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Short story - Life is but a dream

I got up suddenly. My eyes forced me to look at the other side of the bed. Her tender alabaster colour figure which kept me company all these years was no longer there. The sweet scent of her hair was not lingering in the air. The sight of her not being there caused me an inexplicable sadness.

I recollected how delightedly I swam in the soft and supple flesh of hers in the days gone by. I walked up to the window and looked out side. Darkness was reigning everywhere. The faint gleam of the moon didn't succeed in driving away the absolute dullness of the environment. I gazed at the darkness till my eyes ached. I felt so lonely.

I walked up to Adel's room. I expected her to be huddled up in a corner of the bed. But she was not there. I switched on the light. The faint gleam reflected on one of Adel's photographs. It brought back memories of her childhood. She was definitely Amanda's look-alike. A pang of explicable pain struck my whole body. Am I responsible for causing this misery?

Grief

I need somebody to share my grief. As there's nobody to share this with, a self confession would rather make my guilt stricken conscience somewhat relieved. Will you listen to me? You might not find things admirable in my story. Yet you'll gather something worthwhile for your life. You will often trace my intrusions in the story. I feel they are necessary to show that I really regret now for what has already happened.

I had the opportunity to study in several foreign countries before I started my career as a psychological consultant. I met Amanda on a flight to England. So she often referred to our encounter as a love is in the air affair.

She worked as a flight stewardess then. She was a sprightly character. At times I didn't have the courage to bear her being so outgoing. I expected her to be sober and calm because it was the ideal that I had about women.

Knowing her way of life what I would have done was giving her up at the very beginning of our relationship. But I didn't do so. I was quite taken up by her beauty. Apart from that I loved her so much.

This situation is common to everybody. When you are in love you become blind to the faults of the other party. You recognize them as faults only when you get married and time passes by.

Married

On the day I got married to her I felt as if I have done a great feat. I prided myself for being the owner of such divine beauty. The first request I made to her on the day of our marriage was to quit her job.

"What?... you want me to quit the job. Unbelievable! A person of your sort uttering such words. Isn't this a modern world." She screamed.

In my perception I started ruling her over on the very first day of our marriage itself. However much I tried I couldn't become an exception to the majority of Sri Lankan males.

Masculinity

The next day when I got up I regretted so much. Her slim figure lying beside me resembling that of a goddess told me how lucky. I was to possess such beauty. Why couldn't I compromise my masculinity for such beauty and naivety? I argued with my conscience.

But ultimately masculinity superseded everything. 'Whatever it is you are a man.' This was what my conscience convinced me. Thereafter, I worked according to that. I couldn't go against the concept of male superiority which persisted direly in Asian societies.

Life went on. Adel, our daughter added a new facet to our lives. She meant another addition to Amanda's work load. Amanda never neglected her household chores. Early in the morning she got up, prepared breakfast, attended to preparing my paraphernalia and Adel's too.

She skipped having her breakfast as she didn't have time. Sharing household work became a thing strange to me in the way I was brought up. When I returned home after work what I did was killing time at the computer. At times, when I heard Adel crying I never bothered to enquire about it.

Typical

I believe this is typical of most of males in Sri Lanka. Attending to the needs of the domestic front is solely seen as the woman's lot. Isn't it so?

Amanda never nagged about my insensitivity to all these. But once while I was driving her to work she said:

"What has happened to you Sulochana? Don't you love me now? I do everything to make you and Adel happy. But you seem so unhappy. I can't bear you being so indifferent. Are you the same Sulochana that I was in love with in the days gone by.

In the past you used to shower me with words of appreciation even for the slightest thing that I did. You exaggerated my beauty exceeding the limit at times. Didn't they keep us going well? Didn't it add colour to our relationship. But what a contrast of life I feel now. Yesterday was my birthday.

You didn't even remember it. I don't need you to spend lavishly on buying gifts. A line of love written by you is worth a thousand presents to me. After all, am I not the woman you loved once? Is this the plight of all married women in Sri Lanka? Why do men become so insensitive and indifferent over the years? I wish I were born in a Western country."

Blow

This became a real blow to me. I thought more about it. It's true that I wanted her to be a home maker only. Both a home maker and a career woman were in perfect unison in Amanda. The truth is that I envied it. I never wanted her to be an individual having her own way of life and identity. What I wanted her to do was to lose her own identity in mine as most of the males in patriarchal societies expect.

She was flourishing in her career when I made her quit the job. The cracks of our life widened with this incident. We often had hot arguments. But the bond of our flesh did a great job in keeping ourselves going for a long time. There is an incident which is etched deep in my memory. Amanda cried a lot on the day she quit the job. She came home, threw her hand bag away and screamed:

"You call yourself a psychologist. I pity your clients. Here is a person who can't understand the feelings of the person he loved. But he goes on giving advice to other people. Is it the fault of you only or social system at large?"

This really became food for thought. I couldn't stand Amanda doing so well in her career. Your life becomes a mess when jealousy creeps in to family life. I don't know up to what extent you would agree with me.

Bond

The bond of our flesh which attached our bodies for a long time didn't possess the same strength later on. Gradually I lost the marvel I had about her beauty. Her beauty became no wonder to me. I felt as if it was something that I legally owned. The aura and appeal she exuded in luring me to her lost its energy totally. Amanda didn't demand it either.

She got closer to Adel instead. The closer they became, the more I felt the distance which existed between us. I justified this thinking it would be the fate of most of the families in Sri Lanka. I believe it's the major point where I failed. I had ample opportunities to put my life back in the correct track.

But I purposely ignored them. It's the hazy attitude toward life that I had developed over the years which didn't allow me to do so. Moreover, male arrogance is also responsible to a great extent.

Left

It's only when Amanda left this country together with Adel that. I realized how much they meant to me. I don't want to accuse her. Deep in my heart I loved Amanda and Adel. But I didn't show it explicitly. I would have been more flexible and conscious of her emotional needs knowing the idiosyncrasies of women kind so well than an ordinary person.

What do you think? I have erred to an extent that I cannot be forgiven. I believe it is my orthodox and conservative outlook at life which made me lose the zest of life totally. Even the exposure to several Western cultures didn't change my rigid morals to suit the needs of another human being.

I am a total failure as a human being. I should think seriously about my life now. Even you might wonder where this person will lead other people as a person who couldn't organize his own life.

Therefore, the first thing I'm going to do now is quitting my job for it is intrinsically bound with the feelings and relationships of human beings n

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