“The only solace being, the secret remained.” She ended the story and turned to her side to sleep.
However, sleep was distant from Shekhar’s eyes. His mind played and re-played the story he just heard.
Did his wife really told her a story about an office colleague or she just narrated his best kept secret? he wondered, tossing and turning in his bed.
A college affair was something he had not bothered to mention in front of his wife ever. He thought he had put it behind him and moved on with life. He had not wished, except a few fantasy thoughts, for her to come back. Of course, she had been a catch back then, making him an unelected leader of the gang. And why wouldn’t it? He was dating not only the topper but also the most eligible bachelorette in the college. However, one bitter fight and seven years passed by without sparing a thought to what could have happened, until the day she met him again.
Shekhar wouldn’t call his marriage a love-less one exactly. He had been able to find out charm and attraction in the arranged marriage, which four years and a child later had come to a comfortable sit back. Love was no longer a priority. However, seeing Ananya after so long made him feel its absence.
It wasn’t that she was still as hot as ever. Age had not really been fair to her. But when was it her beauty that drew Shekhar towards her at the first place? Her wit and her charm, that had compelling effect on many back in college was untouched by all the unfairness life had thrown at her.
Shekhar worked with his father in-law as VP of the company, while his wife, software engineer by profession showed no interest in stock broking and continued to work for a software firm. With father in-law’s age they were running out of hands at senior level and decided to hire someone from outside. Trusting his father’s decision, Shekhar had left the hiring to him and got to meet Ananya only when he handed her the offer letter. He looked at her and felt nothing. None of those moments haunted him and he prided himself with the feeling that he could keep his past behind and be professional.
But it wasn’t as simple as it looked. Personalities like Ananya’s grow on you. As time passed by, he started getting drawn to her magnetic personality. He didn’t know anything about those seven years of her life except that she worked on Wall Street and built herself a highly credible CV and that she had a daughter.
If Ananya felt something, she never showed. She referred to him as a good friend from college and kept their relationship highly professional. Shekhar on the other hand, just wanted to talk it out with her once and he thought he would get better control over his emotions.
Travelling together for a new client meeting, Shekhar got the opportunity that wasn’t presented to him back home. He was mindful of her feelings but cleared what had gone wrong. An early widow, a successful yet lonely woman, strong and independent yet vulnerable, the more Shekhar got to know about her from where he left her, more guilt enveloped him. He was soon admitting things that he had so far restrained himself from thinking.
Love blossomed, not infiltrated by cheating on her spouse but deep meaning care and admiration flourished. Shekhar looked out for means and ways to support her help her and provide her company. Although, he was fair to his family, an un-settling thought wrestled in Shekhar’s mind.
Office was turned upside down. Some confidential information was leaked. Everyone was a suspect. Shekhar hired external agency to find out the culprit.
After eight days of search, the external agents came up with one name and presented it to the board. Ananya was fired. Shekhar was asked to supervise the handover. All files were transferred by office boys. All mails were blocked. Only an envelope was delivered personally.
It contained a single line. “If you weren’t comfortable, you could have told me. I would have resigned.”
He had lost his love, once again. He had lost his satisfaction for his job. He had lost the peace with his family. The only solace being, the secret remained.
Linking it to Tell a tale weekends on my blog.
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