Short story: Two to Tango

Posted: June 16, 2011 in pOSts

Somewhere deep down, he always knew his wife was having an affair. It began many years ago when he was busy but then he was too tired to notice. She would go off for a weekend or stay late in office or pretend to be going for a party. He thought all these excuses were genuine. What did he really know about an affair anyway? He had loved her for the last 15 years. He didn’t know what an affair looked like. But he began to get suspicious one day when she slipped up.

Somewhere she still loved her husband. She met him in college. When she was 21 years old. It wasn’t love at first sight. It had grown from a fond friendship to a close companionship. She had grown accustomed to his face. She took things for granted. Like how he would always be there to take her to the movies and how all their vacations would be planned by him. She didn’t know that she would have an affair. But somewhere deep down, she knew this was just her “first” marriage.

She took 5 years to decide to marry him. He gave her the time. She wanted to build a career, make sure everyone in the family accepted him, and even tested the waters of living together to make sure he would be a good husband. He was patient. He passed with flying colours at all her tests. And then she couldn’t say no to him. The years, the trials, the tests, they all passed and the time came for her to just say yes. And she did.But with a niggling doubt. What if there was someone better out there? That was the happiest day of his life. He had won. He had accomplished his pet project. He could now relax.

It wasn’t as if the years were bad. They were quite fun actually. They traveled exhaustively all over different continents and enjoyed each other’s company thoroughly. That was in the beginning. Later the traveling died. And so did the conversation. But in the initial stages of their marriage, they were truly happy. Their love made them complete and their friends envied them. Maybe it was this evil eye that broke them apart. Or maybe it was just that too much water had passed under the bridge.

The cracks came when she lost her job. Being the ambitious woman she was, it defined her to do something that was a 9 to 5. But when she was forced to sit at home and people began to give advice, her mind began to turn negative. She couldn’t find a job easily and then she didn’t want to. She was frightened of being turned down. Slowly she lost her confidence and she couldn’t tell even her husband.

His career was soaring. From being just a boy who ran after a woman, ran after opportunities, ran to make an impression, and worshipping her he was finally getting recognition and acknowledgement. But he had to work hard to still become the best. An advisor, an associate, a groupie was not enough. He had to become President, CEO, Managing Director. And now was the time he could do it. He had invested enough in other projects like his marriage and friends. He needed to focus on his career.

She decided to have a child but that went horribly wrong. She knew it would. Her heart wasn’t in being a mother. Her heart was into being a boss. She would have been higher than her husband one day but all she could do was support him while he spent those nights working on project after project. There was no time for him to do anything else. There was all the time for her to do something more.

By chance and some strings, she found a job. It wasn’t one she liked. But it was a distraction she needed. She started mingling again. Her husband supported her. He felt relieved to see her get out of the house for more than a cup of coffee. She was good at what she did. Or so she thought. But her heart craved for more. Her need for a more meaningful existence crept into her mind. Her work was ordinary and her marriage was boring. She yearned for something unexpected to happen.

The Other Man was divorced. He was her boss. Everything screamed that this relationship was off limits. And yet it happened. Maybe the Devil answered her prayers instead of God. But whatever happened, she thought happened for the best. It wasn’t as if she was in love with him. Far from it. At first all she wanted to do was impress him. She made up stories about how she used to be, what were her grandiose plans for travel, fame and success. She began to love everything he loved. Her attention to details startled him. He was smitten. She felt young and confident again. She felt needed and desired.

The day she slipped, he knew he had to make a choice. To be with her or not. He knew there was no point in confronting her. She would plainly deny it. It was left to him. Could his ego see his wife with another man? Did he want to be alone? Would he find someone else? His mind didn’t want to think about the questions. He would just let it be for now. Maybe she would change. He didn’t care. He was too busy.

The affair soon became love. The love became a relationship. The relationship turned into something deeper. They were married in their heads if not on paper. They lived apart though. Obviously. She relied on him for most things now. She shared her feelings and he shared his problems. The office became their home. Everyday they had lunch together. Every evening he dropped her back to her house. She was happy. Her small white lies kept all equations in balance and she felt quite powerful at being the master of her destiny.

Years passed. He saw no change in his wife. In fact she was more loving to him now then when she was sitting at home. She brought him presents. She was sweet to his mother. If this was what the affair did, he was content to let it be. He had stopped sleeping with her. He had vowed not to touch the woman after she had touched another man. He had that much pride. They were friends before. They would remain friends now. And in his heart, he knew she would be there for him. That’s all that mattered.

She was relieved her husband didn’t ask for any physical contact. She rebuffed him in the beginning of her affair but then he had stopped asking. She couldn’t sleep with 2 men. She wasn’t a slut after all. She could only sleep with the man she was in love with. And she figured she had loved her husband for enough years and now needed to move onto another man. She never spoke of her logic. She never spoke of her deep fears. Her nagging conscience was kept at bay with weekend trips and out station conferences.

It was the day when she wanted to be found out that everything changed. She confronted her boss about marriage. She wanted a commitment. And she confronted her husband about a child. Both had answers she didn’t want to hear. She became furious. This was not her plan. He said he had been married once and it had burned him. He was happy with the relationship as it was. Why spoil the fun? The fun! She had shrieked and walked away. Later he had apologized and they had made up but it was too late. She had realized that she could continue like this for the rest of her life or she could do something about it now. Going back to her husband who didn’t want a child confused her even more.

He had the option of having an affair when his wife was but it was too taxing. One person in the family to do so was enough he thought. He was quite happy to be immersed in his books and the gym when he had the spare time. And he became comfortable with the arrangement. They kept out of each other’s way except for family functions and they were there for each other when they were sick. This was how marriages were meant to be in any case. He didn’t need to prove himself with vacations and conversations anymore. Let the other dude manage that. And he was in no hurry to have a child. He loved his life, and he was finally Managing Director of his company. He could relax now.

Her doctor confirmed the news. She was officially pregnant. She hadn’t thought the whole thing through but when she went off that pill and went away for that weekend, somewhere she took destiny by her hands and made up her mind about her life. She wasn’t going to wait for a man to want to be with her or be a father. It might be too late for her then. She waited to tell the men. Her husband believed she had a procedure done. So did The Other Man.

They say everything changes when you fall in love. But in reality nothing really changes, there’s only a shift in perspective. The drama, the expectations, the heartbreak are the three stages of a great play called Love designed by the Heavens. It happens to everyone. In the same manner. Nothing changed in her life except for her beautiful son. He had dark hair and dark brown eyes. Just like her. Thank God. There were no awkward questions. Her husband stopped loving her and diverted it all to his son. And she went back to loving her boss who had always loved her anyway. Sometimes she felt, things did work out. Love was never meant to be with just one person for the rest of your life. And in her heart she knew, it wasn’t meant for just this man either. There would be others. She needed a lot more to fill her still empty heart.

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