As the weeks passed agonizingly slowly, with the usual tests and visits to the hospitals, Usha thought back on her life. as she made her way to the hospital corridors, all alone, she found it sad that in the 32 years of her life, she had made no such valid relationship which guaranteed someone with her today. A product of a broken home, she had had a nomadic childhood. The wandering existence had left its mark. She did not call a place home, she had no roots. She had always been a free soul, right from her tender years. Before she came to understand the concept of ‘living the moment’. , she had begun living it. She had studied architecture and had managed her way through management school, which had been the perfect course for her vivacious and shrewd personality. Today she headed one of the leading architectural firms in the city, and was on the verge of further expansion.
Her ambition and love for freedom had seen to that she had no permanent relationship. A string of affairs was her personal history. And somehow she had preferred it that way. Both her parents had passed away longtime back. And today, at this point in her life, she felt the need of people, and somehow her ability to let people go did not seem too appealing to her anymore.
The week she had discovered it, she had been too shocked to even consider the notion. Her husband was cheating on her. And she had no idea how to deal with it.
To top it all, she was pregnant, finally. After many years, they had finally managed to produce a life, a child. And she couldn’t think of worse timing.
She had had no inkling or doubt about his fidelity, nor had she any suspicions.
So, it had come as a bigger shock when she finally discovered that the “Mrs.” in the “Mr. and Mrs. Ajit” checked in many times in one of the local five star hotel wasn’t her.
After the initial shock, she wanted to find out who it was that he was cheating on her with.
The numbness which finally came to Sandhya as she watched the earthy beauty clinging to the arms of her husband, as Sandhya walked across from them, unknown to them, was a relieving difference from the heart stabbing pain of realization of her husband’s infidelity.
It was as if somewhere in her subconscious she had always believed that, that particular ghost from her past to exact her revenge. And what better than to steal her husband from her. Somehow, that it was Usha in his arms seemed befitting revenge to Sandhya.
She had met Ajit when his company had approached her firm for some project regarding the building of his new office. What started as casual flirtation turned out into a full fledged affair, with them meeting everyday after their respective office hours. She found him interesting. He was honest to her; she knew that he was married and that he had no intention of making an honest woman out of her by divorcing his wife. But, that had suited her then.
As the initial thrill of the affair wore off, Usha alarmingly realized that she wanted more of him than a clandestine affair.
And in order to put across her intention to him, she had first to research his background. She wanted to see his wife.
She knew his wife was a book reviewer and at times could be found in the local library.
Hence, she once followed his wife, at a distance, across town to the library.
In order to get a closer look, she had entered the library to find her sitting at one of the corner tables engrossed in a book. The breath had caught in Usha’s throat. It was like she had waited and eventually found her nemesis in a spectre of a distant past.
The plain beauty sitting in the library was not as beautiful or accomplished like her, but as always, the quiet contentment reflecting from her still managed to arouse her insecurities.
Shaken, she had turned and left the library.
In the initial period of discovering his deception, Sandhya suffered alone. She did not want to reveal anything to anyone. She did not know whether it was pride or some twisted sense of self preservation that had sealed her lips.
She went around with her daily routine in numb automation. At points she clinged on to daily acts of mundane activity to keep her desolation from overwhelming her and at times she just slumped in some corner of her house hyperventilating and crying her eyes sore till she was too tired for anything else. The questions that arised; about what went wrong, about what was less in her, about whether her whole married life being a farce; did not have any answers.
She knew some day she had to face and answer them. But for now, she was not ready to keep her whole being on a platter to be any more trampled upon by her husband.
If the present problems were not enough, with infidelity and her pregnancy, she had to contend with memories of the past.
Usha, her competitor today, Usha her best friend then.