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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