‘Yes, for the present. But you can divorce him can you not? You know I have always loved you. I will marry you as soon as you get rid of him’
She did not answer, but she thought sadly to herself that she had no future with Rakesh. Their marriage was indeed over. ‘He will find someone else.’ Rahul said lightly.
‘He already has,’ she said. She would have liked to take the words back, but too late.
‘Has he?’ Rahul turned to stare, ‘Well well…’
Maya could have bitten off her tongue having let that slip ‘Please forget what I said.’
‘As you like.’ Rahul said, but he looked very happy at the news.
He dropped her at the gate of her office and left her saying that he would call her soon.
That evening Rakesh came back quite early. He looked quite happy and less stressed out for a change. He smiled sweetly at Maya and said , ‘This new hair style suits you – you look beautiful.’
Maya said drily, ‘So finally you have noticed! Don’t you have any meetings today?’
Rakesh smiled happily and said, ‘Today is holiday in the US. So no meetings tonight!’
Rakesh drew her to his lap and said, ‘And of course I have noticed. You know how hectic my job is! It is sometimes very difficult for me to give you the attention you deserve. Hmm... you smell gorgeous – let me give you a kiss.’
He drew her towards him but the bell rang – the cook had come. By the time the cook had left, Rakesh was busy with some calls. Putting the call on hold he explained to her that some client escalations had happened and he would have to sort it out immediately.
Maya sighed and went to her lonely bed. But she could not sleep. She could not help but remember Rahul’s passionate love making and the guilty feelings that she had evaporated under Rakesh’s continued neglect. What demanding calls could he have on a holiday in the US? Was he chatting up with Rekha? And why was he suddenly paying her compliments? He must have slept with Rekha and having a guilty conscience. She had read about ‘Signs of a cheating husband’ on the internet and this kind of behaviour was supposed to be a sure sign that the spouse was cheating! She felt jealous anger and she felt justified in going out with Rahul.
Next day Maya drove to the Supermarket to get the groceries for the week. As she parked the car and got out, she came face to face with Rekha. Giving her a strained smile, Maya hurriedly tried to go into the supermarket. But Rekha gave her a wide smile and said, ‘Maya can I have a few words with you?’ Maya looked at Rekha, with hostility and contempt. This was the woman responsible for the breakup of her marriage. She felt like slapping her. Instead she said rudely, ‘Tell me!’
Rekha said, ‘Rakesh has been ordered by his boss to move to the USA to interact better with the clients there. He has been very strongly resisting the move as he knows that you would not like to leave the job and move with him to the USA. And he does not want to leave you here - he is trying to keep both you and his boss happy by working late thus managing both US and India timings.’
‘So what do you want me to do?’
‘I want you to urge him to move to the US as otherwise his job and promotion will be at risk. I also request you to move to the US along with him.’
Maya gave her a bewildered look. ‘You are urging me to persuade him to go to the US ?’
‘Yes of course. And I want you to go with him as he loves you too much and does not want to be separated from you!’ There was an impatient note in Rekha’s voice. ‘Rakesh has worked so hard for his promotion. It would be a crying shame if he missed his chance. You know that he dreams of making it big in the corporate world.’
‘Does he know that you are speaking to me about it?’ Maya asked trying to force down the jealous rage that she was feeling.
Rekha said, ‘ No – in fact he will be angry if he knew that I have told you about the office problems. It is none of my business. But you must see that I have a lot of professional and personal respect for Rakesh and I would not like to see him ruin his health and happiness like this. I know that he loves you deeply and only you can persuade him to move to the US.’
Maya was confused and puzzled. The other woman was talking about Rakesh in a way which did not suggest any emotional involvement.
‘Look, I am not a fool’ Maya burst out. ‘I know about your involvement with Rakesh!’
Open mouthed, Rekha looked at Maya in shocked amazement.
‘Me? What on earth are you talking about?’
‘Rakesh and you…’ Maya said very slowly.
‘Are you mad?’ Rekha asked with an affronted look. ‘Rakesh has discussed his problems with me now and then – that is true, but that could be because I was a woman who could advise him regarding your feelings if he asked you to move to the US.’ Her voice broke off and her face grew softer, her eyes looking at Maya with faint concern. ‘Maya I have a long term boyfriend who is planning to move to Singapore with me. We are planning to get married soon! Did Rakesh not tell you?’
Perhaps Rakesh had intended to tell her but never could get the time Maya thought dazedly. She had just heard office gossip and had jumped to wrong conclusions about Rakesh without verifying facts.
Rekha was now staring at her a slight smile on her face. ‘Surely you never suspected that Rakesh was cheating on you!’
Maya flushed and said, ‘I am sorry, it was stupid of me. He was always immersed in office work and never talked to me and that is why I jumped to silly conclusions. Any way I must go now. But I promise I will discuss this with him.’
Maya muttered some excuse and walked away. All her assumptions about Rakesh was wrong. Just because of this wrong assumption she had encouraged Rahul and got into this messy situation.
Just then Rahul called her. She took the call and said calmly, ‘Hi Rahul. Good morning.’
‘Hey hi!’ Rahul responded. ‘When do we meet today?’
Maya said, ‘Rahul yesterday was a mistake. I was depressed and drunk. I love Rakesh too much and know that he loves me desperately and unconditionally.’
‘But yesterday you told me that he was having an affair with someone else!’
‘Rahul, I totally misunderstood Rakesh. I am sorry, but Rakesh is my husband, and we cannot live without each other. He is waiting for me. I am sorry – I have to go now. Bye.’
With a spring in her steps she went towards her car. Grocery shopping would have to wait. She had lot of misunderstandings to sort out with her beloved husband first.