When the flight landed at the Bali Airport, Rohit felt uncanny. His heart had missed a beat when he had seen Diya on the same flight. But soon his excitement seemed to be replaced by an unknown fear that he found very difficult to decipher. It was the first time he was travelling with his childhood love and his wife together. He had never done it before. He had always made sure that he spent time with them separately. But this time the situation had turned out to be strangely coincidental as Diya was visiting Bali for a business meeting while he was going to be on a holiday with his wife Sonali. He noticed that on the arrival gate there was a man standing with a placard with Diya’s name on it. Diya threw a side glance at him and Sonali as she headed towards her taxi with the person who had come to receive her. In her business coat and short skirt she looked so attractive that Rohit almost wanted to follow her.
Sonali was so excited about their time in Bali that she had not noticed any difference in Rohit’s behaviour in the aircraft or after landing. She did not notice Diya either. A taxi came to pick them from the resort that they had booked for their holiday and they headed towards the city. During the drive to the resort, Rohit got lost in his thoughts which had been triggered after he had seen Diya on the flight.
Diya was Rohit’s first love from their school days. In school she was the most chic girl chased by several guys. She dated many of them including Rohit. As they went to University they kept dating each other. She was an ambitious girl and wanted to make it big in the corporate world. After completing their Masters in Business both of them got jobs in good companies. They were 25 when Rohit proposed to her for marriage. Diya said that she was not ready. She had a job offer in a good company in Bangkok and wanted to move there. She wanted to be single for a few more years and get promotions in her job, and travel the world. Rohit said that he was ready to wait. Diya left for Bangkok while Rohit continued his job in Delhi.
Four years had passed by and Rohit’s parents were anxious for his marriage. They arranged for him to meet a girl called Sonali. Her parents were industrialists and had several factories in different cities. Rohit’s heart skipped a beat when he saw Sonali as she entered the living room where he was seated with his parents. She was fair and tall unlike Diya who was short and dark. He could not stop looking at her. She had an MBA degree too and was helping out in her family business. Additionally she wrote columns in a business magazine. As Rohit spoke to her he realised that she was an expert in her subject. He asked her why she wanted to get married as she was on her way to becoming a successful business woman. She said that she was ready for matrimony and wanted to start her family life soon.
After he came home Rohit read her articles in the business magazine and was totally bowled over by her smartness. He told his parents that he was ready to get married to Sonali. The hope of assent for matrimony from Diya’s side had gradually faded away. She was climbing up the corporate ladder very swiftly and their interactions had become limited to a few emails every few months. She was heading the marketing division now and was constantly on the move spending most of her time travelling to different cities.
Rohit informed Diya that he was getting married and her reply sounded quite cheerful. She wished him all the best for a happily married life. She didn’t seem to have the time to mull over her ex-boyfriend’s marriage. Married life with Sonali seemed like bliss. It was all that Rohit had ever hoped for. She was a pretty and a charming wife and he felt proud in showing her off to his friends. They went for a honeymoon to Europe and saw the Eiffel Tower; they posed against the Leaning Tower of Pisa and walked on the London Bridge. Seven years had passed joyfully with Sonali by his side. They were now proud parents of a baby girl. His communication with Diya had become further limited and they messaged each other occasionally.
One day Rohit was waiting at the Heathrow airport to board his plane to New York when he saw Diya. She was waiting at the next departure gate for a flight to Chicago. He walked up to her and said “Hi”. She looked up and flung herself at him. She placed a peck on his cheek. There was a tingling feeling in Rohit’s body as he held her in his arms. The past came rushing to him. He was seeing her after ten years and she still looked the same while he had put on some weight. She was wearing a short skirt and a tight fitting blouse. Her bare legs were gleaming. Her hair smelled heavenly and he felt an impulse to kiss her. Rohit shook himself out of the trance and asked her how she was doing. There was still an hour for her flight to depart and he too had a couple of hours in hand. They went to the nearby café for a coffee and chat.
She told him that she was now the vice-president of the company where she had been working. He asked her if she found her “soulmate” yet. She laughed and said that she had not. She looked so attractive and pretty that Rohit did not want to let her go even after her flight was announced. She looked back at him and winked – “Hey visit me in Bangkok we can have some good time together”.
Rohit could not focus on his business trip to New York. He kept thinking of Diya and of visiting her in Bangkok. After ten days he was back in Delhi. Sonali was so happy to see him and asked him how his trip was. “I have to travel for business again,” he said.
“Where now?” she asked.
“Bangkok” he said.
In Bangkok Rohit booked a penthouse suite in a seven-star hotel. Diya had said she would join him for dinner after work. She had applied for a week-long leave to spend time with him. Rohit waited for her in nervous excitement. They had a candlelight dinner. The next few days were spent making up for the ten lost years. It was the happiest week of both their lives.
Both of them had tears in their eyes when Diya came to see him off at the Bangkok airport. He said that he would come back very soon to spend time with her. Back in Delhi he told Sonali that he had entered into a business partnership with a dealer in Bangkok and would have to make frequent trips there to expand his overseas business. Sonali did not suspect her husband as she did not know anything about his past with Diya.
Rohit thought his life was complete with both Diya and Sonali in it. Sonali was delighted at her husband’s good mood as he loved her more after every trip he made to Bangkok. She was happy that his overseas business was making their domestic life more cheerful although she did miss him terribly when he was away.
Sonali shook Rohit. “Hey what’s wrong with you? You have been so silent throughout the journey?” She quizzed.
“Nothing,” he said waving his head morosely.
“Aren’t you excited? Our daughter is enjoying with her grandparents and we should be enjoying in Bali,” she quipped.
“Of course darling, that’s how it is going to be”.
Rohit was hoping that they don’t run into Diya again. Later he would visit Bangkok and make up with her. It had been an awkward situation on the plane with Sonali’s head on his shoulder. He was hoping that she hadn’t felt too bad about it. He wanted to be spared more awkward moments and was praying that Diya was not booked in the same resort as them. They reached the resort and had their welcome drinks. The usher took their bags to the room and they relaxed for the evening. They decided to go for dinner by the pool later. Sonali was very excited as she dressed up for dinner.
“What should I wear honey?” she chirped.
“Wear anything, everything looks good on you,” Rohit replied.
“No, you decide for me today” she said.
“Ok then wear your royal blue knee-length dress. You look like a princess in that.”
“Ok” she said happily.
The dinner venue was dimly lit and there were candles on the table. The breeze was pleasant and a group of singers had just started to sing local songs accompanied by the guitarists. They called out to the guests to shake a leg with them. Sonali was all excited and wanted to dance with Rohit. She pulled his arm and said, “Come let’s dance, the music is so lively”.
Just as Rohit was getting up he noticed that a group of men and women had arrived for dinner. His face went pale as he realised that it was Diya’s business group that had just come to eat. Diya was there dressed in a scarlet skirt. She looked gorgeous. Sonali pulled him to the dance floor and they started dancing. But Rohit was not enjoying. His mind was disturbed and his eyes drifted towards Diya. She looked perturbed too but was trying to focus on her meeting.
Rohit’s mind was in a flurry. He wanted to retreat to his room. He told Sonali that he was having a headache and they should quickly eat and go back to the room. Back in the room Sonali gave him a tablet for headache and cuddled next to him snoozing like a baby. She seemed totally at peace. It was a sleepless night for Rohit. He lay awake and thought of the messy situation he had got into. He had never felt as guilty in all these years as he had felt that day. He had imagined that Diya was in her space and Sonali was in hers and they were both happy. What could go wrong with that arrangement? It had never occurred to him what would happen if their paths crossed. He felt as if he had wronged both of them. He looked at Sonali’s innocent, trusting face. She had been a doting wife oblivious of his extra-marital affair with Diya. What would happen to their relationship if she got to know the truth? He shuddered at the thought.
He also thought of Diya and felt that it was improper for him to continue holding her back in a relationship with him. She should move on in life as well. He picked up his phone and messaged her. “What are you doing?”
“Going to bed” she replied.
“Ok I want to talk to you.” He texted.
“At this time? Won’t your wife know?” she replied.
“No she is asleep” he said.
“Ok come to my room, the number is 406”.
Rohit went to Diya’s room.
“Diya I have been thinking,” he muttered. “We can’t go on like this”.
She smiled crookedly at him and said, “So you realised today after all these years that we cannot continue?”
“Yes,” he said.
“I cannot cheat Sonali any longer.”
“Fine” she said. “I haven’t chained you. You can go back to your wife,” she blurted.
“But what about you? I mean you need a companion too,” he said in a concerned tone.
“Oh, you don’t have to worry about me” she replied.
“Why not?” he asked.
“You saw the guy in the pink shirt at the dinner table?” she asked.
“Yes I noticed”.
“Well we have been together for a few years now. He is my junior in the office. He wanted a promotion. So I told him that the promotion comes with a price.” She smiled at him again. “I hope that takes care of your anxiety! You can leave now because he will be coming in any time now.”
Rohit left the room. It seemed that a heavy weight had been lifted of his chest. His guilt pangs lessened and he felt light inside. He entered the room softly and saw that Sonali was still sleeping peacefully. He closed his eyes and dozed off. The next morning when he woke up he pulled Sonali by his side and smiled at her, “So what does my sweetheart want to do today?”
Sonali was surprised at the change of mood from last night. “Are you feeling better now?” she asked.
“I am feeling the best today” he replied.
“Ok then let’s go shopping” she said.
“Ah! And another thing,” he said. “I want to tell you that I have decided to wind up my business in Bangkok.”
“Why?” asked Sonali even more surprised. “I thought that business was doing very well.”
“Yes it was, but it was also taking me away from you and Kashish. I want to spend more time at home with you both,” he said with a smile.
“Oh good! It is a good decision,” Sonali said hugging Rohit.
“Yes good decision indeed, honey. Let’s go shopping for our house (‘which we will make into a home once again’, he thought to himself).”