“One can be in a happy marriage, and still have relationships outside it,” Rishi said emphatically. He had come visiting, and we snacked as we chatted in the living room of my house.
“But isn’t a marriage supposed to be sacrosanct?” I stared at him as I spoke.
“Of course it is. However, my interpretation of ‘sacrosanct’ is that one must not hide any fact about one’s extramarital relationships from one’s spouse,” he replied with a smile.
Rishi cut me short. “You see, both Seema (the wife) and I were aware that we would be in an open relationship after we get married much before we actually did. So, we don’t have any problems at all,” he said. He paused while, and added, “We are a happy couple.”
Related reading: Conversations with a polyamorist
We are candid about our relationships
Growing up is accompanied by a variety of experiences. I have had my share of them; yet, I had never spoken to anybody about polyamory before Rishi and I got talking about it that day.
Bit by bit, Rishi started sharing stories from his life. I had known the couple for close to five years, but this was the first time the husband had got talking.
“Seema and I are very candid about our relationships. For instance, she has been seeing a married colleague from her workplace since the last few months. The two of them went to Mauritius on a short vacation recently. She informed me before she made the plan. That is how it works for us,” he said.
An unusual marriage
“Don’t such relationships make you uneasy? I mean, the two of you are married…”
Rishi intervened. “Uneasy? No, they do not. I am used to them, and frankly, so is she. I have dated colleagues who aren’t famously keen on having long-term relationships. My present girlfriend is a lovely girl Seema knows well too, and she is fine with my relationship just like I am fine with hers.”
A bachelor and well and truly single when I knew Seema and Rishi, I failed to understand how the couple could be so open about their extramarital flings – and continue to remain married. I marvelled at the way the two of them looked after their only child, went out for family dinners, and moved away from each other’s lives to spend time with their lovers.
I marvelled at the way the two of them looked after their only child, went out for family dinners, and moved away from each other’s lives to spend time with their lovers.
I met his girlfriend
As time went by, I met their companions, who turned up at their place freely. Once, I spent an uncomfortable one hour and more when Rishi’s girlfriend and I were invited for dinner. Anita (that was her name) kept on sharing anecdotes from her love story with Rishi.
“He is so schweet,” she murmured theatrically, “that he assists me with my incomplete work so that the two of us can rush to my place and enjoy some privacy.”
“Oh, he used to do the same for me when we were not married. Now, I guess his priorities have changed,” Seema chirped while winking at her smiling husband. Even if she was envious, she certainly didn’t show it.
My problem was, I liked Rishi and Seema. Easy-going and well-spoken, they enjoyed the right kind of films, books and music. They could participate in meaningful conversations, and besides, both had a great sense of humour. I was at seldom at ease while meeting their partners, which both of them understood. But they introduced me to whoever I came across, preferring frankness over evasion.
And then I met her boyfriend
I still remember the last day I went to their place. Rishi was out of town, Seema told me. She offered to make a cup of coffee for me, which I accepted as I sat down in their living room.
Sometime later, a young man walked out from inside the house and joined us. He was wearing a tracksuit and looked much younger than her.
“Ravi is not only my brightest colleague, he is also the most special man in my life these days,” Seema introduced him.
That was the first time I had met Seema with a boyfriend while Rishi wasn’t around. I fidgeted with this and that, gulped down the coffee, and left the house after exchanging hasty goodbyes.
Mumbai was where I had met the couple. And, Mumbai is a city I left more than a decade ago. For a long time, I continued to wonder how Seema and Rishi two-timed, changed partners, but lived in harmony.
Ten years later, I hope that they are doing fine.