It is a rainy day of summer in Kolkata. ‘A rainy day of summer’ may sound confusing but what can we say about a sudden heavy rain in a day of May in Kolkata? Jiah thinks the same. She has to leave her office early, she needs to go home. But the anomalous rain made her stuck in the office and forced her to watch the drenched sight of the city from her cabin window. Though she often appreciates the view from eighteenth floor above, but right now her mind doesn’t approve her to praise her luck above the height. Even her favourite self-made cappuccino couldn’t comfort her, though three cups have finished already and she is looking for the fourth.‘You couldn’t make it on time, you can try, but I know you just can’t’….the words are haunting in her brain like wild bees. ‘Argh’, Jiah stands from her comfortable black leather office chair and walks straight to the window. ‘How injustice!’ she shouts in her brain. Though she doesn’t believe in God, she wishes she did. ‘At least I did have someone to blame for the delay, which was certainly not my fault.’
‘Really? Are you trying to tell that you have sincere intension to return early today…or if it’s better to say, tonight?’Jiah runs her fingers of right hand through her silk-smooth brownish hair, currently tied in a ponytail, in exasperation. She can’t believe herself, even in thought she can not remove Aman !
‘Certainly not, Jiah. You can’t do it, the more you try, the less you can’‘I can’t believe this, this can’t happen to me’ Jiah tries to be reason with her thoughts. But they are still running like pony and though her fourth cup of coffee is going to be finished she doesn’t get any solution to her problem.
PROBLEM …here’s the word, that makes Jiah’s 32years’ span of life’s main spine, well, as she describes it, but others find it difficult to agree with her. They just can’t believe what else can a woman want from her life? Jiah--the young, beautiful, chief journal editor of a renowned entertainment magazine, who has a striking career, only at the age of 32, who also has a picture perfect conjugal life with a similar successful business leader of some group industries, Aman Roy. What else she can want from her life?‘What else you want from me, Jiah? Tell me…for God’s sake’
Jiah laughs at this particular thought. Even after six years of marriage, and knowing Aman so closely, she loves to see Aman such helpless, as she knows, how much Aman hates to be seen like that in front of her. Jiah knows, Aman doesn’t want to recognize her work, but unfortunately he has to. This is enough defeat to his ego, though he never ever admit it, but Jiah knows, he, himself can’t ignore Jiah, like Anu. Jiah laughs again. Her very own face-splitting all –teeth smile, shown in the clean glassy wall of her cabin-window. She stares at the design, made by the drops of rain, and bites her finger. ‘How can I go to home?’ she thinks, ‘everything is being covered by the long white rain, I could be in trouble even in the car’, Jiah has a wish to jump and reach home, just like some superhero stuff. She moves to call her driver and her phone rings. Jiah is not surprised, in her unconscious she is expecting this call. It is from Aman.
“God Jiah! Where were you? Where are you? I have called….I have been calling you…”“I know Aman. I couldn’t answer. I was in a meeting.” Jiah cuts Aman’s shout mid-way with her ice-cold soprano and she can see the suppressed anger in Aman’s beautiful face, which makes Jiah’s smile broader even in the crisis.
“Yeah, Yeah, I know. I know Jiah, you and your meeting…just tell me can you reach home within 8:00? Or I have to arrange something else?”
“Can’t you see the rain Aman, or it’s been raining only here?” Jiah can’t hide the irritation in her voice, “off course I am coming. I am also trying to find a way out. I have been ready to go home too Aman, I want to. After all Sara is my child!”“She’s not Jiah. We know the truth. You know the truth and you believe it. Don’t you? If you didn’t, you will be at home today. You will not be in your damn office,”
“But Aman, today’s an important day for the office…you know that….”“Today is Sara’s birthday too Jiah and it is more important…it should be more important…don’t you think so? I can manage my all work. But you can’t. You know why? Sara is not your own child and you have proved it once again.”
“No Aman! It is not true. I …..” Jiah realizes the connection has been lost. Aman cut the line .She knows it. This is Aman’s favorite weapon against her. He used it every time to make Jiah wounded and he will use it to fetch her blood from her heart. Jiah rests her head against the cold marble wall besides her cabin-window and closes her eyes. It’s been seven years now. Her eyes flip open, Jiah doesn’t know, or it is better to say she doesn’t want to. She was being tired to make things proper, to make Aman happy, and to get to him, to realize his thought, his necessity.“You couldn’t Jiah, Aman is just like a mystery. I tried and failed. I didn’t even get closer to him, though I am the mother of his child, still I didn’t understand him, you think, you can?”
Jiah can’t stand anymore. She clasps her both palms, “why they are all coming back again? What was my fault? What is my fault?” she considers in her mind, “situation was not in my hand, and it is not now.” She walks straight to the window. Rain is showering like some huge waterfalls and the stormy wind passing like giant’s whistle. Jiah stares through her all-glass window. She doesn’t know why, but whenever she looks to such weather, she seems to have a connection with it. “Like my own life, which never ever let me do things as per my own choice”, Jiah thinks bitterly. Her sculpted curvy full-grown lips twitched at the thought and her carefully plucked brows creased. She returns to her table and office chair and allows her head to rest over the chair’s head. All she now wants is to go home, to have fun with Sara, her child. Jiah feels a certain lump in her thorat, Aman is right, she is not Sara’s birth-mother but didn’t she bring up the child from her one months’ age? Apart from Sara, is there any cause to marry Aman?
“power, position, money, the wholesome of that kind of lifestyle that you dreamt of Jiah. That kind of lifestyle that Neel couldn’t give you, at least he needed some time to make himself that able and you did not want to wait.”
“no.. no.. this not the whole truth, I kept my promise, I am keeping my promise.”
Jiah can’t stop her continuous thought-chain. She knows in her heart that she doesn’t forgive herself.Neel didn’t say anything to her. He just walked away. No, no, not him. It was Jiah, who walked away. It was her, who broke the vow. Seven years passed but Jiah remember every moments of that day. It was a spring evening. Colors were everywhere; Neel was waiting for her under the red-and-yellow Gulmohar trees, their usual meeting point. Though they didn’t meet very frequent last one year, because Jiah was not sure what to do, but as yesterday she called Neel and wanted to meet him, Neel couldn’t refuse her as he could not turn down Jiah’s any smallest wish. And Jiah took the advantage. She went straight to him, said whatever she planned to say, and took a straight turn. She didn’t even bother about Neel’s feelings, neither had she wanted to know, if he had something to say or not. And Neel did not stop her. But a little corner of her heart was expecting to be called by Neel.
“Madam, can I come in?”
Jiah almost jumps in her seat. She thinks for a second, it is Neel.
“Madam?” Suresh asks once again. He is knocking repeatedly at her cabin’s door.
“Yes, come in.” Jiah controls herself, collects her scattered thoughts and sits properly in her chair. She can’t make herself weak now, she is the boss here and Suresh is her junior fellow. She can’t let him see the minimum trace of weakness. Jiah wears her professional mask, her very own charismatic ‘oh-so-Jiah’ attitude, in seconds. Suresh sees his usual boss staring at her office laptop, as usual.
“Yes, Gupta?” Jiah asks him, after making him wait for a few minutes. This is the rule, which she maintains very strictly with her juniors.Keep them wait. They are there to serve you, to serve your institution. Don’t be personal with them. Don’t address them with their name and make them feel that you are the boss. That is the rule.
Aman injected the rule very much in her. Jiah doesn’t know now, if she can detach herself from Aman, any day.Do you want to?
A hissing voice asks her very softly to make her startle. She forgot it.No! Certainly not! You did not forget, you buried me! You did not forget, you forced yourself to forget me.
It whispers again.Suresh is saying something. But Jiah can’t hear him. Only thing she can understand, he is saying something about the rain. Something about returning home. ‘H-O-M-E’…. Jiah can recognize the word. There is something in it. She has to go home. She has to listen to Suresh. Jiah makes her best effort to make sense with her nerves to listen to her junior. But, what is he saying? And why Suresh has come to inform her about her car and returning home? Jiah concentrates hard.
“Madam, rain has stopped. Sir called three times in my mobile. He found your’s switched off. Your car is ready Madam. You can go home now, if you want to.”
Jiah can’t believe her ears. Aman called Suresh? Jiah checks her mobile. It is not switched off. Blood boils rapidly in her brain, in her whole body. Aman wants to check. He is verifying Jiah’s word. As he does not believe Jiah.
“Madam?” Suresh asks again. Jiah wants to slap this stupid, but she knows in her heart whom actually she wants to hit. She knows it also that Suresh is doing his duty only. Aman is his boss also, this company is Aman’s, a little one among his two more biggies. He made Jiah it’s head, that’s why Jiah can enjoy the luxury. No matter how much Jiah works for it, no matter how much she gave her effort to make the company a big one, it will be always Aman’s. This is the fact and Aman will not allow anyone, along with Jiah to forget the fact. He can do anything for it.Jiah collects her accessories. Suresh gets his indication and rushes to arrange the car for his boss.
Sara is standing in her room, beautifully dressed in her white and pink birthday frock. Sara is waiting for her mother, for Jiah. She is not ready to go downstairs without her. Though, she knows everyone is waiting for her to come to them, to cut the cake, to enjoy with them, Sara knows, her papa also wants that, after all he is doing everything. But Sara only wants her mother. What can she do? Nothing. What can she do now, when she feels the tremendous crying inside her little body?“Sara? S-a-r-a”, Anima enters her room “here you are, baby? You should come with me…everyone is waiting for you…chalo bachhi, come with me.” Anima tries to pull Sara by her hands, but she strongly refuses to go by freeing herself forcibly.” Sara, come with me beta, everyone is waiting, papa, granny, your friends, everyone is waiting for you, come with me shona” Anima tries once again but Sara stand stubbornly.
“Why don’t you listen to your Dai-maa?” Anima and Sara both startled by Aman’s voice, they did not notice him.“Saab, nothing so serious, she…”
“You can go, now, I will take care of her” Aman cuts Anima’s feeble voice curtly and moves his violent face to his daughter,” Why are you doing so? You little stubborn! You are letting me down; do you have any idea what you are doing? Just go and cut the cake and be happy. Can’t you be happy?” Sara does not answer to her father. But tears are pouring in her beautiful eyes and they start to come down.“Now, now, don’t start to bring those filthy tears. What is your problem? Don’t you have anything except those tears?” Aman says through his clenched teeth, he wants to shout very badly but he can’t do it now, as there are guests downstairs and if he makes a scene here, they all can hear it. Instead of shouting, he comes closer to his crying daughter and clasps her both arms tightly, “why don’t you listen to me? Don’t you understand what I am saying to you, you little jerk! How dare you to disobey me?” Aman shakes Sarah violently and then loses his hand suddenly. Sarah somehow manages not to fall and her tears coming more rapidly. “I am telling you to not cry like a dumb stupid, but you continue to disobeying me! You should get your punishment, silly girl.” Aman starts to move to Sarah, like a predator. Sarah steps back, eyes wide, face ashen, she is looking like a caged, helpless bird, in her inner mind, she is expecting her mother, and why does not maa comes back? She promised to come to Sarah early, today. Where is maa? Where are you maa? Sarah closes her eyes tightly as she sees Aman comes closer to her and he carries a slick cane in his hand. Sarah closes her eyes tightly and waiting for a violent hit.
"SARA !!"......a voice, the most beautiful voice of Sara's world suddenly coming from the stairs and the fear is vanishing like a magic, a warm feeling of safety washing through her little body and Sara opens her eyes, only to see her mother, standing there, just in front of her. She lands herself with full force to her ultimate savior and Jiah hugs her tightly and patting slowly to calm down the little ranting sobs of the child, her own eyes are also filling with tears now.
"Fantastic! Beautiful! How nicely portrayed, Jiah, you make me feel that I am watching a beautifully scripted scene, Darling! How do you manage the last minute entry, every time? Wow, I don't know, perhaps I got married to a super woman, Bravo!"
Aman's sharp taunting voice cut the sweet re-union and Jiah moves fast to face her husband, holding her daughter tightly in her side, " Don't try to understand Aman", Keeping her voice ice cold she looks straight into his eyes, "this is beyond your IQ, this is not your balance sheet or your business deal. Now, if you please excuse us, we will be ready and go down on time."
Aman's sharp handsome face becomes grave but he does not say anything and exits from the room without saying a word.
He does not want to fight with Jiah now, as he has another plan to make this woman on her knees.
Tonight is going to be the most awaiting night for him.
"Mum....I... I .. was soo... frightn ....."
"Shhh...Baby.....it is okay darling....mom is here with you, right? Now....let's go......this is your day, right? Give mom two minutes and then we will go to the party, ok?"
A very beautiful smile splits Sara's face as she is holding her mother's hand and going to her mother's room. Now she can enjoy her evening to the fullest. Excitement boils in her vein and she squeezes Jiah's palm softly. Jiah turns to give her an encouraging smile.
The night has fallen finally. After the sudden rain and storm, the city is peacefully going to sleep. A soothing air slowly conditioning the night with soft feathery hands. Sara is sleeping in her soft pink bed. Jiah just kisses her forehead, pulls Sara's soft quilt around her little body and turn off the air conditioner to turn on the fan. After doing all this, Jiah is finally ready to go her room, actually her and Aman's room or the room Aman shares with her.
Not only the room, his bed also.
The same sharp voice hisses in Jiah's head. Jiah slowly walks to her room. Her thoughts cocooning around her brain like a huge serpent. Her feet ls walking towards the room but her brain are travelling someplace else. Before entering the room Jiyah waits for a moment. She can smell the intoxicating soft darkness of the room from outside. In closed eyes she can sense that Aman is sitting with his favourite scotch in the adjacent balcony, sipping it occasionally and waiting for his most favorite toy---- Jiah and Jiah can almost see the triumphant smile which is currently playing in Aman's wet beautiful lips. Jiah bites her lips so hard that it almost brings a tiny bit of blood there. Jiah prepares herself to face the night.
Aman is getting a little impatient when he feels that Jiah enters in the room. ‘Finally!’ He thinks merrily and drinks his scotch once more. He is waiting for the moment for a long time now. He knows Jiah will surely come to talk with him. She will be angry, frustrated, and sad in her own way. She will never want to show her broken heart to him, but the surprise she gets tonight, Aman can swear she never ever expects. The regular interaction of night might be more interesting. Aman can’t wait any more to see his wife’s face, her defeated gesture and he would love to make her totally his, tonight. But, what’s wrong with Jiah? Is not she spending too much time to come to him? Aman cannot wait a single moment. He eagerly enters in his room and stands dumbfounded one moment. ‘Do I drink too much tonight or am I sleeping?’ the room is lighted with soft blue lights and there is a very sweet aroma fills the room and there are roses everywhere. ‘Who decorates this?’ Aman is thinking in his mind when Jiah enters the room from the attached bath. For a moment, Aman cannot move his eyes from Jiah. She is looking fresh from her recent bath and beautiful as ever. Aman can see her flawless skin, her beautifully sculpted figure through Jiah’s almost-transparent lavender night-suit. Aman does not see any sadness or frustration in her attitude. Aman sees Jiah is smiling to him, he cannot control himself anymore. He is moving towards her and Jiah stepping back towards the bed, which is beautifully decorated with flower and satin. Aman can see, the night is going to be really longer.
It is a beautiful evening of autumn. Preparation of the greatest festival of the city has started already. There are only three days remaining and then the whole city will be celebrated Durga Puja. Jiah is sitting in her office chair and she let herself relax after a full day of work. She stands and moves slowly towards her seventeenth floor French window. The lights of festival have started to blink everywhere. Jiah sips in her cup of hot milk and places her forehead in the cool marble wall, she is feeling more tired today. Closing her eyes, she slowly places her free hand in her bulging belly and somehow wants to feel the sweet feeling, which she is enjoying for five months now. Her phone rings and Jiah’s eyes flicker to the wall clock, it is thirty minutes past five now. The face-splitting all-teeth smile has shown as she notices the time, she does not need to see the phone to know who is calling. She knows. Jiah returns her seat and picks her cell, “yes, Aman. I am all right. Yes, yes, I took the medicines. You don’t need to come. Ok, as you wish, I will be ready within 7:00 to leave the office. Yes, I love you too.” Jiah’s smile gets broader as she disconnects the call. Jiah adjusts her position more comfortably, stretches her legs and closes her eyes.
It is been seven months now. She can remember every details of that evening. She can remember the invitation, the envelope. Jiah pulls the drawer of her office table and bring out the silver-blue envelope, which is cordially invited Mrs. Jiah Roy to the Grand exhibition of famous fashion photographer Neel Sharma. Jiah feels the same feeling as she felt that day, when she got the envelope in her office table with some other mails. And she went to the exhibition one week later. And she faced Neel after seven long years, as they promised. But it was a formal meeting. Jiah was there with her full team and Neel was surrounded by media, people. And Jiah cannot take her eyes off from Neel.
Jiah opens her eyes once again as the office clock announces the time of six at evening in its musical tone. Her mobile also pings at the same time and Jiah checks to see the confirmation message from Neel. He has reached to his destination, far from this city, far from Jiah, again. But, still he is very much with her. A small smile lights up Jiah’s face. But she feels a small lump in her throat. She can meet with Neel, after how many days, who know. Jiah bites her lower lip but cannot manage the warm water drops which is rolling down through her checks. She rests her head to compose herself, she cannot allow herself to get into the emotional path. She makes her own decision and she is capable to maintain it. She cannot ruin the future she and Neel has dreamt of.
They met after the exhibition, in the dinner party. Jiah felt the desire to meet Neel again as soon as she left the party. She wanted to dilute in Neel’s masculinity as she did, before. Her desire came true after two days, in Neel’s five-star hotel’s privacy, where without them, no one was present. They lost each other within themselves. Jiah could not make her eyes shift from Neel’s beautifully sculpted body.
“What are you staring at?” Neel came to sit in the bed, where Jiah was in her front, half wrapped in the satin sheets. Neel slowly places his long fingers on Jiah’s bare back. She did not answer but her eyes stacked to Neel’s. She was seeing Neel’s curved, slightly thick lips coming closer to her and they again lost the track of time and place.
“What will we do now Jiah?” Neel asked her one afternoon. They were lying in Neel’s hotel-suit enjoying each other’s embrace.
“I say or you say?” Jiah asked innocently and placed her hand in Neel’s bare chest. Then raised herself in her elbow, and place her there. She knew Neel could not say anything.
“I want something from you, Neel.” Jiah said in an honest voice.
“Anything, you know.” Neel said.
“I tried to understand Aman and I failed Jiah. Though I am the mother of his child but he remained a mystery to me…. A damn unsolved mystery.” Anu said in her death-bed. Anu, Jiah’s elder sister, her best friend, Sara’s birth-mother and Aman’s first wife. Sara was a month old when Anu had to leave her family in a week’s fever. Jiah remembered Anu’s eyes echoing her thought as if she knew Jiah will be in her place as Aman’s wife, within a month or two. Seven years ago, what she tried to say, Jiah understands now. Aman can only care for his heir and the bearer. Jiah refused to be the latter. Aman also understands that. But, after meeting Neel, Jiah saw the escape route. Jiah made Aman to see Neel’s invitation. She knows, Aman will try to take revenge to her inviting Neel in Sara’s birthday party. She and Neel acted as they both were very stunned. And that night, Jiah did not surrender herself but made Aman to be her slave. That night and for the next few nights Aman was her subordinate, in a true sense.
And that was the most convincing camouflage Jiah took for Aman.
“I am not only a womb. I am not only the female organs. I am the woman, who has her own will to choose the father of her child. Just one time, I want to choose my destiny. Would you help me, Neel?” Jiah asked him and she knows “yes” will be her much-awaited answer. In seven years she followed Neel’s every progress and helped him in every way, she can. That was her promise to him seven years ago. She kept her promise and Neel kept his, after seven years he has come to her. Jiah knows what she wants from him, she cannot bear the man’s child whom she hates from the core of her heart. She wants Neel’s part within her to fulfil her life with his child…their coming child.
The clock announces the time of seven.
Jiah’s phone rings and she picks at second ring, “Yes, Aman, I am coming.”
Jiah unlocks her cabin door then locks it for today, she must go now. She and Aman have an appointment with the Gynaecologist.
For their coming child.