It reached a point where his disappearances became long and painful. He wouldn't be back home for months together. He'd travel more for work. He'd stay in other cities for weeks. And the children began to miss him. They'd ask me when Appa would come home. And more often than not, I wouldn't have an answer to their question. Because he stopped answering his phone. Communication between us dwindled to the bare minimum. He stopped responding to my long texts on how unfair it was to me and the kids. He stopped justifying. The only communication was in terms of my bank account. I'd leave a message telling him how I needed money for the kids, for their fees or new books or clothes. There wouldn't be a reply to that particular message. But sooner than later, my phone would beep with a message from the bank, informing me that a good sum had been transferred to my account. He was providing for us financially, but being painfully absent emotionally.
Which is why, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw him at our door one afternoon after the kids had left for school. He'd come to meet them and spend time with them. He knew that he'd have to wait till they got home and I was surprised that he was ready to stick around at home, alone with me. The distance and his behavior had been too much and I was far too sour to let any of it go. So I sat him down and started addressing each and every one of our problems. He wasn't too cooperative initially but he knew there was no way around it. I was calm. And I was trying to be reasonable with him. My reason probably sparked his curiosity as to how I'd deal with everything. It probably gave him enough incentive to start talking to me. He started off by telling me that he loved me. That he always did and never stopped loving me. And that I should understand this, and the fact that he was an artist, and that he was different from most men. Sex, to him, was merely physical. I nodded my head to all of these claims. I listed out the number of "merely physical" encounters he shared with other women in all these years. He accepted that he'd been physically involved with all of them but they meant nothing to him. I'm sure he felt that he was winning. Both my trust and the arguments. Then I asked him about Ananya. Looking back, I feel I should have set up a camera somewhere, to record all of it. I could re-live it every single day of my life. The look of surprise, horror and disbelief on his face was oddly satisfying. He couldn't figure out how I even found out about his mistress. Truth be told, he'd done a good job of hiding her from me for a long, long time. But I have my networks. I simply decided not to use them all these years. My curiosity was piqued and all hell broke loose. Sometimes I wish I hadn't tried to find out more.
He mumbled, gasped, jumbled up words and finally decided to play his luck. Since I had been understanding throughout the conversation we'd been having, he tried to test the waters further by being honest with me. I was glad at the time. I learnt that afternoon, that warm and sultry Chennai afternoon, that he had met her five years ago on the sets of one of his blockbuster movies. She had auditioned for the role of an extra. In fact, she's still mostly an extra because even he couldn't bring himself to cast her as a lead in any of his own movies, given the horse-face that she has. It started out as sex. Then apparently, he found a friend in her. It grew into something that he claims he can't begin to put to words. Long story short, he loved her. And he loved me. And that was supposed to make perfect sense to me because it's not at all strange how someone could love two people at the same time, and expect them to accept each other and live in harmony. I may be wrong but I don't seem to possess the heart of a Saint, as she does, and accept that MY MAN had to be shared. I stayed still and quiet throughout his rant about her, about his love for her, for the both of us, and how he couldn't live without us.
When he was finally done telling me how he was too scared to lose me and how that was the reason why he stayed away from me and how he hoped that I understood now, I slowly got up from my seat, walked to the bathroom, and puked my guts out. I asked him to stay away from me while I was getting sick in the bathroom. He thankfully gave me my space and stayed behind in the living room. I called up my mother-in-law and whispered into the phone that she had to pick up the kids from school as they couldn't, shouldn't, come home to witness the state their parents were in. I promised to explain everything to her later. Once that was taken care of, I sat on the bed for some time. For how long, I'm not sure. I just remember that he came in at some point to talk to me. To this day, I don't know what consumed me on that fateful evening. Tears began to cascade down my face as he tried to kiss them away. I may have returned a kiss or two before demanding him to strip before me. I can guess what he expected from my request so it must have come as a shock to him when I pushed him on to the bed and began to slap his face. Left and right, right and left. He may have been confused for some more time but I drove away all his confusion when I picked up a pair of scissors and truly attempted to cut off his penis. That's where it all started, wasn't it? It's only because he found it hard to keep his junk in his pants that we were at this stage in our marriage, getting our hearts broken. Once it was out of the way, everything would go back to normal. He could go back to being the loving husband that he once was. The doting father that his kids admired. It all made sense to me at the time. And I was caressing his face and calmly trying to explain to him that this was necessary. Cutting it off was for our good. It was to help him, really. I know how crazy it sounds now but I have no explanation for how much sense it made to me. I have never been this serious about anything before. The more he refused, the more I hit him. He couldn't see what I was trying to explain to him. I can still see him, whimpering on the edge of the bed, covering his fragile manhood with both hands. I pitied that fool who threw it all away. I pitied the man who was begging me to spare him. I'm not stronger than him physically. I know that. But I was overcome with rage and hate and strength beyond my understanding. It seemed like a super power. I could actually pin both his hands down on the bed, climb on him, make him stay and stare into my eyes as I bawled like a mad woman. I cried and I cried in that position. My tears mixed with the sweat on his chest and he was dripping all over the bed. I took his shirt and tied both his hands together. I don't even know why I did that. I just remember sitting on the floor the whole night, staring into the void, only to be woken up the next morning by my mother-in-law's call.
We didn't speak a word to each other, my husband and I. He was probably too scared to move that night. I don't know when he fell asleep. I just know that I never slept. I left the door open when I retired to the kitchen, not intending to cook. He left the house soon after. And he left for good. The message was pretty clear to him. He wouldn't have the both of us. He could either choose the wife he legally wed, the mother of his children, the family that he can introduce to society or the ugly bitch whore that he started sleeping with 5 years ago.
5 years is a long time. And what shatters the soul is knowing that the one you love has been emotionally attached to someone else for a period as long as 5 years. Flings and one night stands, as I mentioned, could be forgotten. Nobody would hear of them. But what kills a person is emotional attachment. It killed me. It killed our family. It sucked the happiness out my children's eyes. It blinded them and left them in the dark. We didn't know what to do. Especially after I realized within a month, that I had stopped getting messages from the bank. I realized that my phone wouldn't ding with messages either from the bank or our benefactor. He knew how to beat me. And he beat me hard. He picked up my dead carcass from the wild and stabbed a dagger straight to the heart to kill me further. By starving our children, he killed his dead, beat up wife.
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