An excerpt from A Newlywed’s Adventures in Married Land
“It was much pleasanter at home,’ thought poor Alice, when one wasn’t always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by mice and rabbits. I almost wish I hadn’t gone down that rabbit-hole.”
As the days and months passed by without a job in sight, Mythili started wondering what she had become. In the course of six months she had transformed from a journalist passionately espousing the rights of the downtrodden to someone who went to women’s parties to gossip about her maid. Her life was careening all over the place making as much sense as a writing desk to a raven.
Her relationship with Siddharth was like a patient diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. On weekends, the world would right its course and just be about the both of them. Siddharth cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Walking into to the tiny bathroom to see a tub full of bubbles and scented candles everywhere. Sitting on bar stools, holding hands and watching the world go by; getting high on wine and laughing at the un-funniest things. Being with Siddharth made Manila wonderland, the right kind. Both of them would neatly throw a rug over their arguments and frustrations and live the life they had dreamt of when they were a long-distance couple yearning to be together.
But come Monday night and Mythili’s world would turn topsy-turvy again. The disgruntlement and frustrations would jostle their way out from under the rug, threatening to spill out even before the work week started. The cracks would start to show as Mythili checked her mail and found no responses from head-hunters. And as Siddharth left for the office, the fun-loving, bright and happy Mythili would leave too. In her place a bitter, judgmental bitch would walk in to toil and trouble and boil and bubble resentment through the week.
It was like she was a werewolf whose full moon was hidden under a swathe of clouds on weekends. On weekdays, she would catch herself changing and try and stop, but not really succeed. It was maddening. It was frustrating. This moody Mythili would obsess about how much she had changed. She missed who she used to be—hanging out with her friends, the random outings, dancing to Bollywood hits and calling her sister at three in the morning.
She was not the only person noticing the pendulum-like swaying.
“You’ve changed,” half her friends declared on chat. “You’re like so married now! Maids, vegetables! This is not the Mythili we know!”
“What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you change your name to Mythili Siddharth? What is this newfangled notion of not changing your surname? Are you still pretending to be single? Embrace the married-ness of your life,” the other half of her friends declared.
Had she changed? Was she one-half of a stereotypically married couple? Or the other half of a stereotypically ‘don’t-want-to-be-seen-as married’ couple? Or was she borderline schizophrenic?
As soon as Siddharth left for work at night, the walls closed in on Mythili. Nothing distracted her from how lost she felt. There was nothing familiar to turn to. The glossy television shows lost their luster. Her job hunt continued with a lot more rejection than she had ever expected and no concrete progress. She switched her chat status back to ‘invisible’ and spent hours clicking through pictures of friends and family on Facebook.
“Was I better off at home?” she wondered tearfully. Then she pinched herself for forgetting how miserable she had been during the long-distance relationship phase of her life. The red welt triumphantly stared at her, happy at having reminded her why she was there. She smiled. She was tired of people telling her she was this or that. She was tired of not knowing whether she was this or that. It was high time she got on with the serious business of finding herself and getting to know the city. Two birds with one metaphorical stone if you will. And on the lines of the well-known cliché of getting lost to find yourself, Mythili decided to explore the city on her own.