“You’re glowing, baby!” whispered Tina in her bestie Peeya’s ear, moments after emerging from a lingering embrace. She had arrived at the designated restaurant shortly after Peeya had secured a table. A café in Bandra that served only gluten-free and vegan-free fare.
The place had seemed a welcome suggestion to Peeya the moment Tina suggested it.
As though Peeya was looking to fit into her 10-year-old wedding dress. To renew her vows with Siddhartha.
Somewhere between avocado on toast and skinny zucchini noodles, Peeya revealed her closely guarded secret, blushing crimson red: “Siddhartha can’t get enough of me in bed!”
The words secured Tina’s attention. She found herself toying sensually with a bit of orange in her mouth. When was the last time her boyfriend touched her? And here was a wife, speaking of a husband as horny as a bunny…Suddenly, she wanted more. The only better thing than having sex was thinking about it. Even with other people involved.
“You can be more candid, you know.” Peeya laughed. Of course, she could. In their college days, Tina and she had watched porn in her grannie’s basement. “It’s the strange things he does to me, Tina. Things he makes me do.”
‘I love you, too, baby’...Peeya was frozen
Tina hastily chewed what was left of the succulent orange bit. She washed it down with a large gulp of detox juice that had kale and other stuff in it. Strange words on the menu she had not heard before. The mention of kale was enough. She was old-fashioned that way. What she would do for those “strange things” in bed, though!
All of a sudden, Tina felt the urge to go home. Do things to herself her lover did not. Lunch had been amazing, thought Peeya, as she zipped home in a rickshaw. Her first kiss was in an auto, with a boy she had believed to be the love of her life. Now, Siddhartha would occasionally drive her to a bylane off Carter Road. Kissing her hungrily, not caring if anyone saw.
Right then, the phone pinged. A text from hubby that read, “I love you, too, baby”. Not merely: “I love you”. Peeya was frozen. It took a few seconds to sink in. Her eyes drifted upwards, to the last message in their chat. A screenshot of a fancy hotel room Siddhartha had booked for her that weekend. A weekend he was purportedly travelling for work.
He had told her to go and pamper herself at that luxury spa resort. To be massaged by strangers, while someone else massaged him.
He did not try to explain. She did not ask
Looking for another love often means looking for another version of oneselfPixabay
“What do you think of infidelity?”a friend had asked me once, with a twinkle in their eye as though they were contemplating it themself. I shrugged it off. What could one say of it, except that when you cheated, you had to be aware of the repercussions!
Ten years later, Peeya and Siddhartha renewed their marriage vows. Tina was Peeya’s best woman. And no, Peeya did not fit into her Sabyasachi wedding lehenga. What had happened in the past 10 years to bring about the unthinkable? Peeya had confronted her husband that very evening. Like dinner, justice must be served, too.
All she did was flash his message in his face. Siddhartha had seemed troubled the moment he walked in, his weariness having nothing to do with a hard day at the office. He had known he was busted, moments after he had mistakenly sent the incriminating text.
The resigned look on his face said it all. Peeya said nothing. She did not even ask him who the “other woman” was. Her mother was doomed to marry a philanderer, and so was she.
A teary-eyed Siddhartha entered the master bedroom an hour later. He tried to hug Peeya. She pushed him away. He did not try to explain. She did not ask. That night Siddhartha slept on the couch. Peeya tossed and turned in bed, unable to come to terms with what had transpired that day.
There had been no sign that she was in the throes of a troubled relationship. Only now, she understood her husband’s insatiable appetite for sex. The sex with Peeya’s body, as he mentally made love to that “other woman”. Where had she failed?
“Sometimes, when we seek the gaze of another, it isn’t our partner we’re turning away from, but the person we have become. We’re not looking for another lover so much as another version of ourselves.”
— Esther Perel, a Belgian-American psychotherapist
True love sometimes brings about the unexpected
Forgiveness and redemption can make love even more intensePixabay
Something awakened within Peeya that night. The next morning, she made Siddhartha his favourite pancake breakfast, not responding to his proclamations of “ending it” and “loving only Peeya until the end of time”.
It took Peeya five years to allow Siddhartha to touch her again. To trust him again. They had never wanted children, but six years from that fateful day, they were blessed with a baby boy.
No points for guessing who the best man was when they renewed those vows.
Years later, as they made love on a stormy night, Peeya’s mind hearkened back to the words she had uttered to Tina. About Siddhartha wanting to do things to her he never had before. Perhaps she had been too conservative, and not only in matters pertaining to sex. His affair could have been a way of breaking free. Back then, the only question worth asking was: Is Siddhartha still here or elsewhere?
Now, he did not do different things. He did the same things, differently. Missionary had never been more exciting!
There is no justifying cheating. As a happily married man, it is something I will never advocate. However, true love sometimes brings about the unexpected. Forgiveness, redemption… Above all, more love.
Peeya and Siddhartha had overcome the darkness that had plagued them for ages. The darkness they made love in brought them solace. They had locked the door, double-checked it to be sure. In case little Ayaan got scared of the lightning.
Right before Peeya climaxed, she thought: “I’m no longer the other woman”. After all, in an enduring love, the “other woman” is the one cheated on, not the other way around.
Rohit Trilokekar is a novelist from Mumbai who flirts with the idea of what it means to love. His heart’s compass swerves ever so often towards Kolkata, the city he believes has the most discerning literary audience.