“What’s wrong, Ishaan?” I was careful with my choice of words, hesitantly stepping towards my husband as he closed the bedroom entrance behind him. It was amusing this habit of his, given that we lived in this penthouse alone (or rather, together), and yet, he never liked to leave the bedroom door open. As he reasoned with me on the second day of our marriage, “I like knowing that my memories are protected, especially those that are made in the more intimate spaces of my life”. I chuckled away at his comment that day, but today, it strangely resonated with me, almost impersonated in the way I felt when he shut the door behind him.
“We need to talk. About yesterday. I have been thinking about your question…” Ishaan was careful with his choice of words, a clear attempt to mask the fear that laced his tone.
Meet Ranbir Ishaan Rathore – self-made millionaire running his fashion house in downtown New York. With a net worth of $100 million, the Wall Street Journal recently termed him to be “a man of few words, but ruthless words”. Seeing him in his current state, it was hard to believe that the Journal was referring to the same person.
“I have been thinking about what you said yesterday, about our marriage…about us. I left the room without an answer yesterday but haven’t been able to stop thinking about your words. I need time, Anya. I need time to work out who we are and what this marriage is, it’s not an answer I can give you overnight, but I want to give this a shot. I want to give us a shot. I know that this is probably a lot to ask from you, especially given the situation in which we got married, but can I ask you to give me time? Another six months is all I am asking for. After that, if you get done with me and my antics, I won’t stop you from throwing divorce papers at my face. Please.”
Wow. “A man of few words”, eh? That was one long speech for someone who supposedly says not much at all. I watched, slightly amused, the man in front of me. Fumbling hands, eyes downcast, face taut – this was not the man I saw at the altar six months ago. The Ishaan who took marital vows with me in the presence of our closest family and friends was a carefree millionaire, poised and confident enough to look me right in the eye when he promised “I do”. The stark transition from that person into the tensed husband made me reminisce my father’s words before he walked me down the aisle – “A man changes for no one, until he meets the one woman who he never wants to let down.” Ranbir Ishaan Rathore was changing, and to watch this unfold in front of my eyes was nothing short of entertaining.
“Why are you smiling? What is so funny about what I said?” My thoughts engrossed me to the stage that I had unknowingly started smiling at Ishaan. Those chestnut eyes that were downcast a moment ago were staring at me through slitted holes, as if in an attempt to gauge my churning mind. I recomposed myself, masking my amusement with the best poker face I could put on. I shrugged nonchalantly, gingerly sitting at the edge of the bed before looking up at Ishaan.
“Nothing. You amuse me, that’s all. Yesterday, when we had that…discussion in the kitchen, you simply turned and walked out the front door without so much as acknowledging what I said and now, you’re standing here practically pleading with me to give you another six months. I don’t get you, Ishaan. On one hand, you say this marriage does not mean much to you except for a compromise with your mother and on the other hand, you expect me to continue playing charades and entertain you as your wife for another six months. It’s like, I’m a fashion project for you. One that you want to work on for another six months to see if you can make any profits out of it and if not, you’ll absorb the losses. Well you know what? I ain’t going anywhere. You want me to ‘test’ your husband skills for another six months and then “throw” divorce papers on your face at the end of it? I won’t do it, now that you have asked me to, I definitely will not. You can take as many months or years in becoming the husband I want, I don’t mind, but I am not leaving this home without a fight, you can be sure of that.” I breathed out the sigh I had been holding in for the past one minute while venting, blushing a tomato red as Ishaan warily approached me. To my defence, I was not wrong or unjustified in the points I laid out for his consideration. He was, by and far, one of the most indecisive men I had ever met (barring my father), and he deserved to be notified that face-to-face. After all, I had vowed in church to be honest with my better half at all times.
Ishaan kneeled in front of me, looking in directly in the eye as he had when I walked down that aisle six fateful months ago. He was expressionless which, while not uncommon for him, was a surprise at that moment given the accusations I had hailed at him like bricks a minute ago. For a man as strong in his inclinations as Ishaan, he was soft towards me and it was thrilling to witness this side of him firsthand, conscious of the fact that I was responsible for this change.
“Okay.” Another ten seconds of eye contact, followed by a windy exit out of our bedroom, quicker than his entry had been. That’s it. “Okay” was all my husband said to me, leaving me open mouthed, speechless and worse still, angry at myself. My father always said that I was a vulnerable woman who wore her heart on her sleeve and her mind in her mouth. I had always taken his words lightly until I moved under the same roof as Ishaan, which was the turning point at which I realised the weight of his thoughts. I wore my heart in my sleeve was an understatement since my marriage – more like, my heart hung out for Ishaan to tear open as he liked with his “ruthless words”. As for my mind, speaking them out loud had never been difficult, but today felt different. It felt as though I had been robbed of my thoughts by this man who I technically knew nothing about, but had married regardless.
Regret is not an emotion I enjoyed associating with but today, it was apt for me to place that at the core of my heart, as I shut my eyes in frustration. I had vowed to put up a fight for as long as it took but honestly, who was I kidding? I shook my head, untangling the thoughts which had long since creeped the corners of my mind throughout my dialogue with Ishaan, smiling inwardly as the depth of his glib “Okay” hit me full force. He knew this as well as I myself did, that sustaining our marriage on a vow to fight for it may help us conceptually embrace our new relationship, but it was not going to help us surf the tides that may potentially wipe out this home, our home, everyday as we attempt to understand each other – Anya and Ishaan, that’s it. No surnames to follow, no professions to compare. Only Anya and Ishaan.
The rain outside had slowed to dry tears, the grey clouds flitting in and out of the sun’s shadow to reveal a marina blue sky. Soon, a new day would dawn upon us and bring with it a new reality for me to embrace – the reality of becoming not simply Mrs. Anya R Narayan, but also living the part.
Oh man, this was going to be one heck of a journey.