Sometimes, I Imagine How My Life Would Have Changed If I’d Said ‘Yes’ To Him…

I loved him for sure, probably the only man I ever loved, but I didn’t have the courage to walk away from my current life. to tell my kids that their lives would be changed forever.

Trigger warning: This deals with infidelity and may be triggering for survivors.

Fourteen years into a marriage, the one in which I have always been left alone. Feels like, I didn’t enter a relationship but into a responsibility. I was too young then, to cancel the wedding and run away. No one thought about asking what I wanted, no one found any fault in what was happening, and no one, absolutely no one thought about me.

After my father passed away suddenly, my mother and we three sisters were left in the middle of nowhere. My father had a close-knit friend’s group, and they were all like family. They helped us in those difficult times. A few months later, one of his friends and his wife visited us, nicely dressed and with a sweet box in their hands. I was sent to the kitchen by my mom to prepare tea for everyone. When I returned, my wedding was already finalized with his eldest son, Sudhir. My mom was in tears and thanked them for taking away a huge responsibility from her. After my father’s death, the only thing she was bothered about was my marriage. She didn’t bother to even look at me to see if I am happy with the news or not.

Sudhir, who was twelve years elder than me was settled in New York. When we were kids, I called him Sudhir bhaiya and now suddenly they expected me to marry him. My mother begged me to accept it happily because if we cancel the wedding, no one else would marry me or my sisters. My studies were stopped, and in a month, I was packed with him to New York. Only later I came to know that he was in a relationship with an American girl and this marriage was just to hide that relationship.

I spent most days and nights alone, he would come home for dinner, sometimes just to sleep, sometimes not even that. We had nothing to talk to each other about. For days, he would go out for office tours, I was not allowed to question. I just stayed in that house, with him, all alone. When the family pressurized us for having a baby, he did his job twice in the gap of two years and came out as a good man, yet again. What I went through or how I managed everything, was nobody’s concern.

I got accustomed to this lifestyle, staying alone all day, taking care of kids and the house, dressing up to attend weekend parties with him, talking to his friends, inviting them to our house, cooking for his friends, sitting with his friends and smiling.

When I got time for myself, I indulged myself in painting. I started attending a few online art classes too. For the first time, I felt good in all these years. I made friends, my friends. Sometimes we planned to meet for an offline session. I started enjoying going to the classes and made sure I never missed them. Some of us became close friends and started meeting more often for coffee and shopping.

One day my friend Priya introduced me to her brother Shivam, who had come from India to visit her. We had coffee together and he said he loved my paintings; he showed an interest to click some of my paintings for an exhibition. I readily invited them to my home the next day but to my surprise, he came alone. Though I was utterly scared and hesitant to let him in, he seemed to make me feel comfortable in my own home. That was just the beginning.

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He entered my life like a fresh breeze. I started to like him instantly and we continued to meet for the next few days. He was a photographer by profession and was planning an exhibition in India. He effortlessly convinced me to pose for him with my paintings. I had never done this before but with him around, it all felt easy. He praised my work and my passion, and gave me the confidence to believe that I was doing something worth the praise. Nobody ever said such nice words to me before.

He flew back to India in a few weeks, leaving me where I was, alone again. This time, even though I was alone, I at least had someone to talk to. We would chat all day, and at night after everyone went to sleep, I walked to the living room to chat with him all night. Our time zone difference didn’t stop us from talking to each other. I enjoyed his company so much that I wanted to meet him again. I expressed my desire to travel to India and I don’t know from where did I get the confidence to travel only with my kids this time. Sudhir stayed back for his business plans.

Shivam was extremely happy, more so because I was reaching there just in time for the exhibition.

We met for breakfast the very next day. This was the first time someone was waiting for me. Even though I was exhausted and jet lagged, I wanted to spend the entire day with him. He took me to his home, where I found nobody but just paintings. The walls, the tabletops, and the staircase were all decorated with his photographs and paintings.

I felt like I entered a different world, a beautiful one. He shut the door behind me and hugged me. That was the warmest and longest hug I ever had. I was in tears, and he made me sit and held my hands. With my face down I saw my hands placed carefully on his, like they were always meant to be there. I looked at him and wished we had met before. I ran my fingers over his chiselled face and his thick black hair, and leaned forward to kiss him on his lips.

We lay on the bed and hugged again. His fingers ran over my back and then through the gap of my clothes on my waist. I could feel his touch and hugged him tighter. He was gentle, he kissed me all over my body and we made love like never before. When I opened my eyes, I realized what I had been missing all my life. I missed being loved, I missed being cared for, I missed being made to feel so precious and special. I wanted to stay in that moment forever. I wanted to forget I was a part of another life. Suddenly, he poured a bucket full of rose petals on me and wished me Happy Rose Day! It felt so childlike, and we laughed our hearts out. We celebrated the whole Valentine’s week gifting each other silly things. I felt like a college girl again, felt like I was in love for the first time in my life.

The exhibition was a huge success and to my surprise, I received a lot of praise for my work. I never thought even in the wildest of my dreams that I would ever showcase my work. All thanks to him for pulling me out of my closet and showing me there’s a world outside.

After I moved back to New York, we continued to keep in touch; this time we would video call each other at odd hours. Gradually, we entered into a more serious discussion. His parents wanted him to get married and he asked if I was ready for that. He wanted to get married to me. I was taken aback; I wasn’t prepared for this, and a thousand questions rose in my mind. Did I love him? Can I leave everything for him? Will he wait for me? Can I get married to him? Will my kids accept him? Will his parents accept me? Am I ready for all this?

I loved him for sure, probably the only man I ever loved was him, but I didn’t have the courage to walk away from my current life. I didn’t have the courage to tell my kids that their lives would be changed forever. I didn’t have the courage to tell my mother that nobody loved me the way he did. I didn’t have the courage to tell my husband that he never touched me the way he did. I feared society’s reaction, his parent’s reaction, my family’s reaction and I cursed myself for not gathering enough courage to do what I wanted to do.

His family was furious when he expressed his desire to marry a married mother of two. He never revealed my name or my identity; he kept his promise that I would never be in trouble for loving him. That incident made me realize that I took the right decision. Who am I to ruin his life? He deserves a better life partner. It’s my fate that I am in a forced marriage and it’s my good luck that I was loved by him dearly, even if it was just for once.

We were both under tremendous pressure and that affected our relationship too. I had to stop somewhere so he could move on. I had no right to ask him to stay with me in a relationship that had no future. We both remained silent for months. He was hurt and I was crushed.

He visited his sister again at the end of the year in New York. I requested that we meet one more time. I wanted to apologize, and I wanted to tell him why I had stopped being in touch. He obliged. He booked a room for us to meet and while I was on my way, I remembered our last meeting, the hug, the kisses, and our love. I knew that things had changed and that we were not meeting this time for any of those things. Still, when I saw him in the room, that was everything, he was the one I was in love with. I moved slowly towards him to hug him, but this time, he stood still with a cold hug.

I was in tears; I knew I had lost him. He didn’t want to force me into any decision. I didn’t want to enter his life with the baggage of my past life. Deep within our hearts we knew we were soulmates and were meant to be together forever, but the circumstances were different. As Rumi said, ‘lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.’ We silently agreed to part ways and remain friends.

It’s been three years since that, and a lot has changed in these years apart from the fact that his parents are still looking for the perfect girl for him. Sometimes, I imagine how my life would have changed if I had said ‘yes’ to him. I wonder what’s stopping him from getting married. Did I save his life by not marrying him or did I ruin it by not doing so? I will never get to know. I might never be able to prove my love for him, but we have found a friend in each other to be there whenever needed.

As they say, true love empowers you and that is what it did to me. Though we are not in a relationship anymore, it did its magic already. It gave me the courage to move out of the dead relationship with my husband. I created my identity; emerged as an artist, and I started earning so I can secure my children’s future. I never realized how important it is to be financially independent. I have come to terms with my solitude, not worrying about where my life would take me. Today, I am stronger, bolder, taking full charge of my life and living my life in my own terms. I don’t regret the roller coaster ride I had with my life all these years. It was just bringing out the best in me. I celebrate another Valentine’s day in my own company and I must say, I am absolutely loving it.

Image source: a still from the film anthology Bombay Talkies

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About the Author

Rashi Roy

Writer, YouTuber, musician, painter, HR and now running a venture to raise funds for cancer patients. read more...

6 Posts | 28,434 Views

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