It was just one of those mornings when you want to sleep in for 5 extra minutes. No matter how many times the alarm goes off, you snooze and pull the blanket over your head. Just 5 more minutes, you tell yourself. But the half-asleep mind doesn’t realize when 5 becomes 15 and the schedule goes to hell. You’ve already missed your usual bus at 9.30. The next one only comes 20 minutes later. You’re obviously going to be late at work and the manager is going to give you her usual dead stare, just like an angry cow.
All these thoughts crowd my mind as I roll from one side to the other, pulling up my soft, warm blanket. But, the thought of my manager’s dull face makes me want to wake up. I slightly open my right eye and see Ajay, sleeping calmly beside me. I hate that I have to wake up and go to work. For a moment, I envy him. And suddenly, my heart floods with guilt. I rush to check my phone lying on the bedside table. It shows one new message, but its the same one I get every morning.
‘Good morning beautiful (kiss) (kiss)’ the text reads. I stare at it blankly. I don’t know what to reply. I look at Ajay, the man I’ve been married for 19 years and I feel anxious. Suddenly, my 15-year-old daughter walks-in to the room and breaks my chain of thoughts.
“Mom, you up? I need to leave early. Do you know where my blue T-shirt is?” I am startled by her voice. I lock my phone and join her in finding her T-shirt.
** 20 days ago **
My phone beeps constantly as I am getting ready for work. I check the messages, they make me smile. “What a flirt!”, I think to myself. I look in the mirror, I can’t believe I am blushing. I recall her saying she liked my smile, especially the faint dimple on my left cheek. I remember telling her that it used to be clearer when I was younger. She had laughed, making my cheeks go red. I smile deliberately now, to see the dimple myself and blush, again.
I feel like a teenager, newly in love. It is unbelievable how she makes me feel. With her, I am not needed, I am desired. Around her, I don’t feel like I’m obliged to do anything. Nothing is a duty.
** 7 days ago **
“Do you really think that I am on both sides?” I ask. She places her hand in mine, our fingers intertwined. “I do not know about the other side and if you’ve fully been there or not. But you are definitely here, on my side, beside me” she says with a warm smile.
I am not convinced. I ask, “Then why do I feel settled when I am with my family? Ajay and the kids are my world. It is perfect. I have a perfect family. But why does this feel perfect too? I just don’t understand.”
She comes closer to me, our faces just a few centimeters away. I feel a burning sensation under my skin. I have goosebumps and my heart beats faster than usual. I can sense my breath becoming heavier as it bounces back from her soft brown skin. I realize how I’ve never felt this before. I’m shocked, but pleasantly. Her lips touch my right earlobe and she softly whispers, “it’s okay, I’m here, we’ll figure it out, ” and retracts to her seat. A playful smile appears on her face, for she knows what she just made me feel.
** present day **
I pack my lunch. The kids are already off to school and the maid has begun her work. Ajay is still in bed “lucky bastard”, I think. I rush to pick up my bag and the keys. I cannot afford another late mark. I curse myself for not waking up in time. Then I run down the stairs and decide to take an auto.
As I get inside the auto, my phone rings. It is her, again.
Unsure about what to say, I reject her call. Although I have come to accept that I could be on both sides, I must be really stupid to think that a beautiful young girl like her is interested in someone like me, a woman who at 44 is still discovering her sexuality. A woman who is the opposite of attractiveness with her slim ponytail, round glasses and a disappearing dimple. A woman who probably won’t love her back, because she simply doesn’t know what love is.
The auto halts outside my office gate. Another routine day begins.
Tomorrow is the first Valentine’s Day in India since the LGBTQIA+ relationships were legally accepted in the country (decriminalisation of section 377). It makes me immensely proud that tomorrow, on the 14th of February 2019, Indians will be celebrating love for what love is, truly.
Feature image credits: Elena Feliciano on Pinterest