(A short fiction by Sidharth Vardhan
March 3, 2018)
He had to ask her out the very day she was having her ‘those days’ – that is what she called it in her mind, the technical words and other euphemisms were too alien or repulsive for her to even use in her own mind. She took the wrapper of sanitary napkin she had just put on and buried it deep with the dustbin covering it over with a polyethene – a habit her mother had taught her, or “Ravi (her younger brother) will be asking questions.” So these are what they call ‘old wives tales’ she had thought wondering at the secrecy of it all – she had often wondered what they mean by ‘old wives tales’ – how come they are only about wives or women? Why not men? She knew, of course, of other more-fun tales – when in their women-only meetings they will act mischievously, flirting with each other, spanking each other, talking about men as if they are some sort of consumable dishes etc. Even her mother who, as soon as a man entered the room, was the picture of a lady.
And maybe she was taking after her mother. Not in the mischievous ways but in trying to be more ladylike – not using the words like ‘sex’ when men are around etc (‘it gives them ideas’ her mother had warned her and she obliged but also wondered – <i>but don’t they need them, clueless as they are about most things?</i>) Why else, would she go to her first date in a saree? When she felt so awkward about it. The very amount of cloth around her body was too much of a bother – for she was used to skirts, nickers and t-shirts. Plus the thing was so tightly wrapped around her legs -how do you run in this thing if you were, you know, chased by a pursuer? It is that idiot Sonu (Sunil, her boyfriend, her ‘one and only’) “Sarees only work when they are backless and economical with dupatta.” He had told her mischievously. Mom won’t allow her to buy the backless one. But she could try folding her dupatta in too many folds so that it would show her navel (She was proud of her waist, not so much of her breasts, the dark-colored circles around which were a bit too large for her liking.) – but only if they were alone and if he pleaded a lot. She would love to see him plead. But what next? You can’t have the…. you know, actual thing with that kind of dress on – the moment shall be gone before you have undone all the layers. It must be a nun, trying to save her virginity, who invented the saree.
But what if he wanted to hold her, and she wished to make him chase her – that was one of her fantasies to be chased by him and then he would grab her around the waist from behind and …… oh! the ecstasy! The saree left the waist bare just in case there was a chance for this fantasy to realize – but how is one, she thought again, supposed to run with so many layers of cloth wrapped around her legs and when she had trouble even in walking with all the cramps? And as if that was not enough, the high heels made it sure she won’t be able to. There is nothing she hated more than high heels (except, maybe saree and of course, cramps) – but she must wear it too. she looked like a kid around him with her five feet and three inches and his six feet and eight inches. Heels help if only a little. It also hurt her feet, plus the sandals which she loved so much (he bought them!) were so oddly shaped -curving inwards from each side. oh! Somebody must need to die in atone for the suffering of her feet.
And so she struggled on her way to where they were to have dinner. It spoiled her mood and, to top it all, he was late. By the time he did arrive which was fifteen minutes late, she had grown irritable. He tried to apologize but she kept telling him to go away. Finally, he too got irritated and said she was overreacting just because he was a few minutes late and started to leave. “I dare you!” she said in a low yet strong voice, the idiot is not supposed to leave just because she asked him to –men! you can never trust them to know anything!
“But you just asked me to. It can’t work if my being a little late annoys you so much”
“It is not about that, okay?” okay, she thought it is partially about that. Men are the ones who are supposed to be waiting for women. RIght? Everybody knows that except this idiot. But what would she say – cramps, saree or high heels? Can’t be talking to your boyfriend about cramps and he gifted those goddamn sandals so “It is just this saree”
“What about it?”
“I don’t like sarees. They are so uncomfortable”
“Uncomfortable? What are you talking about?” He was astonished, “My mom sleeps while in her sarees.”
“Seriously?” She asked, forgetting she was supposed to be acting like a lady and unable to hold the impulse “Then how do your parents have sex?”
Copyright – Sidharth Vardhan