Reha clutched her cup of hot chocolate and pensively sipped on the steaming liquid as she watched the rain: two things that helped her get over a breakup, however bad it might have been. She sat huddled in a tee that barely covered her unapologetic neon thongs. Reha was unlike other girls who turned red in the face if they happened to unknowingly reveal even their bra strap. “Why should I try to hide something I’m obviously wearing,” she questioned. She never felt the need to wear a skirt or a wrap around, even when she opened the door to keep the garbage can outside. A tiny hippie lass, she derived a strange pleasure out of her trivial rebellions. On some days, she spent the whole afternoon smoking in a minikin window that was just enough to fit two plant pots. The next morning she’d switch to yoga mode and wash down chunks of watermelon with spicy ginger tea. And then there were nights when her party brigade played obnoxiously loud numbers till wee hours, unless the neighbours summoned the police. “Life is worthwhile when no two days are same, kya samjhe?” she said in an intoxicated tone.
In spite of her staunch feminist attributes, Reha was never single. She dated a myriad men with a myriad traits since high school – Ron, because she was too eager to lose her virginity, Harry, because his father was a big cheese, Sam, because he wrote such beautiful poetry, Abdul, because he threatened to slash his wrist if she didn’t say yes and Partho, the father of the child rapidly growing in her womb.
Although her love life was caught in a vicious cycle, the way these men made a quick exit from her life never seemed to bother her. That particular morning it was Partho’s turn. And even when he waited at the door to kiss goodbye, she continued to stare outside, as if the crow chowing down a dead rat and the old grandfather weeding grass from the garden were more important than him.
“You can keep the baby if you want to,” he said, comparing it to a free discount coupon.
Reha’s face twisted with rage. She remembered flashes of the night when he stayed back after the party got over. How he ran his fingers down her freshly waxed body. How efficiently he unhooked her bra and held her jugs delicately, like a potter proudly holding his masterpieces. The night when her well was brimming with warm fluids, as if inviting him to come and dive in, bathe in her juices. He swam, and he swam well, for almost an hour. Her moans turned into screams and concluded with a sigh. Thereafter, her body ached so much that she could barely walk to the washroom. Cleaning herself with a wet tissue, she turned to the other side and rolled herself into a ball. Even after a month, she could feel his smoke-laden breath on her collar bone, the rancid smell of wild sex on her body.
Reha was stuck between two worlds: one of unabashed freedom and one of illegitimate motherhood. The thought of giving birth to Partho’s child made her utterly nauseous and almost unconsciously, she rushed to the bathroom, stuck two fingers in her throat and threw up a pool of dark brown liquid. When she bent over to turn on the water, Rhea noticed a stream of blood trickle down her pale white calf. She lifted her tee to see her unapologetic neon thongs turn bright red. “Partho!” she squealed. “I couldn’t keep the baby even if I wanted to.”