Life Partners

by Amresh




LIFE PARTNERS


'What the hell is going on between my husband and that bitch?' Maya's patience was at its lowest ebb and she was ready to burst.
Sanjay knew that she was serious. 'Look, Maya. There is nothing going on between the two of them. Just a little bit of healthy flirting, I'd say.'
'Flirting? Healthy flirting? Really Sanjay . . .' she rolled her eyes in disgust. 'That's what you men call it? There is nothing healthy about flirting, Sanjay, not for a married man. Healthy flirting is a term introduced by perverted men who want to lend legitimacy to their extramarital dalliances. Flirting invariably has a sexual connotation to it.'
She got up from her seat and walked around the room gesticulating and muttering something to herself.
Suddenly she stopped, turned back, looked at Sanjay and asked, 'Did my husband sleep with her? You are his friend. Did he ever tell you anything about it?
Sanjay kept quiet.
' You have not replied. Shall I take your silence as confirmation of my doubts ?' Maya's face was getting red with anger.
'My reply is no.'
'What no, he didn't sleep or he didn't tell anything ?'
'No, he didn't tell anything and I don't think he has slept with her.'
'You are lying.'
'What is a friend if he can't lie for a friend?' Sanjai laughed. 'But this time I am telling the truth, believe me.' emphasising on 'the'.
Maya didn't believe but she couldn't press any further. Sanjay was a very close friend of Sundar, her husband, not hers.
They were so close that there were called 'underwear' friends. Sanjai still had not married citing reasons of ' yet to find a suitable match.', though with his tall ,well built imposing athletic body, nice looks and good IT job, he was a very eligible bachelor and had many girl friends.
Before marriage they lived together for many years.
Even after marriage, she was astonished to find that Sanjay continued to live with them and showed no inclination to move out. And Sundar would also not object , rather used to give different reasons to keep him. It was only when she raised hue and cry that he moved out. Now also whenever she went out of the city for some work, either Sanjay will come or Sundar will go to his place. On these occasions sometimes they would call their other friends - boys and girls and enjoyed the parties. Of course some parties were held in her presence also which she personally didn't like much.
Why such a fiend will reveal any thing even if he knew ,as he had laughingly hinted.
She had to find some other ways to solve her problem.

They had been married for a year now. It was an arranged marriage through one of the famous websites.
Maya was 32, wheatish , plumpish, average looks but brilliant academically and career wise. She was IIT, IIM combination- the best possible in India and employed as a VP Marketing in a top FMCG Co. with package exceeding a crore.
Sundar was 34, BE, In a middle level position in a technology co. ,reddish fair, sharp attractive slightly girlish features and earning much lesser than Maya. In fact he was so attractive that not only girls but many men also turned their heads looking appreciatively when he passed. That is why Maya was highly suspicious and possessive since beginning.
While she was extrovert, little short tempered and rash, he was introvert, soft spoken ,sensitive and little shy. But these personality traits were not visible in the beginning. The marriage was settled by elders, after they noted the failure of both to get life partners on their own. Sundar was resisting ,giving varied reasons, but all unconvincing. So he was forced. Of course, her consent was taken , which she gave after meeting him. His model like sharp features, well mannered disposition, decency and calmness won her and her family members.
They were happy that though he was earning lesser than Maya, he would complement well and be a good match temperamentally.
It seemed that Sundar's family was intimidated by her high profile status, salary. Maya was aware of this. Subconsciously she carried her superiority complex into the marriage and her dealings with them including Sundar.
Everything worked well, except their sex life.
She had heard secretly a joke in her adolescent age from her Punjabi neighbour aunt about dominance in marriage partnerships. Jo billi pahele Marega, woh sari zindagani raj karega - meaning one who kills the cat first ,will dominate through out life. She could never understand why
should one kill,that too a poor cat,for dominance even in a story.Nor she ever got the opportunity to ask. But one thing went into her head, better to dominate from the beginning.
Not that Sundar needed any dominance. By nature, he was submissive. Hence even if she showed her hot temper or rashness in arguments, he usually backed out.

Peace was there in the relationship.
But what was worrying her now was presence of more than necessary peace in their sex life- to the point of coldness. Initially as a dominant partner , she never took the initiative and teased him to come to her. Every night she would extend her work ,either domestic or official ,late into the night so that she used to reach their bed after he slept. Then also she will sleep on her side away from him , sometimes she would keep a pillow in between. But oblivious of all, he would continue to sleep soundly till morning.
Initially she thought that it was due to his introvert, shy nature. She was in a dilemma. Thought of proverbial cat was always there in her subconscious. If she took initiative or looked over anxious , her dominance would be diluted. So she decided to wait and watch. Many weeks passed, but nothing improved. She didn't know what to do. Difficult to talk about such matters with anyone.
Exasperated she decided to loosen her self tightened rein. She started going to bed early in her transparent pink nighty, exposing her assets subtly. She would pose as if she had slept.
But Sundar would come in silently, change his clothes and lie on his side without disturbing her. This also continued for some time.
She started trying bolder steps starting with coming closer ,to embracing him ,to lying almost naked. Sundar would continue to sleep or say that he was tired or not in mood.
Now only one thing was left and that was to rape him. But such efforts would leave her exhausted and frustrated.
Now she was having serious doubts. He was not finding her sexuality attractive. In bed ,her degrees n high profile job n big salary were not working. Yes, it must be her looks n body. She decided to go to beauty parlour, gym regularly. But nothing seemed to be working.

Now when this news came that he was very close to Mona- his assistant at the office, she was on fire.
She learned that Mona was 22, very beautiful, slim and smart , loud n boisterous ,franc n friendly and very ambitious. It was told that she found a good mentor in Sundar. And why not ? Not only he was her immediate boss , knowledgeable,well connected and in good books of higher management but also a charming , well mannered , handsome guy. She reasoned that Mona must be leaving no stones unturned to please Sundar. 'And these men? Will they ever avoid a fling , given the rope ?'
Naturally Maya was furious. "How can this bitch spread her poisonous net over my husband. What is happening to these girls ? They are not sparing even recently married men.And what is the age difference?"
She had confronted Sundar about this but he rubbished everything in his usual calm manner. But she could not leave the matter. With every cold night in the bed , she was burning with fury to find the reasons and correct the course.
Now that Sanjay had also not revealed any thing,she decided to explore other ways.

'What to do, from where to get help ?' She could not talk to her family or any body else. 'Perhaps old friends. But there were no contacts for last many years. And suddenly you can not start such conversations.'

Maya had no belief but still went to an astrologer but backed out when it became clear that he wanted to extract a lot of money in the name of puja etc.

Then she decided to consult a lady psychologist. She was a senior mature doctor. She heard her with empathy asking many questions.
Suddenly she asked, ' Is he impotent ? '
Maya was taken aback. Whatever brief encounters she had with him, this was not the case.
' No.' She said softly.
'Then, call him also. I have to talk to him.'
Now this was tricky. How can she , when she didn't want to look overly anxious to him ? She remained undecided.

Suddenly an idea struck to her one day in the morning when she was in prayer.
Sanjay used to come to stay with Sundar quite often whenever she went out of station. They must be talking all secret things. She would get some hints if she could hear. Best way was to put a cctv in the house.She made the plan.
Next day, when Sundar was in office, she arranged installation of a cctv in the house , camouflaged properly. She informed Sundar that she was going out on an urgent official assignment and would come after a day and that he could invite Sanjay for the night. She even phoned Sanjay and invited him.
Sanjay was happy. He asked ,' Can I call some friends ?'
'Yes, yes, but no girls.' She laughed.
'Oh come on, you know our gang.' She knew all of them by now. They were harmless as far as Sundar was concerned. But anyway let everybody come, she thought , cctv would tell everything.
Next day on return in the afternoon Maya came home directly ,anxious to watch the recordings. When she opened the file in the laptop, everything was blank. It seemed that recording was corrupted. But it was showing the timing. Cursing the vendor she put it on fast forward mode hoping to capture some thing.
After running for sometime , incomprehensible audio sounds started coming infrequently. At round 9 pm some sound of loud music came which meant party was in progress. At around 11 pm music stopped and sound of people talking came. Nothing was clearly audible but It seemed that people were leaving slowly.
After some time, suddenly the voices became more clear. She strained to hear.
It was Sanjay,' How long we will meet like this darling ? I am not able to bear your separation any more.' Then there was sound of a kiss.
Somebody spoke something but only a whirring sound came out.
' My God, So finally Sanjay is seriously hooked to somebody. Who is this girl, somebody I know ?' Maya wondered.
For long time, there was either silence or whirring sound when somebody spoke, revealing no sense.
Suddenly voice became clear.
It was Sanjay again ,' Will you ever gather the courage to accept the hard facts of our love of so many years and take divorce and live with me forever? '
"So it is a married woman.' She whispered to herself ,' That is why it is taking so long for him . He always tells 'I will marry when I find somebody suitable.' Bullshit, so this is your married 'suitable'. Ok , go ahead. But who is this married woman ?" She was very excited now.
Sanjay was pleading, 'This is nothing unconventional now a days . These are modern times. Society will accept us, people will accept us. And even if they don't , who cares?'
'Sure , buddy, who cares?' She burst out, ' Divorcee marrying a bachelor or vice versa. What is the big deal?'
Sanjay was continuing ,'Have the world not seen the latest marriage? Prime minister of Luxembourg did it the other day openly. Many appreciated their guts.'
Maya was taken a back. 'Now just a minute , man, did you say PM of Luxembourg ?' She tried to remember,' But didn't he marry his boy friend ? Do you mean, you are talking of same sex ...'
'I shall talk to her tomorrow.' A slightly whirred and very feeble voice came.
'Who is this ? Looks familiar ! ' She exclaimed.
The voice continued ,' I shall talk to Maya tomorrow. I have decided to be courageous now, sweetheart. After all , I was not agreeing for marriage with her since beginning but nobody listened and I was forced into it. I shall inform her my decision, our decision. And then we can always live together...'
She could not hear any further.
Rather she was murmuring to herself. 'Now what is happening ? Why has the temperature of the room shot up ? Why am I wet with perspiration ? Why is my heart sinking? '
With trembling legs, she moved to nearby bed and collapsed.
Tears rolled down her cheeks.
She couldn't figure out whether these were due to shock or hurt or shame.


-Amresh Srivastava
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