I woke up from my afternoon power nap to the sound of raindrops on the skylight. Till a few years ago, I could only associate rain with a book or my diary and a hot cup of coffee. Not any more.
This happened around three years ago. I was desperately looking for a story line for my next book. Writer’s block attacks when you are in dire need to write and have a deadline to meet. It had been almost seven months that I had taken the advance royalty from my publishers. I had signed the contract that was going to expire in another two years. I started off with some hundred stories and tore them up as I myself couldn’t relate to them. All the time I was thinking of how am I going to come out of this situation and begin to write something meaningful.
That’s exactly when I met Shashikala, my long lost school friend in a shopping mall. The vermilion on the parting between her hair announced loudly that she was married. We were meeting after almost thirteen years and had so much to share. We took refuge in a cafe and ordered our all time favourite, Caffe Caramella. Over the next hour or so we discussed almost everything under the sun. We also told each other how much we missed each other after school and how the untimely death of Shashi’s parents turned her life upside down. She was married off to one of her distant relatives by her immediate family members. She had a daughter aged eight. She spoke about everything and everyone in her life except her husband. Just to be sure I enquired about him. She said he was a nice guy and kept her well. Nothing more. Nothing less. Her expressions were telling me a different story. We exchanged our numbers. As we stood up to leave I told her that I would like to meet her again. May be she could invite me over for a lunch or dinner. She said she will.
About two weeks later, I got a call from Shashi. She had wanted to meet me for lunch the very next day. I had a travel assignment and had to leave the next day night. So I asked if I could meet her the same day. She agreed. I asked her to keep it simple as I was no foodie. I wrapped up my desk and got ready for the lunch.
Around 12.45 p.m., I got into the driveway at Shashi’s place in Kalamassery, Kochi. It was a nice villa with a fairly big and beautiful compound. She was waiting at the door as if she had been waiting for a lifetime. From the looks of it, she had something serious to share with me. Without wasting much time, Shashi came straight to the point. She mentioned that her husband Rajeev was a legal advisor for a group of companies. She said he was the perfect husband to her. But she mentioned that since the birth of their only daughter around eight years ago, she had seen him change. She told me that he was a big time flirt. A pervert. He loved mingling with all kinds of females over the phone, over chats and in person. Initially she had dismissed the thought thinking it was as part of his profession. But now she could not handle it any more as her growing daughter too had started asking questions. I heard her peacefully. I returned after assuring her that together we’ll find a way to solve this issue.
As I drove back that day, it seemed that the story I was searching for had finally arrived.
After returning from the trip, I told Shashi that I’ll be meeting her for dinner that night to meet Rajeev. I also told her to make it sound like my first visit to her place. Rajeev was a well-built handsome man in his early thirties. He was polite and disciplined in his manners. One could never believe Shashi’s words upon meeting Rajeev.
My visits to their place became frequent as I became good friends with Shashi’s daughter Aadya. There was also a selfish interest in these visits. Being single I had always longed for company and Shashi was the perfect company for me. In a few days I observed Rajeev, his manners did not seem to be doubtful at all. That’s when Shashi and I decided that I’ll interact more with him to assess his behaviour better. This went on and on. My interactions with him grew. We even started meeting for coffee whenever either of us were in the vicinity of our offices.
Phone calls, WhatsApp messages, chatting. But not even once I found him talk or behave in an flirtatious manner. I was confused. Slowly but surely we were getting closer. To me it was my way of knowing him and helping my friend. What I did not realize was the fact that the human heart has its own way. I started falling for him. I knew I was betraying Shashi. And so I started creating a distance. He was constantly trying to establish contact. I tried to ignore him. Completely.
It was about three months and I could not stop myself. I sent him a message and requested to meet. We met. And before I poured my heart out, he did. He told me that he knew it was wrong and that he didn’t want to cheat Shashi but he could not cheat himself either by suppressing his feelings. Those lines sounded more like a Bollywood script and so I kept calm and vigilant.
Over a period of next five months, we met almost everyday, had lunch together, went out on short road trips. And that day, when we went to Athirapally waterfalls we gave in to our senses. That was it. I knew I had lost myself to him. Rajeev apologized. But I knew I was an equal partner in this sin.
We did not want to cheat Shashi but that’s exactly what we were doing. We met. Again and again. We fought. Time and again. We made up. Love has this habit of making everything seem so colorful and full of energy. To me it was the most beautiful period of my life. I was selfish enough to keep wanting more of it.
And then suddenly one day Shashi called and started abusing me. She seemed to have realized what was going on. I tried reaching Rajeev but he wasn’t picking up my calls. I decided to go to their place. It was raining heavily. As if the world was about to get dissolved. When I reached Shashi’s place, I saw a fuming Shashi at the door and Rajeev sitting on the couch calmly. I wanted to explain. But Shashi was in no mood of listening. She accused me and abused me. I turned to Rajeev for a word of support. But he disappointed me. And that’s when Shashi said that Rajeev had shown her all my messages and told her how desperate I was. I could not believe what I had heard just then. And that’s when I realized what a ruthless guy he was. I wanted to scream out loud to Shashi that her fears about him were not baseless. But then Shashi was now fighting for her husband. And I was the vamp in the story.
My book got published recently. It’s titled Revenge: The purpose of my life. The climax – I chose to continue the relationship. Make him truly fall for me. And in the end dumped him into an asylum. That’s exactly what I wanted to do. But I forgave. I forgave him for little Aadya whose father he is. I forgave him for Shashi who has no one else to go to. I forgave him for myself because he was the first and probably the last man I had loved.
With the tears that flowed in tandem with the raindrops, I forgave myself. I forgave myself because my sin was love. It started with the love for my dear friend and it ended with love for someone Rajeev was not.
Today’s Project 365 prompt is Share a story where it was very difficult for you to forgive the perpetrator for wronging you, but you did it — you forgave