‘Triiing,’ the alarm rings. I wake up
slowly. Then I suddenly remember little Aditya sleeping in his bedroom. I hurry
into his room to see his face in repose and a feeling of deep love and
contentment washes over me.
More than a decade back, when I was in
my twenties, I came to Delhi for my first job. This was the first time I had
moved out of the comfort of my home and the big city had made me feel lonely. This
was when I met Abhishek.
Abhishek was a successful executive with
a bright future. He knew I was young, unsure and inexperienced. He took me
under his wings, guiding me and mentoring me. Whenever I was in trouble, I knew
that I could rely on him to bail me out.
It started innocently enough. There were
some tight deadlines in our project. So the two of us sometimes used to stay
back late in office. On such occasions, we often ended up having dinner
together and talking about our work. One day, I was explaining a particular
piece of code I had written, when he smiled at me. I paused in the middle of
the explanation I was making to ask him, ‘What are you smiling about?’
He replied casually, ‘Talking to you
makes me smile.’
I was pleased by what he said. But at
the same time misgivings assailed me. Our relationship was moving towards
something beyond normal friendship between colleagues. Was he just playing with
me and trying to get me to fall for him? But in a strange way, even though I knew that
it was not a good idea, I could not help falling more and more in love with
Abhishek and I pushed aside these negative thoughts.
A year passed like this. The performance
appraisals happened and then one day he called me to a meeting room and said,
‘You have been promoted.’
‘What can I say? I am overwhelmed.’ I
‘Let us celebrate – have dinner with
me,’ he said.
‘I would love to… but please….’
Before I could finish, he looked deep
into my eyes and said, ‘You do…. please me. Now no excuses. I will pick you up
from your house.’
I was disturbed because I was aware that
Abhishek was expecting something from me – I had known that from his voice. He
came to my home to pick me up. When I opened the door, his eyes glowed on
seeing me. ‘Wow!’ he muttered huskily. ‘You look ravishing,’ he told her, This
was the first time he had given me such a deeply personal compliment. My heart
skipped a beat and then started racing madly. Before I could respond, he continued,
‘I have reserved a table at 7:30. We are running late. Let us go.’
Over dinner in a charming little
restaurant, Abhishek praised the way I was doing my work in office. We did not hurry our meal and it was almost
ten when Abhishek looked at his watch and said with a sigh of regret, ‘Time to
get you back to your home. A pity, I was enjoying your company.’
I was also enjoying his company. I
looked at him and felt a little lurch in my heart. He was attractive, he was
always there for me. But why did he go out of his way to help me and seek my
company? Having helped me with my career was it ‘payback' time now?
I was rather quiet on the way back as I mulled
on my sudden doubts. When we reached my home he turned towards me. ‘Madhu,’ he
murmured and I glanced at him from under my lashes ‘Madhu,’ he said again, this
time teasingly. ‘Stop worrying about it… just let it happen.’
‘What?’ I asked him, a trifle hostilely.
‘You know what I am talking about,’ he
I looked at him straight in the eyes and
asked cuttingly, ‘Is it pay-back time Abhishek?’
He drew a sharp angry breath, ‘No it is
damn well not! I ought to slap you for that!’
‘So long as we know where we are,’ I
said vaguely, turning away.
He caught my arm and shook it, frowning
down at me.
‘We both know that it has nothing to do
with payoff. I am insulted that you should even suggest it.’
I sighed. ‘I am sorry. But how could I
‘Not between us,’ he said harshly. ‘You
mean too much to me for that sort of game.’
I lifted my eyes to his face, probing
his expression. ‘Abhishek….’ His arms came round me in a violent, convulsive movement
and he held me against his shoulder, stroking my hair.
‘Don’t you really know Madhu?’ He laid
his cheek against my hair rubbing it softly forward and backward. ‘When you
smile I feel like kissing you. It is becoming a torture working so closely with
you in office every day, when all I want to do is love you..’
‘Give me time...’ I said. But something
in my face must have betrayed my own physical longing for him because he leaned
forward and kissed me. It was a light kiss at first and then we were kissing
with a strange hot need which shook me to my roots; I was not only accepting
his passion but returning it in equal measure and we both knew it. In no time
our exchanges blossomed into to a physical affair.
About six months later, he got an onsite
opportunity. It was a long-term assignment and he would need to stay in Holland
for a period of five years. I was happy for him, but at the same time sad that
he would go away. I looked forward to the day when I would also be able to join
him in Holland. The future looked rosy.