Jinxed in Love
Priyanka lives her life on her own terms. She shuns a loving and devoted husband, when she finds that he has no respect for her intelligence and ability. Will her relationship with Ankit suffer the same fate?
Swaying slightly in her favorite hammock chair on the terrace, sipping her early morning decoction, Priyanka picked her mobile to play some music, when she saw some text notifications from Ankit. She stopped her frown from gripping her brow, rather decided to ignore him. She wanted to enjoy the morning moments with herself, not allowing anyone to spoil the blissfully tranquil beginning of a new day. Ankit had been the cutest thing that had happened to her, but her fondness for him too had fallen prey –though an early one –to the jinx which she had been under, all her life. Her relationships didn’t stay for long. She couldn’t even blame others for the breaking off of those bonds, because she honestly took upon herself the responsibility of severing all the love ties. Ankit was just another number in the long series. It’s not that she didn’t grieve the loss; she had just chosen to be helpless before the jinx. Priyanka’s chain of thoughts was broken by Qudrat’s thin shapely arms garlanding her neck from behind; Priyanka was startled and exclaimed, “Had a good sleep, Sugar?”
Priyanka Singh was called Seductive Singh… out of love by those who admired her, out of disdain by those who envied her, and out of custom by all others. Priyanka Singh –average looking by the Indian standards but entrancing by all the rest –had an attractive figure, long well-shaped limbs, shiny expressive eyes, thin oval face, symmetrical lips with a well-defined cupid bow, dull black hair tied in a thin pigtail with the shorter strands cupping her face from both sides, and a sexy, husky voice. Priyanka was 41, divorced for ten long years… and happy. She had a luxurious house, enough resources, and a well-paid job of a college professor. Priyanka loved her job –not just out of her love for literature, but for many other reasons as well. She wanted freedom to think, to perceive, to form and express opinions, to do things her way, to defy, to dictate, to approach, and to turn away. She was anything but a conformist –a freedom loving woman – weirdly in love with life; who donned a diehard progressive attitude. Perhaps this was the culprit behind her broken relationships. She would often sigh, “Human relationships are all about fitting-in. The ones which promise space, turn out to choke you in the worst way.”
Waiting for Qudrat at the breakfast table, Priyanka glanced at the life size family picture, shot at Disney Land ten years afore – she and her husband dressed in funky t-shirts and shorts, holding the three year old Qudrat by the forearms, shouting with joy, her hair all frizzled and flowing… She again slipped into memories –this time her nuptial memories –Amrit’s memories – her handsome, rich, hotelier ex-husband, who, she was sure, still loved her. If not, then why would he have personally come to her place to drop Qudrat when he had a huge paraphernalia of cars and drivers? He did this every time Qudrat came to stay with Priyanka for her monthly visits. She would sense the sea of questions surging inside him. Amrit would look into her eyes, and frantically search her face for any leftover traces of love for him. Mostly quiet over coffee, Amrit, out of his obsession to admire her, would admire the new crockery, new books and the new rugs and curtains instead! Even though he was busy as hell in spreading his business overseas, he still found time to drop a message once in a while to enquire about her migraine headaches. Priyanka appreciated his thoughtfulness, which everyone in Amrit’s family called foolishness. Amrit’s mother, Gurbani, had even called her once, requesting her to convince Amrit to remarry, for she knew that even after the legal divorce, her son was madly devoted to the cold-hearted Priyanka.
Priyanka was classy – she didn’t make herself easily approachable – She was taciturn, reserved and solitary. She would be mostly seen sitting with a book under some shady tree in some quiet corner of the campus –sometimes reading voraciously, and sometimes just staring into vacuum without turning a single page; maybe contemplating something. Why not? Her life had been full of strange episodes to be looked back upon, mused upon –giving her smiles and tears in equal measure. Priyanka had met Ankit on the campus itself when he had visited the college seeking students’ personal data for his Skill Development Centre, which he was certainly denied. A little uneasy over this, he had decided that he needed a cup of coffee to gulp down the setback. At the college canteen, he had spotted the seductive Priyanka sitting in the sun with Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns on her lap, her eyes half closed. Ankit had instantly fallen for her, though he could make out that she was almost double his age. He had initiated a conversation, not quite welcomed by her, but he stuck to his guns. Ankit was every inch a well-groomed businessman; he had excellent conversation skills, and also a good sense of humor. By the time coffee was finished, he had managed to get some of her attention, though she openly showed her disinterest. She felt she was too wise and mature for his puppy love. The smitten Ankit would keep dropping her formal, courtesy-messages on WhatsApp, to which she never responded, though she didn’t mind him doing so. Gradually, her interest in Ankit grew and she met him over coffee once or twice. Ankit talked a lot, rather a bit too much. Priyanka would smile, thinking that he was young and full of himself… obsessed with his own intelligence and achievements; he would be bubbling with energy. But, that was it.
Their last meeting was almost a romantic date –coffee at Starbucks, Priyanka’s favorite place in the city. While dressing up, she caught herself making an effort to allure Ankit, then smiled at herself, “O, come on…He’s just a kid!” That evening, Priyanka let herself loose…she let him hold her hand for a while, looked into his eyes over coffee, and when he held the car door open for her, she brushed cheeks with him briefly. Suddenly, she realized that something was not right…On her way home, driving absent mindedly, she knew something was amiss…and upsetting! Priyanka had to find out. She had an intuitive mind and a sharp sense for vibrations, and could read people in and out. And lo! She saw a notification from Ankit flashing on her phone, “Hey beautiful! Hope you enjoyed your evening. Looking forward to another coffee date, this weekend!” Priyanka hated this message –the words used, the thought behind it, the expression, the feeling conveyed, and the energy released by the message –all were obnoxious! She blamed herself for allowing a 15 year younger guy to dally with her. She at once comprehended that this meeting had made Ankit so comfortable that he had surmounted the awe with which he viewed her. As soon as she reached home, she deleted his numbers and decided to walk out of this fledgling relationship. She would not allow anyone to take her for granted –not anyone in the world!
Priyanka once again tumbled into the abyss of her complex mind… ten years back, just one smile had changed their lives…Amrit had smiled at the blunder she had committed by signing a wrong cheque, in his absence…he probably didn’t want to make her feel bad, wanted to dismiss the mistake as a trivial one… But Priyanka’s mind had perceived the smile differently. She had created her own story –about Amrit taking her lightly, Amrit doubting her intelligence, Amrit ridiculing her, and what not! Once she had woven a story ready in her mind, nobody could change her mind about it.
Qudrat was fond of both her parents and still wanted them to be together, though she had stopped begging for it as she did in the initial years of separation. During every visit, she would ask Priyanka to narrate some childhood incidents to her, hoping that nostalgia would drive her mother to think of reviving the broken ties once again. Qudrat lay on the couch with her head on Priyanka’s lap, and Priyanka narrated one of her favorite anecdotes, yet another time. “So… it was you and papa, riding…and suddenly…the horse galloping… Pahalgam… laughed... all of us… pictures…”