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She recognised her fascination for Jacob for what it was, a completely carnal and primal feeling, controlled by neither her brain nor her heart, but only by her hormones.
Naina woke up to a muffled sound. Her head was throbbing. She rubbed her eyes and checked the time on her phone. It was 6:00 am. As she put the phone back on the night stand, she noticed a couple of open condom wrappers. Then it all came back to her. The sound of the door closing, the headache, it all made sense. So it was real then, not just a dream. And he had left.
A month and a half ago, several new final year undergraduate students had arrived for a summer program at the department. These were bright motivated students who had survived a rigorous selection process and finally been teamed up with various professors to do a summer research project.
Naina was on the department’s graduate student council, that had to arrange various events on the weekends, for them to socialize with the rest of the department. Over time Naina was getting increasingly attracted to one student named Jacob.
Jacob’s blue eyes sparkled with intelligence. His body was lithe. In social gatherings he rarely spoke, but when he did it was usually to make a witty or striking remark. His smile was warm and inviting with a hint of mischief, but something about his eyes said, approach at your own risk.
Naina had managed to keep the temptation at bay. She remained friendly with Jacob but kept a safe distance. She was engaged and in love with her fiancé. She recognised her fascination for Jacob for what it was, a completely carnal and primal feeling, controlled by neither her brain nor her heart, but only by her hormones. She could not control how she felt, or what erotic dreams she had, but she could control what she did.
Then there was last night. Naina was caught up in her research project and arrived late for the farewell party she had helped organise. As she hurried to the other end of the room, to meet Matt the head of the council, she wasn’t looking where she was going, and she bumped into someone. Beer spilled on to her hair and jacket. Annoyed, she looked up and found herself looking straight into those twinkling blue eyes. An electric shock ran through her body.
“Oh my. I am so sorry. I got beer on your hair.” Jacob retrieved some tissues from a nearby table and wiped off the beer. Naina felt her skin tingle as his slender fingers brushed against her neck. His face was so close to hers.
Naina flushed and pulled away. “The fault is mine. I wasn’t looking where I was going.” Naina said taking off her wet jacket. She wondered if Jacob had noticed anything.
“You can put your jacket next to the heater. That way, it’ll be dry when you are leaving.” Jacob suggested. Naina nodded and smiled and the two walked towards the heater.
“Isn’t this a dry campus? How come we have beer here?” Jacob asked with a mischievous grin.
His smile disarmed her. Her guard was slipping. A long distance relationship was hard. She hadn’t had sex in ages and now her hormones were threatening to break the dam. She mechanically answered his question as she set her jacket next to the heater. “The council arranged for a special permit. It was tough because you are all undergrads, but since you are all seniors over 21, the university approved it. Matt, the head of the council thinks there is no point in parties without alcohol. I was on my way to asking Matt if we got the permit, but your beer answered my question.”
“What about you? What was your part in making this happen?” Jacob asked as Naina picked out a bottle of Foster’s from the icebox.
“I chose the venue and got the paperwork cleared for it. If Matt had his way, this would be at a down town bar. But I prefer a game room. Games are a good way to socialise, don’t you think?” Naina looked up at Jacob assuming an expression of innocence.
“I do.” Jacob replied. “So what should we play?”
Naina looked around the room. “Hmm. How about air hockey? I see that the table is free.” This is an opportunity, she thought. He will be gone tomorrow and that will be that. This is my chance to indulge myself without any real consequences, she convinced herself. But will I chicken out, she wondered.
Naina was reasonably good at the game, so she was shocked when Jacob won point after point effortlessly.
“How do you do that?” She asked in awe, after she lost the second game, barely scoring 3 points. She felt even more drawn to him.
“You’re not bad, you know. If you change your grip of the mallet you can significantly improve your speed and control. Just move your palm…”
“No.” Naina interrupted. “Come here and show me.” She demanded.
Jacob looked intently at Naina for a moment and she met his gaze with confidence. He nodded. Naina couldn’t believe what she had just said. It was so unlike her. Her hormones with some help from the alcohol had pushed past her inhibitions and possibly good sense. There was still time to stop it all. Danger Will Robinson! her brain screamed, but Naina ignored its warnings.
Jacob came to her side of the table and stood behind her. He put his hand over hers and adjusted her grip. Naina’s heart raced. She wanted to turn and look at him but she couldn’t. Just then he whispered in to her ear, “We can leave the party you, know. If that is what you want …”
She nodded, still not looking at him. He put his other arm around her waist and held her close. She gasped and turned to look at him longing for a kiss. He only smiled. “Let’s go” he whispered.
The walk in the cold night air and the anticipation served to heighten her arousal. They barely got in to her apartment and closed the door when she jumped in to his arms and they kissed. It wasn’t long before they were tearing each other’s clothes off. What a night it had been! Naina was no virgin, but the feeling that she was being bad, doing something forbidden, added a new flavour to the pleasure.
Jacob had left at early in the morning without a word, just as she had hoped he would. He had understood perfectly.
Naina took her time with her bath and breakfast as she thought about the previous night. Then she picked up her cell phone and called her BFF, Rita. She needed to tell someone all about last night. But Rita was shocked. “You did what? And what about Rohit? Are you going to tell him?”
Oh yes, what about Rohit, Naina thought. She had it all figured out, right? Something about, it was just sex, no emotional entanglement, no consequences, something about a coping mechanism for long distance relationships. Her rationalizations all sounded so vague an ridiculous in the light of day.
“I don’t know if I should tell him. Should I?” Naina asked Rita
“Of course you should. You can’t begin a marriage with secrets. Tell him all about it being a one night thing. Tell him you were sexually frustrated. May be it will all work out. May be he will understand.”
Confused Naina said, “Okay let me think.” She hung up.
Let me call Didi, she thought. She may be able to help me figure it out. Naina’s sister Manisha, patiently listened to everything she had to say. “So, Didi, should I tell him?” Naina asked. “Rita says I must. Beginning a marriage with secrets is a bad idea she says.”
“Was it really just sex to you? Do you feel no emotional attachment or longing for this guy?” Manisha asked.
“Yes it was just sex. No I don’t long for him.” Naina asserted.
“Then what’s the point of telling Rohit? It’s over and nothing can be done to change it. With Jacob gone there is no chance of this spiralling in to an illicit long term affair. By telling Rohit you will rid yourself of the guilt. But you will make him feel bad for no fault of his. He will probably let it go, but he will be hurt. If you feel guilty about keeping a secret, it is your cross to bear. But there is no reason to make him suffer for your indulgences. Besides, if there really is no emotional attachment, you too will forget soon.”
“Thanks Didi.” Naina said and hung up.
The two people she trusted most had given her diametrically opposite advice an both sounded sensible. What should she do? Secrets, guilt, crosses, suffering, how did she get entangled in this mess? But it was just sex, she said to herself, just sex. Couldn’t sex just be casual? A simple fulfilment of a physical desire, like eating when hungry. What made it all so complicated?
Naina looked at the phone, the device that made the meaningful relationship she shared with Rohit possible, even though they were separated by over a 1000 miles. Rohit and she spent hours talking about everything imaginable from their hopes, fears, fantasies, to gossip and discussing movies, books and TV shows. Apart from their strong physical attraction, they also shared a strong emotional bond. Next to the phone, on the night stand, lay the 2 condom wrappers, the remains of a pleasurable night shared with a man she hardly knew.
What should she do? Naina wondered as she stared at the night stand. She knew at once. She must call Rohit and talk to him. Should she tell him about last night? She did not know yet. But she did know that she must call him. She would know when she talked to him.
This story had been shortlisted for the June 2017 Muse of the Month, but not among the top 5 winners.
Image source: By rt69 on flickr.com (Queereaster) (www.flickr.com) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons, for representational purposes only.
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Kanika G, a physicist by training and a mother of 2 girls, started writing to
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