Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Other Woman

My Little Writing Project

To refresh your memory about previous chapters, or to know about My Little Writing Project, click here.


Chapter Seventeen

‘Why is the ‘Other’ woman always labelled as the ‘Dirty’ mistress? If a guy has an affair, it is because he is not happy in a relationship or it’s in his nature to cheat . . . In both the scenarios how does the other woman end up being the Devil? Or is there a third reason as well . . .?’

5th September

At her house, Priya was lying on the bed in the dark. A tangled mass of hair covered half her face. Her usual meticulously applied kajal and mascara were both smudged and smeared over her eyes and cheeks. Her lipstick left a stubborn mark behind where she had tried to rub it off roughly. She had a bottle of scotch lying empty on the floor and another one in her hand which was dangling from the bed. Her eyes were half-closed. She could hear the phone ringing but didn’t posses the strength to even move a finger. She felt drained . . .  of all her energy, all her will power. Priya had been drinking to forget all her troubles. She took a sip from the almost empty bottle, her lone trusted companion. She held the bottle close to her face.

“I know you don’t judge me and you will never leave me. You will be there whenever I’ll need you.”

She took another swig. She had always turned to the bottle when things got a little messy. Alcohol was like a friend to her who listened patiently without pronouncing any verdict. A bottle of scotch never conferred any ethical lecture.

You don’t preach. You don’t ask me to follow logic and reasoning. You listen silently. You are indeed a true friend.

She put the bottle to her lips but nothing came out. She turned the bottle upside down. It was empty. She sat upright and threw the bottle at the floor in frustration. It shattered making a loud crashing noise; its million pieces lying motionless on the floor reflecting the yellow light, splitting it into many colours of the rainbow.

“You also leave like everyone else. Go! Go away!” She yelled at the stationary pieces of the bottle. She started sobbing with her head in her hands. She had been drinking since morning to try and switch off her brain . . . To transport herself to a happy place where she is with Shantanu.

She wanted to stop thinking about his fiancé Shivani. She wanted to forget everything that had happened, especially in the last couple of months.

It had all started with one phone call.

One innocent ‘Good Morning’ call.

Priya was, as had become their custom, talking to Shantanu on the phone in the morning. She heard the bell ring in the background and Shantanu’s footsteps echoed through the receiver. He was applauding her work on their current account and she was beaming with pride. Suddenly, he stopped talking and she could hear a girl yell ‘Surprise’ in the backdrop. She didn’t want to accept it but she knew, then and there, that it was Shivani. She was proved right. It was indeed Shivani. She had come into town to give Shantanu a little surprise for his birthday. Shantanu disconnected the phone without saying anything. Priya kept holding the phone to her ear listening to the engaged tone for a long time. She called him up after an hour but he disconnected.

I must have called you twenty times but you never picked up.
“What if I was dying?!” she said to the empty room.

After trying for a couple of times more, she had opened that first bottle of scotch. She didn’t even go to the office, sending a message proclaiming she was sick instead. She poured herself a drink and tossed it back in a quaff. She kept trying to talk to him, even sending numerous messages but he didn’t reply once. Finally, Shantanu called her back in the evening. He was incensed, “What the hell is wrong with you? You knew I was with Shivani, why were you calling like a crazy person? What if she had found out?” he had thrown a volley of questions at her.

“I don’t care if she finds out. Why didn’t you take my call? What if I was in trouble?”
“I knew you were fine and Priya, you better start caring about Shivani finding out. She is my fiancé for crying out loud!” He seemed furious.
“And who the hell am I, huh? Your dark secret? The dirty mistress?”
“We have been over this, haven’t we? I have told you, I love you but I can’t leave Shivani. She will die without me! Why is this so difficult for you to understand?”

Unwillingly, at his declaration of love for her, Priya’s eyes filled up, “I love you too Shantanu but this is tough. I thought I can handle it but I can’t. All this sneaking around in office was strenuous as it is and now I can’t even talk to you! I don’t—“
He interrupted her, “It’s difficult for me too. I had told you everything before. You knew I had a fiancé. You knew I can’t leave her. You got into it knowing completely well what the whole story is. I have never lied to you. Now, you can’t blame me for anything.”

She was taken aback at his statements, “I am not blaming you Shantanu. I am just saying that I can’t share you anymore.”
“Well, you have to. There is no other option,” then added hurriedly, “Stop calling me now. I have to go, Shivani is waiting for me. I’ll call you later. Bye.”
And he hung up.

It was as simple as that.
He hadn’t called after that. It was almost three in the morning but she had not even received a single message from him. Priya didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t call Mukti.
What will I say to her? That you were right?
 She couldn’t call Sonali.
She seems to have her hands full with Kshitij and her flying.

She looked around and saw another bottle standing proudly on the mantelpiece.
Vodka! Just the shoulder to cry on I needed.
She wiped her tears and tried to get up. She felt a little woozy and sat back down. She shook her head and tried getting up again. She felt light-headed but she made her way determinedly, holding various pieces of furniture for support. Finally, she reached the mantelpiece and picked up the bottle. She smiled proudly at her achievement. Priya unscrewed the cap but before she could guzzle it down, the bottle slipped and shattered on the floor. The sight of tiny shards of glass scattered all along her wooden floorboards triggered something inside.

Just like my shattered dreams.
She started sobbing . . . Everything from her past came rolling in front of her eyes like a silent black and white movie. She remembered sitting demurely on her mother’s lap while relatives offered tips on how to make her fairer . . . The scene dissolved, now she was standing, as a five year old, sobbing alone as kids teased her . . . She saw herself, pimply faced, hiding behind a pillar as her best friend from school made fun of her with her boyfriend . . . she recalled looking wistfully at Mukti as she accepted a rose from a teenage boy on valentine’s day . . . she sobbed thinking about the time she stood waiting at the theatre for a date that never showed up . . . she could see herself staring in the mirror applying fairness cream . . . She closed her eyes tightly as Mudit’s face pointing and  laughing at her swam into view. He came closer and slowly transformed into Shantanu who hugged Shivani and smiled conspiratorially at her.

She opened her eyes and looked around. Her sobs turned into wails and she slid down on the floor. She hugged herself tightly curling into a ball and kept crying till she finally drifted off into a dreamless slumber.

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