Colours displayed by the muted television dance on the opposite wall, engulfing the dark room in an alien light.
The night lamp shines steadily in a corner, spilling golden light in abundance.
The dark mesh of her hair spreads on the white pillow her head rests on. Her chest rising and falling to the rhythm of her breaths. Soft lips forming an almost pout, dark lashes closed together.
Her legs tangle with the thin sheet clinging to her sweaty skin. A shift in her top revealing soft skin of her stomach.
She rarely shifts in her sleep. A pillow tucked beneath her arms and a cushion crushed between her legs.
I am lucky to have her, I think. People often wonder what we’re doing together. The crow got the pearl, they say.
Three years, four months and 16 days ago. She had become mine, and I had become hers. On our wedding night, I had just looked at her. Knowing, that people would associate us as a couple now.
Strange, how I couldn’t get used to this idea in the few months I’d known this to be our immediate future.
She never said anything. Never complained. Always, the dotting wife. Served me hot meals, offered me valuable suggestions, kept my bed warm in cold nights.
I was supposed to be happy beyond measure. I had it all. Yet, it seemed that I had sold a part of me.
Months passed like years. Life settled into a routine that neither excited nor bored. It stretched on, like every other thing.
It is during that time, that I first heard of her, my doom. A colleague talking about his sister who had come to town for a visit.
“Come home!” he said. “Don’t forget to bring along your wife.”
A week later, we went to his place, along with three other colleagues. It was a merry gathering where my wife interacted with everyone. Laughing politely, helping whenever she could. Her smile flowed easily to her lips. “Lucky you!” one of the men exclaimed.
I wondered why I never felt so. Looking down from the balcony of the 26th floor apartment, I felt a rush of cool breeze on my face.
A silent shadow joined me as well. I turned to look at the intruder. A female, younger to me by few years, with a mane of silky hair and interesting brown eyes.
“Avoiding the crowd” she indicated quietly towards the merry gathering behind us. “You’re the sister, I assume.” “And you’re the married one,” she said. “Your wife is beautiful.” “I know. ” “Don’t you ever feel intimidated?” she asks.
Not used to such direct questions, I look at her more carefully. Even though her lips smile, I sense a detachment from her. Maybe life had not always been giving to her.
“I think I should go back” I say, moving away from the cold corner. She doesn’t look my way again.
A few weeks later, I meet her at the office lobby. She had come by to drop a file her brother had forgotten to carry that morning. She’s dressed in a simple dress that hugs her in the right places. Her lips shine from a fresh coat of lip colour. She looks good, I think.
Two nights later, I wake up from a dream. I was peeling that dress off her body, slowly unzipping it until it fell on the floor. I had my hands in her soft hair, as I kissed her lips again and again. She moaned my name, eager for more.
The dream had left me hard, I realise with a shock. Thinking of another woman after marriage is a sin, I’ve been taught. Yet, I couldn’t get her off my mind.
In the elevator, in the bus stops, in the lunch hour. I could only think of her, her eyes, her lips, her breasts.
A month later, I saw her again. This time, in a coffee shop with a friend. She looked better than I remembered. This entire month, I’d been obsessed by the thought of her. The only thrill in my dull life, I think.
She was surprised to see me, it is clear in her eyes. I think I can’t hide my satisfaction at seeing her here unexpectedly. We ended up having coffee together. It was good, I remember. We exchanged numbers. We need to keep in touch, she said. She would be returning to town in two months, permanently this time.
I got a call from her number, three months later. We met regularly now. For coffees and other mundane reasons. You have to come home, she insisted once. Meet Bruno, my dog, she said.
I couldn’t refuse.
We met in her flat now. So that I could spend time with Bruno. Once, we ended up watching a movie. It was horror. She squealed in fear and scooted closer to me. Our arms, almost touching. It was the most excited I’d felt in months.
After that, we only watched horror movies. She is scared, I justified myself. If she needed protection from the ghosts, I would wrap my arms around her, I thought.
One thing led to another.
We kept scooting closer together, until she was almost sitting on my lap. That afternoon, with the movie playing in the background, I kissed her for the first time. It was better than I imagined.
The next day, she called me, saying it was an emergency. I left my office in a rush. As soon as she opened the door to my insistent knocks, she pulled me inside.
Pushed me against the wall and molded her body to mine. That day, I tasted and felt sin and pleasure together for the first time.
After that, it became a routine. Life was no more dull, but exciting, fulfilling, complete.
I enjoyed her touch, the feel of her soft skin beneath my fingers. I loved teasing her, tormenting her, until she would cry my name in desperation.
It has been six months, since I first touched her, I think.
In the darkness of my room, beside my sleeping wife, I lie on my back. I let my thoughts flood with pictures of her, the noises she makes, the way she look when she comes, the way she calls out my name.
Tomorrow, 6 p.m.
I text her on her number. And sleep beside my unaware wife, who is in deep slumber.
I know this is wrong, I know I’ll stop someday. But that day is not tomorrow, I think.
Copyright ©Devika Todi. All rights reserved.