It was for the first time that she was kneading the dough for palak puris, adding more dry flour to compensate for too much water she had put in. The wet dough was sticking to her hands, getting into her nails, and she hated this part of cooking the most- her hands covered with dough that is hard to get off. But today she was determined to make palak puris, one of his favourites, to surprise him. She hated cooking, always did. She could cook reasonably well but she never cooked because she wanted to, only out of necessity. But he wanted her to cook for him. He told her that it will make him feel special, someone for whom she will do anything even if she didn’t like it. So she cooked regularly, for him.
She never thought she would marry a person chosen by her parents. She wasn’t forced into marrying him, but she was 27, tired of living alone, hadn’t had a single serious relationship, and had pretty much given up the hope of having one. He was good looking, their hobbies matched, and was earning well at a reputed firm. So she married him, thinking she wouldn’t have found a better partner herself. The prince charming dreams are just too unreal- she thought. The first few months, the honeymoon period as it is called, were the happiest of her life. He cared for her, he made her laugh, she was glad she went for the arranged marriage. Sometimes she felt she didn’t fully understand him yet, but she had her whole life ahead to do that, so she focused on the happy parts. She quit her present job and they moved to London when he got a promotion. She loved the new city, she always loved traveling and experiencing new places anyways.
She was finally satisfied with the softness of the dough so she went and washed her hands. She placed the deep frying pan on the stove and was about to light the flame when she realized she forgot to add salt and other spices to the dough. She had this feeling all along that she was missing something. So she left the pan on the stove and started kneading the dough again after adding salt, chilli powder, and a few other spices to it. While the dough stuck to her hands for the second time she was cursing herself for being so lost and forgetful all the time. She wasn’t like this before.. She was meticulous and sharp, just like her mother. But lately all she thought about was how frequent their fights were, how he would find reasons to get angry. All day at work she would think about how to avoid spending time with him. Sometimes he would get angry for the tiniest reasons, he would find reasons to blame her, to tell her that she didn’t love him, and that she was with him only because they were married, tied together on a piece of paper. She sometimes felt it was true, but tried not to show it, she was scared of him. He had started getting aggressive with her last year. He would only shout at her in the beginning, using curse words, and then one day he hit her. And now it was frequent. He would have a sudden burst of rage, and then he would cool down and apologize sincerely, beg for her forgiveness, tell her that he needs her and her love. She would stay silent most of the times, crying, other times she would shout back, but in the end she would forgive him. What choice did she have afterall, she would think and cry even more for her helplessness.
The puris were turning out quite well, she smiled. She wasn’t expecting him for another hour. She picked up the next rolled out puri and dropped it in the boiling oil, it made a splash and a teaspoon of hot oil landed on her wrist. She shrieked out loud and immediately ran to the sink, turned on the tap and placed her hand under running water. It gave her a little relief but then, without warning, her tears started rolling down her cheeks. She couldn’t control them, and within seconds she was crying uncontrollably, for no reason. She turned off the stove, the puri still in the pan, almost burnt, another one rolled out ready to be fried, went to her room, got her passport out of the cupboard, picked up her purse, changed into her favourite and comfortable slippers and headed towards the door. She shut the door of the apartment behind her, paused and took a deep breath. But as soon as she exhaled she panicked and started going through her purse looking for something. In less than 5 seconds she found the keys, felt relieved and opened the door of the apartment that was her home for the last 2 years. She threw the keys inside without stepping in and shut the door behind her once more, and for the last time.