(Names changed to protect identities)
I often wake up early on the days after she manages to spend the night with me and watch her sleep. She has this characteristic fragrance, an alluring mix of the fragrances of her body, sweat, breath and her perfume, which makes it impossible for me not to make love to her. Over and over. On such mornings, however, I control that urge and just gaze at her. I know that she sleeps peacefully when she’s beside me, and I hate anything that disrupts her sleep, be it an alarm or a phone call. She, who’s otherwise a light sleeper, dives into a deep sleep when she’s with me. Watching her sleep is one of the most gratifying experiences in my life. It reassures me of my importance in her life.
I consider myself fortunate enough to be able to feel her breath, to touch her flawless skin, her prominent collarbone, her feet, and just be so close to her physically and emotionally. She’s my god.
Such mornings, during the past seven-and-a-half-months, also shattered me. And a part of me is already breaking now because I know what’s coming. It breaks me every time I am reminded that she will wake up, look at me watching her, give me the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen in my life – but with tears in her eyes – brush her hand through my hair, pull me closer, kiss me on my lips, and then get up, get ready, and leave. She doesn’t look at me or talk to me on such mornings. She won’t give me one last hug and won’t say ‘bye. She leaves.
I remember the first time I met her. I had just moved to Delhi. Akshay, a friend from engineering days, was hosting a party the very next evening and insisted I went. I pulled out a white shirt, paired it with my standard blue denim, managed to pick up a bottle of wine and bouquet and shared a cab to his place. We were meeting after eight years. I didn’t know my life would change that night.
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I rang the bell, expecting him to open the door. I fell in love the moment she opened the door. Her fragrance hit me so hard that I just kept looking into her eyes. She let me in, and then I saw the most beautiful smile for the first time. She looked straight into my heart, I felt. And then she waved her hand in front of my face. Jolted back into reality, I said, “My sincerest apologies, but I’ve never seen a woman as beautiful as you.” She didn’t blush, possibly because she knew she was. She gave me a mysterious look, and I saw her eyes shine.
“Welcome to our world, Sir,” she said. Without taking my eyes off her eyes, I handed her the bouquet that I was to give Akshay’s wife. Realising I was still standing outside she took the bouquet, said thank you and stepped back. Akshay came, screaming my college nickname, and hugged me. I handed him the bottle of the wine, waved hello to all those who were present, and froze. There wasn’t one familiar face. The party had already reached a stage where people were happy high, and they couldn’t care less. As Akshay made small talk, my eyes were searching for her.
I spotted her, putting the orchids I brought into a terracotta vase. Once done, she looked at me and our eyes met. She leaned on the acidic apple green wall and kept looking at me with that smile of hers. I missed what Akshay was saying, and one of his friends called him to change the music. She was still looking at me. Unable to comprehend what had gotten into me, I walked straight to her.
“Hello again, I’m sorry that’s the first thing I said to you, but this has never happened before, I assure you,” I said, unusually confident. She smiled, extended her hand, and said, “Ameesha. Ameesha Sharma.”
In awe still, I shook her hand.
Akshay came from nowhere, held her by her waist, and said, “Brother, meet my wife,” and I felt my heart shatter into a million pieces. I freed my hand, looked at them for a second or two, and said, “Congratulations.”
Today, all three of us have made peace with the fact that Ameesha and I are in love, that they are married, and that I will always remain the other man.
(As told to Vivek Surendran)