(As told to Sanjukta Das)
I remember the day like it was yesterday. The morning was usual – my twins were fighting over some little issue. I had to pull the two boys apart from hitting each other and yell a “Stop fighting, you two.” My eight-month-old baby girl was crawling around the house and tasting anything that looked edible. The microwave was beeping, our baby dog Lulu was barking. With the yelling and the crying it was almost time for the children to go to school. I drank my coffee while Dev informed me we would be having company for dinner.
“Do I know him?”
“Yeah, you do, actually. We met him at that office party, remember?”
I did not remember, but nodded along.
“What do you want for dinner, then?” He asked me point blank.
“Hey, he is your friend, you decide.”
I caught him staring at me, with a twinkle in his eyes, straight face.
“You don’t remember him, do you?”
God, he knows me so well. I gave him a guilty smile and rushed to pull my twins apart again and drag them through the front door.
I heard Devang yell behind me, “I will make my famous cream chicken.”
And cream chicken he did make.
He came bearing gifts
At dusk, when the table was ready and the doorbell rang, I went to open it. A clean-shaven gentleman greeted me and handed me a wrapped bottle of wine. Devang introduced us, I nodded politely and ushered him to the living room.
His name was Abhi and he was fascinating, to say the least. He’d gone mountaineering, scuba diving, lived in a houseboat, and visited the Amazon and so many adventures I never knew existed. The more I learnt about him, the drabber my life looked. And he had this funny little chin-dimple and occasional snorts that made us laugh even harder. It was a fun night and I went to bed thinking about how good his stories were.
Well, what started with thinking about his adventures, turned into something a little more. It was not like I was in love with him; no way. I loved Devang way too much and laughed at the idea of me having any sort of feeling for this friend of Dev. I’d met him once, for crying out loud.
Then we met again and again
We met Abhi at another dinner at my husband’s colleague’s place. He asked how the kids were, how my work was going and said he would love some more of Devang’s special cream chicken dish. Without a second thought, I asked him to come over for dinner that weekend.
The thought of Abhi coming over for dinner did not do me any good. I stalked him a little on Instagram. The act of pondering over another man drove me a little nuts. Devang sensed it too. I caught myself thinking about him a little more than usual. It was not like I was going to do anything about it. It was just a little crush on my husband’s colleague.
The dinner was elaborate. Abhi played with baby girl and she giggled so hard. He was so good with the kids. My heart sank and I felt immoral. Here was a husband who I absolutely love and would never do anything to destroy my life with him but the thoughts kept cropping up every day.
I thought I kept it well hidden
It became occasional dinner meets with Abhi and the next months were excruciating. Devang felt the energy change. It was not like I was depressed, but something felt out of place. And I had no one to blame but myself for crushing on a person ten years younger than me.
And I had no one to blame but myself for crushing on a person ten years younger than me.
I felt like one of the cougars. What surprised me was how nonchalant my husband and Abhi were about my feelings. Well, or so I thought.
One fine evening, Devang suddenly said, “We have a wedding invitation.”
“Abhi. He is getting married.”
I swear I felt the earth slip from underneath me. Whatever tears I could choke back, I did. I felt terrible, like something is being ripped apart from the inside but all at once I felt…relieved? The terrible feeling lasted for a minute and all of a sudden I was pulled back to earth. I looked at Devang, who was smiling at me and all he said was:
He knew? All this time, did he know?
“I know you have a crush on him.”
What? How? I’d thought I was so subtle.
I felt relieved that my husband knew all along. I was relieved I did not have to confess. He could always see through me. The thought of Abhi getting married was the first step of me getting over him. Over the next few weeks, I was back, without the nauseating feeling of guilt or repression. And more than ever, Devang and I are the closest we have ever been.