“Why does the guilt of the homewrecker always lie with the woman?” I wondered as I scrolled through hundreds of Bollywood gossip stories.
Why are Shraddha Kapoor or now, Shibani Dandekar stripped of their dignity for what went wrong in Farhan Akhtar and Adhuna Bhabani’s marriage? Why did we blame Kareena Kapoor Khan for how Saif Ali Khan and Amrita Singh’s 14-year-long marriage ended? And Yami Gautam for breaking up Pulkit Samrat and Shweta Rohira, or Preity Zinta for Shekhar Kapur and Suchitra Krishnamoorthi?
Why can’t we see it simply — that it was your ‘home’ and you broke it, and not for me.
It was a weekend like any other — we’d meet at a friend’s house for a week worth of crib sessions, discussing films, skimming through politics and swiftly landing on the personal stuff, with 70s Bollywood music lending a soft background score to all of our ‘nursing a heartbreak’ stories.
You made me feel loved like never before. (Source: Silsila movie still/YouTube screengrab)
“I never get picked. I am always last on the priority list. It’s always jobs, parents, societal pressures coated in 'log kya kahenge', and in all this, I never make the cut. Is it too much to expect to be loved in a way that I come before everything else? Like they show in the movies? Like you can live without me, of course, you can, you just don’t want to,” I start, not noticing the quiver in my voice or the tears welling up in my eyes.
“I’ve always loved you that way.”
You should not have said that. I have seen enough movies to know what clichéd thunder and lightning or flower-bumping scenes could follow from this point on. And that would have been okay if you were ‘single.’ You were not.
Single is a loaded word — one could be in a relationship but because they’re not married they could perhaps escape the moralities of adultery. And then, one could be truly (truly) single, yet just not ready to ‘mingle’ — yeah, I just used that ridiculous word. Oh, darn those chick-flicks I gorge on with my bag of chips and that bottle of wine.
I fell for it.
I regretted it instantly — even during.
Only initially, though.
The thing about doing something wrong is that there comes a moment— a very brief one — when you start loving it. After all, human beings are genetically and mythologically programmed to always bite the forbidden fruit.
It always tastes sweeter. It did that day too.
The ‘good’ souls overcome that moment and the temptation, the ‘bad’ souls live to deal with a guilty conscience.
The walk of shame the morning after gave me enough time to come up with the above line. A strong black coffee and several deep breaths later, I looked myself in the mirror and promised, what’s done is done. It will never happen again.
But it did. On several occasions, through several months.
It’s not that I forgot you have a life — a real one, the official one — beyond me. It’s not that I didn’t want to tell my friends immediately about ‘us’ or update happy quotes on Facebook. It’s not that I had suddenly turned into this immoral minx, unaffected by the thought that what we were up to — whatever you want to call it — could hurt the woman in your life. She is your reality, I was a spring break. Right?
Silsila ye chahat ka. (Source: Silsila movie still/YouTube screengrab)
What I didn’t realise was that I was falling for you — you truly loved me the way I wanted to be loved. You looked at me in a way that made me melt, even with a dozen people in the room, I’d be sitting in a puddle.
And the way you smelled — I could never identify the brand, I just know it makes me stop and turn around every time I sense a whiff at the metro station, in the market, at work.
I wanted you to leave ‘her’ simply because you can’t live without me. I have nothing against her, she is lovely, but yes, I am selfish. I am not even going to apologise for that.
And then you left on a regular Tuesday and never came back. The guilt, you said, was killing you. The attachment, you said, had started to feel too strong. The future, of ‘us’ that I could see, you couldn’t.
Of course, my life is no Bollywood gossip column. In worlds like mine, they never pick the ‘other’ woman — too much confrontation, too much emotion, too much melodrama, too little love.
It’s business as usual on Wednesday. The sun still shines. The coffee is still black.
Except, that lingering smell of your perfume still riles me up sometimes — at the metro station, in the market, at work.