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The Other Life

I have been working on relationship stories lately. Where did I get the idea? It was easy. It was everywhere. I love observing. People watching was my favourite thing to do. So when I’m travelling, I will talk to strangers. Randomly start up a conversation with them. Here’s the thing you need to know, strangers will open to you way more than your closest people. I think it’s just the feeling of talking to someone who’s judgement about yourself doesn’t matter. And if that wasn’t enough, I have my friends and acquaintances who have put their trust in me to talk about the most private moments of their life. So after careful deliberation and ofcourse getting approval from my confiders, I shall be sharing these stories. Stories of relationships Stories of pain, stories of deceit, stories of love. Ofcourse, names will be changed to preserve their identity.

Maya had been married for eight years now. Her first meeting with her husband Vinay was arranged by a friend of the family who knew both sides. He was an engineer in a multinational oil & gas company and was earning well. He looked nice, ‘not very handsome’ she thought, but he was well dressed and had a warm smile. He was settled in Dubai whereas she was brought up in Mumbai. At first, she was sceptical about moving to Dubai. “I’m so spoilt here. I’m the only child of my parents and I have never had to work, be it at home or outside. I have a staff of three at home including a driver so I’ve never even had to drive by myself,” she told him in her first meeting, “I’ve heard living in Dubai would mean giving up all these amenities and I’m not very sure of that.”
Vinay laughed at her innocence. She was beautiful and he was smitten in the first meeting. She had long brown hair that had even golden streaks strategically placed. The colour of her hair matched her eyes, her bee-stung lips were painted a light pink which showed off her pearly whites. She wasn’t very tall but with the right amount of heels, she would almost reach his shoulder. “I live in Dubai, not England or America, we can get staff there. We can even have a driver if you want, but the roads are beautiful there, if you get your license you will love driving there, it’s not like Mumbai. Also, I earn well enough, I don’t think you have to work there as well.” Maya smiled. They finished their coffee in the Taj Lands End lobby. He took the bill and she noticed his Louis Vuitton wallet with at least four credit cards peaking from the slits inside. He dropped her home and on the way, they had conversations about movies and dogs. He even made fun of her height a little. She blushed when he did.

Six months later they were married and she moved to Dubai. Maya loved Dubai. Apart from the scorching temperatures, she loved how clean and nice people were. She found friends through his circle. Vinay had kept his promise, he provided her with a full-time cook and a part-time cleaner who came every day. She had a great life, even better than what she had in Mumbai, she thought. Vinay spoilt her rotten. His well-paying job gave her all the luxury goods, fancy holidays and a rich lifestyle. She had nothing to complain about. But more than anything else, she loved her relationship with Vinay.

She found her soulmate in Vinay. She had never felt so close to anyone like this before. He understood her, her every mood, her every emotion, he knew it before she could say it. She looked forward to their daily chats in the nights where she would share her day with him and wait to hear what happened in his. Two years later she found out she was pregnant. With twins.

It was around the sixth month of her pregnancy when she noticed it for the first time. Vinay’s behaviour was changing. At first, he told her work was getting tough. There was a new project he was heading and had a new boss who wasn’t making it easy for him. He seemed distant. He wasn’t home most of the time and even when he was, he wasn’t himself. He wasn’t the Vinay she knew who was looking out for her and looked forward to those conversations at the end of the day. She missed him.

It was then a week before her due date when she decided to go and complete her baby shopping at Dubai Mall, where she stopped in her tracks. It was Vinay at the Shakespeare Cafe but he wasn’t alone. There was this girl, she was pretty. They were sitting beside each other, all cosy and close. She had her head on his shoulder and his head was leaning on her head planting a kiss. Maya was shell shocked. She felt as if someone had slapped her out of nowhere. She froze there for a few seconds. They were so involved with each other that they didn’t even notice her standing there at their vantage point.

She couldn’t feel anything anymore. She just turned around and walked away feeling absolutely numb and cold. Maya has no memory of how she got herself home. Did she take a cab or book an Uber? She just remembers coming home and straight away curling up under the covers of her bed where she broke down.

Vinay came home that night behaving absolutely normal. Maya had cooked dinner just like she always did. She was quiet and he had surely noticed. He tried to talk to her but she just ignored him. It was when he sat down at the table and just about started to have dinner when she said, “Who was that girl with you today in the cafe?”
Vinay stopped eating, He looked at Maya and one look in her eyes and he knew that she knew. He had seen this day coming a long time now and he had been preparing for this talk for a while now. He pushed his plate away and went to her side. Taking her hand into his, he started to talk.

The woman Maya saw him with was Ashima, his ex whom he was with for two years before she broke his heart when she cheated on him. Right after, in that low phase of life, pressured by his parents, he had agreed to meet girls for marriage and met Maya. But Ashima was his first love. When he had met Maya, he liked her. She was pretty, smart, funny, intelligent and she looked like the kind of girl he could find love with again. Soon after he finally felt like he moved on after the marriage, he found out that he was going to be a father and around that time he bumped into Ashima at his friend’s party, the one where Maya didn’t come to. That was it. THAT WAS IT! They connected once again and he realised how much he still loved her. He couldn’t hold back and he went to her place and spent the night with her. Since then they have been meeting and are together again.

Maya was numb. Considering the babies was just days away, Maya asked him if he was planning to put an end to this relationship. Vinay refused point-blank. He said, that he has feelings for Maya and will respect her completely, but it wasn’t the same feelings he has for Ashima. He said, he couldn’t love her anymore. He further said he will not let her go, he won’t divorce her because she is the mother of his children and his responsibility. He promised he will keep her happy with whatever she needs, give her all that she wants, but won’t be able to love her and be a husband to her. He will take full responsibility, will provide for the kids and her with all the comforts of the world. Maya just couldn’t believe what was happening. It was like a nightmare she wasn’t waking up from. The next few days were absolute torture. She loved him. She still loved him and felt this was just a bad time and this too will pass. Also, she had the baby two days later.

True to his word, Vinay was there for her throughout, he was there when she had their twin girls but he didn’t kiss her in affection anymore. He didn’t hug her warmly. She was absolutely distraught, but she saw hope in the form of her daughters now. She knew, looking at her daughters, that she was not going to give up on this relationship and Vinay would come back to her one day.

Today, two years later, Vinay continues to have a relationship with Ashima. They both meet every day and sometimes even go away for the weekends. Maya has made peace with her husband’s affair and keeps herself busy raising her girls. She has chosen not to leave Vinay as she claims that he will come back to her one day. Vinay and Maya are an ideal couple in society when they attend various social dos and mingle with friends. No one knows about this other life they both lead. When you ask Maya, why is she doing this to herself, she says, “It’s love.. it never makes sense.”

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