Rohit was getting late for work. He decided to skip breakfast and headed to work. He was an Associate Professor in a reputed college. Finance was his subject. He was an Equity Consultant as well in his own firm. Happily married to his wife Maya, who was an investment banker in an esteemed bank. It was a love marriage. Both of them admired each other and their relationship was built on mutual trust and understanding. Maya had to frequently travel to quite many places, and Rohit had to be awake late night for his work. Both of them understood each other’s work commitments and thus gave enough space for the same. This kept their bond intact.
Rohit was revered at his work place. Be it his colleagues or his students, everybody adored him. His style of teaching was impeccable. The speed of his thoughts and the rationality of his explanations, the succinct, to the point conversations and his over the top sense of humour enthralled his students. He was a flirt too, but never crossed the line. He did have a great fan following, but kept his acquaintances limited. One of them was Sanjay. Sanjay worked in the same college and was equally renowned for his work. Sanjay was a fun loving, happy go lucky person and gelled up easily with everyone. Maya too liked Sanjay as a human being. His networking and communication skills were pretty impressive. He enjoyed fruitful discussions. All three of them bonded well with each other and usually spent the weekends together.
It was a like a usual routine. The semester was about to come to an end. Exams were approaching. And the stress among the students was also increasing. Rohit was always ready to help his students. It was obvious for Rohit to spend more time on campus, busy solving all the doubts that his students collated. During this course of time, he came across a brilliant student, Neha. She was really inquisitive. Full of doubts, err, questions. All out of the box. She asked stuff more from outside world than from the course books. And that is what fascinated Rohit. He was ready to help more than asked, but this particular student made the most of it. Her intelligence and her thirst for knowledge left him completely spellbound.
He was so thrilled with her that he once mentioned about it to Maya as well. Maya too seemed impressed with her when she met her in person, during one of the times when she visited. Very soon, the entire staff of the college was in awe of this girl. Her charisma didn’t spare Sanjay as well. She asked questions in the class, on emails, sometimes on chats as well, if time permitted. Surrounded by so many students it wasn’t always possible to take up the doubts every time she had one. And so, as a helping hand, Rohit offered her to visit his office if she was comfortable. Initially, she did hesitate a little, but later she was all comfortable.
Their discussions over the subject kept on growing. She became an apprentice in his office for her summer project for two months. Eventually, it was all about late night chats, meeting at the office and texting over messages. They were not having an affair, but he liked talking to her. Given his flirtatious nature, he couldn’t resist her. Neha too enjoyed his company. Knowing the fact that he was his teacher, and married as well, didn’t stop her from meeting him more often.
Both of them knew their constraints and yet were willing to go with the flow. Infatuation it was, but they loved every bit of it.
Sanjay could sense that in Rohit. He never used to give too much importance to his phone, but these days it was quite evident. Plus, witnessing Neha with him after almost every lecture! Sanjay wasn’t a fool.
“What’s going on these days?” questioned Sanjay.
“What do you mean? And why that smirk?” Rohit knew where he was about to get and thus evaded eye contact.
“You know what I am talking about! What’s up with you and Neha these days?” enquired Sanjay.
“Nothing at all! She just a very different student with endless questions, that’s it! You know how she is. Don’t you? In fact, entire college knows about her.”
“Yes, I know she’s different. But remember, you are married and she is a student. Just a reminder in case you’ve forgotten. Rest you are wise enough to understand.”
“There is nothing of this sort that you’re thinking. But I’m glad you shared.”
“Of course. I had to. But I hope, it’s exactly how you are saying.”
Rohit did got a punch in his face after this discussion. He was apprehensive too. What if he discusses this with Maya? Anyway both of them gel along quite well. He really needed to find a solution for this.
Later next week, there was an annual college fest that was scheduled. It was the biggest of all and many students, organizers, faculties and colleges garnered to attend this event. It was a major attraction also because every year it hosted the awards for categories like Student of the year, Best Teacher, Best Team, Best Division, etc.
Everybody was looking forward to it. Sanjay was the strongest contestant and most likely the winner for the Best Teacher award as well. All the votes were in his favour. Every teacher in college touted about him winning the prize. Other teachers were also nominated along with Rohit, but none of them were even close as per the polls.
As the D-Day arrived, excitement reached to another level. The enthusiasm in the students and the teachers was remarkable. Their college bagged the award for the Best College! They lost in a few things, but the joy of being the best college compensated for everything. But what the turning point of that evening was the award for the best teacher was won by Rohit, which came as a shock to both of them. Rohit didn’t see it coming and never expected that he would win.
Sanjay was disheartened big time. His tempestuous behaviour said it all. He was raged. It really meant a lot for his career. He left the premises at that juncture. Rohit tried a lot to sort things out but nothing helped. Days passed and Sanjay seemed to have recovered from the shock. But this fact was somewhere settled in the corner of his mind.
On the other side, Maya was extremely happy for Rohit. They both celebrated his success. Neha too was overwhelmed with his professor’s success. Those were the days; Rohit intended to make more love than usual with his wife. He thought this might bring down those extra strong magnetic waves that he felt towards his student Neha. Maya found it a bit unusual. He had never wanted to make love this often. Plus, he never left his phone aside, which was still ok. One day she discovered, Rohit taking his laptop in the bathroom in the middle of the night. It was then she grew suspicious.
She tried asking questions from Rohit but that didn’t help. One fine evening, when she returned home from work, she discovered, Rohit talking to Neha on Skype in a bit inappropriate tone. And it wasn’t a student-teacher kind of conversation they were sharing. Also, Rohit closed his laptop suddenly when he discovered Maya was around, as if he’d been caught red-handed and started showering his love on Maya in an odd fashion. May be a bit too much!
She was now hundred percent sure that something was going on between the two. But how would she find out about them? She can’t go to his work place, she can’t leave her work. Then what else could she do? How else can she learn the truth about them? Or was it just her random thoughts. May be she was just another student, a bit more close than normal, but just a student.
She was tired of thinking all the possibilities about them and decided to take it to the next level.
She invited Sanjay to her home and discuss it all. They both sat in Maya and Rohit’s bedroom.
“What the hell is going on between my husband and that bitch?' Maya's patience was at its lowest ebb and she was ready to burst.
Sanjay knew that she was serious. 'Look, Maya. There is nothing going on between the two of them. Just a little bit of healthy flirting, I'd say.'
'Flirting? Healthy flirting? Really Sanjay . . .' she rolled her eyes in disgust. 'That's what you men call it? There is nothing healthy about flirting, Sanjay, not for a married man’.
‘Healthy flirting is a term introduced by perverted men who want to lend legitimacy to their extramarital dalliances. Flirting invariably has a sexual connotation to it.' She got up from her seat and walked around the room gesticulating and muttering something to herself. Suddenly she stopped, turned back, looked at Sanjay and asked, 'Did my husband sleep with her? You are his friend. Did he ever tell you anything about it?'
Sanjay had his own thoughts that moment. And he was stuck in a twofold situation. He wanted to save Rohit and his marriage, for sure and yet he still hadn’t come to terms with the fact that he lost the award to Rohit. So that pricking feeling was still inside him.
“Tell me straight. Did they or did they not?”
“I don’t know if I should be talking about it to you or not? I think you should talk to Rohit first.”
“I know what I’m doing. And the way you’re hiding your eyes, it looks quite obvious that they both have.”
“Well... it’s complicated.”
“Ohh..! So it’s complicated now?”
Sanjay didn’t admit it verbally, but his silence and his eyes said it all. Maya was filled with rage. She experienced a tsunami of emotions inside her. She felt crestfallen in one moment, and hapless at another, she felt like she’s made a buffoon of herself. It was a harrowing feeling.
And in this mix of emotions, Sanjay thought of making the most of this moment. He knew he would never get this opportunity again. He pretended and said that he wanted water and expressed how much he respected Maya. Maya was too occupied in her emotions to think of anything and went in the kitchen to fetch water. Meanwhile, Sanjay rummaged her wardrobe and got what he was looking for. He speedily hid it and enshrouded it in his clothing. When Maya came, he gave her a nice warm hug and comforted her. Being emotionally weak then, Maya trembled a bit and seemed to come close to Sanjay. But Sanjay stopped her and left from her house.
Next day, Sanjay offered Rohit a drive. Rohit too was upset because of the turmoil that had been going in his personal life and thus sat with him in his car. The moment he adjusted his car seat and shifted it backwards, he found lingerie, a bra and a panty! And what appalled him was the fact that he identified them. It was Maya’s! She surprised him with these on their first anniversary. How could he not identify them? He picked them up, gazed at them and had that angry look in his eyes! He stared at Sanjay. And Sanjay gave him a smug look, saying that you got it right!
He couldn’t understand!
On questioning Sanjay, he found out that it was of some random girlfriend of his with whom he made out in the car, but Rohit knew he was lying!
He grew ferocious. All this while, he was blaming himself for what had been happening in their marriage, and here he finds out that the story is going the other way round! Maya..!! His Maya!!! With his best friend Sanjay?!! He was literally traumatized on learning about this.
He reached home the same day. Distressed he was and so was Maya, none of them spoke to each other. None of them gathered the courage to say things. Bad things. Lousy things. Maya wanted to leave the house then and there. And Rohit wanted to divorce her right away. But gloominess had settled inside both of them. Numbness had taken a shelter in their lives. None of them bothered to ask the other what was wrong with them. Why were they not speaking anything at all? While they both were too occupied in their own thoughts, none of them pulled in the fact that the other person is not speaking anything at all!
Maya was too important for Rohit. He loved her like no other. Neha was just a fling. And the recent discovery, completely took his mind off from Neha. Maya was his soul mate, the one he truly loved and needed. But what about what he saw in Sanjay’s car?
Same round of emotions were going in Maya’s head. How could Rohit do this to her? He was just not capable of doing this. But what about everything that she learned from Sanjay?
She was too confused to make any opinion or pass any judgement.
A few months passed and finally they decided to break the ice. Rohit declared that he wanted a divorce from Maya; she was taken aback hearing this! She jumped off to the conclusion that may be he has decided to be with Neha and thus wants to end their marriage.
Maya too, said she herself was seeking for divorce! Rohit felt aghast with what he heard! And agreed as well. With tears in her eyes, and a heavy heart, Maya asked, what went wrong from her side that he became like this? What did she do that made him take such a stern decision! Rohit was perplexed at her question and told her about what he discovered in Sanjay’s car. Maya couldn’t understand what he was saying and how come her stuff came in Sanjay’s car? Taking a pause for a while and doing some thinking she realized something.
May be that day when Sanjay came, when she left the room to get water, and now it made complete sense. But why would Sanjay do this?
She then stated what she learned about him and Neha; and as expected, he refused to admit it. But when she said that she had confirmed it with Sanjay, he couldn’t believe! On discussing each and everything clearly with each other, they realized what game Sanjay was playing.
And Rohit very well, understood the grudge that Sanjay had against him but he never in his wildest of dreams thought he’d stoop down to this level for simply losing an award!
It was the respect and understanding between Rohit and Maya that averted their marriage from falling apart! And both of them were glad that they discussed everything, or else who knows where they might have been at this juncture!