(As told to Stotropama Mukherjee)
Open relationships come with their own challenges. The rules are neither set in stone nor are they the same for every couple. Moreover, the relationship equations change and modify because of a number of factors. Age and maturity, of the relationship and the people involved, play an important role in maintaining that equilibrium. The incident I am going to retell here, happened, as I understand, very early on their relationship. Titir and Indra were in the third year of their decidedly experimental live-in open relationship.
I was still a student and Indra was still working as a freelancer. We have started living with his parents and our bedroom was our world. Our bedroom was not only a place for us to sleep and have sex but also the only place we could be ourselves. There we could listen to music on our turntable record player, dance to upbeat music, drink if the occasion demanded, even role-play from time to time.
After leaving my parents’ home, I built my life around that room which was the niche that I shared with Indra and Indra alone. I changed the curtains, rearranged the furniture, added glow in the dark stickers to mark it as my own. For me, it was a safe haven, a sanctuary in this chaotic world, a constant that I can come home to. But I forgot that change is the only permanence.
The eventful day
I remember the day vividly. I had classes in the morning. Indra was still asleep when I woke up and started getting ready to go out. I smiled at Indra, as he smiled in his sleep. He still does that now. As I was ready to head out, I climbed on to the bed and on to him. I needed my goodbye kiss, a ritual that we developed as we started living together. He opened his eyes and sheepishly gave in to my kiss. I complained about his morning breath, which was just me being coy.
“When will you be back?” he asked.
“Soon, just after lunch,” I said.
I breezed through my classes. We were supposed to go see a movie with friends that night and I kept thinking about it. After the classes, I went to grab a bite with my friends. I couldn’t wait to excuse myself from there and run back home, which I did eventually. I took the fastest route back home, wanting to spend some quality time with Indra before we headed out for the movie.
Related reading: Survival Guide: Dos and don’ts of being in a live-in relationship
The bedroom door was locked
But when I reached home, I found the bedroom door locked from inside. This was unusual. I usually locked the door when I’m inside but never Indra. Through the split in the door I saw them. My boyfriend and the other girl entangled in an intimate position. I was transfixed at the sight. Could this really be…my room, my bed? I stood there in silence and watched their bodies move closer to each other. There is some beauty in two bodies moving rhythmically together in tune with desire that transcends possessiveness and selfish thoughts. I couldn’t look away. I let it flow for a few minutes, as I stood there unable to make up my mind. Burning in my mind was the question “When will you be back?”
Suddenly, I was jealous. Till date I don’t know whether I was jealous of sharing Indra or the room that meant the world to me. But I knew that I couldn’t live with myself if I let this continue and reach its pinnacle. So I made some noise. I made it appear as if I had just arrived. I called out his name and asked where he was.
It took him some time to open the door. He, in his turn, made it appear as if he didn’t hear me at first. He came out of the room to talk to me, I guess to give her time to get her clothes back on. Then he said something generic, like “How were your classes”, or “What did you have for lunch?” or something like that, I really don’t remember. I just looked at him and said, “I saw” and then smiled when I saw him visibly embarrassed.
We were all civilised
I did the logical thing. I went into the room, started talking to the girl casually. She was not looking me in the eye. So I offered her tea and we three drank our beverage in awkward silence. I called her a cab for going home. I did all that while trying to compute what happened in my mind. It took me some time, days even, to understand that I really don’t have a problem with it. But seeing them with my own eyes, especially in my room, did derail my convictions for a minute there, I must confess.