The double life of Smita Sen. Chapter – The two men in her life

Saurabh is with Shipra in their bedroom. She has been putting their daughter Riya to sleep.

Shipra has been watching him and he is not his usual self. He looks restless. As soon as Riya falls asleep, Shipra asks Saurabh ‘is everything ok?’ Saurabh is taken aback because he did not know that Shipra was not reading her Fashion magazine but instead watching him. Saurabh says ‘yes everything is fine.’ Shipra says ‘if you have something to tell me do tell. I am in a mood to listen to you.’ Saurabh says ‘I do have a lot to tell you something but I think I’ll tell you at a later date.’ ‘Why what’s wrong with just now?’ Saurabh thinks and then says ‘maybe I haven’t made up my mind.’ ‘Made up your mind about what?’ Saurav says with a smile ‘if I told you what it was about then the cat will be out of the bag. So I would say let me make up my mind and then tell you what it’s all about.’

Shipra knows that there is something big coming, but she has the patience of a vulture and is ready to wait until Saurabh is ready to tell her what it’s all about.

When Saurabh and Smita meet the next day Smita ask him if he had any kind of conversation regarding them with Shipra. Saurabh says yes I have hinted that I may be parting with her. Smita asks ‘ And how did she react to that?’ Saurabh says ‘ I think she knew in her heart of hearts that we will be parting one day.’ Smitha probes ‘ How big a hint did you give her? Did you mention my name? Does she know that we are going to lead a radically different life when you and me move in together?’ Saurabh says ‘ I did not mention you by name. But I think she is smart enough to guess that I was talking about you.’ Smita asks if he also hinted to her that he is going to divorce her? Saurabh says ‘I think she knows that if I am talking about parting with her it also means that we are legally going to separate which means that is going to be a divorce involved.’ Smita tell him ‘I don’t think a woman takes it for granted that if her man is separating from her he is also going to divorce her. She hopes against hope that he will come back one day. Anyway, that I leave totally to you when you want to tell her in detail about what we have decided. I am the last person to rush you through this. You can take all the time you want.’ ‘ Thank you my darling for saying that’ says Saurabh ‘ But I also expect you to tell Abhijeet or at least give him a hint that you may be leaving him.’ Smita says ‘once you have told Shipra everything I will tell Abhijeet in one go about what I intend to do. Because if there is going to be a reaction it better happen once. So I would ask you to please tell me when you have told Shipra about our plans and about the divorce so that I can go ahead and tell Abhijit the same.’

Saurabh keeps looking at her but you do not know what is going on in his mind.

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Smita is at home with Abhijeet. Abhijeet is very enthusiastic in discussing with her the phone conversation that he had with their son Aarav in Sanawar. ‘He is feeling on top of the world in the boarding school and enjoying his first new found freedom in life I guess.’ Abhijeet thinks that it was the best decision to send Aarav to Sanawar. Seeing him so joyful Smita feels a stab of guilt in her. She already starts dreading having to tell Abhijit that she will be leaving him forever and the worst part being she will have to tell him that she is leaving him for another man, because she has decided that she will not leave Abhijit in the dark. Instead tell him truthfully about everything that is going on in her life. Smita at this moment feels ‘I wish Saurabh soon tells Shipra everything.’ She doesn’t want this prolonged beyond a point. The more they prolong it, the more she is bound to suffer the guilt pangs when she is home with Abhijeet.

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Saurabh on the other hand is with Shipra in a party. Shipra can see that Sourav is laughing at jokes, but he is not his usual self. There is a certain angst which has crept into his character and she is forced to think about the other night when he wanted to tell her something and did not. She wonders if it was something to do with a woman in his life or if he is planning something drastic about their lives.

When Shipra gets back home she asks Saurabh ‘What was it that you were trying to tell me the other day but didn’t ? Is it to do with a woman?’ Saurabh says ‘Yes it is to do with a woman.” Shipra asks suddenly ‘ Are you leaving me for another woman?’ This throws Saurabh completely of the track. He did not expect Shipra to guess that this is what he was planning. No wonder he thought people talk about a woman’s intuition being great. Shipra had intuitively come to know what he was planning. Its as if she had managed to read his subconscious. ‘What are you talking about ?’ asked Saurabh defensively. Shipra said ‘ No, I can see it that there is something big going on at the back of your mind, which is troubling you. And knowing you it can only be about a woman. Have you fallen in love by any chance Saurabh? You know when we decided that we will have an open marriage we set the ground rules very clear. That none of us are going to fall in love. You can do your thing as much as you like but you will be honest with me and so will I. I have told you about the flings I have had, mostly abroad so that I don’t embarrass you in the city. But I never ever remotely fell in love with anyone. But forgive my saying so but you look as if you are being torn by love.’ Saurabh was completely caught off guard again and he could only laugh falsely. ” I am sorry you are making a mountain out of a molehill. No I am not in love, I don’t think I am capable of falling in love with anyone.’ Saurabh says this and enters the washroom thinking that that settles everything, but Shipra has a lot of different thoughts running through her mind. He has hardly been able to put her fears to rest. In fact she is even more sure now that he is very much in love.

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A few days later Saurabh and Smita lie in bed, in Saurabh’s friends apartment, after having made love, when Smita suddenly says “I have begun to feel guilty.” Saurabh looks at her and raises his eyebrow and says, “But we have been making love for so long, so why now ? ” “ Earlier we hadn’t decided on leaving our spouses. We were having an affair. Now that we have decided to break up our marriages, I feel guilty that I am keeping Abhijeet in the dark. I want to tell him everything once and for all, that I have been unfaithful to him and I am in love with you.” Saurabh is silent because he cannot understand her warped logic about feeling guilty. Also because he has not yet told Shipra about his love for Smita, nor has he told Shipra that he will be leaving her and asking her for a mutual consent divorce.” Suddenly Smita breaks into Saurabh’s thoughts “How long are we going to keep the situation hanging Saurabh? What are we waiting for? Either we do it now or just let go of each other and part as friends, admitting to ourselves that we did not have the courage nor the heart to break up our homes. It does not make us cowards. It only reflects that we are human and we could not break the hearts of our loved ones nor hurt our children. So Saurabh you need to decide now.”

Put under pressure Saurabh doesn’t want to loose her so to tide over the present situation he lies, “Last night I have already told Shipra that I am in love with you.” Smita looks at him in amazement and then asks him “What was her reaction?” “Of course she was shocked for a while, then she burst out laughing and tried to turn it into a joke, but when she realised that I was serious she asked me to leave the room.” “Have you spoken to her after that?” “Yes I have already told her during breakfast this morning that we are going to lead separate lives. But I haven’t yet told her about divorce her because I want her to absorb the shock of separation.” Smita says, “So when were you going to tell me all this ? Why didn’t you tell me the moment we met today.” Saurabh looks at her beautiful vulnerable eyes and says, “The moment I saw you I wanted to kiss you. And once I started kissing you I couldn’t stop myself from making love to you. So here I am..telling you now.” Smita immediately puts her arm around his chest and hugs him. She already feels closer to Saurabh. Saurabh feels that most times lying is better than speaking the truth. It helps in calming down the other person, even helping her release her joy and love. What he does not know is that he has pushed Smita a step further into confessing to Abhijeet that she has indeed been unfaithful to him and she is in love.

Unlike his wife Shipra, Abhijeet is from different a world. Shipra would take Saurabh back a million times even after he has strayed, but Abhijeet is an orthodox middle class man with traditional values. Smita has one chance at keeping her marriage or breaking it. For her there can be no going back to Abhijeet once she has told him that she has fallen in love with another man. His reaction is bound to be drastic, whatever that may be.

Smita lies comfortably next to him, with her chin on his shoulder, holding him tight, eyes closed. She is already planning the time and day when she will tell Abhijeet the truth. The next day is a Sunday and she thinks it’s the right day for her and him to have the first frank conversation of their life. For her to tell him everything. By everything she actually wants him to know everything. In another life and marriage, she wouldn’t have looked at another man, ever. Smita was and still is the totally devoted kind. It’s not even devotion. It’s a peaceful life that she desires and all this extramarital stuff may be romantic but it completely destroys a woman’s peace of mind. She cant wait to unburden herself with Abhijeet and finish her relationship once and for all.

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That night in the dark Abhijeet makes his move to pull her closer. She finds it strange to allow him to make love to her now, considering what she has to tell him the next day. She resists. She refuses to turn towards him. But he pulls her rather violently, lifts her nightie and has his way. She mentally thinks that this rape is bound to end now, so tolerate it one last time. He comes and rolls over. She pulls down her nightie and goes to the washroom.

Next afternoon Abhijeet is reading the newspaper. They have finished eating lunch and she is drying the utensils before putting them in to different cabinets. She is rehearsing in her mind what she is going to tell Abhijeet and how. She will be relaxed, emotionless if possible, so as not to agitate him with her behaviour. For that her narration of what she has done is enough. She doesn’t want to accuse him, nor defend her actions. Just put them out as raw as possible in front of him. He is definitely going to be shocked. But she is prepared for all kinds of eventualities. At the same time she needs to keep a civil relationship with him in the future for the sake of their son Arnav. She takes a deep breath and goes out, completely prepared for the biggest storm of her life. As she stands in front of him, he looks up. Her stance and look are such that Abhijeet is a little surprised. He has never seen that look on her face. A determined look in his wife’s face can also surprise a husband, especially one who has always seen her docile. As she is about to say her first words a mobile rings. Its her mobile in the bedroom. “Take the call.” He says and goes back to reading his newspaper. She goes to the bedroom and sees to her surprise its Shipra calling her. She is in two minds whether to take her call or not. Ultimately she does.

“Hello.” “Hello Smita. How are you ?” “I am well.” “Is it you ?” “ I didn’t get you. What..what do you mean by..if is it me ?” “ Is it you that Saurabh has got involved with ? He seems a little strange these days but he is unwilling to talk. Nor is he letting me know who is he dating these days. So I am calling a couple of his girlfriends to check if they can enlighten me as to what’s bothering him. So I thought i will call you too.”

Smita is shocked. Saurabh has lied to her. He hasn’t spoken a word about her or them to his wife. Leave alone separating from her, he hasn’t even mentioned her name to her ! And here she was, on the verge of telling her husband everything! How deceitful can love be ?

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