(In the absence of any other posts, here I carry on work with the historical.)
He got up and stood by the window, leaning heavily against the sill. The Brihadisvarar Temple’s vast tower seemed like a distant giant to him, looming over the misty morning sky. It was chilly and he promptly put a cloak over his shoulders.
Then he felt warmth flooding the muscles of his back, as Minakshi hugged him, running her hands down his torso, gently drawing his cloak off.
He breathed deeply, “Thanjavur is covered in this wet, cold blanket.”
“I know. Come now my dear. You told me you liked…a certain type of women with a certain type of power…well,” her eyes glinted naughtily as she turned his head slowly towards hers to kiss him, “let me be that woman for just this morning.”
“Please no. You’re not that type of woman Minakshi. And you’ll never be.”
“What is with you? I mean, does that mean we’re now over?”
“When we married, our love was real, untainted,” he replied gravely, “but now there’s something else. You have to move on from me. Just…put your clothes on for now, alright? There’s nothing you can do to make me stay. She has put a manacle around my ankle, and her powerful chain is beckoning me! It’s a spell! I can’t live a day without seeing her.”
Minakshi’s look darkened as she sat on the bed, legs crossed, hands firmly over her breasts. She bit her lip so hard that she bled, and almost teared up. Yet she fought back all sense of feelings of the pain of separation. Brahmarajan saw her body shivering, but he battled the urge to touch her. Minakshi promptly covered herself with her the sheets and looked at him with the corner of her eye.
“We are both in power when we make love, and…”
“Shut up for just a moment, would you? If you want so badly to see this woman, why don’t you get out at this moment?” she snapped, crying. “Just….go to her without rubbing in my face the fact that our relationship was doomed to fail! Get out! And don’t tell me you and she have a child”-she glanced briefly at him and he looked away-“oh damn you! How long have you been doing this?” Minakshi was screaming now, voice at a fierce, shrill pitch as she bared her teeth and her eyes glowed with anger.
He shouted, “Three years, alright? I met her three years ago! And now, a month ago you became pregnant with our second child! But no, I’m sorry I won’t be around to see it. And I won’t be around for Sivapalan. I must leave so that I can be there for my new family. Let me go Minakshi! If you really love me you’ll let me go.” She was stunned. So this was what love was, to love a man, to be with him and to have a family with him.
Were all men the same?
Were all…people the same?
This was not the Brahmarajan she knew. She felt a slight glow of warmth shining through the mist covering the city. The Temple’s spire dominated the skyline, somehow calling her back to it, to immerse herself once more in dance and permanent devotion to gods she didn’t even believe in. She covered her face with her hands as she sank into heavily onto the bed. Her own deity, her beautiful Bodhisattva, had been no help at all.
Minakshi didn’t say a word all through the morning. She did the daily tasks even after her husband had left. She tried to be the proud, fierce and powerful woman she knew herself to be as she lifted her head away from the steam of the cooking fire on the clay hearth.
But the chickpea masala-the meal for the afternoon, which she felt like making now to distract herself-felt to her like something out of time. She saw no sense of beauty in it, the rich tang of spices that her maid had brought in when she came to work in the morning. Thus Minakshi stared eternally into the pot, and then remembered something.
No, he had been at her brother’s house.
The ex-Brahman priest.
“So we’re all giving up something in our lives,” she mused as she dropped the black peppers and cardamons into the pot, sprinkling them liberally over the chickpeas. The same way that the memory called Brahmarajan used to have them.