Drug Store

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139

Anindita Bose

Love is neither blind nor selfish. It is a drug that pulls one out of a comfort zone and puts in a new state. The heart pumps faster the moment the syringe injects this drug into the cells of a body that is unaware of the emotion, and then begins a story of disruption. The whole realm of mind dances in the unknown tune and the pulses wonder what could have suddenly gone wrong!

Amidst such a volcanic situation a relationship takes birth. The first time it breathes it does not cry, rather enjoys a demonic-laugh that no one can hear. They say in books that a relationship has its own fate to suffer the cycles of sorrows and happiness. No matter what, it has to go through all the phases and then it would sustain the battle of life and time. This is perhaps true or just someone’s imagination; whatever maybe the case, after it starts taking decision in a human’s life, it becomes the sole caretaker till love takes over the role and a third person is born, a tiny human who can change the entire course of two adult human fates.

And such was the story of Henry and Daisy. Born in a town of South India both had been taught the values of highly conservative families. However, when Henry was sent to Bangalore for his further studies in Hotel Management, he snapped many rules. Definitely crossing the boundaries and giving birth to a relationship with a Hindu Tamil girl, Meenakshi. As her name suggests, Henry could not resist the drug of her eyes and fell for her in the first semester itself. Days were quite intoxicating since then and both travelled through time, imagining that the future would be waiting to welcome them.

But stories in real life cannot be like those on pages of a novel and so Meenakshi had to get married in her final year with a Hindu Tamil boy, arranged by her parents. All Henry could do was to drive his car three-thousand kilometres from Bangalore to Meenakshi’s village to bid her goodbye and bury their relationship. The outcome was a realization that he was very good with his car and could keep traveling to different places in search of solace and perhaps forget the death of his first relationship.

No one ever said that humans could give birth to a relationship only once, but Henry needed time after ‘carrying to term’ such a heavy load. And so he left Bangalore and settled in Ooty, queen of hill stations in South India. A place that could give him silence. Far away from home and friends he decided to live a life in memory of his beloved. However, soon he knew that he had to earn to survive on earth. Birth or death of a relationship cannot keep a human alive for long. He needs the basic requirements to live life. And so Henry took up a job.

Soon his parents called him and urged him to get married. He could have said no, but his mother knew the ways to convince her son. Henry got married to Daisy. But this time a relationship was not born. The question was how will they stay together in such a situation? To live together they needed the drug. Henry got himself busy with work, and Daisy had no clue. What was her story all this while? Well, she wrote in her diary on the first night, ‘I cannot like him; he has stayed in Bangalore for so long. I am sure he had affairs. Why did he come back to marry me and waste my life…! I wish I open my eyes tomorrow morning and this nightmare disappears…’

The morning came. And Daisy prepared the breakfast like she was taught. All the values are taught to women so that on the first day of married life she could be confident in making her in-laws and husband happy. She was well trained and so she performed brilliantly. However, even though her in-laws smiled and praised her the whole day, she could notice how her husband looked lost. Oh, how much she hated him! She said her prayers that night and asked for mercy since she hated her own husband. But things would not fall into place unless the couple could take the drug soon. So six months passed by and neither Henry nor Daisy smiled at each other. Looking at the situation the mother-in-law decided that the couple should continue to live in Ooty by themselves while the other family members must go back to their native home. Daisy was quite unhappy. Henry had nothing to say.

Life took its own course and after three days of living together, finally they looked at each other since it was raining and Henry could not find the umbrella. Daisy knew her duties as a wife, and though each day she wanted to run away from her present home yet she searched and found the umbrella and even smiled at him for the first time. Their eyes met, but the drug was missing. Either Henry’s drug was over or Daisy never had it in her. The situation was quite complex; and in the blink of an eye four days passed by. On the eighth-day, Henry looked at Daisy and wondered why he was not feeling a rush of blood in his mind, like he did when he had met Meenakshi. A flash of memory jolted him between his past and present. He looked intensely at his wife. Daisy was quite good looking, there was a pleasant feeling when she was around and she was an excellent cook. What else can a man ask for?

‘The drug and birth of a relationship; the pull and push and the magical world of sensations…’ Henry dreamt of these words once long back when he had attended a relationship workshop with Meenakshi. An unacceptable decision for a boy who grew up in a town of South India, but at that time he had felt the urge to cultivate the drug in him to tie a knot around his girlfriend. He did wonder why he would need to do that since it has always been known that the woman should try to keep a man engrossed in her and in a relationship that they have given birth together. However, he decided that since he was attracted to his girlfriend, it did not matter who did what. But now was a different story. It was his wife and that too someone he did not love. He could not decide whether he was attracted to her or not. But on the ninth-night he reached her side of the bed and pulled her close.

The morning came. And Daisy could not believe that it was already twelve-o-clock and she was still drowsily lying on the bed. She looked around but Henry had already left for office. She smiled. What could have been the matter? Once when she was seventeen years old she had felt the same intoxication. It was her cousin’s birthday and five of them had hidden in a garage and taken cold beers. But this time it was something else, a sense of serenity. Only a drug could take a human to that level, in which nothing mattered anymore and the mind held onto the memory of the drug dealer.

In the evening Henry came back. To his surprise his house was decorated with Jasmine and tiny colourful lights. The table was laid with good food and there was a note from his wife: Welcome back! He nodded his head in utter astonishment and wondered, was it a good decision to marry a girl from his own town. He had no idea what was her highest educational degree. Moreover, he has seen and been around with women from the cities. Never did he think in his wildest dreams that he would marry a woman who would not know how to begin a conversation and now came a note which was hilarious. He quietly went to the bedroom and slept.

For a week Daisy tried to understand the reason why her husband walked around the house like a stranger. They had hardly communicated after that day. And she could not figure out his disposition even after so many months of their marriage. She had tried to ask him if anything was the matter but Henry kept saying that he was busy with his office work.

Four months passed by and the season changed to spring. The couple went to visit their homes. Henry decided that Daisy must live a few days with her parents. She wanted to protest but realized that women hardly had a voice when it came to their husbands’ choice. Silently she agreed.

After a week when Daisy called Henry’s mother to ask if her husband would come to take her home, the mother-in-law was surprised.

“But Henry went back to Ooty two days back, he said that he will pick you up on his way!”

“What?” Daisy whispered.

“Dear girl, did you fight with him?” the woman asked curiously.

Yes, Daisy wanted to scream. “No, it’s okay amma, I will call him…” There is no point in wondering why Daisy had not called him earlier, and why Henry left without her.

Two months passed by. Henry wanted to call home and ask why Daisy did not try to contact him. But he thought that would give both his and her family members a chance to accuse him. So he focussed more on his work.

Daisy’s due date was three months away. She had taken that drug on that very first night and that had resulted into a revolution inside her. Many a times she had imagined an abortion but such is the birth of a relationship that it will not let a string get cut easily. And Daisy chose to suffer the cycles of loneliness, sorrows and expectations.

Henry’s parents could not believe that their son could do such a thing, and when Daisy’s parents announced that their daughter would be happy with a divorce, Henry’s mother called her son.

In the evening Henry went to a park near his house. He wanted to sit alone for a while and ponder on what he had done and why. That night when he wanted to accept his wife, everything was perfect until Meenakshi sent a message: ‘I am going to have a baby!’ The meaning of his life altered. How can she be so happy? Did not they decide that they would create a future together and now when she would be a mother; it was not his child…

And the story could have ended here. Henry could have pretended to be happy while Daisy would have thought that her husband was interested in her. That’s what happens in novels or short stories. Instead the drug made his heart and mind selfish and he wanted Daisy to taste the drug too. If he was suffering then she must feel it, and he made love to her that night.

However, sometimes in life even from negativity comes out positive virtues, like the birth of a lotus. And when Henry kissed Daisy their baby giggled. Perhaps the baby’s little heart already knew that soon it would be its turn to take the drug. After all babies are part of this universe or at least that is what the wise ones say.

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from Calcutta has always believed that words have power to connect and create stories. She holds a Masters Degree in English from Calcutta University. She has authored a solo poetry book, I Know the Truth of a Broken Mirror, co-edited a short story collection, Dynami Zois, and co-authored a poetry book, Virtual Reality.

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