(As told to Stotropama Mukherjee)
He was a client and we just clicked
I’ve been a lifelong freelancer. Change is the only permanence, right? But the only problem with being a freelancer is financial instability. I was running out of my savings fast and I was in desperate need of money. One of Indra’s girlfriends put me in touch with Sayak. He had an assignment I liked and I had the skill set he required: we just clicked.
The volume of work was overwhelming and there was nothing simple about it. It was a transcription job which also included translation. It included time-coding, understanding a native dialect and so on: I won’t go into the details. We fought about everything: what should be the format, what program should be used, what should be the structure of the project. But we both had what’s best for the project at heart and soon it became our common ground. It took us four days and 47 emails to move from professional mailing to informal WhatsApp chat and there it started.
Related reading: It had all started with innocuous flirting on WhatsApp
We had an age difference of about 12 years, but still we had a lot in common. Sayak was fascinated by my taste in music and I was mesmerised by his understanding of literature. We would challenge each other, we would quiz each other and to the sapiosexual mind, it was flirting. But there was a misunderstanding. I thought Sayak was this creative gay guy who is working on this queer project because it is close to his heart. He thought I’m so invested in this project because I’m lesbian and identify with the project. We didn’t ask, we both assumed. So the flirting was inconsequential, or so we believed. We didn’t feel guilty, even though we both started having feelings for each other. We both believed that it wouldn’t amount to anything.
Such a tease
But flirting has a way of getting under your skin. That excitement of hearing the notification sound, be it text or call, replying as soon as one can under any situation, actually dressing up for a work lunch, finding more and more reasons to meet: we both were drawn to it, knowing that nothing can happen there. We became more and more friendly, even physically, but then the equation changed. Nothing was simple anymore. I would reach out for his hand; he would sit closer to me: I could feel the attraction crackling between us like a camp fire in winter and made us feel warm and fuzzy. I had to ask him, “Are you gay?”
That question opened up a Pandora’s box. We found out that we both are straight and that was a revelation to both of us. Soon we started talking about our personal lives. I told him about my 12 years of open live-in relationship with Indra. He told me about his wife and daughter. I was shocked. I’m polyamorous, but I’m never a cheat. I had every intention to get out of this contact, but I didn’t. I convinced myself that it was because of the project, but was it?
He told me about how he and his wife haven’t shared a bed for a long time and how he’s in the marriage only for the child. I was convinced, maybe because I wanted to be. Or, maybe the secrecy of the relationship was intriguing.
Related reading: Effects of an extramarital affair on the partner
Labour of love
So I kept working for him. He would send me things occasionally: A book that he loves or dark chocolates with sea salt. When we would meet for coffee, he would remember my order and we would talk throughout the day. We would take long drives out of the city, we would make out in his car and he would promise me incredible things. I believed him because I wanted to, though the secrecy started to bother me.
I believed him because I wanted to, though the secrecy started to bother me.
Strains of passion
It was nobody’s fault. I wasn’t a teenager duped by a leech of an employer. But I did go into it blind. The weekends were horrible. We had this no calls during the weekend rule. He told me it was for the daughter. Being a child of divorced parents, I didn’t want to jeopardise another childhood. So I didn’t call, but it killed me inside.
Accidentally I ran into them in a restaurant during one ofthe weekends. They looked like a perfectly happy family. Something burned in me. I went to their table to say ‘hello’. I found out that he told his wife I’m a lesbian. Not just that, I’m a lesbian with a girlfriend. I played along.
I know he’ll destroy his family sooner or later, but I didn’t want to take that on my conscience. So I quit my job and never talked to him again. I still can’t wash away the guilt of being part of an extramarital affair.