17 December

2x-y, breathlessly: “Hello, Appi.”

She must have been waiting for me to call; she picks up the phone at the 1st ring.

“What happened? 2x-y, why were you so scared on the bike? Are you all right?”

“I’m fine. No, no, not scared. Just .. I don’t know what to say. It’s so hard.”

“What is it? Tell me. You know you can.”

“Yes, I know. You are not just my lawyer now. Virtually my only friend.”

“Then?”

“That man you saw on the motorbike? He is my boyfriend.”

“So?”

2x-y does not reply for a while, I am silent too. I still do not understand why she had been so scared.

Then, she says, “It’s very hard for me, Appi, to talk about this right now. Can we meet? I mean, outside. Not in your office or court.”

Me: “Sure. Tomorrow?”

“After I finish work. Will that be OK for you?”

I ask her to come to the seaside restaurant where we had met Comma’s Prospect. I had found it tranquillizing in my bad mood, and I hoped that it would calm her as well. It’s easy to be calm when you are looking at the ocean.

“So, why were you frightened then? You went white.”

“My boyfriend, Motorbike Man. We’ve been together for a few months now.”

“And?”

“Aren’t you upset I didn’t tell you?”

I shake my head.

“I would have been happy if you had. But I don’t see any reason why you need to share your private life with me. Or anyone. Unless you want to.”

“But you are my lawyer, too.”

“So?”

“Won’t this affect my divorce case?”

“Not unless your husband can prove that you were having an affair before you filed the case. I mean, the case could carry on for years, you can’t be expected to be celibate for all that time.”

She bursts out laughing.

“Oh Appi, you sounded so cute when you said that.”

“Cute?”

“Yes, so unlike yourself. Saying things like ‘celibate’.”

I am a little annoyed, “Well, I am not exactly a moron. I mean I do know what sex is all about.”

“Of course, you do. You just don’t look it. You know, despite your being a lawyer, and 23 years old, right? … You look about 16, and a total innocent.”

I am still annoyed, “Hmmm.”

But then, 2x-y becomes solemn again.

“Do you mean that my having a boyfriend can’t jeopardize my chances of getting back custody of Miku?”

I don’t really know how to answer her. The facts are:

1. It is a tricky issue.
2. No court of law can really condemn her for her personal and private relationships after she has filed for divorce.
3. But who knows how her husband and his lawyer will trumpet the affair, if they get a whiff of it?
4. And how a conservative judge will react to it?
5. Especially when it concerns the custody of a child.

“Let’s talk to Neempatta about this. Shall we? Then, we can be sure.”

2x-y sighs, “I feel so relieved. I have been so miserable, these last few months. Hiding this from you. Scared that I would be found out. Scared that you may not want to represent me any more. Scared that you would think I was a fool for getting into a relationship without sorting out my earlier mess.”

I let her keep talking. I feel sorry for her. I hadn’t known her before she filed her divorce case. But even I can feel that in the 2 years I have known her, her incessant worry about getting Miku back makes it difficult for her to do the smallest thing without anxiety, or fear. She doesn’t care about the hostility she is facing from:

1. Her parents.
2. Her in-laws.
3. Her relatives.
4. Her community.
5. And her husband.

But each moment, she is eaten up by her guilt about Miku.

Again, I thought of that happy look on her face, sitting behind her Motorbike Man, before she saw me. And had Reality spewed right into her nose.

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3 Comments on “17 December”

  1. Shankari says:

    Just wonder why Etcetera is never referred to as Etc. or etc. Is there a story about that too?

  2. Banno says:

    I just think Etcetra is such a lovely name, why shorten it? 🙂


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