This was my third tryst with Rekha.* As a businessman who had to travel frequently, these clandestine meetings were easy for me. She and her husband shared such a good rapport that he hardly refused her anything. On this occasion, she was with me on the pretext of visiting an outstation friend for a pre-marriage function. The beautiful crimson designs of Mehendi on her hands and feet seemed perfect for the plan.
Rekha was an attractive and vivacious woman in her late 30s with a charming personality and a liberal outlook. She was an HR exec with an MNC, and we had first met during an event hosted by her company. We met casually more times during subsequent visits and became friends. During one such occasion, one thing led to another, and we hooked up. Both of us enjoyed the sexual joke so much that we met again when her husband and children left early on vacation. She called me to her home at that time, and we had a terrific time. This was the first time we were planning an extended getaway, almost three days away from home.
“Won’t your husband call your friend to check?” I was a little worried but also intrigued by her confidence.
“You will be away from your husband and daughter and son for three days, and he won’t bother to check on you?”
Related reading: I had an affair with a married man
I must have sounded flabbergasted, because she laughed, “Don’t worry! I know him so well. He would never embarrass me or risk antagonising me. He knows if he crosschecks and I come to know about it, it would upset me. And that’s the last thing he’d want.”
“And as for the children,” she continued with a smile, “Radha* (her daughter) is such a darling, she has told me not to bother about her dad and brother, that she will take care of the food and stuff. Anyway, the maid is there to help too, but I know she will take special care, she likes to take responsibility.”
In any case, the euphoria of spending three steamy, carefree days together overtook all other thoughts. The next days flashed by in a pleasurable orgy of sex, wining and dining.
It was time for me to leave. “The Mehendi was a nice touch!” I remarked with a laugh, as I was putting my things away in my travel bag. “Fits perfectly into your story.”
“No, silly!” she replied, “This is from the Karvachauth fast, which I had observed last week.”
I don’t know if it was the irony of the statement or just plain curiosity that threw up so many questions in my mind. I didn’t want to offend her, yet I asked, “Oh? You believe and follow these traditions?”
“Yes, very religiously.” She was matter-of-fact in her response.
“But, Karvachauth fast is meant for your husband’s well-being, right?”
“And you’re here with me…”
“Yes…so?” She seemed genuinely puzzled at my questions.
“You pray for his well-being on one hand while cheating on him on the other. Isn’t it a bit hypocritical?” I couldn’t hold back the questions any more.
Related reading: 6 reasons people give for having affairs
She was quiet for a while. There was absolute defiance when she spoke. “I love my husband, my family and I’d do anything to make them happy. I keep the fast not just during Karvachauth, but once every week the whole year. I am not replacing my husband with you. Neither are my feelings towards him any different just because I like you.
I’m with you because you give me a certain happiness that is different, unique. You see it as infidelity; I see it as following my heart, something that sets me free, gives me happiness.”
She looked at me with those big wide-set eyes, the Mehendi coloured hands squeezing mine. “My husband’s well-being and my happiness, why should they contradict each other, my friend?”
When we bade each other goodbye, I could sense a change in her, of acceptance after losing something valuable. And from her sad smile, I also knew we’d never meet again.
(As said to Vaidy)
* names changed to protect identities