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Married at nine, Subbu knew little about her seventeen-year-old bridegroom. Her mother had told her that he lived two villages away and that his father was a landlord with enough resources to support an entire village. Subbu would live a good life. All her needs would be satisfied without her asking. But the girl would have to wait six years before she joined her husband.

By then, her body and mind would be more mature to handle what was expected of a wife.

And as Subbu grew older she draped herself in her mother’s words, decorating her blossoming body with promises and expectations that made her smile, tremble, and blush all together. Subbu knew she was one of the fortunate ones. Her father was the temple priest. Their high caste dictated their importance and the respect they commanded. She was born to be pampered and favored. Her exquisite beauty flamed the attractive traits that made her an irresistible catch. Any man would be lucky to have her.

However, at her husband’s home, fifteen-year-old Subbu realized there was more to life than rosy stories. As the girl gazed at herself in the mirror, she remembered her mother’s words. They now felt like needles, poking her face, neck, and chest. She stood in a pink blouse and red petticoat. Her wet hair clung to her back and tiny droplets of water collected on the floor near her bare heels.

She was a vision that could make any man weak in the knees and stir his desires to the bounds of no return. Her smile could arouse the sleeping beast inside him. But it would be a more than willing passionate surrender. Yet Subbu had married the one man that had remained unmoved by her. Her handsome husband had not even looked at her.

Their eyes had met, and their hands had brushed against each other, but it had been clumsy and awkward. Beyond that he had never touched her. Their first night together was a formality that she had fulfilled on the bed, and he had completed on the floor. Distance was maintained and it had become a third partner. Always there, overbearing and insensitive.

On the third night, he hadn’t bothered to return. And the nights after that, one by one, Subbu lay alone on a bed that cried with her. The wooden frame creaked with her every toss and turn. The loneliness convinced her it was another woman. A harlot who had stolen what rightly belonged to her. Subbu would put an end to it.

So she followed her husband on the eighth night. It was time to confront his indiscretions. In the pitch-black darkness, Subbu’s eyes held on to the black figure ahead of her while her feet fumbled. They approached a small cottage. A yellow light shone through a square window. The man darted through an open door, locking it behind him.

Subbu struggled with the handle, but it didn’t budge. She hurried to the window and stood on her toes. Her eyes couldn’t believe what they saw. They blinked and watered and Subbu rubbed them with her fingers, but it didn’t change the sight in front of them.

She had been right. Her husband was having an affair.

But the culprit was a man, not a woman.

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25 Comments on “Husband, Wife & Culprit – Flash Fiction Story

  1. Hmmm. Yes, this happens, alright; and it happens all over the world too. Beautifully written and great storytelling, Terveen, as always.

    • I agree, Jeff.
      Live and let live.
      But such arranged, child marriages are often doomed. When adults don’t know themselves and their wants, how can such a huge responsibility be forced upon children?
      It’s a start on the wrong foot.
      Thanks so much. 🙂

  2. I’ve always wondered how women lived in the old days if their husbands were gay and divorce was not an option. People had ways to deal with this, probably not as puritanical as we imagine them. Our history books are stuffed with boring wars and politics while all those interesting things passed through life unnoticed and unrecorded.

    • Haoyan, often society wishes to blur or erase such stories. Only the bold and broadminded can accept and face the truths. There is no normal or abnormal. But when forced to deal with such situations, instead of rectification, the secrets are brushed under the rug.
      Who’s hiding from whom? God knows.

  3. It’s true girls were married at a very young age. Some were married even younger than Shubhu.It was then the girls meet their husband’s for the first time when they go to in-laws house Then they know the reality . Their fate is sealed with no choice.Terveen you are a awesome writer.I love your writing.

    • Thank you for such a lovely comment. 🙂
      Yes, many suffered when they had no say. It was a gamble that at times ruined the chances of a normal or stable life.
      Cruel and sad.

  4. I don’t know which is worse, Terveen. That it is a woman or a man. Great writing here as always, especially how you bring each of your stories to life. Kudos.

    • Thank you Shobana. 🙂
      I think the ending will make each person feel different.
      Infidelity wears a neutral cloak.
      But it was unexpected.

  5. I’m afraid I can’t decide which one is the major problem here. I’ll blame the boys parents. I can only assume that they knew all along & never revealed it.
    3 lives are destroyed & not to mention the part of child marriage too.

    • As you can see, Tanishq, there are several problems here and you’ve identified them quite accurately. Lies and deception never end well. They ruin in unimaginable ways.
      Thank you so much! 🙂

  6. You’ll forgive my Western viewpoint when I say arranged marriages are an archaic and tribal way of thinking.

    Of all the things that could have gone wrong with the marriage, physical/mental/sexual abuse, etc., the husband preferring the meat platter to the fish course, while not ideal, isn’t the worst possible outcome. I mean attachments are available for purchase, if Subbu was open to expanding her (and possibly her husband’s) horizons. The thing about marriages is sometimes you have to strap in and push your way through the rough patches so that everything turns out right in the end.

    On the bright side, at least the husband’s family didn’t demand a girl with a “wheatish” complexion because the stipulation that “dark-skinned girls need not apply” would only add insult to injury.

    • Arranged marriages are the worst. Not that the non-arranged ones are any better, but at least the initial dive isn’t take with the eyes and ears closed.
      Some familiarity is better than none.
      And the obsession for ‘fair skin’ is very much there. I’d say – if you want Snow White, then at least offer a half-decent bridegroom. Not someone who looks like he might be the girl’s father.
      And marriage is about ploughing through, but sometimes running over the ‘significant other’ is the best decision ever.
      Thank you, Rhyan, for giving wings to my imagination. 🙂

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