So he looked up at me and said, "Are you sure he won't find out?"
I was certain. But I saw him fidgeting with the strap of my camera. It was really funny but at that exact moment I didn't like him anymore.
"It doesn't matter anyway," I said. "Let's just get out of here. The drive back is a killer."
"Yes. Yes." He said, looking up at me again.
He got up, picked up his bag and we got out of the room. I did a quick check to see if I'd left anything behind. Vinay (three boyfriends ago) had told me that I loved to leave a trace behind in case someone came looking for me.
Nikhil, the front office manager, smiled his perfectly white smile and said, "It was such a pleasure to have you over this time.”
Pleasure? We were there for exactly three days. Whatever!
Ash didn't say a word to me on our way back. He would stop intermittently at interesting locations so that I could take a few pictures and then twice more on the way for coffee and dinner.
"You shouldn't think so much you know," I told him. "It just makes matters worse."
"You don't understand Rai, I... I've got this funny feeling in my stomach."
"Ah! So now you've fallen in love with me?" I joked.
"Yeah sure, why not? That would be amusing."
It was midnight by the time we crossed Taj Fisherman's Cove. Another 30 minutes and I would be home. The roads were empty. A quick shower had bathed the streets and there were some puddles here and there. Nothing serious, just that they looked awfully pretty.
I looked at Ash. He was staring straight at the road, one hand clutched the wheel tightly and the other the gear shift.
“You heard me. Pull over.”
So he found a truckers’ lay bye and pulled over.
“I can’t leave him, Ash. I love him. Not in the way you think but I do.”
“Good for you, love. I wish you joy.”
“Stop being sarcastic. You’re terrible at it. And I thought there was no commitment here. I mean we are friends and I like you quite a bit. Hell, I like you more than most people I know.”
“Want me to send a ‘thank you’ card when we get back?”
“That’s it. You’re a fucking idiot! Drive on. Let’s just go home.”
“NO. Listen to me this time. I don’t care if you leave him or not. That’s your decision to make.”
“What do you mean it’s just my decision to make?”
“I just don’t want him to know, alright?”
I reached the apartment at almost 1:30 am. Ved was in the library, reading. He heard me come in. “Hey you! Had a good trip? Wow! You look beat. Want me to make some tea?”
I nodded and went straight into the shower.
Then at 2 am, Ved and I sat on those cushy chairs on our verandah and sipped green tea.
“I am sorry I couldn’t come, love. There was just too much work these last few days. But it’s a good thing that we still have two more days left. Let’s make the most of it…”
I want a divorce, Ved. I am in love with another man - a stupid photographer who is five years younger than me. What can I do? It just happened.
“Hey… you with me?”
I came back to the present. “Don’t worry. We’ll spend some time together. It would have been nice if you could also come you know. It was nice. I got some great pictures.”
“Let’s go to bed now. I’ll see your pictures tomorrow.”
Of course going to bed meant sex. Ved and I hadn’t had sex (with each other) for more than four days, I was sure he’d want to; and he did.
Six months later
I was sitting on my terrace… a book in hand, a bottle of wine almost finished, a candle and my favourite rug.
Aditya was in the kitchen, getting the new prawn dish he’s been experimenting with. It smelt heavenly, something that I was never going to tell him.
Each prawn looked beautiful. It had a particular shade of mustard clinging to it like a lover. The smoke from the plate danced to his tune. That’s what I loved most about him. He worshipped food and yet looked like someone who’d weigh everything before he ate it.
Putting the platter next to me, Aditya sat down, cross legged.
“Do you think we should get married?”
“Sounds good to me.”
“Why do you think I love you?”
He smiled. Took a piece of that delectable insect with a toothpick and put it in my mouth.
“I saw them today,” he whispered.
“What the…? Seriously? Where?”
“At the parking lot in front of The Ambassador. I was waiting for Junaid to meet me at Jazz by the Bay before the photo shoot.”
Interesting, said my brains. The last one year was definitely more interesting. Asking Ved for a divorce was a matter of two hours, of which, waiting for him to come back from work comprised of one. I didn’t think it would be that simple… in fact, it made me terribly suspicious.
But that’s what I had wanted for sometime and it would have been a mistake to probe further. But I wondered for a while for sure. A man who was so doting could let me go so easy.
Ash was not the reason for me wanting the divorce. I had met Aditya as a party and we realised that it was meant to be. Though we didn’t want to get married – I was tired of being married and single at the same time. We had decided to move in together.
But Ash was definitely the reason for Ved granting me the divorce…
Wasn’t a very happy discovery – I had walked in on them one day when I went back to the apartment to pick up the remaining of my stuff. Take my word for it; watching two men kissing may not be the most pleasant sight. So, we all parted our ways and the happy men were happier and I had nothing to complain. Not that I have a problem with homosexuality…I love gay men; but just not in my bed.