The other women

I have several sautans. To those unfamiliar with Hindi, sautan means ‘the other wife’ or ‘the husband’s mistress’. So yes, I have to deal with these vixens who distract my husband’s attention so much that my existence ceases to matter. And dealing with these affairs is rather vexing.

It is not unusual for me to wake up with a start in the middle of the night and feel like Yashodhara, the Buddha’s wife. The right half of my bed is empty, and I discover that I have been deserted at the midnight hour without warning. And I slowly creep out of the bedroom in anxiety, drawn towards a strange bluish white light emerging from the living room. And so many moons later, I now know that the reasons for Siddhartha’s abandonment of Yashodhara, and my husband deserting me remain the same: a quest for enlightenment. In my case, the hubby seeks salvation through statistical software stored in his laptop. The lure of the spreadsheets is more than that of the bedsheets. So strong is the allure of numbers and undecipherable programme commands, that it keeps him awake until the wee hours of dawn. The data overflows into our lives until I am submerged under it. I don’t know how calculating this creature is, but I have labelled ‘statistics’ my first sautan.

The other ‘other woman’ is his mobile phone. Yes, I know, everyone receives official calls. But these calls that he receives are different. I don’t care who they come from, because the response is the same. These calls start at sunrise and continue till the lights go out at home. They ring invariably when he is in the bath or when we have lunch. So it is commonplace to see reheated food go cold at the dining table, or to overeat and finish two courses and get up, before he even starts eating a morsel.

Most people know how to answer the phone and shut up in a few seconds. But for my husband, the average call goes on for a minimum of 20 minutes. If it is a holiday you can be sure that he is in the garden, talking for hours on his phone. I often wonder if the person talking to him hasn’t dropped asleep in the middle. Irrespective of where we are, whether on an exotic vacation, or in a cinema hall, that important call interrupts our lives.

This morning, I heard him say “hello, hello” outside my bedroom door. I didn’t even look up knowing it must be another call. And when I did, I discovered, he was now addressing me as “Hello”! So ‘hello’ is the latest endearment in my life? You know what they say about the husband addressing you mistakenly with the mistress’ name? The ultimate insult! I’m so furious! I seriously lost it this morning.

I’m not interested in playing the ‘grab his attention’ game to these two sautans. I have lost to these vixens in his life long ago. I do hope they will cook him dinner each evening. I’m waiting for some divine intervention to tell me the route to an affordable, fancily equipped cave in the Himalayas.

(Featured painting is The Artist’s Mistress by Charles Sims)


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