How to Fix a Faulty Marriage with the Aid of an Asylum? – Hiya Mukherjee, Kolkata

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You’ve been secretly carrying The Pine River Mental Institution inside your bosom for quite a while. Your husband doesn’t notice. He’s too busy dreaming of Santa Fey. He digs Santa Fey the way one should dig the Beatles or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He can name each street and each prominent building of the former Spanish colony from memory. When you two make love, an extremely unlikely event, he shuts his eyes and moans in pleasure. ‘Elevation: 2,194 meters, Area: 96.9 km², Population: 83,776’. Not once does he open his eyes. The Pine River Mental Institution goes unnoticed. Frankly, you’ve become quite accustomed to its tiny presence. It feels there’s this small mellow fluffy animal tucked inside your cleavage. Not an unpleasant feeling after all. You like wearing your favourite corset and standing on the balcony in the dusk for the whole neighbourhood to cherish. They say you have a beautiful body. Men gather under your balcony and whistle. They call you by strange names. You like being called by strange names. It generates a weird kind of warmth on its own. Inside the house, the husband tries to decipher mysteries of the Pueblo-style architecture under the dim halo of the Turkish lamp. Inside your skin-hugging satin lacings The Pine River Mental Institution tugs at your nipples. The more aloof your husband, the needier The Pine River Mental Institution becomes. Eventually, the men under the balcony become tired and leave for dingy pubs. At night you fry up sardines and sneakily tuck them inside your bosom. The husband doesn’t notice that you’re losing weight quite rapidly. He devours his dinner while reading a pamphlet on The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. The Pine River Mental Institution makes a strange purring noise. You two seem to have mastered the secret art of maintaining a perfect and peaceful nuptial life. At night, when the drunken men of the colony return to their ever-dissatisfied better halves and their regular broils, the husband sleeps like a baby dreaming of Santo Nino Lane and Waldo street while you, on the other end of the king-sized bed, slowly drown in your slumber, clinging to the Pine River Mental Institution like a soft toy, imagining electric shocks and lobotomy.

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