Her husband cheated on her and expected her to fall in line and accept the ‘other woman’. But Deepa decided that moving on was what she must do!
Deepa looked at herself in the mirror and felt very satisfied with the reflection she saw. At the age of 38, she had always been complimented for her perfect figure and flawless completion. She was happily married to Arjun for the past 13 years.
Her parents and Arjun’s parents were friends, from even before Deepa was born, so she and Arjun grew up together. Arjun was two years older than Deepa, and when they were in their teens, Arjun expressed his love for her. After school, Deepa decided to do Home Science and Arjun pursued his Engineering and later did his MBA and joined a multinational company. Then they got married.
Their daughter Natasha was apple of their eyes. She was studying in an international school and topped her class. Both Deepa and Arjun’s parents were staying in the same condominium as they were.
Deepa chose to be a homemaker. She was busy taking care of her darling daughter and treated Arjun’s parents as her own, and divided her quality time between all of them. So Deepa was considered a perfect wife, mother, daughter and daughter in law. She always considered herself to be blessed.
Deepa dressed in her smart pants and stylish designer top, locked her apartment and went forth to meet her dear friend Asha. They both were best of friends.They managed to meet once every month in spite of their busy schedules. There was nothing that they hid from each other. When Deepa reached the restaurant, Asha had reserved their seats and waiting for her. Deepa sensed something wrong when she waved at Asha, as she could not see her usual vibrant smile.
Deepa asked, “Hi, is everything ok ? Are you not well ? Why are you so dull?”
“I am fine, Just chill. Tell me, what will you have?” Asha replied.
They ordered their drink and starters. Deepa asked, “How was your trip to Matheran?” “Oh, it was fine.” Asha replied. “How is Arjun?”
“He is fine,” replied Deepa. “Actually, he has gone to Delhi on an official assignment, and will be back tomorrow “
Asha’s face changed, and Deepa could sense that Asha tried to say something but suppressed herself, and appeared to be very stressed.
Deepa asked, “Asha what’s wrong with you? Right from the time we are here, I can see that you are very stressed. Please tell me what the problem is?”
“OK. Deepa, I am going to talk with you about a very sensitive and unpleasant reality which may shock you. I feel it’s better we go to your house. I am sure Natasha will be back from school only in the evening.”
Suddenly worried, Deepa asked, “what’s the matter? I could guess something was wrong right from the time I saw you. Please tell me? Is Kishore fine?”
“It’s not about us; I want to share some other issue,” Asha replied. “Let’s go to your house, please Deepa, I insist!”
They both drove to Deepa’s house in silence.She could sense that something was terribly wrong but could not guess , what could be the matter. Once there, Deepa could no longer hold herself. “Asha please tell me what’s the matter? I can not bear the suspense any more.”
Asha cleared her throat and said, “Deepa I am going to disclose some shocking news to you. Please be mentally prepared to face it, I know you are a strong lady. You told me Arjun has gone to Delhi on an official assignment, but that was a lie. He was in Matheran, and that too with a pretty lady. I caught him in a very intimate position with her.”
Deepa could not believe her ears! She felt that Asha was playing a nasty prank on her, but knew that Asha would never do that and was being serious. She literally screamed, “What nonsense are you talking? Have you gone insane? How can you talk about Arjun like that? You must have seen some lookalike of Arjun. He has travelled to Delhi. He rung me up from the airport after reaching there.”
Asha asked, “Can you make out from his mobile number if he is calling from Delhi or is he in Matheran? I did not just see him there, but spoke with him and he wanted me to convey some news to you regarding the lady with whom he was there.”
“Who was she? What has she got to do with him, please tell me quickly, I feel my head will burst into pieces! Oh God what are you telling me Asha? Please tell me that you were playing a prank on me.” Deepa was literally trembling and sobbing.
Asha was also in tears as she continued. “Deepa, when I saw them cuddling each other, I just went near them and asked Arjun, ‘What is this you are doing Arjun? Who is she?'”
Arjun appeared to be offended for a moment but made up his mind and asked me to sit with them and said, ‘In a way it is good that you saw us. I am sure you will definitely go and tell your dear friend about us. It is good, let Deepa know about our relationship through you. Please tell her that I am in a relationship with Mary. She is my colleague’ He hugged her and said, ‘Mary is very smart and intelligent. She knows that I am married, she says she does not have any problem about me being married to Deepa.'”
Asha said, “forget about what she feels. What about you? Are you not feeling guilty that you are cheating Deepa?”
“I am attracted to Mary and Deepa has to accept our relationship. She does not have any choice. Mary is so understanding, she does not want me to divorce Deepa.” He also paused and added, “Please tell her not to make a big issue of it. These things are so common in modern days. And ask her not to make a big tantrum in front of our parents, they are too outdated and old fashioned to understand this!”
“His body language made me feel that he doesn’t have anything more to say and that I should leave them alone. I was shocked and dazed, I couldn’t sleep yesterday night.”
“Deepa, you are a strong woman, you have been a pillar of strength not only to me but to our entire group of friends and your family. So please don’t take any drastic decisions, think about the whole issue and take a mature and objective decision. Remember I am always there for you.”
Asha looked at the time and said, “Deepa it’s time for Natasha to come back from school. She will be too confused to see you in this state. You’d better go to your bedroom. I will make some snacks for her and tell her that you are not well and not to disturb you. I will also cook some dinner for us. I am staying with you tonight. I have already informed Kishore.”
Deepa did not utter a word and just got up and locked herself in her bedroom. When Natasha came home, Asha explained to her that her mom was not well. Being a well behaved and darling child, she just peeped in to Deepa’s room and thought that her mom was fast asleep. She went to her room and got busy with her homework.
The next morning Arjun came from tour, sheepishly looked at Deepa and asked, “Did you meet Asha?” Deepa replied point blank “Yes, she told me about Mary.”
Arjun shrugged his shoulders and said, “See Deepa, please be practical. You are leading a luxurious life and you have to pay the price for it by making some adjustments.” He added, “Please don’t worry. Everything will be the same like before. I mean you will enjoy your present lifestyle and our foreign trips like before. I mean everything will be the same because I love you, please try to understand, and I love Mary also.”
Deepa gave a blank expression and said, “Give me time to think.” And left the room.
Next morning being a Sunday, Arjun got up late and heard some sounds coming from the living room. He was surprised to see his and Deepa’s parents chatting. Natasha was playing around. He greeted them and asked, “Why, all of you are here so early in the morning?” His father replied, “Deepa called us and said she wants to discuss something important.”
Arjun could feel butterflies in his stomach. At once he was sure Deepa was going to leak out the news and create a scene. He went to the kitchen in search of Deepa and confronted her by asking, “Don’t tell me that you are going to reveal the news to the elders?” Deepa just brushed past him, ignoring him. She went to the living room and said, “Hi all of you, breakfast is ready. Please come. After the breakfast I am going to narrate an interesting story to you.”
Arjun’s Mom grinned and said, “My lovely daughter in law always has some interesting news to share.” Arjun’s mom Rekha loved Deepa so much that she called her my PD (Perfect daughter in law). They all were in a jolly mood, busy discussing politics, except Arjun who was sensing and dreading that Deepa was going to unveil the secret any moment.
They all went to the living room with coffee in hand and Rekha said jokingly, “Come on PD, I can’t wait to hear your story!”
Deepa cleared her throat and said, “There was a girl and a boy who grew up together, fell in love with each other and got married.”
Deepa’s father said, “Are you starting to narrate your love story?” And laughed loudly. Deepa replied, “Oh Papa! Please don’t interrupt!” Her Dad gestured her to continue by keeping his finger on his lips and she continued.
“The girl devoted her time to the family by lovingly taking care of her and her husbands parents and her daughter, she managed her family so well that her husband was able to concentrate on his job and climb the corporate ladder very quickly. But he has a different story to tell. He felt that his wife was leading a luxurious life at his cost and asked her to pay a price for it.”
Now it was Arjun who interrupted. “Deepa! Stop it, remember Natasha is around.”
Deepa replied, “Let her be here. She is twelve years now. I want her to be present here.”
The aura in the room suddenly changed. All of them knew that something was terribly wrong, except Natasha. She asked enthusiastically, “what price did the boy want, Mom?”
“The boy had another women in his life and he wanted his wife to close her eyes and behave normally. This was the price he was asking for her so called luxurious life.”
Deepa’s Mom, Priya now reacted, “Deepa, please don’t tell me this is your story,” in a troubled voice. “Yes Mom! There is nothing to hide about anyway. It is our story. Arjun is in a relationship with his colleague Mary.”
All of them present there, had a stunned expression except Arjun, who hung his head in shame. Rekha almost screamed, “Arjun! What the hell is going on? You are asking the price to Deepa? She is the one who is taking care of the entire family. You were in Europe when I was admitted with chest pain and who took care of us when we had our cataract surgery? Where were you when your daughter was admitted with typhoid? Will you be able to pay the price for her dedication and commitment to the family? Oh God I didn’t expect this from you? Maybe something is wrong with my upbringing!” Rekha sobbed.
Deepa replied, “Don’t take so much stress Aunty. Please don’t blame yourself, no one can challenge your upbringing. Arjun has changed. His priorities and interests have changed. He is 40 years old . He should very well know what is he doing with his life.”
Deepa continued, “Arjun says he loves both of us, I mean Mary and myself. So he expects me to close my eyes to his extra marital affairs and is asking me to behave as though nothing has happened. But I have decided to move on. By the way Arjun I don’t expect price for the service I did to your parents and I will continue to act the same. Everything will be the same. Aunty calls me PD, and I will continue to be a PD (perfect daughter in law) and a perfect daughter and mom, but I don’t have any thing to do with you Arjun. You are just the father of my daughter. I am moving out. I have already packed my bags. I will be staying with my parents. Aunty and Uncle please don’t worry. Since we are in the same condo, I will be visiting you everyday as before, and will take care of your needs.”
“One more thing, as you all know I am an expert cook. I am thinking of starting a catering business. Mind you Arjun I don’t need your money for investing in my business. I will take a loan from my parents or even my in laws will be more than ready to it to lend me.”
“As far as Natasha is concerned it is best for her to be with me, as most of the time you are busy with your official commitments. In fact she needs me, more than you. And of course you have to pay for her education and I am sure you will never shy away from this responsibility!”
“Natasha I have packed your bags, we will be staying in your grand parents house.” Natasha was confused, but she just hugged her Mom and said, “Mom take me wherever you go.”
Deepa’s face was glowing with pride and self esteem. Everyone felt that overnight she had grown mature and looked empowered. She stood up and said, “This is the end of our love story, but a new beginning for me. Please don’t worry about me. I am going to meet Asha to discuss about my catering business.”
Natasha said, “Mom, please take me with you.” Deepa held her daughter’s hand and gracefully walked out of her (now his) house. Rest of them sat silently watching Deepa leaving the house. Arjun suddenly felt a pang of pain in his heart. His inner voice screamed, “Deepa please don’t leave me alone and go away. You are my first love, my childhood buddy and everything for me!”
Deepa turned back and said to Arjun with a matter of fact look, “I will send somebody to collect our bags.”
Arjun covered his face with his hands and stated loudly, “Oh God! What have I done to my life?” Tears of repentance were flowing from his eyes.