A Tale of Two Women

She stepped out of the hot shower, smelling like a combination of bamboo and oranges.

Who would choose to smell like this on a night like this when there was someone waiting for her in bed like this! Like me! I have been ready for a while now and sat sipping wine and watching television. I needed distraction but I didn’t want it to be obvious either. But the steamy fragrances were doing to my senses what any man could ask for in bed. She did that by simply standing a few feet away.

She walked casually towards me with a white towel wrapped dutifully around her. She took the glass of wine I offered her and sat next to me. The dim lights, the warmth extending from her skin, the bamboo and oranges, the flavor of wine, the sound of an occasional beep on the phone – it was a celebration of all my senses. She caught me smiling and asked, “What is it that’s amusing?”

I was startled! I said, “mmm… nothing.”

“Would you rather I walked to you without the towel?” she asked as a matter of fact.

“I’d rather not. You’re perfect”, I said as honestly as I could.

“Perfect? Naaah! We don’t have time for such sweet nothings! Tell me when you’re ready”, she snubbed me.

What?

“I want to talk to you”, I said.

“About what?” she asked.

“About why we are here in this hotel room.

“You think too much! I’m here because I want to make love to you.

How is it different from what I do with my husband, you wonder? Those are less-guilty pleasures. Sex is available everywhere. There are way too many hungry people that one doesn’t run out of choices or chances.

Marriage on the other hand does nothing but to make you feel no guilt when you’re sleeping with the same man every single night. It’s like doing the same thing over and over again. I love my husband; have no doubts about that”, she said and lit a cigarette, “but that is no reason why I should kill myself over him. Isn’t it?”

“You are right. But this is beyond feeling less guilty. I’m not sure I’d appreciate that if you were my wife. It hurts a man’s ego, I’m sure.

Lucky I’m not a man”, I said.

She put off her cigarette, gulped down the wine, and tucked herself under the silk linen next to me. And thus, our moments began.

*Image: Watercolor rendition of photograph by Adriano Sadre

A Tale of a Stranger

The other half of my soul is out there somewhere.

People walk in and out of our lives. Who stays and who leaves is never within our vicinity of control. I had so many questions that only his silent understanding eyes answered. What was he made of? Tears began rolling down my eyes. I was not embarrassed (at least for that moment) to open myself up this way over our first dinner out at my favourite restaurant. I had saved the place for someone else and for a special occasion, instead I was crying it all out to this good-looking man with a small goatee, who had only perhaps wanted a companion for the evening. He didn’t question anything I said, or ask for more details. He wasn’t curious about what went so wrong that I was such a gory mess today. He merely understood and smiled a comforting smile. He joked about my choice of food, to lighten me up. I had lost my appetite, but I did not want to kill his evening. I had to play host instead of my friend who had chosen at the last minute to… well never mind that. Here I was anyway. I apologised for the emotional outburst and asked him if he would be interested in a dessert at a nearby café. (After an emotional outburst I always needed chocolate or dessert to pacify myself.) I was sure he had more than just food to digest that night. I had something to take back home, myself.

I managed to return home in one piece, and tried hard not to dwell on the embarrassment I had caused myself. The mind has a mind of its own, if you know what I mean. I began to wonder what an impression I must have left on Mr. M’s mind. He must surely think that the evening was a disaster, and I, on the other hand, was glad the dinner happened. There was nothing special about Mr. M or I merely chose not to see it. This man who was sitting on the other side of the table from me, while enjoying the fish and wine and spaghetti, paid attention to all the shrill-voiced and teary eyed ranting from a woman whom he had met just then. Where were my manners? It didn’t matter, since I found comfort. It felt as though he had sprinkled some invisible stardust, and a huge dark cloud had lifted off my head. I felt strange that I should feel this way, the first time I met Mr.M, but I was sure to get a night-long dreamless sleep .

Later that night, as I changed into my nightwear and prepared to go to bed, I thought about the decision that had changed and affected my life and thoughts in a manner that would be irreparable. All because of one man. He definitely wasn’t the soul mate whom I hoped to meet during the course of my life. He was perhaps only a karmic line that crossed my life’s path to teach me lessons from another lifetime. My world revolved around him, and then walked in Mr.M who told me that life is to be lived otherwise, not shelved by/for someone, and that I should follow my heart no matter how painful the journey or how tormenting the person you spend your days with. With each passing day we think that nothing has changed, but one day when we look back we realise that nothing is the same anymore, except for the beating of our heart.

I thought, before I fell asleep, of the numerous nights I had spent staring at the roof, unable to let my mind rest on one thought for more than a jiffy. Most often I was unaware of the hours I spent crying until my face felt cold from the tears that were drying up. I never spoke about these nights to anyone, should I be thought of as an overreacting drama queen. There was nothing to talk about. I was angry with everyone including myself and life’s punches were too painful. I broke down again at dinner that evening, with Mr.M, and knew for once, that it would be the last I cried. Will I stop the one I love from leaving me or walking away from me? I have often thought about it. Would I? Will I? I never do. I silently send out a prayer or a wish and let destiny do the talking. Not once but twice I have been slapped in the face. When will I ever learn my lesson? There is no lesson to learn. Where are the stars that need to do all the match fixing? Where is dear old karma? Those thin fine lines from lives past that will create chance encounters that will last for life? More importantly what was I to do with the piles of memories lined up in every memory room in my head? There is more than meets the eye, isn’t it?

Love, then, is a learned language!

*Image: Rendition of photograph by Mira