There were myriad emotions running through Sunaina’s mind as the plane touched the ground. She was back home, her own city Mumbai after a short trip to London. Saying good bye was hard. Her husband Ajay had landed a short term assignment for 6 months in London and she had accompanied him to help set up things and also see the city. They would be living apart for 6 months as she had a job here and couldn’t leave it and move.
She would be living alone after a very long time. Though there was always this occasional one or two nights when he travelled or she travelled on work, the max was a week. But this was 6 months. Their only son Sidhant was studying in a boarding school.
She came back to an empty home, did she miss him? They were married for 10 years now and those days of love seemed blurry now. The way they kissed each other good morning, the messages exchanged despite the busy day and the chit chat over dinner as they hugged each other and slept, content in each others arms- was that another life?
With time, both had got busy in building their careers, then Sidhant was born and life happened. Love ebbed away slowly somewhere. It made her laugh- nowadays their phone call lasted less than 30 seconds- “get the grocery and the plumber would be in at 5.” Those were the kind of conversations. Sex was a 10 minute thing, sometimes even lesser. She couldn’t remember the last time she had an orgasm.
It was a mundane existence, where outwardly everything looked fine. They were a happy family, doing well professionally, she was a well know artist. The inside story was not very different, they did not have any marital discord but that crazy feeling called love was lost.
As she was busy thinking about there life together, her phone beeped. It was Jeet. Jeet worked as a VP in the same company as her but was in a different department. He lived in NY and was coming to India for a 3 month assignment as they had offshored a new process and he was here for oversight to ensure smooth transition.
She remembered the day they first met, she was struggling to find a seat in the new office they had moved to. She saw a vacant seat and grabbed it. The man sitting beside her was all suited up and talking in a foreign accent. Those typical desi guys who go abroad and act like firangs, she scorned. There was some VP conference and there were many foreigners visiting the India office.
Her boss’s words suddenly rung in her mind- “you are fabulous at your work but you must learn to network better.” She looked at the guy beside her, maybe he is someone important, I should talk to him.
“Hi I am Sunaina” she said. He turned and shook hands “Hi I am Jeet, visiting from NY”, there was this light sparkle in his eyes. Thats how they got talking.
He had lived in London earlier and she mentioned about her hubby’s visit and the help she was seeking. He referred her to his known estate agent and also sent her a few helpful links by email. It was a friendly chat and they parted ways.
They chatted with each other sometimes on office IM, they joked about stuff, he mildly flirted with her which she seemed to enjoy. When was the last time a man flirted with her? She couldn’t remember.There were those few blokes who checked her out but that always left her with a feeling of wrath. With him it was somehow different.
He was now coming to India and had asked her for help in finding some basic stuff like choosing an apartment and phone connection etc which she was happy to help. It was his message saying that he was arriving tomorrow and they could meet up for lunch in office.
She found herself looking forward to it. A bit of harmless flirting never killed anyone, there is nothing wrong she told herself. They met for lunch the next day – “you look gorgeous” he complimented her and she smiled in return. They sat to have lunch and she helped with some formalities for taking a new phone and internet connection.
The next day he asked her out to dinner. She had no plans anyways and it would be nice to eat out than have dal rice at home she thought. She could also do with some company.
They went to a new Thai restaurant that had just opened shop, the decor was amazing. Soft music played in the background, the area was dimly lit. The best part was it was a rooftop bar and restaurant with a view of the entire city below. He had picked the place, which was surprising as he was new here and she wasn’t even aware of such a place.
They had drinks and started chatting- they spoke about things ranging from their spouses, their kids, life in general, there experience in the corporate world. The conversations slowly got personal. He asked her “whats her biggest dream that she wants to see as a reality? She was speechless for a moment, No one had asked her about her dreams.
“I love painting, I hope I can have an art exhibition of my collections some day” she said almost visualising it in front of her eyes. “I don’t know anything about art to be honest but I have seen the stuff you have been sharing on Facebook and I think you are really good at it. You are so passionate about art, I am sure you will see your dream turn to reality very soon.”
He spoke about his parents, the fact that he couldn’t be the dutiful son they always wanted him to. He moved out from his hometown in India when he was 22 and secured admission for MBA at Cambridge. Thereafter he never returned home, except for the yearly visits. His parents were keen that he settle down in India but he was happy abroad. He met Veronica who worked at an ad agency and they fell in love. After 5 years of courtship they got married. His parents blessed them with tears in their eyes, they were happy that he had settled down but had wished for an Indian daughter in law.
His parents never visited much, they dint feel very comfortable abroad and in his home. They had 2 grand kids now Noel and Natasha but that attachment was never formed.
He had a good life, his wife travelled a lot and they seldom had time together but they were happy , his only regret was he had failed as a son.
He got really emotional talking about his innermost feelings and his eyes got moist. She held his hand on an impulse and they sat there holding hands for a few minutes until her phone rang.
She withdrew with a jerk, it was her husband’s call. Her face turned pale, as if she had been caught- she excused herself and went to answer the call. The usual pleasantries, inquiry about bills, food, Sidhant, parents, there was nothing more to talk. She hoped he would ask about her paintings which she had recently submitted for a contest but he never asked.
She came back and saw him staring at her, it was a look filled with tenderness, love, lust? She did not know, she felt guilty now. What the hell was she doing? I need to go before it gets tool late, not very safe to travel by UBER at night she said.
I will drop you, come sit lets have dessert – caramel custard is the speciality here, he said.
She sat down , but was on guard. He sensed her discomfort and to make the atmosphere light, started talking about some random stuff. They finished their dessert and left.
He dropped her home and bade goodbye.
She thought about him the whole night, she had a dream that they were making love and she woke up with a start. Why was she getting such clouded thoughts? She wondered.
The next day she waited for his IM but he appeared away. I must check with him that he’s ok she thought and called him. His voice sounded distant and he sounded in pain “I have a bout of tummy flu” he said.
“Oh please take care, hope you went to see the doctor, let me know if you need anything”.
He did not come to office the whole week and she checked with him a couple of times. She was missing him, his chats, those coffee conversations, the silly flirting and the heartfelt stories they shared. She had almost decided to visit him but then changed her mind.
The week dragged by and it was the weekend. She spent her time painting, reading and visiting her parents.
Monday morning a chat message popped up “hey lovely lady, how about dinner tonight, I have recovered and a week of eating soup has made my taste buds so dull, I could do with some drinks and a good meal”.
“I am up provided dinner is on me “- she said and they sealed the deal.
“How are you” she asked, as they met near the elevator “Was dying but I think I will live now” he said looking straight into her eyes and she felt her heart skip a beat.
They went to a cosy restaurant and had some good wine with sea food. The conversations continued, she was a bit taken aback to see his genuine interest in her life, her likes, her dreams – he did not pretend he understood or liked the same things. In fact his tastes were quite different but he listened to her, asked questions which made her pause, think about and answer and there was this connection between them which was strong despite the differences in their backgrounds and tastes.
They had drunk a lot of wine and she felt hazy- she usually never had more than a glass. As he walked her home, she almost tripped near the stairway and he held her instinctively by the waist. They were really close, and in the next instant his mouth was on hers and she responded with the same passion. She closed her eyes, she wanted to experience this moment and live it to the fullest. His hands closed around waist. “We should go in- this is not London” she said.
She unlocked the door and they couldn’t get their hands off each other, they made love that night. It was raw, passionate, she felt great when she that long orgasm, the last time she had come seemed ages ago. As they lay wasted in each others arms, she snuggled closer. She felt this sense of contentment and it was a lot to do with the fabulous sex but also with what they had been sharing for the past few days.
He showered and left.
As she lay in bed that night, several thoughts came to her mind. Was this wrong? Was this what they called an extra marital affair, an illegitimate relationship? She would scorn when she heard or read about other people getting into such things, it is so bloody wrong she thought. She had never thought that she would develop feelings for someone. It saddened her to see where her relationship with her husband was going but she knew they were together and there was no question of breaking it as nothing bad had happened.
He loved his wife and family- he had a life there in London. What was it that they shared then? Was it just lust? The thrill of making love to someone new and doing a forbidden deed? But was it just about sex? Would she sleep with any random guy who promised a good fuck? She knew she missed good sex but wasn’t desperate.
It was much more than that- she wouldn’t call it love for she really did not want to even try venturing into that territory and further complicate things. But she felt wanted, loved, important with him. The subtle flirting, the way he looked into her eyes, held her hand, asked about her dreams – it was everything she had wanted and tried her best to communicate with her husband about, but it failed.
He had left his imprints not just on her body but on her heart- those which others may consider immoral, sinful but for her they were pure. They had made her feel alive, feel beautiful, feel special. She knew getting into a relationship would complicate things further and breaking families was the last thing on her mind. These heart prints is what she frozen in her mind and heart- she woke up and took out her paintbrushes. She had her muse now.
“HeartPrints – the award winning painting in the Geneva International Painting exhibition – tell us the story behind it ma’am” – the reporter looked at her eagerly as she smiled. “Thanks for this Jeet” she whispered.
I am participating in The Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge. The prompt for today is heartprints.