Illusion…

What the hell is going on between my husband and that bitch?’ Maya’s patience was at its lowest ebb and she was ready to burst.

Sanjay knew that she was serious. ‘Look, Maya. There is nothing going on between the two of them. Just a little bit of healthy flirting, I’d say.’

‘Flirting? Healthy flirting? Really Sanjay . . .’ she rolled her eyes in disgust. ‘That’s what you men call it? There is nothing healthy about flirting, Sanjay, not for a married man.

Healthy flirting is a term introduced by perverted men who want to lend legitimacy to their extramarital dalliances. Flirting invariably has a sexual connotation to it.’ She got up from her seat and walked around the room gesticulating and muttering something to herself. Suddenly she stopped, turned back, looked at Sanjay and asked, ‘Did my husband sleep with her? You are his friend. Did he ever tell you anything about it?’

What was Sanjay to say? After all Maya’s husband Anurag was her buddy from school. They had grown up together in a godforsaken place, studied in a school that was filled with teachers of the bygone era. Teachers who were mostly of the Anglo Indian descent for whom the independence of India was a piece of History they all detested. The grandeur of the school building was just a facade beneath it was a decaying school, in shambles in terms of both the quality of education and the student profile.

Anurag and Sanjay families were neighbours for generations and shared the same ideologies and religion. Their families were idealistic to a fault, a fault they both detested having seen the opulence bought in by the dilution of values, for some of their not so honourable neighbours. For them the lack of resources and the basic luxuries were something that shouldn’t be comprised with. This was their driving factor in the life the motivation that took them from their hometown to the big bad city of Bombay in the late eighties. The city like the rest of India was yet to fall in the not so real spirit of cultural renaissance of reclaiming past glories some of which were part real and part imaginary.

Once in Mumbai they both started to achieve their dreams of making it big to make the moolah they both so badly wanted. They slogged their way to their colleges, lived in dingy accommodation survived on pittance received from back home, and did odd jobs to supplement their always exhausted pockets. Their memories from childhood were in pairs. Their experiences, their dreams, their thoughts were alike and seemed surreal. One knew what other was thinking. The city further added to their experiences from the fulfilling the first flushes of adulthood, to trying and experimenting with what they had to offer to each other and the city. Over the next 7 odd years they had learnt the ways of the city, they did have their big group of friends from college, office or socially. But in the end what mattered was the two of them together for each other.

They were the keeper of each other secrets, they knew each other inside out, from the ones each had bedded , the liaisons , the heartbreak were all out in open for them. Surprisingly there wasn’t ever a felling of possessiveness that creeps in such a close relationship, they were confident sure about each other.

download (7)Over the years the questions of marriage was regularly raised by both their families. Anurag to get over the incessant family demand had proposed to Maya who he was then dating. If not for the family pressure Anurag would have easily waited as till them he wasn’t yet sure of her. Their liaisons were agreed upon by the families and they were soon married with a reception at the Kohinoor Hall opposite the Siddhi Vinayak Mandir the deity like all Mumbaikars (the city had now seized to be Bombay anymore) Maya and Anurag worshipped. Sanjay had been the man behind the show, managing everything; he was someone that even Maya had continued to rely on intrinsically.

As the years flew, the idea of Sanjay’s marriage also flew out of the window, he was ready with a reason to postpone his wedding on one pretext or another and gradually everyone gave up on him. He was content with life.  Anurag and they had moved in the same building albeit on different floors. So they offered each other space as well as were close when need be. Everyone got along ahead in their careers Maya, Sanjay and Anurag with compensations that ensured luxurious lifestyles that each had imagined and strived for!!

After two miscarriages they had stopped trying and would not object when the term DINK (Double Income No Kids) was regularly used for them for who would they tell that it was more out of compulsion then choice. Whereas Sanjay continued to have temporary liaisons to fulfil his carnal pleasures for he wasn’t looking for anything emotional out of these doomed relationships. Like him Anurag too would falter at his wedding vows and Sanjay’s Pad was a mute witness to these escapades.

So when Maya asked him about the ‘bitch’ or had her husband slept with her, what was he to tell her that bitch was none other than the latest  fling of her husband and someone they both were sharing for some time now. For whatever Maya trusted Sanjay with, she knew for sure that he would never betray her husband or spill the beans on him. She didn’t ponder beyond a point for she knew it was an exercise in futility to get anything against her husband from his best friend.

“Anu, you need to be careful, flirtation with that woman cannot go on beyond a point, do not stretch it too far. Maya was upset and you certainly can’t afford that. Hope you are not getting emotionally attached to her?? We both know what kind she is , she will wreck your home and getting involved with your office colleagues is too complicated for your to handle!!” warned Sanjay.

Anurag looked at him and knew that he has his best interest in mind. He had always been there for him no matter what ever since he could remember. For taking the blame for breaking Mrs. Robinsons fountain pens in school, to supporting him to escape their hometown the unconditional support that he offered was something that he had yet to come across anyone he had ever met in his life. Be it his mother, his affairs or even his wife. He could open up to him without being judged no matter how wrong he was. Such was the nature of Sanjay and they had shared everything in life joys, sorrows, heartbreaks and even some instances women without a second thought.

download (6)“Anurag is taking me for a vacation and guess what to my favourite destination to Wildflower Hall, Mashobra. Did u tell him about my rant against that bitch that night at the party??” asked Maya. For whatever u told him or didn’t he has been extra smooth and generous with his love ever since that stupid flirting that he was doing that night. Ohh!! Sanjay he is the best, i m so glad i have him. The hills, the snow, the walk in the forest it feels we are taking our honeymoon all over again” gushed Maya.

“Sanjay i m sure Maya would have already updated you with our vacations, we will be gone for a week, please can you drop us at the airport? Do you need anything from that side? I have heard they have excelled woollen wears that side.” Said Anurag.

Sanjay looked at him declined that he needed anything, “where am i going to wear the woollens in Mumbai?? And you know i hate travelling and to go to a place where the temperature dips enough to make me want to wear what you propose to get, is strictly not happening!! You both go and enjoy this much needed quality time and make up for all that philandering that you have been up to lately”

So on a hot humid October morning Sanjay drove the coupe on their second honeymoon from their swish South Mumbai surrounding to the airport in suburbs. With Maya giving out instructions to Sanjay about the things that he could plan in his alone time and the list of events of interest  happening in and around Mumbai, the possible date he could go on with this advertisement woman who had always shown such a keen interest in him. Anurag as usual was the one busy on his smartphone emailing, texting or whatever that a phone like this is supposed to keep one busy with.

Maya kissed him goodbye and while Anurag hugged him and said their farewells. Sanjay saw them going inside the terminal to cooler greener destination while he was there standing wet with sweat in the heat and anxiety of seeing them go away . Maya walked ahead while Anurag following her looked back and saw Sanjay waiting for the one last goodbye before being engulfed by the fellow travellers…

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