What the hell is going on between my husband and that bitch?' Maya's patience was at its lowest ebb and she was ready to burst.
Sanjay knew that she was serious. 'Look, Maya. There is nothing going on between the two of them. Just a little bit of healthy flirting, I'd say.'
“Flirting? Healthy flirting? Really Sanjay . . .” she rolled her eyes in disgust. “That's what you men call it? There is nothing healthy about flirting, Sanjay, not for a married man.
Healthy flirting is a term introduced by perverted men who want to lend legitimacy to their extramarital dalliances. Flirting invariably has a sexual connotation to it.” She got up from her seat and walked around the room gesticulating and muttering something to herself. Suddenly she stopped, turned back, looked at Sanjay and asked, “Did my husband sleep with her? You are his friend. Did he ever tell you anything about it?”
“What if Chaya lets Suresh sleep with her and if she does not?” he said tentatively.
“Won’t it make a fucking difference for me,” she said unequivocally.
“Would it be possible for Suresh to sleep with her unless she grants him the final favour?”
“What makes you think that the bitch won’t let him screw her?”
“Why not recall what Sathyam told his seducer friend Prasad in Benign Flame that you only gave me to read, sorry I haven’t returned it as I want to read it all again, ‘money and looks are okay to an extent to lure women, but better realize it’s the luck that enables one to lay them. Why, you can’t screw even a whore if you’re not destined to have her, your visit to the brothel would have coincided with her periods, and the next time you’re eager, she could have shifted out of the town itself’.”
“Could be, but you know that bitch was ever after him.”
“I also know Suresh always preferred you over her.”
“Gone are those days my dear, these days he is over the seven-year itch and that bitch could be taking advantage of that. In spite of your friendly blinkers, you couldn’t have failed to see their wayward ways.”
“Look Maya, I was only trying to play it down to cool things for you.”
“Thanks for not wanting to fish in the troubled waters of an old flame.”
“That makes me recall Chaya’s words at your wedding.”
“I know that bitch has a gift of gab, what did she say?”
“Bereft of money love is but a hackneyed expression.”
“Maybe Cupid is a lesser god than Mammon.”
“Yet they collude to consign some to the doghouse of life.”
“As Astraea the goddess of innocence connives,” she said nostalgically.
“What else can the star-crossed lovers do than blame the conspiring deities?”
“Not holding it against the jilter is gentlemanly isn’t it?” she said taking his hand.
“Thanks for the compliment,” he said pressing her hand.
“But what about that bitch?” she said withdrawing her hand.
“Maybe she is merrily leading Suresh up the garden path?”
“Don’t you know how desperate she was to hook him then?”
“That was when he was an eligible bachelor.”
“You think she could be flirting now to hurt him.”
“Who knows if she at killing two birds with one stone?”
“What if I expose her to her man to give her a taste of her own medicine?”
“That’s a suicidal prescription.’
“Why do you think so?”
“What if her man deserts her?”
“She gets her just deserts, won’t she?”
“Were he to murder her or get her killed?”
“Won’t that leave the world one bitch less, why won’t it?”
“But life’s mistakes come with collateral damages, won’t they?”
“And what’s life without risks?
“What’s this hatred in the bosom of a loving character?” he said taking her hand.
“Maybe I’m burning with jealousy.”
“Born out of mere suspicion, isn’t it?”
“How distressing it is to imagine their togetherness,” she said squeezing his hand.
“Ouch,’ he yelled retrieving his hand.
“Sorry, my distress acquired a physical force,” she said breathing out into his palm.
“Depression I can understand but not this desperation,” he said fondling her shoulder.
“Only a woman in my situation can grasp that.”
“Could be,” he said withdrawing his hand.
“Did he lead me to the altar to bring me to the crossroads of life?” she said taking his hand.
“So be it, take a look at the signboards of redressal on the other three roads.”
“Maybe that’s the way to approach life,” she said resignedly.
“Don’t be pulled down,” he said pressing her hand.
“Won’t you help me in taking my pick?” she said looking into his eyes.
“If only you pull your socks up.”
“How can I as my soul is seized at its core by sexual jealousy?” she said in tears.
“Get freed and it would lead to orgasmic nirvana,” he said wiping her tears.
“Am I to languish as sanyasin as they indulge in lust? No way.” she said determinedly.
“I only want you not to jump the signal and upset the applecart that’s all.”
“Who’s applecart, theirs or mine?”
“Do you take me for a double agent or what?”
“Sorry for spoiling,” she said sounding apologetic.
“If it’s your marital right to retain Suresh isn’t it her womanly right to covet him?”
“Well, her man too has a right over her fidelity, doesn’t he have?
“Of course, but that’s not the issue, is it?”
“Why not, as I have a right to alert him about her infidelity.”
“That would boomerang on your marriage, and rightly so?”
“Why do you sound so scary?”
“Am I not concerned about you?”
“Don’t I know that more than ever?”
“So better give up that idea.”
“It would be no more than a subsiding storm.”
“What if that derails her marriage?”
“Didn’t she ask for it by trespassing into my marital space? Let her go to hell, how do I care.”
“If her man starts harassing her, why won’t Suresh offer her his shoulder to cry on?”
“Oh, that’s bound to exacerbate my predicament, why didn’t I think about it?”
“Worse, if her man were to divorce her, won’t your man feel obliged to man her show?
“Oh God, that would be like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire itself.”
“That’s all about the dilemmas of life.”
“Take me to the signboards of other three routes at the crossroads.”
“Before that know man always comes back to his wife in the end?”
“So take the languid route to reclamation,” he said sounding persuasive.
“You know that I’m not a laidback type.”
“Being a firebrand take the proactive path then?”
“What is that?” she said taking his hand.
“Welcome her into a threesome sexual fold.”
“What an idea sirji,” she said withdrawing her hand.
“Deadly idea so to say; if she were a flirt, she would flee from the field, won’t she?”
“What if she jumps into our bed?”
“Won’t that take you to the frontiers of lesbianism for achieving orgasmic nirvana?”
“Are you serious?”
“If you haven’t fantasized about it, ask your woman friends who could have.”
“All said and done, how I could sleep with my enemy, make no mistake about it.”
“Didn’t Byron say that there is a pleasure in passing through the pathless woods, and that was in the context of incest, and it could hold good for threesome sex as well.”
“By the way, what’s the orgasmic nirvana you were hinting at?”
“It’s the mental empathy of a couple as one of them indulges with a third character.”
“As a theory it is okay, I suppose.”
“If alive to your spouse’s innate promiscuity, it’s practicable as well.’
“Maybe but it’s not for me.”
“Better I leave you to your own counsel,” he said getting up to leave.
“With either way leading me nowhere, how can you leave me stranded as is where?” she said holding him back.
“Am I forcing you to stay that way?” he said and moved towards the main door.
“Wait Sanjay,” she said aloud as he was about to open the door.
“What’s new?” he said turning around.
“Well Cupid has given me the cue,” she said pacing up to him.
“What is that?”
“Why not I become naughty and start an affair?”
“On the rebound, that is?
“So be it,” she said holding his hand.
“So, the stupid Cupid wants you to set rebounds in motion.”
“Not so if it’s with a single man,” she said caressing his hand.
“What are you aiming at?”
“Wonder why it never occurred to me to ask you why you didn’t marry any?”
“Neither did I complain about it, did I?”
“You are my good boy, aren’t you?” she said hugging him.
“Be a good girl and control yourself,” he said enlacing her nevertheless.
“Did you ever fantasize it with me?” she crooned into his ears.
“Look Maya…” he began, and as if not wanting to hear anything to the contrary, tightening their embrace, she sealed his lips with hers.
Acknowledgement: Short story based on the lead provided by Ravi Subramanian for October 2015 ‘Write India’ short story initiative of Times of India