Dating : Dead Fish and Flat Tires

h2>Dating : Dead Fish and Flat Tires

‘I am leaving, so I won’t be needing the clothes,’ She said turning to him as they drove their BMW towards the expensive boutiques. It was a hot Saturday in June in Delhi. The driver was on leave. They had dropped the kids at the in-laws to do shopping in peace. The sky was leaden, and atmosphere felt saturated with moisture. It could rain anytime. His sister was getting married next month, and it was a pact between them that they would play man and wife during the wedding. All family was expected to be there.

‘Where?’ he asked, surprised.

‘Chandigarh. I got myself an Airbnb.’

‘Are you coming back for the wedding?’


She could see him squirm. He knew her well. She never said anything she didn’t mean.

‘Don’t do this. My parents are regular people. It will be too embarrassing for them.’

‘Don’t care. I don’t owe your family anything anymore.’

He sensed his anger rise. It was usual for her to provoke him. Last time she provoked him; he had lost control. It was a big mess. He had to pay off the police guys and the Attorneys. Besides, he wanted to be nice.

‘You know we have discussed it. We will settle the terms in October. Till then you play by the rules.’

‘Don’t care’. Actually, she wanted to say she was done with the golden cage. The pretensions. The lies. She was done playing by his rules.

‘You can’t even get it up. How long do you plan to keep me like this anyway?’

Now he was pissed.

‘That’s a lie. I couldn’t because you are a dead fish. Every time I tried to touch you, you squirmed. It was all that abuse nonsense.’

She did not take the bait and bring up her abuse. She had doubted herself long enough because of it.

‘So, we were never into each-other. You are just confirming what I said’

He could feel his breathing getting heavier. He groped for the next attack.

‘Will you listen to me at least. I feel like you are putting words in my mouth. You have built the story in your head and you just won’t listen.’

‘Ok, I am listening.’

‘Look, we shouldn’t be impulsive. What about the kids?’

‘Keep them.’


‘Keep them.’

‘You can’t take the jewelry. That belongs to our daughter.’

‘That’s true. Daughter and son both. I don’t want it. I will take my two pair of jeans and shirts. I hope I own them. If not, I don’t mind leaving them.’

‘You can keep the jeans and the shirt. I want to be nice. What do you want from me?’

‘I want freedom. From this. From pretense. From you.’

‘Don’t be a bohemian. Are you going to carry cloth bags and live in shanties?’

‘May be.’

‘You don’t know ABC of being poor.’

‘I will learn’.

‘You don’t know what the real world is like. You won’t survive a day.’

‘I know what this world is like. I won’t survive another day here either.’

‘You will not get anything from me. I need to protect myself. I need to protect my kids.’

‘Protect from who? Me?’

He hesitated.

‘What’s your term then?’

‘Two lakhs per month. You keep all assets. The company. The funds. The kids too. I will sign off everything.’

‘I can’t afford two lakhs. Will you pay it back?’

‘Sure. If you want me to.’

‘I can’t trust you on that. What if you don’t pay it back?’

‘Okay, don’t give anything. We do nothing. When you come around, find me.’

In truth, they could afford it. He could afford it. It was money they had chased for entire duration of their marriage. It was money that had killed their marriage.

‘That’s decay. You know I can’t do anything in the company without you. You hold equity.’

‘That’s up to you. I have to leave. I can’t live like this anymore. I don’t love you.’

Finally, the dreaded word love. He could grab onto this.

‘So, you love someone else?’

‘Not yet.’

‘So, all this is about Prince Charming 2, isn’t it? You will destroy our family for love?’

Four months earlier, she would have said, no. Even though her life was an empty shell even then. She had filled her emptiness with meetings. Until she met him.

‘I can’t live without love. I deserve to be loved.’

‘You are so wrong. You think you are choosing to love but that’s not how it works.’

By this he meant what he always meant. Love over money is decay. Money is everything. In their marriage, every gesture of love was actually a monetary gesture. She was heaped with expensive gifts. Jamawar shawls. Prada. Burberry. She had every brand. She could buy anything. They travelled business class everywhere. Lived in Ritz and Sheraton suites. Spent summers in cottages in Europe.

‘He is handsome. Like Mr. Darcy’, she had told her friend over wine. The guy she met four months ago.

Her friend and she were sitting on the floor of an empty house in London without a trace of dust. The friend had obsessed over the architecture — Edwardian with a hint of modern — before buying it. The friend sighed. ‘Funny we chase big houses. But in the end, they are the ones we want.’

Her friend and she both shared the silence. This was the truth. They were rich but poor. Their lives were empty.

‘Actually, he is not into me at all. I think he finds me entertaining. He finds my desperation fascinating.’

‘That sucks. Mine one is somewhat into me. It is like a second honeymoon. Why not find one like that?’

She felt jealous. She would have liked that. But he had said it was unethical and wouldn’t have it. She had agreed. She saw in him a version of herself she had long forgotten. Then it didn’t even matter to her if he would have her or not. She saw within herself a need to be right, to respect herself. She realized he doesn’t respect her. And then it occurred to her she doesn’t respect herself.

‘I can’t do this anymore. I have asked for divorce.’

‘Does Uncle know?’

‘Yes, they all know.’


‘I wrote it in the family group. I wanted to be ethical.’

Her friend had known her since college. She saw the glimpse of the girl she had long forgotten. When they were both rebels. They both said they will never marry — she more than her. Or have kids. But then both married men they did not love. For convenience. They had given up too soon, too easily. Now they were suffering.

‘That’s not good. That’s not something you write on SMS.’

‘I know. It was stupid of me.’

‘Did you consult your attorney?’

‘I didn’t have to. He sent the message to both of them.’

The friends heart skipped a beat. Infidelity was a big charge. His attorney was a common friend — a ferocious Pit bull — she could see him having a gala time with it.

‘Now what?’

‘I can’t fight anymore. Actually, I don’t want to fight anymore. I will give up everything.’

‘And do what?’

She had wondered about that too. A skill she could fall back on. A skill she could suddenly develop.

‘I am going to yoga school next month in Rishikesh.’

‘You are 40, you think you will become a yoga teacher at this age?’

‘Actually no. But I could sell yoga. I know how to sell. Or maybe I will write a book on yoga. I will figure something out.’ She had dreamt of staying on in Rishikesh. Starting small. Hanging out in the ashrams until one of them offered a job that feeds her. Then she could forget where it all started. In the school abroad, funded by her father. Or May be before that. Much before all of this mattered.

‘Dad, I don’t want to do engineering any more’

‘Then what will we do?’


She could hear her dad grunt on the phone. And then he said something that changed the course of her life.

‘if I have done anything for you ever. Anything at all. Then you will do engineering.’ Then he hung up. He didn’t want her to mess up her life jumping from one thing to another. He had good intentions.

She finished engineering school. She also died somewhere inside. She had been dead until she met him.

‘So, you have no desires?’ he had asked her, surprised. They had met over coffee for something related to work. But he didn’t talk about work. He went straight to the point.

‘No.’ This was true. Last time she had listened to a song she was in graduate school, in her one-bedroom apartment. She had finished a bottle of Pinon Grigio and listened to Pakistani pop songs. She had just broken up with her high school boyfriend. They had on and off for years — he always prioritised work/study over her. First the engineering school, Then some damn company job. She had come to USA chasing him. She was all set to become a pilot before that. She had spent days listening to him talk about GRE admiring his unshaved face in the gymkhana club. She swam and he studied. The uncaring attitude. The obsession. She kept his books.

‘Pa I am not going to be a pilot. I want to go to USA.’


‘Didn’t you always tell me to do engineering? I might as well.’

Her father knew her too well. She never said anything she did not mean.

‘Okay. If you manage to get in a college, I will pay for it. But I will not do anything else for you.’


And that was it. One year later, she was abroad. Doing engineering. In a way for love, she thought. But she never spelt it out. In fact, she had broken up with her high school boyfriend herself. She sensed he did not love her. She thought she was done with love. Engineering was good enough.

She was always a good student. In school, she was often praised for her essays.

‘She is a natural talent, Mr. Sharma.’ Her English teacher had proudly displayed her essays. ‘Look at this metaphor, “Graveyard of smiles”. Who would think a girl of fifteen could think up something like that?’

Her father was proud, but English was not a career.

‘Will she become an English teacher? Is that her fate?’ her mother had said cynically.

Her father did not say much which meant the same thing. English was not a career.

‘That’s your truth,’ he said in the car.

‘That’s the truth. Our marriage has been over for past two years. It has nothing to do with me being attracted to another man,’ She claimed.

‘That’s not true at all. Just this January we were in Honk Kong as a family.’

‘And when did we last have sex?’

He searched for the answer. ‘Wasn’t it November? In London. During a family vacation with the parents.’

She didn’t remember. She remembered him going to the doctor for erectile dysfunction. But nothing happened. She remembered pretending to sleep next to him while he masturbated to lesbian porn every night. She remembered secretly masturbating herself — holding her breath and stimulating herself with little strokes. She had mastered coming to a straight face and a blank mind so he wouldn’t get disturbed while watching TV. But she didn’t remember them having sex. The only sex she remembered was when they were planning their first child. It was timed, purposeful sex. He had taken it up very professionally.

‘You know that’s a lie. We have not had sex in ages.’ But it was not just the sex. It was the romance. She didn’t remember holding hands. She remembered trying to hold his hands, but he had jerked them out. As if he could not afford to keep his hands to be not productive. He lived and breathed productivity. He had also trained her in it. She had married a professional husband, she thought.

‘Prove it. No one will believe you.’

‘I don’t want to prove anything to anyone. I am leaving.’ This was the truth. She was done with it all. She was done listening to people — including her father. He would find out eventually, she figured. She was done proving herself to others. She was done chasing people. She was done chasing money. She was done with the convenience.

‘So, this is it then. This is our life from now on?” he said sarcastically.

“Not our life. This is my life from now on.” The car had stopped. She got out. She still had packing to do. Thankfully it wasn’t much.

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Dating : Plz help a girl out!:(

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