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From best friends to spouses…but what happens one spouse wants more than a relationship can offer? This short story explores.
That night, Ayesha could not sleep at all. She waited for Neha’s call. At last, the phone rang and she replied with a flurry of questions, “Hey! Where were you? Why did you not call? What took you so long? I’ve been going crazy”.
“Hello! I am not a professional detective! Snooping around your husband is not an easy job and definitely not when he spent the night with his twenty-three year old student”, replied Neha. Ayesha felt her heart sink; she could not speak anymore and disconnected the phone. Her fears had come true. She was filled with anger, shame and humiliation. She felt as if the man she fell in love with and married twenty years ago was lost to her forever.
Ayesha spent the day at home. Over and over, she thought of all the possible reasons behind Rohit’s infidelity. What would she do? Could she even look at him? Would he ever come back? Had she become that boring, dutiful wife she never wanted to be? Ayesha was disturbed, hungry, weak and tears would well up in her large eyes every now and then.
At around 8.15, Rohit came back. Ayesha’s wait was over and she immediately began to prepare herself with words, phrases, examples, allusions, and dramatics; all the imagined conversations that she had rehearsed throughout the day. But one sight of the man she loved so deeply began to calm the storm within her. It was beyond her control. And there she was, in the kitchen, preparing Rohit’s favourite version of cold coffee.
Rohit simply slouched on the sofa; he was quiet and did not switch on the television as usual. Ayesha placed the glass of coffee before Rohit. She was about to walk away when he held her wrist, gave her a long look and said, “Ayesha, I need to talk to you, please sit”.
“You don’t have to pretend and be so polite, Rohit”, replied Ayesha. She was momentarily jubilant for reviving the rudeness within her. Rohit could no more look at her. He hung his head low, let go of her hand and said, “It’s been a few months since I have been spending time with someone”.
“Yes, I know”, said Ayesha, with an unfixed look on the wall in front of her. Rohit glanced at her and said, “You are a smart woman, so I won’t lie or make a sorry face. The point is Ayesha, I love you, I deeply admire and respect you. But…but I think am not attracted to you anymore… I mean, in a sexual way”.
Ayesha was still, breathing heavily, unable to even look at Rohit. She wanted to say many things. But she could only ask in a trembling voice, “Why?”
“Over the years we have become each other’s best friend, Ayesha. We always aspire to keep each other happy, healthy and successful. Late at night, when you are tired, I want you to sleep; I don’t want sex because I know you have to get up early and work through a long day. We have been so in love that there’s no more lust between us. Everything is fine except that we no more prioritise sex; because there are many other things that we desperately want for each other. That girl, she fills these gaps. I am attracted to her but I don’t think I can love her as much I love you. If you tell me, I will not see her again, but I will miss something essential in my life and so will you.”
“Me? What ‘essential’ things am I missing, Rohit? You men are all the same!” said Ayesha, while looking directly into Rohit’s eyes.
“For once, can you just see me as a human being, as a friend who is explaining to you a problem that could have a plausible solution?” asked Rohit. Ayesha got up from the sofa and yelled at him, “You cheated on me Rohit, and you don’t see it as a problem”.
Rohit shot back, “What’s so wrong about me being happy with someone for some time? Everything else is fine. I do what you say, I will continue doing that and I know, deep within, even you feel the same way. You just won’t accept the reality of your emotions and desires…I know it Ayesha…I know…how your eyes light up, when you see Aditya.”
Ayesha began pacing about the room and said very sternly, “Adi is only my colleague and FYI he is married…”
“So?” replied Rohit and continued, “Whenever he visits, you add a dash of kajal, you dab extra perfume, you wear your best clothes, shoes and jewellery that you never bother about when you go out with me…yet, I know you love me…for when we all sit to eat together, you serve me the best portions and make sure that I have eaten well. Adi does not get that…but he gets your adrenaline rushing! Think about it, Ayesha…”
After a few short breaths, Ayesha threw her hands in the air and said, ‘Rohit, what do you want? Can you please be clear?”
“I just want us to be happy and help each other instead of judging ourselves by what society has to say. It is our problem, Ayesha…I don’t want you to be a docile, dutiful wife…you are a beautiful woman…let us not always sacrifice our subtle needs for mutual happiness and peace”.
A big frown appeared on Ayesha’s face and she said, “Are you asking me to sleep with Adi so that you can do the same?”
“No, Ayesha, you are being unreasonable now…all I am asking is, let us try! Take that extra five minutes to dress up and make me wait when we go out for dinner next time… force me to shave and wear decent clothes even when we go shopping for grocery…make me feel needed, dear… physically…and if that does not work, we shall find some other way. We always did…no body helped Ayesha Khan and Rohit Sharma when they wanted to get married, twenty years back…”
It was way past midnight, when all the sighing, crying and lamenting was finally over. Ayesha slept in the bedroom and Rohit bunked on the sofa with his clothes and shoes on. Next morning, when he woke up, Ayesha was ready to leave for work.
No words were exchanged. The usual kisses were replaced by stolen glances. However, there was a new kind of glow, a sparkle, an aroma around Ayesha. As she got into the car and whizzed away under the summer sun, Rohit sent her a message, “Dinner tonight?”
There was no reply. She answered after have an hour, “Got some work, may be some other time.”
Heartbreak image via Shutterstock
Hi! I am Jhilam, a research scholar, working in literature and culture. Although I enjoy
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