The forbidden bond
by Geetika Sodhi Lohan
Sakshi had an enchanting persona that captivated my attention as soon as I entered the conference hall of the office. We both had applied for the same position and there were about 20 shortlisted freshers like us, competing for just three posts. There was an unsaid bond that Sakshi and I developed as soon as we started interacting so much so that we stayed aligned during group discussions and finally when the result came out the Hr Executive Ali announced "Congratulations to Sakshi, Pragya and Gagan. Welcome aboard. And everybody else, do not lose heart we have your resumes and we shall contact you for other openings. Thankyou". The formalities done, I and Sakshi were to join the organisation on the same day.
Our friendship was effortless. She was an easy going woman who was less calculative than other women much to the ease of an introverted man like me. We struck a chord from day one. It took the entire office(and honestly us as well) no time to realise that we both were an invisible team and would support each other no matter what. From bitching after the office hours to taking care of each other, sharing drinks some days, we surely were a team on and off the floor. My eyes searched and followed her. Office felt like a place to be because of her.
"Do you feel anything for me Gagan" she squinted her eyes in suspicion one day and asked bluntly.
A little taken aback I didn't know what to answer. I never had any feelings for her but I adored her as my own mirror soul someone I could connect with due to so many similarities between us. But what if my denial offended her.
"I don't mean to offend you Sakshi but I have never felt anything for you other than that you are my best friend and I can't imagine being without you".
She sighed "thank God. Idiot what offended. I asked because people are gossiping. You know how it is right. I was just worried so confirmed. As far as we are clean I don't care about rumours. "
This discussion changed nothing between us and we continued twinning.
I don't think my appraisals were reasons pleasing enough for me to have stayed in the company for seven years so presumably it was because of Sakshi. So much had changed around except for our friendship. We both had gotten married to two wonderful people(I to Abha and she to Kartik), become managers of different departments, put on weight, matured but our one hour after office bitching session and all the time we spent together hadn't moved an inch, just that our conversations had become more family centric and time had turned us inert to the fakeness of the corporate world we both had loathed since forever.
It was a conference of managers from Pan India to be held in Ooty and we both had to leave for a week. Since we two were the only ones from our branch, none of us showed interest in socializing or interacting with the 150 others who acknowledged as if they had known each other from past lives. That Egoistic toxic socializing as I always referred to this behaviour as, got on our nerves. None of Sakshi and me were happy with the professional experience since there was no learning but Ooty being a beautiful place, gave us a lot to explore. From markets to mountain views to laying in the balcony of the tree houses we were allotted for nights, talking and looking at the stars, we both were enough for each other's company. Thrice I woke up beside her, in mornings, where we both had slept silently gazing at the sky.
Finally the week's stay was coming to an end. It was our last night in the tree house of the resort. As per the routine we ordered coffee laid there and gazed at the stars when a weird thought crossed my mind and like always, around Sakshi, words plunged out unfiltered. "How would have life been had we been married to each other".
It was supposed to be funny but I could feel a glitch in my stomach. For the first time in 7 years, I felt a
strong craving to hold her close to me. I gulped down the guilt of my thoughts that had refused to take my command. As I turned to her I could see my dilemma in her eyes.
Kissing Sakshi was heavenly. She was fresh even at the midnight hour. We shifted in the room and slipped into the quilt. I thrust myself into her and placed my lips on her erect nipples. The frenzy was temporary but irresistible and ejaculation satiating.
Not that I had sex for the first time, but for the first time I hugged the woman beside me for so long and stayed that way as if leaving her would take away my all. She felt no differently. We both knew that beneath the guilt of having indulged in adultery and betrayal of the trust of our partners there was a lifetime of bliss we had both lived in that hour. I didn't have a name to give to what we felt, against how society tagged and viewed it. We didn't talk for very long. A little ashamed of having made out with her, I tried to move away but she held me back.
Wasn't that all I wanted to do. Stay there beside her forever. Rest of the world, prejudices, everything I loved, had suddenly faded into meaninglessness. The thought of society made me feel like a criminal but in true nakedness of my heart I was at peace, happy and on a high that was unparalleled.
Sakshi broke the train of my confused thoughts.
"Do you hate me?"
I was the one who should have asked this question, I commenced it all.
"..No, I love you even more. You would always be the most important person in my life. A soul mate". I whispered and kissed her nose as my own words cleared the baffles of my brain and seemingly relieved her too. She cared less about the society but loved Kartik beyond words could explain. In a world where men are loved more for the figures they earn, very few get lucky as him to be loved so unconditionally.
Sakshi gently withdrew from my arms kissed my forehead and cupped my cheeks with her soft hands.
With moist eyes she left for a shower. The much I knew her, I had lost my only friend today and she had lost herself. When we men fall in love with another woman we become subjects of memes and it is laughed off but if a woman thinks about another man she becomes a subject of shame and society detests her. I knew the storm within wouldn't let her life remain the same for honesty was both her blessing and curse.
Years later, now as an old man as I look back at my life, I wish I hadn't lost myself that night and Sakshi hadn't walked away from Kartik. I never had the courage to disclose about that night to Abha and feared that Kartik might one day come and tell her everything until I realised that Sakshi had confessed everything without taking my name. Kartik suffered in silence for he neither recovered nor moved on from that void ever since.
As for me, Sakshi's words in her last letter had held me through this far. "Never hate what happened between us Gagan. I am not sorry and I have no regrets. I moved away from both of you because I didn't have a right to destroy two good men because I couldn't think straight. If we meet ever again do smile at me and hug me like a long lost friend. Take care of Abha. "
I could never meet Sakshi again. The news of her death today had shattered me. I had never shared my heart with anyone like I did with her. She knew my silences and heard what I could never say even to Abha, brought out the best in me and was the only one I could be myself around.
"I would see you soon in the other world". I kissed her only photograph, I had, as I recalled every moment of the most beautiful night of my life with the woman I had loved like no other. A bond so forbidden yet so pious.*****