A SPASM OF TRUTH

POOJA

“I am married. I have a wonderful man as a husband. And two little beauties as kids. I am a wife and a mother”. For the uncountable-th time, Pooja spoke silently to her self. Not to herself, but to her self. A self she had not allowed to prevail over her values.
Pooja was what a college brat would have called a ‘one-piece’. As Indian a product as a reincarnating hero in a Hindi flick. She was unclear about God, but a value-driven middle class Indian woman. For her, loyalty, honesty, duty, responsibility and happiness were all one. There were no conflicts in her values. She was very clear about that. In her life, she was doing everything her conservative parents would have expected her to, and she was proud she was living up to their expectations.
A few years back, Pooja’s life had suddenly undergone a change. She had left her old, small town of Cuttack and moved on to the capital city of the Indian money and movie market, Mumbai. Here she had got married to Raja, a man who made wildlife documentaries for a living.
Busy with her working life (Pooja was a busy research fellow at a ‘me-too’ generic drug production lab) and with her unforgiving domestic pulls, she did not have time for frivolity, except when she was with her children.
She had many men looking her over every morning at work and in places she was seen, like the schools, the local restaurants and the markets. Men were taken by her incomplete beauty, and could not but keep staring at her honeyed eyes, trying to read some hope in them. Her body and her face had a common appeal, an unfailingly provoking femininity. However, she never encouraged a soul. Fidelity always figured high in her list of values.
One Tuesday, her boss called her over to his room. She would have to meet a Mr. Jay over lunch. Bummer, she thought. Jay was a representative of a US company intending to market the drug which Pooja was working on. “Just see that he has a clear idea of what we are looking to do in the coming year, so that they don’t have false expectations from us”, her boss, Dr. Krishnan, said.

MEETING JAY

Lunch was to be at the Hyatt, a hotel that had universal appeal for its hospitality and class.

gallery_19.jpg

Pooja went over to the restaurant called M, expecting Mr. Jay to be a young, dashing American executive with ‘brand’ screaming from every accessory. She was shown to a lonely table where she found a middle aged man examining a glass of water. Jayendra Ramaswamy was Jay to most of his American colleagues, and indifferent to it. In fact, Jay seemed to be indifferent to most things on earth. People who knew him called him an impractical dreamer, one who would never give an immediate and practical solution to a burning problem. Instead, they would say, he would rubbish the whole concept or premise that had led to the problem being discussed and offer utopian solutions that would never be possible. However, he was a hard man to argue with across the table, and had remained steady at his job as Head, International Marketing.

“Hi, I am Pooja”.

“Hmmn. Jay. Hi.”

“I hope you didn’t have to wait too long?”

“Well, actually I did, but now I think it was worth it.”

Pooja could not respond. She was transfixed with the look on Jay’s eyes. Sharp, penetrating to the entrails, and, in one word, sexy. The man himself was not impressive to look at, with a wide stubble of recently shaved hair on his head, and rimless glasses on a largish, broad nose. But the moment he started talking, he created an image of a man who was too big for the present, a concept rather than a being. His words were crisp and witty, and there was an unplanned insolence about him that captivated Pooja. She realised quickly that she was trespassing her own set limits when she noticed herself leaning towards the table, getting enticed in the joyous network of Jay’s words.

Jay was smiling and saying, “All these truths are derivative truths, like the fact that this Fried Chicken carries 800 calories as the sum of its constituents, is covered up with egg batter, and will cause intense thirst an hour after this is eaten. However, the basic truth is that if this did not have the egg or the 800 calories in it, it would not be fit to be called a Fried Chicken. So, we might then ask, ‘what gave thirst: the chicken or the egg?’ “

THE THRILL OF TOGETHERNESS

As surreal as the lunch was, it opened up a new dimension to Pooja’s life. She swam willingly in the currents of her conscious attraction for Jay, and would spend hours each day talking to him, or texting him.
It was one of those ‘Art of Living’ type lectures that opened her eyes. It is all ‘Maya’, she heard the guru say: “Grasp the conscious, and shut the door of the imagination. Thereby you shut the door of temptation, and look through the window of duty, of love, of selflessness into the material world.”

Pooja tried, but failed to resist the charm of Jay’s utopia, his careless egoism, his nonchalant attitude towards how the world saw him. It seemed that he was clear and right about most things (though he was never righteous in his attitude), and did not give a damn to anyone who thought otherwise.

Over a period of time, it became clear that she loved him, and he seemed to know it, but he did not seem to want to capitalise on that.
“How could you not love me?”, his smile seemed to say. He did reciprocate at times, like when he held her hand while laughing at his own joke, or dropping his left hand briefly on her thigh while driving with his right.

THE PREDICTABLE TURMOIL

At home, Pooja found it difficult to reciprocate to her husband when he loved her, though she played her part without trying to excuse herself. The more she thought about it, the more impractical her situation seemed to get. She felt physical pain thinking of her love and the reality of her marriage with someone else. “No, this has to stop”, she told herself.

She consciously stopped calling him. He did not ask why. He did not violate the space she had created between herself and Jay. He seemed to have accepted her sudden turning back.
Pooja, since that day, gave every waking moment to her work and to her children, subduing that part of her that seemed to want nothing more than a few moments of laughter, a few minutes of that magic that encapsulated what she felt with Jay. Strong-willed that she was, she managed to crush her love, and focus on her family values.
Till tonight.

TONIGHT

She was alone at home, when Jay appeared at her door.
She remembered nothing else, except that it seemed that they closed all physical space between them in just a heartbeat.

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Jay said nothing. Neither did she. They simply kept the embrace on till they fell on the bed. She had never experienced such intensity in sexual intercourse. It was so much more than a physical orgasm. It was like a spiritual experience, a bhakti for her man, a love that washed out her long held values.
As she lay, clad in a thick layer of sweat, her pulse throbbing wildly, she had a flash of light, a realisation of her self, a nirvana. She was a fool not to have realised the value of her love, she thought.

“ I have wanted you since the time I saw you first. I can’t live my life without you. Don’t leave me, jaan”, she whispered out aloud.

“Uh, what, honey? I’ll never leave you!”, said Raja, her sated husband. Drained out at the unexpected pre-dawn sex , he lay over her, pleased to have made her happy, finally.

27 responses to “A SPASM OF TRUTH

  1. You’re going to find yourself in print one of these days!

    Coming back to the story, perhaps the woman would not have fallen for another man if she had married someone she had fallen in love with in the first place instead of someone chosen by her parents?

    It raises all sorts of moral questions. Are the actions of the woman justified? Is the husband at fault for, well, being boring? I am perhaps too young to debate this so I’ll let your readers do it.

    Marc,
    Even I am too young to debate this, so let us wait for the others…
    🙂

  2. I am sure that this is true story of many lives… I read it so many times.. Thank you doc..

    //She was a fool not to have realised the value of her love//

    I agree with her thought.

  3. and BTW, You are an extraordinary human.. It’s nice to know you Doc.

    Thanks, Bharath!

  4. oh wow.. this is awesome.. and you were the same dude who wrote about malaria? oh for the love of god!!! 😀

    tell me the truth, are you some well known author in blog-disguise, taking us all for a ride? tell tell..

    Priya,
    Did I ever tell you your name is one of my favorites?
    🙂
    I am a, well, known blogger who disguises himself as an alleged author of short stories of suspect merit….
    😀

  5. Umm…sorry to be critical, but is that not a completely clichéd story? Bharthiya naari with forbidden attraction? This story has been around since Valmiki days (remember akalya?)
    I like your essays better…more class, more humour and more ORIGINALITY 🙂

    Lakshmi,
    Your criticism is welcome and not without merit.

  6. Amazing one doc, quite different from your make mine large please post…. 🙂

    Pleased to please you, Oemar!

  7. Interesting stuff…and as others have noted; much different from your previous posts 🙂

    AD,
    Yeah, thanks!

  8. Ramdodoc:

    Here I am, hoping to find a witty rejoinder to Prerna’s old-man-young-bride post, which you called chauvinistic and you serve us another dose of desi-morality-hide-bound chauvinism? 😦

    Shefaly,
    Didn’t mean for it to be that at all. If it looks like that, blame it on my poor writing skills. This was meant to be a depiction of how one’s values are critical in determining one’s outcomes. Traditional values taken up without conscious deliberation can be misplaced and disastrous….

  9. Clichéd it might certainly be
    but from the way u penned it down – if u put ur mind to it – u sure can beat the crap out of overrated writers like shobha de!

    Prax,
    Thanks for the back-handed compliment!
    🙂

  10. @Shefaly: I think this wasnt chauvinistic at all. I find this to be a story of old, conservative values crashed and crushed by true love, and realisation of self.
    @Lakshmi: Every love story has these angles. This particular one has a philosophical one. I admire Doc for this story. Like I said to Shefaly, I find this story to be a depiction of values, traditional versus the real, moral, rational ones.
    @Doc: Kudos! Have been a silent fan for a long time.

    Nalini,
    Wow! You have actually put it better than I could have….
    I am glad you did not miss the point I, perhaps clumsily, tried to put forth.
    And, BTW, welcome to this blog!

  11. Doc, You have many silent Fan 🙂

  12. What many women would debate but to many men very important:

    The sheath being torn doesn’t describe just the physical contact but also emotional one. Lying in bed with someone and thinking about someone else (or) having been emotionally together with another person is something no woman/man will tolerate.

    Your concluding paragraphs gave me an opportunity to say this; what I wanted to tell people for a long time.

    Voracious Blog Reader

  13. @ All the people using the word: Conservative

    What is “Conservative” for you? What is your benchmark?

    Voracious Blog Reader

  14. Great post! Each of us will encounter some variation on this scenario….yes, women too. You know, my belief is that we are hard wired for this sort of behvaviour.

    We only become more sophisticated with time to realise this, and become more realistic weighing the risks and benefits more carefully than twenty somethings.

    The forbidden fruit costs more as we attain more to lose, but it is always there, isn’t it – across the ages and cultures. Good fodder for our imaginations. And that, my friends, is the truth!

    Jackie,
    Perhaps some more thoughts on this? I wasn’t actually really clear about your take….

  15. To those of you who smelt chauvinism here (eg, Shefaly), here is another thing I wish to say.
    I am depicting the dilemma of a woman has been described previously as “….value-driven middle class Indian woman. For her, loyalty, honesty, duty, responsibility and happiness were all one. There were no conflicts in her values. She was very clear about that. In her life, she was doing everything her conservative parents would have expected her to, and she was proud she was living up to their expectations.”
    Now, this is a stereotype with which we are very familiar, aren’t we (VBR, please note that this is what is being described here)?
    In showing her dilemma and her reactions to an unfamiliar conflict (which may strike a reader as a typically female-submissive chauvinistic one), I could not have extrapolated an ultra-modern feminist response to her, could I?
    I don’t mean to deflect any criticism here (quite the contrary), but I wanted to spell out what I actually meant to show. Further criticism is certainly welcome.

  16. Rambodoc:

    Smells like the Pina Colada song … 🙂

    Or like Nita’s old post on physical v. emotional affair.

    Any labels (conservatism, chauvinism – yes I know *I used it) are too reductionist. Which is why the story started promisingly and ended on a Sati-Savitri cliché. Sorry, can’t buy it.

    May be I should just refrain from commenting on anything that smells like ‘literature’ in future, for fear of upsetting other readers 🙂

    Shefaly,
    I am not familiar with the Pina Colada song, so that went over me!
    There was no Sati Savitri element at all… the ending is open, absolutely open! Based on the realisation of the truth, of her actual feelings and values, she may now choose to change. Or not.
    And you should continue to comment, especially when others will get offended by you….
    I certainly won’t.

  17. Hope I can clarify a bit: we are all sexual beings, only constrained by religious beliefs, marriage contracts, and our value systems. There is no judgement; each of us has to decide where our boundaries are. I argue this is a very private matter, between the parties involved.

    Attempts to deny sexual feelings (yes, even natural attraction to others outside our relationships) is akin to what I heard once as an elephant trying to suppress a fart. We have all had unexpected crushes on professors, acquaintances, coworkers. I argue that is natural. How we act upon these feelings –well, that depends on a mixture of legalities, religious/moral beliefs, etc.

    Not saying it is right to cheat, but also not a cause to be impeached, like Bill Clinton, either.

    Your female character is quite sympathetic. She chose to have the affair only in her own mind, to preserve her values, children, marriage.

    My point is: given that we evolved with hormonal feelings and desires, it is only normal to have them, whether acknowledged or not (think nuns, politicians, etc). Clear as mud?

    Jackie, I get you! Thanks. However, even though these decisions are private ones, they are not beyond moral scrutiny. I submit that the exercise of choice has to be transparent (and fair to the other partner), and consistent with one’s value base.

  18. I don’t read enough romantic literature to know whether the story is a cliche or not, but it seemed fresh to me, and I loved the style. It also seemed true.

    I have limited experience of these things, but I’ve surely noticed how a certain kind of love has a way of kicking aside any “false” values — any values we hold which are not true to us.

    Those values can be conservative or liberal or some mix, but that kind of love will ride right over any values we hold merely for the sake of others, such as because we were told to hold them, but which are not authentically true to us.

    Love can be very subversive. 🙂

    Thanks, Paul, for a great comment! That ‘certain kind of love’ is what is called romantic love.

  19. I first saw this post this morning. As I scrolled down I saw the pic and maybe though this was er…you know what. 😉 So I gave it a miss.
    Then after a hectic day out I thought I would check it out again just to make sure. Well, it wasn’t what I thought. But I have read my share of romantic fiction and that is why the story does sound cliched to me. But writing every single thing is an exercise and everything one writes cannot possibly be brilliant. So now you know why I stick to journalistic pieces. 😉

    Nita,
    You may not think of me as a born writer…. at least don’t mistake me for a porn writer!

    🙂

  20. I have read this post thrice since morning and I am still unable to make up my mind. Very well written post, extremely interesting no doubt about that too but about the morality part I am confused. I sympathise with the woman but she has children and this situation will not be very pleasant for them. She is a person too so she has to think about her own happiness but can this be long lasting especially when you know you are hurting your own family.

    Thanks, Prerna! I wonder what others think about your poser.

  21. I read this story -between the lines- over and over trying to understand what you were saying. It does sound cliched but I needed a fresh dose of ‘examine thy traditional beliefs in conscious mental masturbation’ anyway.

    Priyank,
    I read your comment over and over, but could not make out that second sentence at all!
    🙂

  22. Pooja might have gone through a tough time since the time she met Jay. If Jay’s love for her is genuine and if she is confident that he is the one meant for her for the rest of her life, then is a life of rejection of that love the right course of action?

    Does she have to give up on “living” her life just because of the fear of matters like loss of respect in society, religious beliefs, marriage contract, value systems etc. What about her happiness – is it to be sacrificed for the sake of her family? Doesn’t her love for the man she’s in love with count at all?

    “I can’t live my life without you.”
    Those were Pooja’s words. Why cease to live a life filled with love? In my opinion, love should triumph.

    Celine,
    Agreed, absolutely!
    One should do what is genuine to one’s convictions. Society can go take a jump!
    🙂

  23. doctar saheb,
    I don’t know what to write….it was wonderful..
    rather it is..
    but i got a new definition of promiscuity…

  24. Hmmm…
    Why do I get the same feeling that I got after having watched the movie ‘Total Recall?’
    Was it all a dream or did any of it happen?

  25. well that wasn’t intended to be a back handed compliment, in hindsight it did seem like one, thanks again to my poor comm skills
    i intended to actually praise your writing style and did not intend to compare the general content of ur writings with de’s.
    my logic went- if she can sell the crap she writes
    and make a fortune out of it, u should get a booker if u really get a book published!

  26. I liked this post. It was gripping and captivating till the end… But, my fondness grew into confusion in the last line. Did she or did she not sleep with Jay? Or was Jay a mere figment of imagination?? Was it her husband throughout?

  27. Nova,
    She did not sleep with Jay.
    She realised that Jay was who she wanted, and was able to identify with him. She also was able to identify her actual (romantic, sexual) feelings for Jay, and she realised that they transcended her feeling of duty to her family and her commitments.
    However, her moment of truth came in a dream, when she enacted her feelings in the sexual act with her husband.
    Does she then go to Jay, and sleep with him?
    Hope to tell you one day!
    🙂

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