myavr.info Personal Growth The Secret Wish List Ebook

THE SECRET WISH LIST EBOOK

Thursday, June 6, 2019


The Secret Wishlist by Preeti Shenoy is a story of a woman, who wants to do a lot of things, but feels clipped because of bond in marriage life. The secret myavr.info - Free download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online for free. Editorial Reviews. Review. Excellent story telling skills --The Times of India. About the Author. Preeti Shenoy is among the highest-selling authors in India and.


The Secret Wish List Ebook

Author:SHARI CONCHO
Language:English, Spanish, Hindi
Country:Honduras
Genre:Business & Career
Pages:512
Published (Last):11.06.2015
ISBN:259-7-48684-104-3
ePub File Size:21.31 MB
PDF File Size:15.51 MB
Distribution:Free* [*Regsitration Required]
Downloads:30784
Uploaded by: ALEJANDRO

The Secret Wish List book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Does true love really exist or is it just a cliche? Can a sin. Urged by a twist of events, a wish list is born. But can a wish list help her piece back her life together? Will she succumb to the tangled mess of an extramarital. the secret wish list ebook free download. The Secret Wish List Ebook Free Download. 27 Reads 0 Votes 1 Part Story. paytrogcorda By paytrogcorda Ongoing.

He would then leave and I would have my breakfast, alone. The pattern that a couple inadvertently sets in the early years of marriage continues even later, unless a conscious effort is made to change it. That never happened in our case. And so, to this day, he and our nine-year-old son, Abhay, eat together and leave. I always eat later.

The praise has stopped though. He does not utter even one word in appreciation these days. I have grown up watching my mother be the dutiful wife and, until recently, I did not even mind being one. But, of late, irritation has begun mounting and not knowing how to deal with it, I deal with it by suppressing it. I know for a fact that it started after my cousin, Vibhas, visit.

When Vibha, who lives in Hyderabad, visits Bangalore for company projects, she stays with us for a week or so, and has observed this routine several times. When Sandeep and Abhay leave, she says, Diksha, which century are you living in, girl? Look at what you have turned into.

You have totally metamorphosed into a maidservant and cook. Shut up, Vibha. I dont have a high-flying job like you, where your company sends you on fancy trips and all. I am just a housewife, and has it ever occurred to you that I like making hot food for Abhay and Sandeep?

I counter her observation, not willing to acknowledge it. I brush aside her remarks as if they are of no consequence, but deep down I know her words have found their mark. They rankle inside me now like the chains of a prisoner in medieval times who yearns to break free. She has voiced something that I have dared not admit even to myself and her words hang in the air like gloomy mist. Everything that I look at now is tinted with this greyness that had begun to gnaw at my insides.

Look, Diksha. So what if you are a housewife? That doesnt mean Sandeep cant make a cup of coffee for you! I have seen how much work you put into making their lives smooth. But what about you? You deserve more, girl. You never get to go out. Your mother-in-law being in the same town doesnt help either as you have to spend every single weekend with her.

What kind of life is that? Vibha, I am happy. I am happy that my mother-in-law lives close by and we get to visit her. Abhay loves spending time with her. Not everyone is like you. I dont have to get Sandeep to make coffee for me in the name of womens lib or whatever. He earns well, he provides us with material comfort and so it is indeed okay if I am the one taking care of cooking and everything else.

I dont know why I am so stubborn in defending my life. Diksha, dont you long for anything more? Are you really happy? Dont you want to go out with your girlfriends, do things for yourself, have some fun? Her tone changes into concern as she searches my face for answers. I cannot bear her eyes boring into mine.

Of course, I long to go out. I truly do not want to spend every single weekend visiting Sandeeps mother who lives less than two kilometres away. But it has become such a routine now that I cannot even think of spending weekends any other way.

When I had first suggested going out somewhere nice in the early years of marriage, Sandeep had glared at me like I had said I wanted to separate him from his mother. He had reminded me of the time his mother had selflessly helped look after Abhay when he was born. Sandeep never ceased to remind me that my parents hadnt done much by way of being there for us.

I had tried telling him that it was only because my mother had fallen seriously ill at the time of Abhays birth. She had to have a hysterectomy. She had been operated upon and the surgeon had discovered a lump that needed to be removed. There were other complications as well.

Then she had been on bed-rest for nearly six whole months. Else, she would have definitely helped. But when I had explained all that to Sandeep, he had just said, Bah.

What counts is who did the job ultimately. How can I tell Vibha all this? How can I admit to her that, yes,I feel trapped with Sandeep.

The secret wishlist.pdf

That I long for a better life. The truth of Vibhas words hammers into my brain, hitting me right where it hurts. But I still do not want her to see my pain. After all, she is leading the life she wants. She has a job she enjoys, has good help at home, is independent and smart, everything I am not.

So I turn away and busy myself doing the dishes. We sit in silence, both of us very well aware that the words she uttered are true. I am not entirely happy in my marriage. But I have made peace with my situation and I do not know how to change it. Sandeep is not a bad guy, after all. These days, however, it feels as though I have to constantly remind myself that. Fifteen years of marriage and motherhood have changed me as a person.

I go quiet as I contemplate. The awkward silence between us now embarrasses Vibha. Hey, Diksha. I think I said too much. I know no marriage is perfect. Mine certainly isnt. Mohan constantly complains that I do not have time for him or Monu. Look, I am really sorry to have poked my nose into your affairs.

I should first set my marriage right. I havent done any of the things that Mohan wants us to do together as a family. It is always work and more work for me. Then I come here and see such a contrast in your life and I just couldnt help telling you what I felt. I should have kept quiet. I am sorry. She is now contrite at having spoken her mind. No, Vibha, it is fine. You are lucky to lead the life you want.

And I know it is only concern for me that made you say those things. And hey, youre my sis. How can you not be honest with me? I am glad you spoke out. I have been in denial about it, I finally admit. And I mean it. After Vibha leaves, I find myself increasingly thinking about her words. The emptiness of my life has begun to gnaw at me, eating me up from inside. Of course, Vibha is right. I have, over the years, slowly but surely turned into a maidservant and cook.

Sandeep and Abhay do take me for granted. But the fact is, that a part of me feels useful too, doing all this. It gives me a sense of purpose, a sense of doing something, as though justifying my existence. But, for the first time in my life, I have begun thinking about where my life is going.

Perhaps the fact that I will turn thirty-five in a few months adds to my increasingly contemplative state. I guess most people take stock of where they are going when they get older, dont they? It is only two weeks later though that I finally call up Vibha. Hey Vibs, you got some time to talk? I ask. She is a busy person, in a demanding job. As a mid-management level employee in a pharmaceutical company, she has to travel a lot. That is why I never call her during the day.

If I have to speak to her, I call on weekends or at night. Vibha is the closest thing I have to a sister and I feel fortunate to have this bond with her. We have spent many summer vacations together in our maternal grandparents village in Kerala. Our mothers would bundle us off to the ancestral house and, for two whole months, we would laze around, pick raw mangoes from the tree and eat them with salt and chilli powder, play games, go swimming in the river nearby, play pranks on each other, fight, make up and forge bonds and create memories that we now cherish in our adult years.

Vibha had got married long after I had. She had a child much later than I did and went promptly back to work soon as the baby turned three months old. Of course, her in-laws moved in with her and the arrangement suited everyone.

I sometimes envy her lifestyle, her career and how she has everything together. In comparison, I feel as though I am wasting my life. Her words have added to my increasing sense of despondency and today is one of those days when I just have to speak to her, to sort out the chugging train of thoughts in my head that refuses to slow down.

Of course, Diksha, give me ten minutes. I am reading to Monu. I will tuck her in bed and call you. I am clearing the kitchen when she calls back. Abhay has been tucked in bed a long time back and Sandeep has plonked himself in front of the television, his usual unvarying routine on almost all days. What happened, Dikku, all well? I know I can tell her anything. She is the closest I will ever come to having a sister.

I know I can never discuss things like this with my brother. Hello, Diksha? All well? Can you hear me? I take a while to answer. I really do not know how to say it, or what purpose this discussion will serve.

All I know is that things seem unbearable and I need to speak to her. Vibha, I have been thinking. You were right that day when you said my life is empty, I reply. Hey, come on, Diksha. Thats really not what I meant, she corrects me. I pause again.

I am unable to articulate what I feel. I know what you meant. See, the fact is that there is indeed a growing discontent in me. I know I am only fooling myself by pretending to be extremely happy cooking and caring for Sandeep and Abhay, but there has to be more to life than that. I feel worthless, Vibha. I really do, I finally say, the words tumbling out. The bitterness in my voice and the things I have just expressed take me by surprise, as though it is not me, but a stranger, talking.

Hey Diksha, things are not so bad. You do look after the house and keep it well. Why, your house is ten times more efficiently managed than mine. You know how much my mother-in-law helps me, Vibha tries to placate me. But I am in no mood to be consoled.

She only helps you look after Monu while you are at work. Isnt it you who decides everything in the house including whom to hire as house-help? Isnt it you and Mohan who have done up the house so well? Isnt it you who has decided that Monu is better off in a playschool than being at home with your mother-in-law? Come on, Vibs, you run the show there. Dont give me crap and try to make me feel better.

Vibha knows all that I have said is true. Look, Diksha, you are right, I admit. But hey, why are you suddenly comparing your life to mine? Look, I truly am sorry for all those remarks I made.

I spoke because I care for you. I felt you were slaving and slogging and not getting what you deserve. But that does not mean your life is empty or that you are worthless. Vibs, I know that. But you know what? This is something I have been feeling for years. It is just that I had not admitted it even to myself. When you came that day and talked so honestly, it truly hit me like a ton of bricks.

I have been thinking about it, Vibha. Look, I took two weeks to call you. I have been fighting this in my head. I did not want to burden you, but today it was unbearable and I just had to call you.

Hey, Diksha, you are never a burden. Were sisters, remember? I am always here for you. You can call me anytime, night or day. And incidentally, I have a trip to Bangalore by the end of the month.

Lets do one thing, lets talk about this then. I promise we will find a solution. You just hang in there and stop feeling bad.

I am coming soon and we will sort this out. Okay, thanks, I say. Come on. What are you saying thanks for? Since when did our relationship become so formal? Now cheer up, I am coming soon. Once she hangs up, I go to the garden and sit for a long time on the swing with the grass beneath my feet. One of the things I love about this house is the garden which I have lovingly nurtured.

In a city where space is devoured hungrily by multistoryed building that rise everyday, this little sanctuary of calm, still standing proud, surrounded by high-rises, gives me so much happiness. The house belongs to Sandeeps paternal grandfather and it is an old construction. Sandeep has got many offers for it from builders who want to tear it down and build flats. They have even offered us four flats in the same building. Artillery Road is, after all, prime location in Bangalore and the property is easily worth a few hundred crores.

But Sandeep has not succumbed. I sit in the silence of the night, listening to crickets, watching a toad hop away and, as I swing, I think about the fifteen years of my marriage. I think about how things have changed. I think about how I have gone along and been a good girl all this while, doing exactly what my parents wanted me to do.

I have dutifully married a suitable boy, dutifully produced a child and have busied myself raising him.

He is nine now. I am quite proud of him, yet why is there this growing sense of discontent in me? Then it strikes me that it is because, in all these years, I have completely lost track of what I want. I have played the role of wife and mother to perfection.

So much so that I have forgotten what I want as an individual. My identity is truly Sandeeps wife or Abhays mother. It is as though I have been living in a dream all these years and, like Rip Van Winkle, have suddenly woken up. What is it that I want? Apart from raising my child well and keeping house. I know I want something more from my life.

I want to do something about it. But what? I really dont know. It is a frightening feeling.

I sit in the darkness and stare at the starless sky. The darkness stares back at me. I have no idea what I want anymore. What have I done with my life? Where am I headed?

I feel miserable and sorry as I sit there and take stock of my life. I have everything, yet I have nothing. And I have no idea what I am going to do. I have been studying really hard and need a break. Mother is watering the plants in the garden and Rohan has shut himself up in his room. Hellooooo, I say as I rush and answer it. I knew it all along. You did take my bag on purpose, didnt you? You little witch!

It takes me a few seconds to register that it is Ankit and a few more to understand what he has just said. I stand there with the receiver in my hand, my jaw almost dropping to the floor. I am gobsmacked, outraged and embarrassed, all at the same time. Hello, it is Diksha, isnt it? He sounds a little unsure now.

Ankit, yes. It is me. I finally reply. Oh, thank God. I thought I had shot off my mouth to someone else.

And you know what, I really like you too. But I never spoke up. Heck, I did not even admit it to myself. But boy, am I glad you did, he says, a visible relief in his voice now.

I squirm further in embarrassment. I do not know what to do. I know the right thing would be to tell him that it was Tanu who wrote the note, not me.

But fact is, that he has just admitted he likes me, not Tanu. I am too happy to think. My heart sings a million symphonies all at once. I smile a huge smile. And finally, I say, Yes, I am glad too. Meet me tomorrow for coffee? After school? I quickly calculate the time it will take me to cycle back home, change and then go to dance class. I know I will have less than ten minutes with Ankit.

My mother is really strict about my dance class.

I do so want to. But I have a dance class tomorrow. What time does it get over?

And where do you go for dance? Ankit lives in the same residential area and I am certain that he knows all the lanes well, just like any other teen living in Besant Nagar, is one of the nicer localities of Chennai, close to the beach.

Five thirty. I go to Natya Kesari. So I will meet you outside dance class then at five thirty. No way, Ankit! My other friends will be with me. Mrs Subhalakshmi herself may call up my mother and tell her that she spotted me speaking to a guy outside dance class. Okay, meet me at Infinity? Infinity is one of the many coffee shops that dot the beach. It always has a lot of young people hanging out. Will meet you there tomorrow around five fifteen, I say and, as I hang up, I realise I have bagged myself a date with none other than Ankit Uttam, one of the coolest dudes in school.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I, Diksha Balaram, will be going on a date with Ankit Uttam, a senior, that too one of the smartest guys in school. I want to stand on rooftops and announce this. I am elated, excited and so darn happy. Finally, when my excitement subsides a little, I realise that I have to break the news to Tanu. I have no idea how she will react.

Things have happened so fast that I can barely believe it myself. Now I begin to feel guilty over my lie. Well, not really a lie, but a concealment of the fact that it was Tanu who wrote the note and not me. But the fact is, he likes me, and has asked me out, not Tanu.

At the very least, I have saved her the embarrassment of being rejected by Ankit. Yet, I dread telling her, but I know I must. So I tell my mother that I am going over to Tanus house to study. I hoist my bag over my shoulders and cycle as fast as I can. I am breathless when I arrive.

Tanu looks at me and knows instantly that something is up, in a way that only the closest of friends can know. She steers me into her room and shouts out to her mother that we are going to study, and asks not to be disturbed. And by the time she has shut the door, I feel myself wanting to escape and not having to face her.

How in the world do I tell her that her little trick bagged me a date? So, whats up? What are you trying to hide? I am unable to meet her gaze. I turn away and sit on the bed and idly stare at my toes.

Tanu, I dont know how to put this to you, I start hesitatingly. You are getting me worried. Whatever it is, say it fast. Dont make me tense, she says. That makes me even more nervous. I clear my throat and say, Ankit has asked me out for coffee. Tanu gives me a look that says, Youre pulling a fast one on me, right? Its only a joke, huh? I am unable to say anything.

Look, I am sorry, I say. He thought it was me who wrote that note. I did not get a chance to explain to him that you wrote it. And then I repeat the whole conversation I had with Ankit and tell Tanu in detail what has happened.

I can see how hurt and disappointed she is. She doesnt say anything. Look, Tanu, I am awfully sorry. I will tell him that I cant meet him, I finally say as I put my arms around her. I dont know how else to make her feel better. I am not able to bear that forlorn look on her face. Dont be silly, Diksha.

He has asked you out. He clearly likes you. Forget explaining anything. Just go ahead and enjoy yourself. I will be fine, she says. I love her for saying that. I know she is miserable, yet she wants me to have a good time. While one part of me desperately wants to go on a date with Ankit, the other part wants to stay back and be with Tanu. Tanu senses my hesitation. Hey, listen, that note I wrote in his book it was just a joke. I didnt even really mean it. I truly dont care.

I just wrote it for fun, she says. And we both pretend that the statement she uttered is true. It is the easiest and kindest way to deal with it. Then we try talking about the things we usually talk about, but there is an awkward feeling now.

A sense of discomfort hangs over our heads like a grey cloud which can pour rain any time. This wasnt the case earlier. The easy camaraderie that existed between us is gone and seems to be replaced by a forced jovial banter. After about ten minutes, I am not able to take this charade anymore and I tell Tanu that I have to leave. She too seems relieved. As she sees me to the door, her mother asks why I am leaving so early. Just remembered that I have to be home early today, Aunty.

We have some relatives coming over, I quickly lie. Her mother seems satisfied with my explanation and goes back into the house. As I leave, I am acutely aware of the wedge that has been driven between Tanu and me. I ask once more, Are you sure, Tanu. I truly do not mind not going on this date. I told you its okay, she says with steel in her voice and it feels as though something between us has changed irrevocably that summer afternoon. I cycle back slowly, reflecting on the fickle friendships of adolescence.

Tanu and I have shared so many secrets, have had such good times together and truly forged a strong friendshipor so I had thought until now. And all it has taken is just one date-request from a boywe have not even gone on a date yetto have caused this gap. The more I think about it, the more awful I feel. I really like Tanu. I remember all the times that she has taken down class-notes for me, all the times that we have giggled together, studied together and discussed boys, movies and books.

I think of the countless afternoons we have spent in each others houses, trying on new clothes, applying nail polish and having a whale of a time, without a care in the world.

I am overcome with a feeling that is hard to describeall I know is that something doesnt feel right and it is because of Ankit. By the time I cycle back home, I know what I must do. I cannot go on this date with Ankit. I have to call him up and tell him the truth. I wait for a chance to have the house all to myself so that I can make the call. I certainly do not want Mother overhearing this conversation. The chance comes around six forty in the evening when Mother goes to the next street to visit a friend.

Rohan isnt at home and I know he will be back only after seven thirty when his cricket practice gets over. My father is travelling and is out of town.

I thank my lucky stars for this chance and call up Ankit. Hello, Precious, he says with a smile. Have I graduated to precious so soon? I smile at his audacity. Okay then, Gorgeous. Does that suit you better? Hey listen, Ankit, I have something to tell you, I say before he can go on. Something more to what you wrote in my book? God I have read it so many times now. I loved it, Diksha, he says.

Ankit, this is about that. I cant hold it in anymore. I have to tell you, I did not write that note, I finally manage to spew out the words that have been festering inside me ever since I left Tanus. There is silence at the other end for a while. Then he says, Ha ha, you are kidding, right? No, Ankit, Tanu wrote it. I would never dare write such a thing, I say. Oh, he says. And then we are both silent. I feel really bad about it.

And look, I did want to have coffee with you tomorrow. In fact, I was looking forward to it. But I dont think it would be right on my part to do that now. I called to tell you that I cant meet you tomorrow. Youve got to be kidding me! I would have asked you out for coffee, with or without the note. I was planning to. But the note just made it easier. You are just saying that, right? You just want to make me feel better.

Of course not, Diksha. I really would have, but I felt guilty asking you. I have visited your house so many times to study with Rohan and I didnt want him thinking that I was friendly with him only because I liked you. You are, after all, my friends sister. I would have to, umm, how do I say it, kind of get an okay from him, you know. Hence I hesitated, thats all. I do not know what to do with this new piece of information that Ankit has hurled at me.

I am hugely flattered and excited at the same time. My sixteen-year-old heart is thudding away with all its might. I find a large grin spreading across my face and I barely recognise my own voice as I whisper, Oh, Ankit. I had no idea. How would you? I never told you.

But now I have, he whispers back and my heart does a somersault inside my ribcage and makes an expert landing for a perfect ten that Ankit has scored with that statement. Though he has not said the exact words, but what he has said is almost as good as confessing his love for me. I continue smiling and Ankit says, So the meeting at Infinity is on, right? I am still hesitant as I remember my earlier resolve of not wanting to hurt Tanu. Ankit seems to be able to read my mind.

Hey listen, I can explain to Tanu, if you like. Oh no! Dont be silly. She will hate me for it and she would be mortified if you did. Right now she is just pretending that it was all a joke. Then say a yes and meet me tomorrow. After that I have no choice but to agree. I definitely dont want to hurt Tanu anymore than she already is. But Ankit will not take a no for an answer. After a very long pause, I say, Okay, will see you tomorrow at Infinity.

Does true love really exist or is it just a cliche?

Dont keep me waiting, okay? Promise I wont, he says. That night as I crawl into bed, I think about the dynamics of friendships, crushes, love and infatuation. I wonder whether I have been unfair to Tanu. I decide that I havent. I have even confessed to Ankit that it was Tanu who wrote the note, but all along Ankit had been nurturing a crush on me. I still cant believe it.

I feel plain lucky. I have read enough books that describe whatever I am feeling towards Ankit as just hormones playing up. They say that it is puppy-love, an adolescent crush, that will soon pass. But it definitely doesnt feel so. My heart sings, there is a smile on my lips and my face glows at the mere thought of Ankit.

Whoever wrote all that stuff about hormones playing up is definitely wrong. I know that, for me, this is the real thing. And even though I hate to admit it, I do know for a fact I am indeed in love with Ankit, regardless of what the experts say. Eat this quickly now, I say as I place piping-hot, aromatic, soft idlis and sambhar in front of the sleepy reluctant child. Idli-sambhar is one of my signature dishes and I pride myself on the fluffiness of the idlis I make. I can almost picture my mother and Meera Mausi nodding proudly as I pile the idlis on my sons plate.

Maaa, I dont want breakfast, he mumbles as he pushes away his plate and slumps on the table, closing his eyes. I know now why parents send their children to boarding schools. I have woken up at five thirty am to cook this traditional, nutritious and delicious meal. The easiest thing for me would have been to dump a bowl of cereal in front of the child. But I would rather that my family have fresh, hot home-cooked meals.

I muster all the patience that mothers have on tap in secret reserve for such situations and say, Darling, you have to eat. You know the rule, right? Breakfast like a king, lunch like a nobleman and dine like a pauper, he parrots the words he had heard me uttering a few thousand times by now, his eyes still closed. Yes, I smile at how he imitates my tone and stern expression. But kings dont eat idli-sambhar, he says. How do you know? King Ashoka always ate idli for breakfast. In fact, his mother ensured he did, I say quickly.

Years of parenting a smart aleck child has taught me to think on my feet. No, he did not. He had a choice of a thirteen dishes that were cooked exclusively for him. Also he did not have to go to school. He went to a gurukul and learnt archery and fun things like that. Not boring lessons like we have. Also he did not take a school bus. He rode a horse. I stare in surprise at the little speech Abhay has given.

He is now tucking into his breakfast solemnly. I wonder when he learnt words like exclusively. I realise Abhay is no longer the little baby he used to be.

He has started reading voraciously on his own without, other than enrolling him at the local library, much effort on my part. He is one of those naturally bright children that need very little effort to learn new things. My heart fills with maternal pride as I watch him finishing his breakfast after which I hurry with him to his bus stop. Then I rush back and Sandeep is now reading the morning newspaper.

I know this is the moment when he will ask for his tea. He always likes to be woken up with coffee in bed and then a couple of hours later, he wants a cup of tea, while he reads the newspaper. Diksha, can you please make a cup of tea? I can almost time it to perfection, that exact moment when he will ask. Of late, his requests for tea too have begun to irk me. Vibha is right. They do treat me like a maid.

I never get to read the newspaper in the morning. All these years, it is he who reads it first. In the early years, the pattern had been established.

As he had to leave for work, it seemed only logical. I was anyway at home the whole day. I could read it later. But after Vibhas visit, I have begun to notice these things a lot more. In the larger scheme of things, perhaps a tiny thing like who reads the newspaper first will have no significance, but when the weariness of a fifteen-year-old marriage is beginning to run you down, it is these little things that prick the most.

The tiny little things are not big enough to break marriages and yet they are cracks that have been neglected. They stand out now like cacti on a barren desert-scape that is my marriage. Funny how Vibhas little comment has acted as a catalyst to aggravate things to the point of them becoming unbearable. Making it, I say as I hurry to the kitchen. I am conditioned to wait on Sandeep and Abhay and serve them day and night.

I hate my life as I dully hand over the cup of tea to Sandeep who takes it without even an acknowledgment and goes back to reading his newspaper. It is always little things like this that build up. Often there is no dramatic reason for discontent in marriages. It seeps in slowly over the years. You dont even notice it creeping up. It happens, trickle by trickle.

You do not realise when or how the easy familiarity gets replaced by a taken-for-granted attitude over the years. By the time you do, it is often too late. Habits have been formed, patterns have been set. And a comfort-zone has been established. A zone that is hard to get out of. I know now that there is only one word which sums up my marriage perfectly: Boring.

I watch Sandeep blissfully oblivious to the thoughts racing inside my head. I cannot bring myself to talk to him about this. He is not a new-age metrosexual male that one reads about in magazines or sees in movies, the type in front of whom the wife can pull up a chair, tuck back her designer hair-do, prop her perfectly manicured legs up and say, Darling, we need to talk.

Oh no. Ours is a conventional Indian marriage. And good Indian wives dont do things like that. I blush. Actually it is exactly like mine.

I am so sorry, I took it thinking it was mine, I say. Then I show him my bag to prove the point. Ankit laughs heartily and Rohan joins in. Hey, its okay. I am so glad to have it back, I could hug you! You know, it seems we have the same great taste, he says. Tanu looks at me and mouths, Wish hed said that to me, and I quickly look away. That afternoon, we have no idea what lies in store for us in the future. No idea whatsoever how a little joke played so casually will change our entire lives.

No clue that we have sowed the seeds for a lifetime of deception and falsehood, woven a web so entangled that even an entire lifetime will not suffice to sort it out. I glance at the clock. He has woken up ten minutes before than his usual time. Making it. The waters just beginning to boil, I yell back, suppressing a twinge of irritation. In the fifteen years that we have been married, not once has he made coffee for me. I suppose I must have found it cute, in the early years of marriage, how lost he was in the kitchen.

Then the starryeyed new bride I was, I would gladly make coffee for him which he would sip reclining in an easy chair on the balcony with his newspaper. I would, in the meantime, cook breakfast, lay out his clothes for office neatly on the bed while he showered, and pack his lunch for office. Once he emerged from the bedroom in his formal clothes, I would rush to make him a toast or a dosa or something hot and fresh for breakfast. He would hurriedly wolf it down, praising my culinary skills and I would eagerly lap up the praise.

He never asked me to join him. And in the early days, I did not mind it the least bit. As I would watch him eat, my heart would fill with pride at a meal well-prepared and my wifely duty of feeding my husband, done to perfection. He would then leave and I would have my breakfast, alone. The pattern that a couple inadvertently sets in the early years of marriage continues even later, unless a conscious effort is made to change it.

That never happened in our case. And so, to this day, he and our nine-year-old son, Abhay, eat together and leave. I always eat later. The praise has stopped though. He does not utter even one word in appreciation these days. I have grown up watching my mother be the dutiful wife and, until recently, I did not even mind being one. But, of late, irritation has begun mounting and not knowing how to deal with it, I deal with it by suppressing it.

I know for a fact that it started after my cousin, Vibhas, visit. When Vibha, who lives in Hyderabad, visits Bangalore for company projects, she stays with us for a week or so, and has observed this routine several times. When Sandeep and Abhay leave, she says, Diksha, which century are you living in, girl?

Look at what you have turned into. You have totally metamorphosed into a maidservant and cook. Shut up, Vibha. I dont have a high-flying job like you, where your company sends you on fancy trips and all. I am just a housewife, and has it ever occurred to you that I like making hot food for Abhay and Sandeep? I counter her observation, not willing to acknowledge it. I brush aside her remarks as if they are of no consequence, but deep down I know her words have found their mark.

They rankle inside me now like the chains of a prisoner in medieval times who yearns to break free. She has voiced something that I have dared not admit even to myself and her words hang in the air like gloomy mist.

Everything that I look at now is tinted with this greyness that had begun to gnaw at my insides. Look, Diksha. So what if you are a housewife? That doesnt mean Sandeep cant make a cup of coffee for you! I have seen how much work you put into making their lives smooth. But what about you? You deserve more, girl. You never get to go out. Your mother-in-law being in the same town doesnt. What kind of life is that? Vibha, I am happy. I am happy that my mother-in-law lives close by and we get to visit her.

Abhay loves spending time with her. Not everyone is like you. I dont have to get Sandeep to make coffee for me in the name of womens lib or whatever. He earns well, he provides us with material comfort and so it is indeed okay if I am the one taking care of cooking and everything else.

I dont know why I am so stubborn in defending my life. Diksha, dont you long for anything more? Are you really happy? Dont you want to go out with your girlfriends, do things for yourself, have some fun? Her tone changes into concern as she searches my face for answers. I cannot bear her eyes boring into mine. Of course, I long to go out. I truly do not want to spend every single weekend visiting Sandeeps mother who lives less than two kilometres away.

But it has become such a routine now that I cannot even think of spending weekends any other way. When I had first suggested going out somewhere nice in the early years of marriage, Sandeep had glared at me like I had said I wanted to separate him from his mother. He had reminded me of the time his mother had selflessly helped look after Abhay when he was born. Sandeep never ceased to remind me that my parents hadnt done much by way of being there for us.

I had tried telling him that it was only because my mother had fallen seriously ill at the time of Abhays birth. She had to have a hysterectomy. She had been operated upon and the surgeon had discovered a lump that needed to be removed. There were other complications as well. Then she had been on bed-rest for nearly six whole months. Else, she would have definitely helped. But when I had explained all that to Sandeep, he had just said, Bah.

What counts is who did the job ultimately. How can I tell Vibha all this? How can I admit to her that, yes,I feel trapped with Sandeep. That I long for a better life.

The truth of Vibhas words hammers into my brain, hitting me right where it hurts. But I still do not want her to see my pain. After all, she is leading the life she wants. She has a job she enjoys, has good help at home, is independent and smart, everything I am not. So I turn away and busy myself doing the dishes.

We sit in silence, both of us very well aware that the words she uttered are true. I am not entirely happy in my marriage. But I have made peace with my situation and I do not know how to change it. Sandeep is not a bad guy, after all. These days, however, it feels as though I have to constantly remind myself that.

Fifteen years of marriage and motherhood have changed me as a person. I go quiet as I contemplate. The awkward silence between us now embarrasses Vibha. Hey, Diksha. I think I said too much. I know no marriage is perfect. Mine certainly isnt. Mohan constantly complains that I do not have time for him or Monu. Look, I am really sorry to have poked my nose into your affairs. I should first set my marriage right.

I havent done any of the things that Mohan wants us to do together as a family. It is always work and more work for me. Then I come here and see such a contrast in your life and I just couldnt help telling you what I felt. I should have kept quiet. I am sorry. She is now contrite at having spoken her mind.

No, Vibha, it is fine. You are lucky to lead the life you want. And I know it is only concern for me that made you say those things. And hey, youre my sis. How can you not be honest with me? I am glad you spoke out. I have been in denial about it, I finally admit. And I mean it. After Vibha leaves, I find myself increasingly thinking about her words. The emptiness of my life has begun to gnaw at me, eating me up from inside.

Of course, Vibha is right. I have, over the years, slowly but surely turned into a maidservant and cook. Sandeep and Abhay do take me for granted.

But the fact is, that a part of me feels useful too, doing all this. It gives me a sense of purpose, a sense of doing something, as though justifying my existence. But, for the first time in my life, I have begun thinking about where my life is going.

Perhaps the fact that I will turn thirty-five in a few months adds to my increasingly contemplative state. I guess most people take stock of where they are going when they get older, dont they? It is only two weeks later though that I finally call up Vibha. Hey Vibs, you got some time to talk? I ask. She is a busy person, in a demanding job. As a mid-management level employee in a pharmaceutical company, she has to travel a lot.

See a Problem?

That is why I never call her during the day. If I have to speak to her, I call on weekends or at night. Vibha is the closest thing I have to a sister and I feel fortunate to have this bond with her.

We have spent many summer vacations together in our maternal grandparents village in Kerala. Our mothers would bundle us off to the ancestral house and, for two whole months, we would laze around, pick raw mangoes from the tree and eat them with salt and chilli powder, play games, go swimming in the river nearby, play pranks on each other, fight, make up and forge bonds and create memories that we now cherish in our adult years. Vibha had got married long after I had.

She had a child much later than I did and went promptly back to work soon as the baby turned three months old. Of course, her in-laws moved in with her and the arrangement suited everyone. I sometimes envy her lifestyle, her career and how she has everything together. In comparison, I feel as though I am wasting my life. Her words have added to my increasing sense of despondency and today is one of those days when I just have to speak to her, to sort out the chugging train of thoughts in my head that refuses to slow down.

Of course, Diksha, give me ten minutes. I am reading to Monu. I will tuck her in bed and call you. I am clearing the kitchen when she calls back. Abhay has been tucked in bed a long time back and Sandeep has plonked himself in front of the television, his usual unvarying routine on almost all days.

What happened, Dikku, all well? I know I can tell her anything. She is the closest I will ever come to having a sister. I know I can never discuss things like this with my brother.

Hello, Diksha? All well? Can you hear me? I take a while to answer. I really do not know how to say it, or what purpose this discussion will serve. All I know is that things seem unbearable and I need to speak to her. Vibha, I have been thinking. You were right that day when you said my life is empty, I reply. Hey, come on, Diksha. Thats really not what I meant, she corrects me. I pause again. I am unable to articulate what I feel. I know what you meant. See, the fact is that there is indeed a growing discontent in me.

I know I am only fooling myself by pretending to be extremely happy cooking and caring for Sandeep and Abhay, but there has to be more to life than that. I feel worthless, Vibha. I really do, I finally say, the words tumbling out.

The bitterness in my voice and the things I have just expressed take me by surprise, as though it is not me, but a stranger, talking. Hey Diksha, things are not so bad. You do look after the house and keep it well. Why, your house is ten times more efficiently managed than mine. You know how much my mother-in-law helps me, Vibha tries to placate me.

But I am in no mood to be consoled. She only helps you look after Monu while you are at work. Isnt it you who decides everything in the house including whom to hire as house-help? Isnt it you and Mohan who have done up the house.

Isnt it you who has decided that Monu is better off in a playschool than being at home with your mother-in-law? Come on, Vibs, you run the show there. Dont give me crap and try to make me feel better. Vibha knows all that I have said is true. Look, Diksha, you are right, I admit.

But hey, why are you suddenly comparing your life to mine? Look, I truly am sorry for all those remarks I made. I spoke because I care for you. I felt you were slaving and slogging and not getting what you deserve. But that does not mean your life is empty or that you are worthless. Vibs, I know that.

But you know what? This is something I have been feeling for years. It is just that I had not admitted it even to myself. When you came that day and talked so honestly, it truly hit me like a ton of bricks.

I have been thinking about it, Vibha. Look, I took two weeks to call you. I have been fighting this in my head. I did not want to burden you, but today it was unbearable and I just had to call you. Hey, Diksha, you are never a burden. Were sisters, remember? I am always here for you. You can call me anytime, night or day. And incidentally, I have a trip to Bangalore by the end of the month. Lets do one thing, lets talk about this then. I promise we will find a solution.

You just hang in there and stop feeling bad. I am coming soon and we will sort this out. Okay, thanks, I say. Come on. What are you saying thanks for? Since when did our relationship become so formal? Now cheer up, I am coming soon. Once she hangs up, I go to the garden and sit for a long time on the swing with the grass beneath my feet. One of the things I love about this house is the garden which I have lovingly nurtured. In a city where space is devoured hungrily by multistoryed building that rise everyday, this little sanctuary of calm, still standing proud, surrounded by high-rises, gives me so much happiness.

The house belongs to Sandeeps paternal grandfather and it is an old construction. Sandeep has got many offers for it from builders who want to tear it down and build flats. They have even offered us four flats in the same building. Artillery Road is, after all, prime location in Bangalore and the property is easily worth a few hundred crores.

But Sandeep has not succumbed. I sit in the silence of the night, listening to crickets, watching a toad hop away and, as I swing, I think about the fifteen years of my marriage. I think about how things have changed.

I think about how I have gone along and been a good girl all this while, doing exactly what my parents wanted me to do. I have dutifully married a suitable boy, dutifully produced a child and have busied myself raising him.

He is nine now. I am quite proud of him, yet why is there this growing sense of discontent in me? Then it strikes me that it is because, in all these years, I have completely lost track of what I want. I have played the role of wife and mother to perfection.

So much so that I have forgotten what I want as an individual. My identity is truly Sandeeps wife or Abhays mother. It is as though I have been living in a dream all these years and, like Rip Van Winkle, have suddenly woken up. What is it that I want? Apart from raising my child well and keeping house. I know I want something more from my life. I want to do something about it.

But what? I really dont know. It is a frightening feeling. I sit in the darkness and stare at the starless sky. The darkness stares back at me. I have no idea what I want anymore. What have I done with my life? Where am I headed? I feel miserable and sorry as I sit there and take stock of my life.

I have everything, yet I have nothing. And I have no idea what I am going to do. I have been studying really hard and need a break. Mother is watering the plants in the garden and Rohan has shut himself up in his room. Hellooooo, I say as I rush and answer it. I knew it all along. You did take my bag on purpose, didnt you? You little witch! It takes me a few seconds to register that it is Ankit and a few more to understand what he has just said. I stand there with the receiver in my hand, my jaw almost dropping to the floor.

I am gobsmacked, outraged and embarrassed, all at the same time. Hello, it is Diksha, isnt it? He sounds a little unsure now. Ankit, yes. It is me. I finally reply. Oh, thank God. I thought I had shot off my mouth to someone else. And you know what, I really like you too. But I never spoke up. Heck, I did not even admit it to myself. But boy, am I glad you did, he says, a visible relief in his voice now. I squirm further in embarrassment.

I do not know what to do. I know the right thing would be to tell him that it was Tanu who wrote the note, not me.

But fact is, that he has just admitted he likes me, not Tanu. I am too happy to think. My heart sings a million symphonies all at once. I smile a huge smile. And finally, I say, Yes, I am glad too.

Meet me tomorrow for coffee? After school? I quickly calculate the time it will take me to cycle back home, change and then go to dance class. I know I will have less than ten minutes with Ankit. My mother is really strict about my dance class. I do so want to. But I have a dance class tomorrow. What time does it get over? And where do you go for dance? Ankit lives in the same residential area and I am certain that he knows all the lanes well, just like any other teen living in Besant Nagar, is one of the nicer localities of Chennai, close to the beach.

Five thirty. I go to Natya Kesari. So I will meet you outside dance class then at five thirty. No way, Ankit! My other friends will be with me. Mrs Subhalakshmi herself may call up my mother and tell her that she spotted me speaking to a guy outside dance class. Okay, meet me at Infinity? Infinity is one of the many coffee shops that dot the beach. It always has a lot of young people hanging out.

Will meet you there tomorrow around five fifteen, I say and, as I hang up, I realise I have bagged myself a date with none other than Ankit Uttam, one of the coolest dudes in school. Ladies and Gentlemen, I, Diksha Balaram, will be going on a date with Ankit Uttam, a senior, that too one of the smartest guys in school.

I want to stand on rooftops and announce this. I am elated, excited and so darn happy. Finally, when my excitement subsides a little, I realise that I have to break the news to Tanu.

I have no idea how she will react. Things have happened so fast that I can barely believe it myself. Now I begin to feel guilty over my lie. Well, not really a lie, but a concealment of the fact that it was Tanu who wrote the note and not me. But the fact is, he likes me, and has asked me out, not Tanu. At the very least, I have saved her the embarrassment of being rejected by Ankit. Yet, I dread telling her, but I know I must. So I tell my mother that I am going over to Tanus house to study.

I hoist my bag over my shoulders and cycle as fast as I can. I am breathless when I arrive. Tanu looks at me and knows instantly that something is up, in a way that only the closest of friends can know.

She steers me into her room and shouts out to her mother that we are going to study, and asks not to be disturbed. And by the time she has shut the door, I feel myself wanting to escape and not having to face her. How in the world do I tell her that her little trick bagged me a date? So, whats up? What are you trying to hide? I am unable to meet her gaze. I turn away and sit on the bed and idly stare at my toes. Tanu, I dont know how to put this to you, I start hesitatingly.

You are getting me worried. Whatever it is, say it fast. Dont make me tense, she says. That makes me even more nervous. I clear my throat and say, Ankit has asked me out for coffee.

Tanu gives me a look that says, Youre pulling a fast one on me, right? Its only a joke, huh? I am unable to say anything. Look, I am sorry, I say. He thought it was me who wrote that note. I did not get a chance to explain to him that you wrote it. And then I repeat the whole conversation I had with Ankit and tell Tanu in detail what has happened.

I can see how hurt and disappointed she is. She doesnt say anything. Look, Tanu, I am awfully sorry. I will tell him that I cant meet him, I finally say as I put my arms around her.

I dont know how else to make her feel better. I am not able to bear that forlorn look on her face. Dont be silly, Diksha. He has asked you out. He clearly likes you. Forget explaining anything. Just go ahead and enjoy yourself. I will be fine, she says. I love her for saying that. I know she is miserable, yet she wants me to have a good time. While one part of me desperately wants to go on a date with Ankit, the other part wants to stay back and be with Tanu.

Tanu senses my hesitation. Hey, listen, that note I wrote in his book it was just a joke. I didnt even really mean it.

I truly dont care. I just wrote it for fun, she says. And we both pretend that the statement she uttered is true. It is the easiest and kindest way to deal with it. Then we try talking about the things we usually talk about, but there is an awkward feeling now. A sense of discomfort hangs over our heads like a grey cloud which can pour rain any time. This wasnt the case earlier.

The easy camaraderie that existed between us is gone and seems to be replaced by a forced jovial banter. After about ten minutes, I am not able to take this charade anymore and I tell Tanu that I have to leave. She too seems relieved. As she sees me to the door, her mother asks why I am leaving so early.

Just remembered that I have to be home early today, Aunty. We have some relatives coming over, I quickly lie. Her mother seems satisfied with my explanation and goes back into the house. As I leave, I am acutely aware of the wedge that has been driven between Tanu and me.

I ask once more, Are you sure, Tanu. I truly do not mind not going on this date. I told you its okay, she says with steel in her voice and it feels as though something between us has changed irrevocably that summer afternoon. I cycle back slowly, reflecting on the fickle friendships of adolescence. Tanu and I have shared so many secrets, have had such good times together and truly forged a strong friendshipor so I had thought until now.

And all it has taken is just one date-request from a boywe have not even gone on a date yetto have caused this gap. The more I think about it, the more awful I feel. I really like Tanu. I remember all the times that she has taken down class-notes for me, all the times that we have giggled together, studied together and discussed boys, movies and books.

I think of the countless afternoons we have spent in each others houses, trying on new clothes, applying nail polish and having a whale of a time, without a care in the world. I am overcome with a feeling that is hard to describeall I know is that something doesnt feel right and it is because of Ankit.

By the time I cycle back home, I know what I must do. I cannot go on this date with Ankit. I have to call him up and tell him the truth. I wait for a chance to have the house all to myself so that I can make the call. I certainly do not want Mother overhearing this conversation. The chance comes around six forty in the evening when Mother goes to the next street to visit a friend. Rohan isnt at home and I know he will be back only after seven thirty when his cricket practice gets over.

My father is travelling and is out of town. I thank my lucky stars for this chance and call up Ankit. Hello, Precious, he says with a smile. Have I graduated to precious so soon? I smile at his audacity.

Okay then, Gorgeous. Does that suit you better? Hey listen, Ankit, I have something to tell you, I say before he can go on. Something more to what you wrote in my book? God I have read it so many times now. I loved it, Diksha, he says. Ankit, this is about that.

I cant hold it in anymore. I have to tell you, I did not write that note, I finally manage to spew out the words that have been festering inside me ever since I left Tanus. There is silence at the other end for a while. Then he says, Ha ha, you are kidding, right? No, Ankit, Tanu wrote it. I would never dare write such a thing, I say. Oh, he says. And then we are both silent. I feel really bad about it.

And look, I did want to have coffee with you tomorrow. In fact, I was looking forward to it. But I dont think it would be right on my part to do that now. I called to tell you that I cant meet you tomorrow.

Youve got to be kidding me! I would have asked you out for coffee, with or without the note. I was planning to. But the note just made it easier. You are just saying that, right? You just want to make me feel better. Of course not, Diksha. I really would have, but I felt guilty asking you. I have visited your house so many times to study with Rohan and I didnt want him thinking that I was friendly with him only because I liked you.

You are, after all, my friends sister. I would have to, umm, how do I say it, kind of get an okay from him, you know.

Hence I hesitated, thats all. I do not know what to do with this new piece of information that Ankit has hurled at me. I am hugely flattered and excited at the same time. My sixteen-year-old heart is thudding away with all its might. I find a large grin spreading across my face and I barely recognise my own voice as I whisper, Oh, Ankit.

I had no idea. How would you? I never told you. But now I have, he whispers back and my heart does a somersault inside my ribcage and makes an expert landing for a perfect ten that Ankit has scored with that statement. Though he has not said the exact words, but what he has said is almost as good as confessing his love for me.

I continue smiling and Ankit says, So the meeting at Infinity is on, right? I am still hesitant as I remember my earlier resolve of not wanting to hurt Tanu. Ankit seems to be able to read my mind. Hey listen, I can explain to Tanu, if you like.

Oh no! Dont be silly. She will hate me for it and she would be mortified if you did. Right now she is just pretending that it was all a joke. Then say a yes and meet me tomorrow. After that I have no choice but to agree. I definitely dont want to hurt Tanu anymore than she already is.

But Ankit will not take a no for an answer. After a very long pause, I say, Okay, will see you tomorrow at Infinity.

The Secret Wish List

Dont keep me waiting, okay? Promise I wont, he says. That night as I crawl into bed, I think about the dynamics of friendships, crushes, love and infatuation.

I wonder whether I have been unfair to Tanu. I decide that I havent. I have even confessed to Ankit that it was Tanu who wrote the note, but all along Ankit had been nurturing a crush on me. I still cant believe it. I feel plain lucky. I have read enough books that describe whatever I am feeling towards Ankit as just hormones playing up.

They say that it is puppy-love, an adolescent crush, that will soon pass. But it definitely doesnt feel so. My heart sings, there is a smile on my lips and my face glows at the mere thought of Ankit. Whoever wrote all that stuff about hormones playing up is definitely wrong. I know that, for me, this is the real thing. And even though I hate to admit it, I do know for a fact I am indeed in love with Ankit, regardless of what the experts say.

Eat this quickly now, I say as I place piping-hot, aromatic, soft idlis and sambhar in front of the sleepy reluctant child. Idli-sambhar is one of my signature dishes and I pride myself on the fluffiness of the idlis I make. I can almost picture my mother and Meera Mausi nodding proudly as I pile the idlis on my sons plate. Maaa, I dont want breakfast, he mumbles as he pushes away his plate and slumps on the table, closing his eyes.

I know now why parents send their children to boarding schools. I have woken up at five thirty am to cook this traditional, nutritious and delicious meal. The easiest thing for me would have been to dump a bowl of cereal in front of the child. But I would rather that my family have fresh, hot home-cooked meals.

I muster all the patience that mothers have on tap in secret reserve for such situations and say, Darling, you have to eat. You know the rule, right? Breakfast like a king, lunch like a nobleman and dine like a pauper, he parrots the words he had heard me uttering a few thousand times by now, his eyes still closed.

Yes, I smile at how he imitates my tone and stern expression. But kings dont eat idli-sambhar, he says. How do you know? King Ashoka always ate idli for breakfast. In fact, his mother ensured he did, I say quickly. Years of parenting a smart aleck child has taught me to think on my feet.

No, he did not. He had a choice of a thirteen dishes that were cooked exclusively for him. Also he did not have to go to school. He went to a gurukul and learnt archery and fun things like that.

Not boring lessons like we have. Also he did not take a school bus. He rode a horse. I stare in surprise at the little speech Abhay has given. He is now tucking into his breakfast solemnly. I wonder when he learnt words like exclusively. I realise Abhay is no longer the little baby he used to be. He has started reading voraciously on his own without, other than enrolling him at the local library, much effort on my part.

He is one of those naturally bright children that need very little effort to learn new things. My heart fills with maternal pride as I watch him finishing his breakfast after which I hurry with him to his bus stop.

Then I rush back and Sandeep is now reading the morning newspaper. I know this is the moment when he will ask for his tea. He always likes to be woken up with coffee in bed and then a couple of hours later, he wants a cup of tea, while he reads the newspaper. Diksha, can you please make a cup of tea? I can almost time it to perfection, that exact moment when he will ask.

Of late, his requests for tea too have begun to irk me. Vibha is right. They do treat me like a maid. I never get to read the newspaper in the morning. All these years, it is he who reads it first. In the early years, the pattern had been established.

As he had to leave for work, it seemed only logical. I was anyway at home the whole day. I could read it later.He clearly likes you.

I really dont know. We communicate such a lot without even talking. I decide that I havent. I dont know how else to make her feel better.

STARLA from Nevada
I am fond of reading books hopelessly . Feel free to read my other articles. I absolutely love mixed climbing.