Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Apologies

“Umm.. I am sorry. I am SORRY.. I AM SORRY!!! THAT’S ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY.” She didn’t realise she was screaming by the end of the sentence. Sudhanshu’s ears were realising it too much.

“I just slept with a girl. It’s not like I fell in love with her. It was just physical.” Sudhanshu said casually. As much as he wanted to, he couldn’t care about Pallavi’s overreaction.

“We are in a relationship. How could you do this? How can you be nonchalant about it?” Pallavi said and threw her phone towards him. He grabbed it and kept it on the bed.

“Our relationship is still as it was. I still love you and care about you. This is just plain sex with a skank because I was missing sex with you. I did this because I was missing you.”

Pallavi burst into tears. She felt a strong pain in her heart that started to flow through her body. She was unable to breathe properly and was gasping between sobs.

“Sit down Pallavi.” Sudhanshu said and Pallavi obeyed. She didn’t think she could handle the stress standing.

“What is happening?” Pallavi said looking from Sudhanshu to the girl lying naked in the bed.

The girl was looking at the whole scene with a smirk on her face.

“It’s nothing Pallavi. You are taking it all very seriously.” Sudhanshu said and got out of the bed. He wasn’t wearing anything but didn’t care about it in the least.

“Who are you?” Pallavi asked the girl.

“Hi. My name is Pallavi as well. I work in his office in a different department. He talks about you a lot. It’s so good to finally meet you.” The girl said extending her arm towards Pallavi. Her blanket slipped a bit showing that she wasn’t wearing anything. Pallavi felt like she was punched.

“You two were really doing it.” Pallavi said. She realised that until she had seen both of them naked, she was still harbouring some hope that this was a prank.

“Of course. Sudhanshu is extremely good. And nice to me too. You are a lucky woman Pallavi.” The girl said.

“How long have you two been having sex?” Pallavi asked.

“A few months ago. Only when you are not in the city and I miss you.” Sudhanshu said drinking a gulp of water from the glass. He poured some water and gave it to Pallavi as well.

Pallavi took a deep breath finally. It was alright, she said to herself. Only a few months. In their 5 years of marriage, these few months are just a blip. This was just a phase that they would survive. Pallavi looked at Sudhanshu who was smiling at her. She turned to the girl, the other Pallavi who was beaming at her as if meeting a star.

“Oh don’t mind me. I have just heard so much about it. I have wanted to meet you for some time now.” The girl said and hugged Pallavi. She couldn’t understand what was happening. When she had entered her home, she didn’t imagine being hugged by a naked girl who was sleeping with her husband.

“You should leave now. Me and Pallavi will sort this out. Let’s meet after that.” Sudhanshu said to the girl. She got dressed, kissed Sudhanshu on the cheek, gave Pallavi another hug and left.

“This is not acceptable Sudhanshu. You can’t cheat on you. You can’t be this casual about it.”

“I wasn’t cheating on you. I was missing you.”

“How would you feel if I did the same on my trips?” Pallavi asked him looking at him directly.

“Like when you slept with my friend just before the wedding five years ago.” Sudhanshu said knocking the wind out of Pallavi.

“You knew about that.”

“Not then. I found out about it only a year later. He told me once drunk. Apologised and what not. Said to me that he didn’t know we were engaged.” Sudhanshu said with an old bitterness entering his tone.

Pallavi looked at him, heart broken.

“Why didn’t you confront me?”

“I love you Pallavi. I kept hoping that you would tell me some day. That someday, we would again be in a monogamous relationship.”

“I have never cheated on you since we have been married. It was a stupid mistake. I got scared by the prospect of marriage. Trust me.”

Sudhanshu smiled. “It’s alright. Maybe we can start over now. Honestly, I have only ever wanted to sleep with you anyways.”

“Really.” Pallavi looked at him smiling hopefully.

“Yeah. That’s why I was so happy that her name was Pallavi. It was so weird calling other girls Pallavi. They don’t like it one bit.” Sudhanshu said grinning.

“Other girls. How many?” Pallavi asked crestfallen. Sudhanshu started to laugh.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Directions

“I am sorry but this isn’t what I want to do with my life.” She said wiping a tear off her eye.

I looked at her and sighed. It wasn’t how I had planned my 30s — getting divorced and searching for meaning of everything. And yet, somehow, looking at his past, I felt that I could see it all coming. All my decisions, mistakes and even victories would have eventually have resulted in today.

“Please don’t try to stop me.” She said worried by the look on his face.

I nodded and looked away. I wanted to say that I was surprised but it just seemed hollow. I had seen her moving away from me like seeing everything foreshadowing but couldn’t do anything to change it. I wanted to tell her that I tried sometimes to improve the situation but in the end, I simply couldn’t.

“Mehul. Please forgive me. I… I just don’t feel the same way about you. I don’t know why but I don’t think we are going in the same direction and I want to soar, while you have settled.” She started blabbering, words flowing out of her mouth mixed in apology, sincerity, sorrow and pity. I winced.

I hadn’t expected pity. Yes, it was true that I wasn’t the same ambitious person that she had met the first time but that didn’t mean that I had become lax. I just had new and different priorities. What I wanted in life now didn’t match her world-view and thus, it made me seem useless in her eyes. I didn’t mind that she didn’t understand this but I thought that she could at least respect me for choosing my own path. Nevertheless, it is how it is.

“I am sorry Mehul.” She again said, definitely noticing my wince. I nodded and picked an apple to eat.

A few moments of silence passed as I kept on chewing the apple. I guessed that she wanted to say something, perhaps apologise more but I wasn’t interested. If I would have been shocked perhaps, I would have valued her words but I could see this happening from a mile. We were moving apart and she finally broke free. I was prepared for a moment like this.

“I want to tell you one more thing.” She said softly. I looked at her and realised that she was waiting for my permission. I jerked my head.

“You and I were drifting apart long before he came into my life. I hope you realise that it isn’t him that is causing this.” She said with a sliver of fear in her voice. She was afraid of me. It isn’t her fault really. I was famous for my temper. Not right now though. Not for this. She was right. It wasn’t his fault.

She gulped audibly and I realised that I was looking at her sharply. I looked away. My phone buzzed and I checked the notification. I pushed the thin smile forming on my face. I stood up and went to the kitchen. I was suddenly hungry and the apple wasn’t sufficient.

“MEHUL!” She shouted behind me, her voice laced with fear. She ran behind me and saw me opening the fridge to eat yesterday’s lasagna. Comically, this made her burst.

“I AM TELLING YOU THAT I AM LEAVING YOU AND YOU ARE EATING LASAGNA. DON’T YOU CARE AT ALL!!”

I was almost about to say something but realised its meaninglessness. Now, it doesn’t matter what I may say. Things are going to happen as they are going to happen.

“Please say something.” She pleaded. It melted my heart. I wanted to tell her that it wasn’t her fault. I wanted to tell her that I still loved her. I wanted to tell her that I have been trying to find a way for us to be together. However, I knew that none of that mattered anymore. As much as I loved her, she didn’t love the person I had become. And as I wasn’t going to change back, it didn’t matter how much I loved her.

She kept looking at me expectantly and sweat beads came to my forehead. It was her phone that saved me from speaking. I knew that if I started to speak, I would try to stop her. It wasn’t right. She picked up her phone to see the message and the change of expression on her face told me everything.

“No.. No.. NO.. NOOOO..” She screamed and it gave me a very painful joy. The kind you feel when you eat a bowl full of chilli or when you are on a roller coaster. I looked at her with my near-perfect blank expression.

“He was in an accident. Oh my God! I have to go Mehul.” She left swiftly.

I knew that her going was as useless as me trying to stop her would have been. I opened my phone to delete the message that had came earlier.

‘It’s done.’ The message said.

I looked at the door from where she had gone. I knew she would be back.

“I love you and I forgive you.” I whispered waiting for her.