Playing with Fire

Ananya was at a conference in Japan.

“Hi, imagine meeting you here!” said a tall, fit and well-dressed man, walking towards her.

“ Oh! Hi, Ravi!”  

Meeting someone you know in an alien country was always comforting. By the end of the day, they’d decided to bunk the evening banquet and go out. The evening passed in a haze of happy memories of shared youth and they’d parted promising to stay in touch.

Within weeks, they met again at a conference, this time in Mumbai.  Ravi was handsome, erudite and intelligent. Ananya was attractive, creative and intelligent.

They never seemed to run out of words but always ran out of time.

They kept in touch through mails, calls and messages.

Ananya was married with a teenage daughter she adored. Her husband, Shailesh was a businessman she’d married immediately after college. They had had a happy marriage.  

Ravi was married to Shaina, a stunning, sophisticated socialite. They had one son.  

One day, Ravi said, ”I want to tell you something. My marriage is a farce. There’s no physical intimacy at all between Shaina and me.”

It was obvious that Ravi was attracted to her and uncharacteristically, Ananya found herself liking it. Ananya knew they were playing with fire but she was helpless.

They talked regularly now.  One day, Ravi confessed, “I’m ‘insanely’ in love with you, Ananya. You make me feel complete. I can be myself with you.”

Ananya sensed the vulnerability behind the urbane and suave mask. She fell in love.  For the first time in her life. At 40!

He confessed his deepest secrets to her. There had been women and casual sex.

“How do you deal with it?”Ananya had asked.

“I can walk away. I always do,” was his answer.

Yet Ananya believed he was a good man despite these transgressions.  He could not fathom the kind of love she lavished on him. She said it was unconditional. He did not know or understand it but basked in it. Ananya also tried to repair Ravi’s relationship with Shaina telling him where he was wrong. All she wanted was for him to find happiness.

Shaina also sensed the change in Ravi. Ananya’s love had made him happier and lovable. Ravi and she shared a much happier relationship now.

Ananya, meanwhile, had drifted away from Shailesh.  Her fierce love for Ravi had consumed her. She was a one-man woman.  

But old habits die hard. Ravi, a man of the world, personified this. What was earthshaking and life-changing for Ananya was just a change of scene for Ravi.

Ten months later:

“I’m sorry, Ananya, but we have to stop. You taught me so much about love. I have learnt to love Shaina.”

Ananya was dumbfounded. Devastated.

“I’m in the same situation that you were, Ravi. My marriage is a farce now. I love YOU”. Ananya tried to reason with him. But Ravi was adamant.

He walked away. As he always did.

Old habits died hard.

Broken hearts, too.

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Aruna Menon

Aruna Menon is a Gynecologist working in the Central Government. Relationships and words fascinate her. She writes both prose and verse. She loves weaving stories and has a blog called Ripples and Reflections on WordPress. She loves her job and often writes on work life balance. She's always a romantic at heart.

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