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Yes, you were wrong in falling in love with a married man, but then the married man was more at fault. And if I had to hate someone it should be him, not you. You are a stranger to me, why should I hate you?
Meera sat in front of the mirror and looked at herself. She still couldn’t believe what Atul had said to her before leaving for office. She looked at the mirror, she could see Atul’s face so clearly. His eyes were so full of love, love for someone else, not her. After all she had done, how could he do this to her.
“Meera, I think it is best we accept the truth, there is no point dragging this lie anymore. It is best we end this right here.” Atul looked at Meera sitting in front of the mirror. He expected some reaction from her, but she just sat there watching herself.
“Say something for god’s sake Meera, this can’t have taken you by surprise am sure. You know me too well. You sure must have understood there was someone else in my life.”
Yes, Meera thought, she had realized it. Or rather she had felt someone else was there, but she was not ready to accept it. How could she? It was beyond her dreams that Atul would cheat on her. And yet, and yet Meera felt this nagging feeling in her heart that she always knew Atul could do something like this.
“I am not returning to this house anymore. I will send Manoj to pack my things, please cooperate with him. I do not want any scene in front of a driver.”
Atul stood up and walked up to where she was sitting. He put his hands on her shoulder and stroked her hair.
“I tried Meera, I really did, but I love Maya. I can’t live without her. Am sorry.” Atul stood there for a minute hoping Meera would speak but she didn’t. And he left.
Meera sat there watching herself. There was so much she wanted to say, but she didn’t. She was not sure if she opened her mouth what would come first a torrent of words or a heart wrenching cry. She just sat there watching the tears form in her eyes.
She had sat there while Manoj came and packed Atul’s belongings. After a couple of hours, he left, and Maya still sat in the same place, wondering what had gone wrong and when. Wondering how he could have left her. She had fought with her family to be with him. Her father had thrown her out of the house. Her friends looked down upon her, her colleagues talked about her behind her back. She had suffered the stigma of being called “the other woman” all because he loved her. And now he had left!
She heard her phone ringing in the living room. She let it ring, she didn’t want to get up. But the phone kept ringing, again and again, and again. At last, she went and picked up her phone, it was an unknown number.
“Speaking, who is this?”
“Hi Meera, Maya here.”
Meera grabbed the sofa to steady herself. What did Maya want?. Why was she calling her?
“Meera please do not keep the phone down. I know you hate me, there is no reason for you not to. But I want to make a fresh start.”
“What do you mean?”
“You must have understood by now Meera that Atul, can never be true to anyone. When you had taken him away from me, I had cried for days wondering what had gone wrong and when did it go wrong. How could anyone come and take him away, when I loved him so much?”
Meera clutched at her breast, she felt the stabbing pain would kill her right then. She knew Maya must have felt the same when Atul had left her to be with Meera.
Today Maya had taken the perfect revenge, but she could leave the bragging. Meera didn’t have the strength to take it anymore.
“Meera, whatever you do, do not keep the phone down till I am through. I had hated you a lot at one point, but then I realized that it was not completely your fault. Yes, you were wrong in falling in love with a married man, but then the married man was more at fault. And if I had to hate someone it should be him, not you. You are a stranger to me, why should I hate you? Atul would have left me one day, it didn’t matter for whom. That is Atul. And I just wanted to prove that, to myself, to you, and to him.”
Maya continued after a pause, “He is now head over heels in love with me, again. With his estranged wife living separately for 2 years. If you think he will be living happily with me now, you are wrong. After winning you, after winning me back, his male ego is at all time high, he will be soon looking for someone else.”
“What do you mean?” Meera at last asked.
“I am on my way to the airport Meera, am leaving tonight, Atul has left your place and coming to mine. I am not taking him back. I just took him from you to leave him alone. I am starting my life afresh with a vacation at the beach to purge myself of men like Atul. And in this new life of mine, you are my first new friend.”
“You don’t hate me anymore?”
“Truth be spoken, maybe I do. It is difficult not to hate someone who forces you to open your eyes, and for that same reason am sure you will hate me too. But once I realized that though you had fallen for Atul, it was he who should have stopped you, I learnt to forgive you. I know I could have let bygones be bygones and left you two alone, but maybe it was my ego that didn’t let me.”
“But we were really in love Maya.”
“So were we Meera. Maybe we all were true in those moments. May be Atul too had truly loved you, loved me. Maybe he can’t help being the way he is. I do not know, and I do not need to know anymore. I am at peace now.”
Meera sighed, “Atul will come back to me when he finds you have left.”
“And it is up to you whether he finds you or not. You decide what your life should be.” After a few seconds, Maya disconnected the line.
Meera kept her phone down. She went and sat in front of her mirror. Atul would come back to her now once he found Maya had left. She looked at herself and smiled and picked up her lipstick.
“Meera, open the door Meera, Am back. I love you Meera. That bitch left after playing me along for so long. I was right in leaving her in the first place. We will soon get married now like you always wanted. Meera, open the door honey.”
“Sir, please do not create a ruckus here. The other residents will complain.” The security guards had rushed up hearing all the commotion.
“Where is madam? She is not opening the door.”
“Madam left in the evening. Don’t you have the spare key, sir?”
“I forgot to take it in the morning. Where did she go?”
“I do not know, sir, but she had a big trolley bag with her.”
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