Names changed to protect identities
At 40, Rajiv thought he’d left the madness of love behind. He’d had his share of flings in his younger days, but had been fairly committed since he married Anju 13 years ago. He’d never really felt the need to look beyond his cosy little universe.
So when Ira walked into his cabin and his life last October, he wasn’t quite prepared for the big L all over again.
Ira’s most striking feature was her intelligent eyes. And oh, that amazing, incisive mind that could slice through the most complex of issues like a hot knife through butter! Ira had the cool confidence of a cat, her face not betraying any trepidation in speaking to the CEO. She’d been vocal about her ideas and expectations. Of course, he’d hired her, and her bright intellect had continued to dazzle him. She was everything Anju was not, and despite many inner remonstrations, Rajiv found himself drawn more and more towards Ira.
It began with an innocuous box of chocolates that he sent her when she cracked a particularly tough deal for the company. Rajiv could see Ira’s desk from his cabin and found himself grinning like a teen when he saw the joyous confusion on Ira’s face. Before she could call for the office boy to ask who the sender was, he pinged her.
“Congratulations! You did it!! :)”
Ira’s face registered slight surprise as she looked at her laptop screen, but then she leaned over to look straight into Rajiv’s cabin, smiled and proceeded to type.
“Thank you, Boss. Couldn’t have done it without you.”
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Ira was flattered that her super boss had sent her a box of chocolates. But it wasn’t the last. With the next assignment appeared another, and on her birthday, flowers appeared too. The IM chats got longer and soon, after-work dinners and drives began.
Rajiv was clearly smitten, almost embarrassingly so. But Ira loved being treated like a queen, and despite the occasional snigger from her colleagues, she played along.
Rajiv, though much older, was handsome, charming and extremely successful. Also, wasn’t the annual performance review just around the corner?
Rajiv was generous and affable to a fault, so when they noticed the first few boxes of chocolates at Ira’s desk, staff thought he was just being his sweet, generous self. She did bring in two really big clients and deserved appreciation. But the flowers did Rajiv in. The big boss wasn’t known to send anyone flowers… before this. The resentments might still have been glossed over and forgotten, but then came Ira’s promotion. From a marketing manager to a marketing director, the jump was too high, and its reasons, obvious. But the boss seemed oblivious…
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As the months rolled by, it wasn’t just the office atmosphere that changed. Rajiv’s ties became just a little brighter, and Ira’s necklines a little lower. As the new marketing director, Ira now had more justifiable reasons to be in Rajiv’s cabin, but everyone could see what was going on inside the glass cabin and outside it. Though the two resolutely left office separately, the synchronised business trips and sick leaves were too hard to ignore. Ira was unimpeachable, wearing her cool cat look at all times. But when a 40-going-on-14 Rajiv asked her if she’d had her lunch, or shopped for her mother, or been to the doctor ever so often, it annoyed even the most disinterested staff member. But Rajiv wasn’t bothered. Ira had made him feel things he had forgotten he could feel.
At home, Anju felt something too. Like something was amiss. Something about her husband had changed; slowly but surely. Was it his dress sense, his work hours, or perhaps his demeanour? It was hard to say. He was as sweet (perhaps a little too much) at home as ever, and it surprised her when he suddenly seemed to know what gifts to buy her and their daughters.
It annoyed her that she couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but if the answers were evident, she chose not to see them. Her hands were too full with a home to run, a career to make and two daughters to raise.
Rajiv was more than relieved to have Anju look the other way. And then one morning he came to his cabin and found a box of chocolates with a note that read:
“Wanted to tell you earlier, but didn’t know-how. Found a new job. Moving on. Thanks for everything. XOXO. Ira.”