Shipra and Saurabh were lying in their king side bed. Saurabh was reading a book.
Shipra casually said, ‘ I am surprised that you haven’t yet slept with this girl.’
Saurabh looked at Shipra. Then he burst out laughing. ‘Dont tell me you asked her about it.’
‘ Of course i did.’
Saurabh shook his head.
‘What did she say?’
‘She said you wanted to make love to her but she refused.’
Saurabh smiled, ‘Thats true.’
Shipra looked long and hard at him. Then said ‘You must be loosing your charm.’
Saurabh laughed. ‘I was trying to save some money.’
‘Dont tell me you took her to a shady joint.’
‘To the beachside cottages.’
It was Shipra’s turn to shake her head.’You can be so cheap. No wonder she refused to give in. But make sure you nail her the next time.’
‘Dont be crude my love.’
‘Thats what you do. Dont you ?’
Saurabh was silent. Shipra looked deep in to his eyes, probing them, ‘Dont tell me you have fallen in love with this plain jane.’
Saurabh laughed, ‘Are you crazy ? Do i ever fall in love?’ asked Saurabh with a crooked smile.
Shipra immediately relaxed and said, ‘ Good. Then go ahead and enjoy yourself.’
Smita was lying in her bed in the dark and thinking what that evening at Shipra and Saurabh’s home was all about ? Jags, the spiritual guru’s words were still reverberating not only in her ears, but her entire being.
‘ Was he serious when he said that we are souls on different journeys in this world ?
And relationships work out according to our journeys?’
She thought hard about what he had said.
‘If we are on a journey to a similar destination, only then can a man-woman relationship last ?’
She mused, ‘Were the two of them,Saurabh and she, going to the same destination ?’
‘Or was it her husband Abhijeet and she who were destined to be together on this journey, and thats why they were still together in life and would always be?’
The thought of spending the rest of her life with Abhijeet, who was fast asleep next to her, made her feel miserable.
Just a few days back she was pitying her husband. Thinking of how miserable and distressed he would be if she ever left him and started a new life with Saurabh. But tonight after listening to guruji’s words she felt trapped in her marriage.
At the moment she felt convinced that the unknown higher forces were going to decide about who will spend their lives with whom and who will part. She felt powerless at this thought, but the soul theory had been drilled in to her and almost everyone at the party by Guruji with much conviction.
Shipra was the next one to occupy her thoughts.
She mused ‘How some people liked to deliberately lead a chaotic life ! They needed the chaos in their relationship, because after love was gone, that was the next best thing that kept the relationship exciting. To call it an open marriage and lead a ‘so called bold life’ was only a desperate attempt to keep the adrenalin flowing in their lives. How vulgarly Shipra had asked her if she had slept with her husband Saurabh!’
‘Its true that i replied back boldly, but for a woman to ask a girl such a question was terribly out of taste.’
Then Smita fell silent for a few moments and thought,
‘ But isn’t it vulgar of me too ? Being a married girl and still having a relationship with another woman’s husband.’
‘ It is.’ came the reply from within. ‘You should break this relationship. It will spell doom in your life. Saurabh will jilt you and never leave Shipra. Even if he decides on leaving her, she will cling to him for the rest of her life.’
These thoughts rushed to her head and she felt very disturbed. But then she slowed herself down and started to repair the devastation created by her thoughts.
She told herself,
‘ Listen, that vulgar speaking woman has dented your mind. You are in this relationship purely because of love. He is the first man, of your liking, who has fallen in love with you. You have never been loved by your husband. Just forget about the vulgarity of Shipra’s party and the preaching of that guruji, and just go on loving. Your love will help you to reach the other bank of the river, where there is peace and bliss. Dont break up with Saurabh only because Shipra has openly spoken to you about sex etc.’
‘But she wont leave him, ever.’
‘Are you willing to leave your husband ? No. You are still trying to work things out in your mind. Do not make any hurried decisions. Speak to Saurabh. Speak your mind out. He will help you sort your mind.’
She witnessed herself questioning, answering and coming to a acceptable decision. Thus ultimately there was silence. Not a calming silence, but the kind of silence one experiences in a cemetery. A deathly silence. She lay in bed, feeling lost, also feeling guilty about being so close to Abhijeet and thinking the most bizarre thoughts. Immoral thoughts. Why was immorality so exciting? So alive, she thought.
Shipra entered the suite of a five star hotel. Her women friends playing poker on the table greeted her.
The drawing room of the suite was huge and it overlooked the sea.
Neena taunted Shipra, ‘ Hello latecomer. You look tired my dear. Seems like you did not sleep well last night.’
Shipra smiled with naughtiness.
Neena let out a sound ‘ Ohhhhhh ! Had a big night with Saurabh !’
Shipra laughed a sexy laugh.
Neena continued, ‘Lucky you. Rishi doesn’t touch me for months. When i cosy up to him he tells me that he wants to meditate.’
All women laughed.
‘ Why the hell do we get married?’ said Samin. ‘Before marriage Shammi used to beg me for sex. As soon as we got married, he lost interest in sex after six months. I know that he is getting it elsewhere. When i insist ..he does it as if he is trying to avoid a fight. He comes in three minutes flat. And i lie there thinking of a couple of film stars and playing with my fingers.’
All women burst out laughing. Shipra’s laughter was controlled. She thought of her truth. How Saurabh had lost interest in her physically when she was carrying Rhea in her womb. She had heard a lot of men lost interest in their wives when the wife would get pregnant. So she never wanted to get pregnant only because she never wanted Saurabh to become asexual with her. But Saurabh was dying to be a father. So she gave in. Stopped taking the pill and became pregnant. But what she had feared, came true. ( Doesn’t it always ? )
Saurabh started inventing excuses for not making love.
Now Shipra knew that Saurabh would stray. She thought it was best that she find her own dubious ways of satisfying her sexual urge and allow Saurabh to have his flings.
Of course it made her feel miserable in the beginning when she learnt that Saurabh was cheating on her. But she too was having her sexual escapades, especially when she travelled abroad. Sometimes it was a masseur, sometimes with a client or a worker in her diamond cutting factory.
Over time she got used to Saurabh’s philandering.
To make him feel comfortable she started talking to him about his flings openly in a casual and humorous manner, as if it didn’t matter to her. As if his happiness was the only thing that mattered to her.
He started to relax once she told him that men were polygamous by nature and women monogamous. She lied about herself, hinting that she was still resolutely faithful to him. Madly in love with him and only wanted him and no one but him. ‘Men !’ She thought. Always ready to believe a convenient lie.
But one fear always remained deeply embedded in her heart. ‘What if Saurabh ever fell in love with some girl ? Sex after all was a dangerous game. A person could easily fall in love after making love repeatedly to someone. Or worse, if a girl didn’t give in, the man could go crazy in his head and start thinking that he is in love with her.’
A similar scenario was being played out between Smita and Saurabh at the moment, she thought. ‘That bloody Smita is teasing Saurabh so that she can control him and keep him hungry for herself. She is surely hoping that Saurabh will fall in love with her.’
Somehow bells had rung in Shipra’s head when Saurabh told her that there was a new chick in his life. She had insisted on meeting Smita. After meeting Smita she immediately realised that Smita was dangerous for Saurabh and their marriage. Smita had spoken to her throughout the evening in a challenging tone, as if saying, ‘Lets see who wins.’
Shipra did not want to loose Saurabh at any cost.
‘ I think on my next trip abroad i will take Rhea along. That will give Saurabh an open field to play and seduce Smita. Once thats done, Saurabh will move on.’ Shipra planned in her head.
Thrice her name was called out before she reacted. She was looking at the sea through the glass and was drowned in the sea of her own thoughts. Suddenly she turned and said, ‘ Lets play poker. I am in the mood to win and win big.’
She joined the rest of the women on the cards table.
Shipra spoke to Saurabh that she will take their daughter Rhea abroad this time for a week, ten days. Saurabh looked happy and with good reason, she thought.
The woman had played her part. Now it was destiny’s turn to play its own.
Just before Shipra left with Rhea for Amsterdam, Abhijeet told Smita at the breakfast table that he was thinking of taking Arnav to Sanawar. If he liked the place, Abhijeet was willing to pay for his schooling and boarding in Sanawar. Smita did not know how to react. Her messy life was giving her less and less time to spend with Abhijeet and Arnav.
‘I mean i am there for them morning and evening, but i am hardly present. I have begun to live so much in my head.’ She quickly withdrew from this thought and glanced at Arnav. He seemed happy at going to Sanawar with his father. He was a brilliant student, so getting in wouldn’t be a big issue for him.
All this meant that Smita and Saurabh would have a few days to themselves. They would be left alone in the city to do what they chose to do.
Smita had decided that she would talk about everything going on in her head to Saurabh. Now they had all the time in the world and they were alone.
On the very first day when they were alone, Saurabh took Smita to his home. And right in to Shipra and his bedroom. Smita forgot all about what was going on in her head. Shipra and Abhijeet became like distant dreams. In the first few moments in the bedroom she seemed to have travelled far far away from all the people in his and her life. Saurabh disrobed her. For the first time he saw her naked. He could not take his eyes off her, despite the light stretch marks on her stomach. He thought that she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her deer like eyes looked so vulnerable. Yet her curvaceous body set him on fire. Her softness and firmness melted at once in his eyes. He couldn’t form words but kept repeating that he loved her.
She was also in a trance. She had never seen such a perfect male body. He was the perfect man in every which way. He held her, kissed her and made her lie down in bed.
She surrendered to him. Body, mind and soul.
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