round the fire and making all kinds of promises to each other. The celebrations had lasted almost a week. The honeymoon was a dream — a cruise on a luxury liner to the Caribbean. Then, she had shipped her stuff — clothes, books, knick knacks and things from her old life that she couldn’t live without, boarded the plane and moved to a new city, a new job and a new life.

Nine months and a few days in, he’s the perfect husband. Everything a girl would want in a man. He’s not the demanding, chauvinistic husband of the movies she grew up watching, he’s not a wife beater like her brother in law, and he isn’t the work-obsessed, absent husband that her friends complain about. He’s patient, kind, caring, adoring even. Willing to pull his weight in the house, supportive of her career, creative and considerate in bed. Excited for their life together, kids and everything that the future holds for them. Of course he has his faults and little annoying habits, but for the most part he is perfect. She is the envy of her family and friends.

There’s just one tiny little thing that is keeping her from being the happiest woman on the planet. She’s not in love with him now — not any more than she was when they were introduced. Not even a little, not the way a wife is supposed to love her husband. She likes him well enough but she’s in love with someone else. Her youngest aunt back home — who was also her lover for the last ten years. And as she climbs on to the bike and wraps her arms around him, she can’t help but wish that he was her beloved mausi. Then she shakes the thought off and focuses on the day ahead. It’s Friday, last work day of the week — and girls night out.

Maybe she’ll get lucky.

PS: I don’t own the picture!

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