Meeta entered the house as quietly as she possibly could. Her job as a reporter in a prominent news channel was taxing and kept her away till odd hours at night. She saw Sandeep sleeping in the room along with their son as she tip toed in, slipping off her shoes and waking bare feat. She quickly changed and slipped in the bed next to Sandeep and hugged him.
Sandeep turned and mumbled, “you are late again”, without opening his eyes.
“I am sorry”, Meeta whispered, “there was a new development in the ashram case” she said mentioning the current ongoing scandal.
Sandeep didn’t respond. He turned himself resting on his shoulder, his back towards Meeta, and continued to sleep. Meeta sighed quietly and pulled the blanket on her and closed her eyes. She was tired and just wanted a hug, but Sandeep seemed fast asleep.
It had been almost 10 years since they were married. She became pregnant early and they had their son in their second year of marriage. She returned to work soon after her delivery and soon rose in her career as a TV journalist. Sandeep kept busy too, his touring job kept him away from them for weeks at times.
As she lay in bed next to him, she tried to remember when they had made love last. Sandeep had even stopped being intimate with her. She blamed herself for keeping busy in her job but also wished that Sandeep would take some time out his busy schedule too. He seemed to be always busy, either at work or with his friends. He would go out drinking with his friends even when Meeta was free from her busy schedule. And then very often they would sleep in different rooms.
“You come late and with the kid, I am unable to catch up with my sleep”, Sandeep would say. Even as their son grew older, Sandeep still insisted in him sleeping with them on the same bed, making it even harder to be intimate.
There were times when Meeta wondered if Sandeep was having an affair. She tried hard to see signs of another woman in Sandeep’s life but couldn’t really find any. There were always his friends who he would go out with and return home at times high on drinks. She would occasionally check his phone but couldn’t see any unusual signs of any calls or conversations with any other woman other than the usual professional conversations with his colleagues.
Meeta brushed her thoughts aside and pulled the blanket over her. It had been a long day and the new scandal had kept her really busy lately. Thankfully she had got some time off for the weekend. They had been invited over for a party that one of Sandeep’s friend was hosting and she was looking forward to the social gathering with Sandeep.
Sandeep left early morning before Meeta woke up. The maid told her that he had gone to meet his friends, as she gave her the morning tea. Meeta rattled off orders for the day to the maid and got down to cleaning the house. Later she dropped her son to her parent’s place as they would get late. She was hoping that today she and Sandeep would get some alone time later at night.
Sandeep called in the evening asking Meeta to come directly to the party. He said he was stuck and would reach the party directly with the other friends who he was with. Meeta was a bit disappointed but not totally surprised. Composing herself, she called for a cab.
At the party Meeta was greeted by Ajay as she entered the door. Ajay was Sandeep’s colleague and a long time friend. Ajay’s wife Smita soon joined them and took Meeta inside and they mingled in the crowd. As Meeta took her second drink, she saw Sandeep coming in with Deepak, another of his friends. They were laughing as they entered and greeted everyone loudly, punching high-fives in the air with others.
Meeta went up to Sandeep and reminded him, “Hey husband, don’t forget your wife”, she chided. Sandeep smiled at her and hugged her briefly.
“I see you already have your drink, let me get one too” he said, and then turned to Deepak and asked him if he wanted a drink too. Deepak smiled and nodded at him.
As Sandeep went to get the drinks, Meeta greeted Deepak and asked him how he was. She wondered what get them so late reaching the party.
“I hope you know Sandeep is not happy with the marriage”, Deepak said to Meeta
“What do you mean he is not happy, he is just fine”, Meeta retorted at Deepak’s audacity.
“No, he isn’t happy with you and he really wants out of the marriage”, Deepak said.
Meeta’s cheeks flushed as she heard Deepak say that. How dare he say something like that, she thought, how dare he. And how dare Sandeep share this with Deepak without even telling her anything. Yes she had noticed their lack of intimacy but that was no reason to say he wanted out of their marriage. Sandeep had done everything a husband should be doing.
“How dare you say something like that” Meeta shot out at Deepak.
“Sandeep has someone else in his life and wants to spend the rest of his life with that person, you should leave him Meeta”, Deepak continued ignoring Meeta’s anger.
“What rubbish is this” Meeta shouted, “Who is he seeing” she demanded.
“Me” Deepak said, “he wants to spend the rest of his life with me.”
The world came crashing down on Meeta. She could not hear anything despite loud music at the party. She remembered how Sandeep was always busy with his friends and realized why she was not able to find signs of another woman in his life, why Sandeep avoided her, why there was no intimacy between them. It was not a woman Sandeep was seeing, it was a man. Sandeep would leave her and their son for another man.
As Sandeep came back with the drinks, Deepak went close to him, putting his arms around him pulling closer and whispered in his ear. That’s when Meeta saw their intimacy. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she picked herself up and ran out of there.