I joined an IT firm as a freelancer. There I met Priyanka, who was the HR in that company. We became friends as soon as we realised that we were born on the same day in the same hospital. She was someone who did everything right or everything that was expected of her: She led a normal life. She was an average student, studied MBA, got placement, saved herself for marriage, got married and had a kid. A perfect life, you may call it, but I haven’t seen anyone so sad with so much.
She used to get jealous of my life, never saying a good word about it. She tried to deny it, but was jealous of my happiness. Until one day, she broke down and told me her story.
(As told to Stotropama Mukherjee)
Nothing ever was extraordinary in my life
I was always average: no talent or brilliance, but I fit in. People like me, my parents are happy with my life choices, I have a job, I have a kid but I feel empty: like I have been living for duty’s sake. I mean, when do I get to do anything for myself? I don’t have much say in my daughter’s future, as if I’ve been raising someone else’s kid. My husband has no interest in me except for when he talks about having another kid. That is the only reason he touches me still. When I look at my life I wonder, was I always so regular and pathetic? Did I ever have a rebellious phase? Did I ever have a voice of my own?
When I had a teenage crush
I don’t know about rebellion, but I can tell you about an adventure. I fell in love once when I was a teenager. He was a sort of distant cousin who moved to the city when I was 12 and I fell for him. We would spend our holidays together, watch films, do everything together. We were each other’s first kiss, nobody knows. I started taking interest in myself, about how I look and stuff. Art and music became interesting, but my grades were falling. I asked my parents to put me in a dance class, and that was too much for them. They put a stop to our friendship saying Bimal was a bad influence on me. And that was that.
I married to please my parents
I knew exactly the kind of guy my parents wanted me to marry. A few years older, secure in his career, from the same caste, and a fairly well-established family: Kunal was just that. We dated for 8 months, my parents approved of him: so when he proposed to me with a diamond pendant, I had no reason to say no. We got married: expensive wedding, fabulous reception. But within a few months of married life I understood that I’ve left one prison to get into another. I had no agency of my own: everything was decided for me ‘for my own good’.
If it isn’t clear yet, I’m not happy with my life. I don’t like my job, I don’t matter to my kid and my sex life is functional at best.
I don’t like my job, I don’t matter to my kid and my sex life is functional at best.
So I started an affair
I wouldn’t have realised all these if Bimal hadn’t come back to my life and filled it up with colours and promise of new adventures again. He reminded me of our time together and all the things that I have forgotten. We started meeting up and I was allowed to go because he was a relative. We started getting closer again: holding hands in the dark theatre, stealing a kiss in the car, smoking together and so on. I was so happy, I could feel again. I felt beautiful and with it came the strong urge to get closer to him, beyond prejudice, beyond norms.
Bimal didn’t come alone; he came back to the city with his wife and child. His wife was a career woman, or so he complained. Now I know he meant she earned more than him and that he found it emasculating. He came back to the city because his wife got a transfer and a promotion. He had to leave his job and was looking for a new one in the city. I was the adventure he looked for in his free time. I hated his wife for making him leave his job, but was thankful that he landed here.
Related reading: My lover has married someone else and I am depressed
He was just making a point
Soon I realised he’s completely under his wife’s thumb and liked being comfortably numb. No sooner he got his job than he started spending less and less time with me. He would only meet me to make out in the car in some dark alley somewhere. I was okay with that too, but I wanted to have sex with him, even if in a dingy hotel room, I didn’t mind. But he wouldn’t, he was thoroughly scared of his wife. I knew I had to stop it when I understood that he was just using me to get back at his wife. So there ended my first extramarital affair.
So you see, not a perfect life after all…