In the Palaeolithic age of the Internet, a Yahoo chat room was the Mecca for philanderers. Under the category of ‘Married but Looking’, you had to be as patient as the crane by the side of a pond. Out of 20-30 pings to the Indian-sounding names, only one or two would reply back with ‘asl (age, sex, location)?’ and fall into the abyss of silence upon knowing, ‘40, Male, India’.
One late night, my heart missed a beat or two on seeing “Hi, which city are you from?” from one Moonlight@hills. In an hour of chatter that followed, I had sobbed out my story of a trapped fish in the underwater garbage of a marriage. She seemed to be a person who loved to make friends and ‘explore’ wide and deep while staying married. We didn’t talk much about her husband. That was an unspoken rule. She was from Guwahati. Her pictures were inviting.
After that session, every night I would wait for my wife to retire to bed and then ping ‘There?’
There was no mobile Internet. Thus, our time of chat was precise and predictable. The secrecy of our conversations qualified it as an affair, but the lack of physicality soothed my ethical dilemma.
One night, she seemed very excited. She was coming to Kolkata on her way to Delhi and asked me to meet her at her guest house. We planned for dinner upon her arrival and spending the next day together.
She was a master flirt and would always skirt around before our conversations turned intimate. For my small town-bred, sexually repressed, and chauvinistic mind, that was sure that ‘hard to get’ ploy to deepen my desperation.
On the day of her arrival, the black and white screen of my Nokia 3310 went crazy waiting for a message. I had come to the office that day with my bag packed, having informed my wife that I had worked for a day at Jamshedpur. At about 6:30 pm, she pinged and I reached the appointed restaurant by 8:00.
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She was fashionable. I was floored by her figure and aroma. When I pulled out a chair opposite her, she asked me to sit next to her and freely held my shoulder and arms during dinner.
We checked into two different rooms, posing as acquaintances. At the door of her room, she said ‘good night’ without looking at me. A little later, as I was feeling really bad about lying to my wife for nothing, I received a message, “Sleeping? Call me on the intercom.”
Roaming was pretty costly then, so her suggestion made sense and my libido soared. We were chatting about things of matter and immaterial, when I asked, “Let me into your room? I am harmless.” She chuckled, “I know that, but people here…” Then, after a pause which seemed endless, she said, “What the heck…come over!”
As an apprehensive puppy pounces on its mistress at the first signs of her indulgence, so did I. She was in a lime yellow nightdress. She had wrapped the gown just for my visit. The inner dress was short. She was braless.
I sat in a chair opposite her bed. The lights were dim. She had pulled a sheet over herself as she chatted with me.
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Both of us were soon chatting about our younger times. She told me about a male stripper invited to her bachelorette party. I related the time I was caught stealing porn from a street shop. Inhibitions were melting along with the lone candle in a corner of the room.
After a while, I rose and sat close to her with the pretext of stretching my numbing legs. Her satin and silk were less than an arm’s length away. I wished, oh, how I wished her to just drop me one subtle hint for me to shed the last shell of control!
“I am feeling really sleepy now.” She got down from the bed. “We have to cover a lot of distance tomorrow.” I was dumbfounded. “More tomorrow?”
I left her room after muttering a few inanities. The next day was as uneventful as the first, only that I was not trying anymore. Come evening, I excused myself citing an emergency but arranged for my regular office car to drop her at the airport.
The driver knew my wife and she found out about this drop a fortnight later. But that’s a different story.
(As told to Tapan Mozumdar)