Are you sure you want to do this?
by Shweta Mani
‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ Mind probes, with concern.
It is the day after Diwali. I am on a vacation in Goa, alone. I am down a pitcher of ‘Sex on the Beach’. Deliciously, deliriously high.
An attractive stranger has made himself comfortable on the barstool next to me.
‘Can I buy you a drink?’ He asks in a raspy voice. I lean slightly forward and smile at him. I want to say a whole hearted ‘YES’, when Mind, the nag intervenes. Damn! Such a spoilsport!!
‘Stop harassing me!’ I scream out aloud, to push Mind away. Instead, I startle the stranger, and he makes himself scarce. Damn!! Damn!! Damn!!! I have driven the sexy bird away.
‘Why are you suddenly so vocal?’ I sulk, as I stagger back to my room.
‘Where were you, when I hurtled myself into Rohit 3 years ago? ‘Why did you not ask me your silly questions then?’
Mind stays silent.
Mind won’t admit to it, but It was taken in with Rohit. Just as I was.
In an age where online usually means you were swiped right upon, and greeted with that endearing message ‘Wanna Fuck?’ Rohit’s e-introduction was charmingly 20th century.
‘Dear Ms. Mehta’, was how his Linked-In request began.
‘I met you briefly last week at Rupa’s party. I was hoping to stay connected.’
We exchanged a few formal messages, before he asked me with great trepidation, if he could send me a FB friend request. He seemed so shy, so tentative, I had agreed immediately.
‘He seems like such a gentleman.’ Mind had giggled.’
Our online friendship escalated quickly, from mild banter on each other’s walls to flirty DMs, late night chatter on WhatsApp and night long phone calls.
I had been single for far too long. Love, in my life, had gone from being an active quest to idle fantasy.
Our first date, a few days later, was straight out of the movies. When he picked me up from home, on time, in his smart casuals, and held the chair for me at my favorite Italian restaurant, I decided he was a keeper. By the time he held me close and whispered that he wanted to see me again, I was willing to be swept off my feet by my Prince Charming.
‘It is uncanny how similar we are!’ I happily proclaimed to my parents after Rohit proposed to me a few weeks later. ‘We share the same interests, have the same life goals, we are two peas in a pod.’
Mom and dad had their reservations about the unusual pace of our relationship, but were happy that their picky daughter had finally chosen to ‘settle.’
‘What does Rohit do?’ Daddy wanted to know. ‘Rohit’s an investor, I declared proudly. ‘He invests in businesses across the world.’
I did not tell them that he was thrice divorced.
‘Are you sure you want to keep this a secret?’ Mind had checked, in that rare moment of doubt around Rohit. It would just unnecessarily get them worked up, I reasoned
Our wedding was a cozy affair. And our honeymoon, the stuff fairytales are made of. My Rohit rocked my world. I was the luckiest, happiest girl alive!
That was 3 years ago.
2.5 years ago, I quit social media, because Rohit said my flirty nature online was how I had ensnared him. He did not trust me. And that was why he had lost his cool and hit me with his golf club.
‘Are you sure you want to do this? Mind had asked weakly, as I put my FB account in deep freeze. Well, I did have a bit of a reputation before I had gotten married, I countered. And I really loved Rohit.
1.5 years ago, I quit my job as a senior executive. I was flirting at work, Rohit alleged. ‘How many people did you sleep with, to get to where you are?’ he taunted, as he tied me to a chair, and poured vodka down my throat. And yet, I wanted to give my marriage, to give Rohit a fighting chance. He said I made him feel neglected, insecure.
If only my work stopped getting in the way, we would be so happy.
6 months ago, when Covid struck, I quietly sold my wedding jewellery. I needed the money. Rohit had taken control of all my finances as he felt I was a poor investor.
‘Are you sure this is a good idea?’ Mind had whispered, lest Rohit heard The marriage was over. But leaving would not be easy.
2 weeks ago, I emailed an article link to mom, dad and Rupa, about the #signalforhelp. It was sandwiched between links about the US Election, and the Pfizer vaccine update. (was this signal seen and understood? I’m guessing not)
‘Are you sure about this?’ Mind had asked frantically. Mind knew I was taking a very big risk. Rohit had all my passwords.
1 week ago, I got on a zoom call to wish Rupa a happy birthday. I sneaked in the #signalforhelp, in the middle of an animated discussion over Diwali sweets. Her eyes widened for a minute and then she continued talking normally. Mind just waited with bated breath.
4 days ago, Rupa called Rohit, and insisted that she needed my advice on some last minute Diwali shopping. Rohit reluctantly agreed.
3 days ago, I left Rohit, and all the evil his presence symbolised.
‘Are you sure, you want to do this?’ was a question Mind did not ask this time.
It was time to leave the darkness. And enter the light.
Covid has seen a major spike in domestic violence. The #signalforhelp is a hand symbol based SOS for victims of domestic violence. October was Domestic Violence month. November 25 the International day of ending domestic violence.
This story was written as part of the Power Training session with Rashmi Bansal. This is the third draft of the story.