‘One can only fancy a perfect man,’ Alisha says these lines in her head and stares blankly at the last page of ‘The Man of My Dreams’. She feels sorry for Hannah Gavener , the protagonist in Curtis Sittenfeld’s literary piece. Hannah craved for a man who perfectly matches her fantasies. But….
Anyway, it is midnight and Alisha must catch some sleep. She tries to pull one portion of the quilt tangled in Rishabh’s legs. Rishabh moves a little. Oops ! She doesn’t want to awake Rishabh from his sleep. She wants to have a peaceful sleep tonight. Alisha slowly spreads the quilt upon her and rests her head on the pillow.
‘Are you still awake?’ Rishabh turns to Alisha’s side and puts his left hand on her abdomen.
‘No…um…will sleep now,’ she stiffens under his touch. She should have pulled the quilt more carefully.
‘Hmm…but I can’t sleep,’ he slides his hand further down.
‘Rishabh…please….not tonight,’ a forced intimacy is the last thing Alisha wants at this moment.
‘Why?’ Rishabh pouts like a child.’It has been a week since we did anything.’
‘I am tired,’ she tries to show a valid reason for her denial. However, Alisha doesn’t know how long she can avoid Rishabh’s advances.
He looks at her for a minute and lets out a sigh. ‘You are always tired,’ he shifts to his side, lies on his back and puts an arm on his eyes. ‘Will you please switch off the light?’ irritation clear in his voice.
Alisha turns her head towards her husband. Did she ever imagine such dispute in her married life?
To Alisha’s friends and family, Rishabh is the perfect man. He is good looking, has a well-paid job, can make friends easily. Moreover, he helps Alisha in cooking and cleaning voluntarily. Rishabh can get out of his way to fulfil Alisha’s materialistic needs. Everyone thinks she is lucky to have such a husband.
But Alisha retracts whenever he touches her. In spite of all his goodness, Rishabh never feels it necessary to understand Alisha’s emotional needs as well in bed. He is always in a hurry as if Alisha is running away somewhere. And then Alisha sleeps dissatisfied and frustrated night after night. To whom can she express these feelings?
Alisha laughs at herself when she thinks how she used to fancy marriage two years back. She always thought her husband would be her best friend. A friend with whom she can share all her dark secrets. He will know what she is thinking even before she speaks, just the way Alisha would know his. He would touch her soul and then she would fall in love with him.
However the reality is, Alisha feels lonely even if Rishabh is sleeping next to her. He finds his wife’s expectations from him totally ridiculous. At times, Alisha regrets that she plunged into this arranged marriage. She should have given herself some more time. To her utter horror, she often dreams herself in a hug with the lean and thin frame of Vikram. She wakes up contrite and feeling like a shameless woman.
After a year long relationship, Vikram thought it was best for both of them to part as friends. Alisha too didn’t object thinking she would find her perfect man soon. Rishabh came into her life few months later. Little did she know then, a perfect man doesn’t exist. Cinderella’s prince charming resides only in the pages of romantic bestsellers.
Or maybe, this is what marriage is.
Alisha wipes a tear rolling down her eye and switches off her reading light.