A short story by Monica Ingudam
I don’t know where I am going but I had to get out of the house, away from his terrible words, words piercing right through my heart. My husband came home fully drunk, his clothes stench with smokes leaving a trail of the smell of liquor and smoke as he walks by. I tried to stay away and spoke minimally to avoid sparking any arguments which had become an everyday ritual. I was tired, tired of the everyday fighting and didn’t want to make a scene in front of our little daughter who is almost asleep. He wanted me to sit with him and talk to him. I answered I will come after the baby sleeps hoping I can avoid the conversation, for any conversation always ended in a big fight. He got upset and muttered something, walked nearer and started questioning me “Who were you trying to impress wearing all fancy clothes going for work? Were you really working or going in search of another husband (Nawa naiba chatlira)? Is that why you are staying away from me and don’t want to come near me?” I knew it was going to be a long night and some thing overcame me. I wasn’t going to sit and listen to all his crap talks today. I picked up my daughter, grabbed my purse and walked out of the house. I buckled my daughter in the car seat and started driving to an unknown destination.
My daughter ask me sleepily “Where are we going Mama?”. I told her it’s a surprise trip and a long drive and she should get some sleep. She asked me If I would sing her a song. I sang for her and saw that she slept sooner than the ending of the song. I drove through a long tunnel and could feel my hot tears rolling, I said to myself “I need to be strong, I need to be strong” but I couldn’t stop my tears, it kept flowing, it was unstoppable taking me back to the time we met and now all his words which swept my feet away seemed to be lies.5 years back I wouldn’t even dream of today. When I met him, I felt what writers write in books about love giving me the feeling of butterfly fluttering in my stomach, light headedness and it was beautiful, just beautiful. I was possessed, willingly and happily tied in his love and saw only him. He held my hands, sang for me, took me for rides showing me beautiful places, cooked meals for me, called me just to hear my voice. We couldn’t stay away from each other and couldn’t keep our hands off each other. We dreamt of having kids together. The attractions was indescribable, such strong feelings could only be felt, we felt we belonged together, we believed we were made for each other and we should be together. It was beautiful. I knew we had different belief and values. And we had arguments. But the high I got from his charming way to making up made the arguments insignificant but I was blinded on not getting closure on the core values and belief we fought about. I fought my friends and family who tried to warn or advice me to take my time to know him better before we got married. We got married soon and before we knew it, I was pregnant.
Pregnancy changes a woman. I was sensitive, became more sensitive, weakness overtook my body making me more cranky and grumpy. I knew I was not the best companion at times and I knew I may be wrong in my mood swing, I was wrong at times but he wouldn’t stand by me, he would argue and justify. I just wanted him to bear with me, shower me with the love I saw in him, as I was going through the big change in me. Instead he started drinking, smoking and left me all alone. And that created the distance between us. And unresolved conflicts came piling on and on, making the distance further between us.
If pregnancy changes a woman, giving birth changes more, as the body goes through a multitude of changes touching the world of physical and emotional extremes. I struggled with the changes fighting baby blues and healing physically. I got busy learning, raising the baby and balancing work and family life. I neglected his physical needs and he neglected my emotional needs. He failed to see how interconnected the needs are. Then came his suspicion followed by his allegations. I tried to reason out and tried to remove the suspicion. But he wanted to believe what he wanted to believe. I thought it will pass but he became more and more suspicious and it became extremely difficult to step out, dress up, talk to any male colleagues or receive any phone calls. Everything and anything led to an argument where I am finally the immoral woman at the end, followed by his drinking and smoking. His terrible words hurt me so much as I cringed myself crying. I knew something is not right. But I couldn’t bring myself to telling my mother or family. I saw less and less of the person I felt for, the person who swept my feet away, the person who made my world beautiful. Instead I started seeing this stranger whom I didn’t recognize at all.
I crossed the tunnel, still driving, to an unknown destination with unstoppable tears falling down feeling totally lost thinking where I could halt the night.
LIFE’S THIS & THAT
Collection of short stories written by Monica Ingudam. These stories are based on Life’s this and that focusing on Manipur and the people of Manipur.