As told to Irewati Nag
I’m Reshma, an artiste, raised in a conservative South Indian Brahmin family by a strong feminist mother, married to a man who has a comparatively progressive mindset, but is an extreme introvert and who just doesn’t seem able to express his feelings. We have a daughter, an adorable 6-year-old and I am in two minds at this stage of life as to whether or not to go ahead with an extramarital affair.
I married Sriram about 9 years ago. I was 23 then. Before Sriram, I used to be head over heels in love with Karanjeet. He was this hot and tall Punjabi boyfriend of mine who drove around the city on a Bullet and was a year my senior in college, but at least 4-5 years older. When my mom got to know about my affair, she advised me to give him up. Although initially I thought she was interfering and domineering, later on I understood what she meant.
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My loser boyfriend
Karan was a loser. He was not good at studies, blew his dad’s money to take me around on his bike. I was and still am a candle-light-dinner, chocolates and roses loving person. I loved every bit of attention Karan showered on me. He was generous in giving me all the attention I needed, took me everywhere I wanted to, said the right things at a right time, and the proverbial sweeping-me-off-my-feet happened. Slim, beautiful and with lovely long hair, I even won Ms Newcomer in my college. My friends and I were spared the torturous ragging routines many of my classmates had to go through because of Karan’s influence over other seniors.
I always knew that I was popular for being beautiful. Although I was not talkative and did not have many friends in college, people knew me. I enjoyed all the attention. I am shameless enough to admit the fact that I enjoy soaking in attention, find flirting tantalising and above all, had a very outgoing personality.
So, after the unasked interference of my mom in my affair, she drove home the point that life can’t be lived with dad’s money. Her assessment of Karanjeet being from a male-dominated family also seemed to be true. Now that I sit back and think, I know that I was stupid to have thought of him as my partner. My parents soon found Sriram through an arranged marriage route. First his parents came and met me. He did not meet me or call me before our wedding. I never got a response to any of the nice romantic messages I sent to him. He now tells me that he was scared to reply to my messages.
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Then the arranged marriage
We got married soon after my post graduation and I moved to a different city. My in-laws are reasonably good people. My mom had found a good match. Sriram had bought a two bedroom house by the time he turned 25. His parents were well off and living separately, they were ok with me wearing shorts, skirts and sleeveless tops (Yes, those things matter to me). I could never tell Sriram about Karanjeet before marriage, never gathered the courage to tell him till date. Every time I meet my friends who are so open about everything, I feel a pinch of guilt. But I feel Sriram will be super judgemental about my past. So, I have decided to take it with me to my grave.
Recently, I went on a weekend trek with a popular holiday group in my city. Sriram is generous enough to give me some time off my daily routine life, which is otherwise very boring. I don’t go out much, I have my studio at home, just manage my daughter, take her to her classes and school and feed her. I want to start working, but do not have the drive enough to go out and look for it. So once in a while, I go on these short weekend trips.
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Now the other man
I recently met Sanjay on a trek. He was clearly smitten by me. Objectively speaking, I am mistaken to be a 22-year-old, while I am a decade older. I did not tell him initially about my background. I just went with the flow. But sooner it did come out in the conversation that I was 32 and had a daughter. He is 25, seven years younger. But does that matter?
“Reshma, why the hell are you married,” was his first reaction when I told him. I could feel that he was totally dejected.
We are constantly in touch now. I know that I blush while reading every message from him, like a teenager. I don’t want Sriram to see me blush, so I have instructed Sanjay to not message me after 8 in the evening. My life has suddenly become very interesting. I go out to meet him at his office, have an enjoyable lunch which usually lasts 3-4 hours. He gives me the time which my workaholic husband refuses to give me.
When my husband is not in town over weekends, I go out pubbing with Sanjay. He is an amazing dancer and we have great chemistry while dancing. I love salsa. He is good at it. I enjoy the intimacy salsa brings between us. I sometimes wish Sriram was Sanjay.
Sanjay has a super bike. We once went on a long drive in the rain. I could not help but get a little intimate with him. No, we did not have sex, but I admit that the temptation to have sex exists. I just have to say yes; guilt is stopping me.
Do I have to choose?
Truth is, I know I love Sriram, he has brought stability to my life, but he is too good a person. I would like it if he also did everything that Sanjay does to me. Sanjay doesn’t hesitate to show his love and affection in public. Sriram doesn’t even touch me in front of a third person (even if that is our own daughter). Sriram has no time for me, I know he slogs his ass off to make my life and my daughter’s life comfortable. But I would like it if he could take me out to dinner, clubbing once in a while, play a little naughty and just show affection in all possible ways. But no, he will not. I want all of this and I have no guts to express it to Sriram.
Is it wrong to get attracted to someone who is willing to give me all that I want? Assuming I was to have sex with Sanjay, why is it wrong? Just because it becomes a case for divorce? Or just because society has branded it wrong? Just because I sleep with Sanjay, it does not mean that I love Sriram any less. At this stage of my life, I am mature enough to differentiate between lust and love.
I know that my affair (I am not sure if I would like to brand it so) with Sanjay will not last long. I know that it is just the ‘Making hay while the sun shines,’ type of a situation. But I am not sure how this will end. For now, I am just going with the flow.