“It doesn’t make sense,” Mayank said to Maneka.
Maneka’s expectant smile faded. She had brought the latest story to her husband for his approbation.
“Ohh,” she mustered.
“There doesn’t seem to be a plot here,” her spouse continued. The woman reflects throughout the story, and the narrative ends at the same point where it had begun! By the way, what is an urban, educated woman doing alone in the forest?”
“Escaping the humdrum of the city life, what else?”
“Your protagonist surely seems to be at home in the wild. But I don’t understand why the husband’s mere entry has to create havoc. ‘The buffaloes bellowed, the boys shouted, and the birds flew shrieking from the trees,’ is how you have chosen to announce the arrival of the poor fellow who is worried sick about his wife. Why the biased treatment towards the male protagonist?”
Maneka sighed. Maybe it was too much on her part to expect the one who devoured management books and binge-listened leadership podcasts to also appreciate literary fiction. “Let me do one more round of editing before I submit it to the lit mag,” she said and started to walk away.
“When do you plan to return to your corporate job?” Mayank suddenly asked, surprising her. Without waiting for Maneka’s reply, he continued, “All you do is sit and write all day. Have you kept count of all the rejections you have received in the last two years?”
“Yes, I have,” Maneka replied. “Rejections don’t matter. I will keep on writing till I have that acceptance. Then I will write some more.”
“You have some verve, dear,” Mayank remarked.
“Is something bothering you? I have noticed that you have been keen for me to return to work lately. Are there some financial challenges that I am unaware of?” Maneka asked, worried.
“Nothing as such,” her husband reassured her. “But both sets of parents and our friends have been pestering me about your activities and future plans. No woman sits at home in the twenty-third century; you are an exception. I find it strange to be the only man in the group whose wife sits at home.”
Maneka frowned. The history books and most twentieth-century fiction portrayed working women as an exception. Apparently, a woman going outside the home for work was considered disruptive to household affairs at a point in time.
But some things hadn’t changed. Women were as much questioned for their choices then as they are now.
“I worked for money when I wanted to. Now I want to pursue my passions. No one can take this choice away from me,” Maneka firmly said before breaking into a smile. “I guess you have to get used to being the odd one out.”
“That’s the spirit, dear,” Mayank said, hastily shifting his attention to the ten-ten cricket match on TV.
And they say that once upon a time women only went by their husbands’ decisions, he thought. The fantasies that historians weave!
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