Story 117

In continuation of Story 116.
The Story begins here


It felt weird, being caught standing outside the bathroom, while the girl was taking a shower. He had been too deep in thoughts to realize the implications. Maybe it was not an accusatory tone, maybe it was his guilt that made him give an explanation.

“It’s not how it looks like” he said to the woman, whose opinion meant the world to him. “I came to talk to her about not misreading into what she must have seen in the bedroom earlier. Then, I kind of got lost in thoughts and before I knew, she walked out and found me standing there.” He explained. 


“I am sorry, I did not mean it the way it came out.” She had replied and his heart was in the right place again.

She had to know that he was not interested in her daughter, not that way. He was interested in her. It had been evident in his actions for a long time now. She knew it, knew how he felt about her. They never said the obvious in words, there was no need.
As long as they both understood the bond, he did not care about the world.
***

He loved her and he respected her and to take undue advantage of her situation was the last thing he would do, so he was obviously very upset when he had heard the accusations made by her husband. The bastard had not liked that she had walked out of the house and had somewhere safe to stay. Her husband had wanted her to be vulnerable, to not have a place where she could take refuge. The man thought that if she had no place to go, she would have not considered walking out of the house. The man did not know that it was not his wife, but his daughter who had taken this decision. And, for that, he respected the girl very much. 


He had seen the glimpse of the girl’s maturity when she had returned the saree he had bought for her mother. He had assumed that her mother had sent her but the girl had told him that she had found the saree rolled into a ball and thrown under her mother’s bed. It was something her mother had wanted to hide from her father and she believed her mother had the right intentions to do so. She wanted to avoid any kind of misunderstandings between her parents and hence she had come to return it. Even before he could ask her how she came to the conclusion that the saree was given by him, she had stated that it was obvious it had to be from another man, since her mother wanted to hide from her husband and no other man around her was foolishly brave enough to give it to her. She had believed in her mother even then, knew that her mother had the right intentions.


It was because of this little time he had spent with the girl; seen how confidently she had carried herself; that he was furious when he learned that her mother thought very little of her. Her mother was trying to shield her from the truth about her father. 
 
He had seen her when she had opened the bedroom window and allowed him partial access in her life. He had seen her walk to the bed and he had seen the doctor. He knew she was sick. He had seen her husband taking care of her and he had felt a pang of jealousy and helplessness. He wanted to be there to take care of her. He was not sure whether the concern her husband showed for her was even genuine. He did notice that the man did not leave the house, had given up the chance to sneak out of the house for his sexual gratification. 

 
Then, he saw her again one afternoon, returning from the market with groceries in both her hands. She still seemed to be weak, not fully recovered from the sickness. His doubt was confirmed when she collapsed in front of her house. The grocery bags dropping out of her hands and on to the road. He had rushed to help her. He offered to support her but she had refused. He helped her with the grocery bags and walked with her inside the house. He should have not walked in. He should have kept the grocery bags at the door and turned around.


He had not been able to stop himself from staring at her. She was sick yet she looked beautiful. There was no doubt in his mind that he was hopelessly in love with her. And, his love for her radiated through him, it was evident in his eyes. He had seen her look into his eyes and then look elsewhere, fearful of what she had seen in them.


She had not looked into his eyes for the rest of the conversation they had until moments before he walked out of her house angrily. And, by that time his eyes no more reflected his love for her but his utter disappointment in her.
She had slammed the door shut behind him. He knew she was angry, too.
After a cup of tea and casual conversation he had asked her whether she had confronted her husband. It was not really his business but he wanted to know. Partly because of how he felt about her and partly because he thought the girl deserved to know the truth. When she had told him that she had not and it was for the sake of her daughter, he had lost his temper and walked out of the house.



He remembered being restless. Feeling utterly helpless. He had stormed into his house and taken out his anger on the lifeless objects in his house. He unbuttoned his shirt when he started hyper-ventilating and sweating. He pulled at his hair as he walked back and forth in his room. How could she be so weak? He wanted to punch something, he wanted to punch someone, he wanted to punch her husband and the woman he was fucking. He wanted an outlet for his frustration. He was still in the same mood when he saw her standing outside his house, looking through the window. She had seen what a mess he was.

She yelled at him, asked him to open the door but he turned his back to her. He did not want to open the door and let her in, he feared that if he did, he would either slap her or kiss her.



But she was relentless. When he had turned his back to her, she had walked to the door and continued banging until he had no option but to let her in. She had walked in and he had reacted the way he had feared. He had rushed towards her and cupped her face and kissed her on the mouth. After the initial shock, she kissed him back. He pressed his lips harder against hers and pushed his tongue inside her mouth, that’s when she had stepped back and started crying. She fell on her knees and hid her face in her palms. He had apologized for kissing her but she did not acknowledge his apology; instead she explained to him why she could not tell her daughter about the affair; thus,  dismissing what had just happened between the two of them in the heat of the moment. She begged him to understand her point of view, he did not ask her why did it matter. Because he knew. The kiss had told him everything.



She wanted to be loyal to her husband despite his cheating, but on the other hand she could not ignore the attention someone else gave her, in fact she liked it. She liked being cared for, even though the caring was by a stranger and not her husband. She liked being a part of someone else’s life. She liked how someone else adored her, the way it made her feel, the way her body reacted. She did not want to betray her husband but she knew she had, in a way and perhaps that was one of the reasons for the outburst.



He had let her cry, let her get rid of the emotions that had been piling up. He let her talk, he did not really understand what she said amidst the sobs, but that did not matter. He wanted her to know that he was there for her.
When the words slowed down and the sobs stopped, he knelt close to her and put his hand on her shoulder. “I understand” he said. She wanted someone to understand her and he wanted to let her know that he did. Though he did not agree with her decision of keeping the truth from her daughter. It did not matter anyways because after a few days her daughter found out the truth on her own.



She had come to his door once again when he was least expecting her; she had been worried because her daughter had not returned from school. They had searched for the girl and had found her outside the house of the woman her father was having an affair with. They brought the girl home, neither of them asked the girl how she knew about the affair. He did not ask because he had no right to and the girl’s mother did not ask because it did not matter. He could see that she was relieved in a way. Yes, she was upset about her daughter’s frame of mind but she had been saved from sharing the news.



The three of them had spent days together after that day. They came to his house and the girl questioned him about the dull interior. It was a simple harmless question but that had put him in an awkward position and the girl’s mother had noticed that. She had changed the subject and offered to cook for the three of them. She had sent the girl to get some essentials from their house and then questioned him. The way she asked him, he could not refuse. He had to share that part of his life with her. It was not only because she had become the most important part of his life; he realized he was becoming an important part of hers as well. It was necessary that she knew what she was dealing with.



He had told her then. He told her about the sexual abuse by his stepfather, his sexual addiction and about the prostitute who had changed his life and freed him. He told her about his preferred age group. He told about the Sex Addicts Anonymous, about being cured and about being mocked about it later by his colleagues. He told her why he had come to India and the kind of life he had decided to lead. He had assumed that she would be unsettled after hearing that she fell into the ‘preferred’ category but she surprised him by walking towards him and taking his hand in hers.

“You say you are cured, that is what matters.” She had said.
“The efforts you are putting in” she had said looking around the house, “speaks a lot about you.”
Those words had meant a lot to him. He remembered looking away to hide the tears from her.



That conversation had brought them even closer. He had been genuinely surprised to find out that she had not distanced herself or her daughter from him.
Hence, her comment “What are you doing?” had hurt him. It was his guilt that made him think that she would be suspicious of his intentions since she knew about his past.
But she had proved him wrong, yet again.



***




He watched her as she prepared meals. Her daughter had already left for school. He wanted to walk to the kitchen platform and help her with the meals but he decided against it. It would have been too domestic. He walked back to the bedroom. He sat on the bed and ran his hand over the bed-sheet. She had been on this bed-sheet earlier, he thought. The warmth radiating out of her body had felt good on his skin. He had wanted to turn around and take her in his arms, he had wanted to make love to her.
It would have been wrong under the circumstances. The society goons had accused them of having a sexual relationship. They had been instigated by her husband whose male ego had been crushed when his wife had walked out on him.



He felt the anger rising inside him as he thought about the man. What he had done to his wife was cruel. The man deserved to be beaten to a pulp but he could not touch the man, because she had asked him not to. And, he respected her decision.


He knew that she was in bed next to him only because she had been nursing him back to health. He was having a fever and she had come in to change the strip and fallen asleep. Nevertheless, the closeness meant a lot to him. He had been watching her when she had stirred awake and had closed his eyes to avoid putting her in awkward position. He had felt her tugging at her pallu and had discreetly helped her the second time she had tugged at it.



He had wished she had stayed in bed. He wished they were in the kind of relationship where sharing a bed was not embarrassing. He wished they were married.
He ran his fingers through his hair. He got up and walked towards the window. The same window from where he had seen her husband with the other woman. He had not wanted her to see it but she had. She had rushed into his arms and he had wrapped them around her. He let her cry and could not let go of her even when her daughter spotted them together.



His intentions then, were only to comfort her and nothing else. He did not want her daughter misreading the situation. He did not want her to have wrong impression of her mother. Not after all the support the girl had given to her mother.

The unfortunate day was still etched in his mind. Stored in the darkest corner of his mind where other screwed-up memories of his own were stored. He had seen her at her most vulnerable moment, when she was at her lowest, a situation from which she could not recover on her own. She needed someone to hold her, someone to support her and pick up the shattered pieces.



He had been pacing back and forth in his bedroom, waiting to hear news from across the street. The day had begun differently. He had been happy. She had been happy. They had spent quality time with each other. He had lunch at her place. Her daughter was at school and they were alone in the house. Her husband was on a business trip, supposed to return the next day.

His being alone in her house was planned but they had not planned on getting intimate. They were supposed to eat and talk. But one thing led to another and they had kissed. She had not stepped back this time when he had pushed his tongue inside her mouth, she had met it instead, with her own. She’d stepped back eventually and rested her head on his shoulder. They were sitting on the couch, her head on his shoulder and his arm around her; when the doorbell rang. She had opened the door and had stepped back in shock. Her husband had returned early from the business trip. Seeing another man in his living room with his wife had angered her husband. The man had stared at him and then at his wife, her hair disheveled because he had run his hand through her hair while kissing her and she had not bothered to straighten her hair when they had stopped kissing and she had rested her head on his shoulder.



He had stood up from the couch and the man rushed towards them, his arm raised. Even though he had reacted quickly, he had still not been able to stop the man from hitting her. She staggered as the fist made contact with her cheek. When the man had tried to hit her again, he had stepped in, wrestling the man to keep him away from her. He shielded her with his body, stepping between the couple. He punched the man in the nose and was surprised when she stepped in to stop the further attack on her husband.


The man hurled insults at her and she listened silently. The thought that she felt she deserved it infuriated him. He was about to return the favour by telling the man that they knew about his affair but she held his hand and stopped him. Her husband saw her gesture and moved again to punch her. That’s when the girl had screamed, she had returned early from school and stood at the doorway watching her father hitting her mother.



All of them turned to look at the girl. Her mother was the first to speak. “Go to your room” she told the girl. The girl looked at her father, his arm raised to hit his wife. “What the hell do you think you are doing?” She questioned her father.
“How dare you hit mom” the girl had yelled.

That’s when the man had told the girl what he had seen when he had stepped inside the house. He told her what must have happened before he came home. The man turned to ask his wife whether she had done the deed on their bed or on the couch itself. He watched as she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. He did the same because he did not want to hit the man in front of his child. His reaction was not necessary, after the insult his own daughter hurled at him. The girl had slapped her father and said, “Look who’s talking.” Her father glared at her but his confidence deflated and he got defensive.

The man turned to look at his wife. “Is this how you have taught my daughter to treat me?” he questioned. The poor bastard was blind to his own actions.



“Apologize to your father” she told her daughter.
He knew it was time for him to leave and so he had left the house. He should have not.





Story 118