4 Dec 2011

Wavy waters

I was thinking about the dreams I had of living with IS and my dreams of travelling all over India when Janaki interrupted me to ask what I was thinking.  We were sitting in Thanjavoor Periya Kovil, a temple I had fancied ever since I learned about it as a child.  Periyal Kovil in Tamil means Big Temple.  The name itself was intriguing and made me wonder how big the temple actually was.  I didn’t even know which god the temple was for — it didn’t matter — I just liked the temple for its name.

I had married Janaki the previous week.  I wasn’t very excited about the marriage itself, and even less excited about my new wife.  My mind was preoccupied with lost dreams.  I had always thought IS and I would be living like the young couples they show in movies... the couples that are so happy that you want to be like them.  I’d dream that I would be driving my car in a highway with IS sitting next to me and we’ll be talking, singing aloud, stopping to take pictures, staying in random hotels, and having fun travelling around.  For two days after the wedding I didn’t feel anything, but as relatives left and the reality set in, I felt more and more miserable.

I don’t even remember what I told Janaki then at the temple.  Probably it didn’t matter what I said; maybe she was just making an attempt to start a conversation.  When two people new to each other are sitting together, silence can be intimidating.  Once they have remained silent for a while, breaking that silence can be even more intimidating.  But Janaki was willing to break the silence; she took the first step to make our relationship work, when I was actively resisting every minute of my new life.

Once we started living by ourselves in Madurai, I had to face the reality, and being resigned to everything was not a practical option anymore.  Slowly we defined our relationship and defined our own unwritten protocols.  I learned to ask her to help me with things.  If I felt like coffee, I’d ask her to make one.  I’d have preferred to make it myself, but she’d feel bad for reasons I couldn’t comprehend.  After a while, asking her to make coffee was not only convenient, but it even started feeling natural.

The real change happened on our first vacation after I had just bought my car.  We took the car and visited my father and her parents, and went to Periya Kovil.  That was the first temple Janaki and I had gone to by ourselves, so she was sentimentally attached to it.  Her face when we were sitting in the temple — content with the life she was living — is still in my eyes.  While walking back to our car she held my hand tightly and walked along like a kid with her father... entirely positive about life... or maybe thinking nothing about life and just happy to be holding my hand.  I didn’t feel as happy as she did, but I was at peace nonetheless.

Next year I wanted to drive down to Visakhapatnam, which Janaki wasn’t very keen of.  She didn’t really enjoy sitting in a car all day and staring at roads.  I had always loved roads, and I was always dreaming of being on the road driving my own car with someone I really, really like.  Neither of us wanted to compromise on our plans for the vacation, so we had no vacation that year.  Janaki was disappointed, but she truly believed that it was all my fault.  That was the first blow our marriage sustained.  What was lost in that bitterness was lost forever... like a fallen tooth that never grew again.

Next year I planned the vacation entirely based on Janaki’s preferences.  The places we went to and the things we did were sure fun, but I couldn’t be genuinely happy about being there and doing them.  When you’re faking a smile, when you’re pretending to be happy, it shows, and it hardly ever makes the people around you happy.  My dissatisfaction ruined Janaki’s happiness, and that year’s vacation ended up even more bitter than the one that didn’t happen the previous year.

Life went on like a vessel on wavy water.  Eventually I realised life is so volatile that judging your future based on your present is always wrong.  But I learned that way too late, after our relationship was irreparably broken and we had to separate.  Janaki had become too adamant and unyielding and all my attempts to reconnect failed.

I haven’t taken a vacation this year, but I don’t want to travel alone anymore.  I sometimes want to start my life all over again... but I don’t have the energy or courage for that.  Marriage has turned my life upside down.  But certain things never change.  Not a day goes by without me thinking that life would have been joyous if only I had married IS.

Thanks to Sumitra for inspiration.  Thanks to Nags for inspiration as well as for proofreading the draft of this post.


  1. Hey, I'm so happy to see you write fiction. Just a few weeks ago you thought you were not interested in other people, and now here you are, with such a thoughtful account of the way people feel. I'm glad you wrote this.

    I like that it's very realistic. The small things in a marriage that people are not willing to adjust to are very real. And then, the discovery when you're newly married that you can ask the other for simple things like coffee. Nicely done!

  2. Hi Sumitra, thanks for stopping by. I suddenly thought I wanted to write, and here it is :) Writing this was a good experience. I may rewrite this in a longer novel-like form, probably in Tamil. That would help me for sure to learn a little more about life.

  3. Love the story - never stop writing.