She sat in the semi dark setting and scribbled quickly. It was a new plot that she was weaving and she wrote in the earliest hours of dawn. Her schedule was repetitive. Pulling out her tangled hair stuck in her kameez, tying it in a tight bun, doing the hooks of her disfigured bra opened for the night, ironing her clothes with her hands, tying tight the strings of her pajama, fixing her bindi, and then tiptoeing to the study to finish her plot. Her last few pieces had been published in all famous online forums. But she didn’t want her husband to know.
Her husband woke up at 9am usually, she at 5 am. She always had ample time to scribble everything pertaining to her novel plot, her journal and her blog. It was more than productive hours of brainstorming and writing. At sharp 8 am, the maid walked in. This was her cue to wrap up her work and run for cover. She preferred it incognito.
“Shall I make elaichi tea for dada babu?” the maid would scoff rudely.
“No. Coffee for him and Sunita didi. They will be discussing work today.”
The maid smirked.
Both of them knew what Shekhar discussed with Sunita. She wrote for a local newspaper, nothing very ostentatious, but a writer nevertheless. She had read Sunita’s pieces, nothing substantial, she had concluded.
Her husband Shekhar used to write for an eminent newspaper, and later wrote a few books and got into the limelight. After that it was book launches, press conferences, award ceremonies, and Sunita’s and more.
“You see, I need inspiration to write. I am afraid writing is something that takes a lot of perspiration and inspiration. And women, tend to be good suppliers of both,” he had explained, to her later on an eventful day.
That eventful day she had forgotten to knock the door before entering Shekhar’s office. Her hands were balancing trays laden with elaichi chai for her husband, coffee for Sunita, and samosas. She barged into the office to see a naked Sunita on Shekhar’s table and he was busy on the phone. She walked in gracefully, left the trays on the table and Shekhar said roughly,
“You brought chai for me? I’ll take coffee.”
She understood. Shekhar wanted her to see that they were involved. His move was deliberate. He wanted her to accept the fact completely.
She served coffee a few minutes later. Sunita was still on the table.
It had become regular for her now. Her husband bathed and by 10 am a woman would come to his office. A Sunita, or a Paromita, names didn’t matter anymore. She had lost count of the names and the preferences. So she maintained a diary now.
It was almost time. Shekhar came out of their bedroom, walked into the shower. Today was the award ceremony. Her husband had received the invitation, the card read Mr. and Mrs. Chatterjee.
She was more elated to see the other card. Shekhar’s eyes seemed to have overlooked the other card. It was an invitation for Indravaati, her pen name, she was writing away from the knowledge of the world. She sniffed secretly at the white envelope, sniffed the fresh paper and saw the contents once more. Blue card engraved with silver carvings.
She had written a novel of late and that had caused a rigmarole- the world got obsessed with the writer who didn’t want to be found out. It was a best seller in a few weeks and critics were showering Indravaati with praises.
Even her husband had bought a copy. She had never tasted glory from such proximity.
That night her husband had devoted to reading her book solely. It was like he was making love to her.
She still stood there recalling her husband’s views.
“Not a very interesting read. I do not comprehend why the press lost its head. Probably because of the incognito only. Such a publicity stunt.”
She clutched the blue card tightly. Her husband didn’t like the novel. So how did she expect that the world would? Her only achievement would be she received an individual invite to the ceremony.
That evening she slipped into a pink kanchivaram saree, with embroidered golden flowers. It was an image of the author’s ignorant wife. Had she come as Indravaati, she would have dressed differently, maybe as one of her characters.
Shekhar, on the other hand, was dressed as the winner already. Khadi kurta, shiny waistcoat, he looked like a sophisticated writer. A man about to win today’s prize.
The chauffeur held out the car door for Shekhar, but no one came for her. She opened the door for herself, and stood a little behind him. People greeted him with bouquets and Shekhar passed them on to her, without exchanging glances.
By the time the night was drawing to a conclusion, Shekhar had grown increasingly impatient. The final announcement of the best author was the only prize left. He was confident of his victory, but he needed to hear it soon.
“The last and the most prestigious award of the evening is for Indravaati, who managed to captivate us with her writing style, plot, efficiency of storytelling and language. The writer who won hearts.”
The lady in pink Kanchivaram with golden flowers, stood up from the seat beside Shekhar, she adjusted her bindi, walked with her head down, then with unsteady steps climbed up the dais and received the award.
She smiled. Her journey as the author’s wife was complete.