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Crossing The Rubicon

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A lady is standing in an elevator. She has high cheekbones and kajal-rimmed eyes. She stands tall in her stiletto heels and knee-length black skirt. Her legs look flawless except for a scar on her right shin. This happened when she had gone on a holiday to a farm outside Mumbai when she was a child. She tried to climb a fence with barbed wire and her leg grazed against a sharp edge. Blood flowed. She cried. Her parents took her to a local nursing home where they stitched the wound. But a permanent scar remained.

Poonam Sharma, 32, is the Vice President of Public Relations of the ‘Get High’ liquor company. She is about to step into her office in Mumbai. The company is doing well. Its premium rums, brandies, and whiskeys are doing well. Their biggest markets are in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chandigarh.

Poonam has spearheaded the publicity campaign to remarkable success. Makarand Patel, the CEO, has been happy with her performance. They travelled together to different cities to attend liquor launches and to spread the message of ‘Get High’.

Makarand, at 42, is married to Kalpana, who is 35. They have two teenage children, a boy and a girl. Fifteen years of marriage have led to a stagnation in their marital relations. They slept once a fortnight. Kalpana, an English teacher, was busy looking after the children and running the household.

At some point in time, Makarand and Poonam became lovers. They always booked adjacent rooms in hotels. It was Poonam who would slip in at night and spend the night with Makarand. It was a comfortable relationship. Both were looking for sexual release, nothing more. Poonam was focused on her career. She was not sure whether she wanted to marry or have children. She had seen too many of her friends in unhappy marriages. ‘What was the point of it all?’ she thought. ‘Might as well stay single. It is less stressful. Society can think what they want.’

But Kalpana had become suspicious. It was a woman’s intuition. The sex routine with her husband declined even more. He did not seem interested at all. So, she hired a detective at Rs 1 lakh a month, with a time limit of two months to get the dirt out.

Ravinash Pandey, a reed-thin man with protruding eyes, always wore a white suit and red tie. He has been in the husband snooping business for twenty years. So, when Kalpana approached him, he stifled a yawn. It seems like the story was repeating itself all the time. Makarand was careless. He never imagined Kalpana would come up with this plan. It did not take long for Ravinash to realise he was having an affair with his colleague. Once, when they travelled to Hyderabad, Ravinash followed. He went to the hotel, paid a large amount to the receptionist who gave him the key to Makarand’s room. When Makarand stepped out, Ravinash went in and installed a tiny camera that looked onto the bed.

That night, he got the expected evidence and their conversations. He also took some photographs, using a remote. Ravinash got this evidence within two weeks of getting the commission. But he sat on it for a month so that he would be paid the fees for the second.

When Ravinash showed the video to Kalpana, she gasped and drops of tears rolled down her face. She paid the money, took the pen drive, and went home. She kept it hidden under her sarees in the almirah. Then she lay down and cried into her pillow for a long time. Nobody was at home. She had taken the day off. Only the maid was in the kitchen. After a while, she got up and washed her face in the bathroom. She wondered what to do. Should she remain in the marriage or walk out?

A few days later, she decided to take on a lover so that she could enjoy some release. In case Makarand caught her, she could show the pen drive and shut him up. Now, where to find a younger man who would be good in bed?

Deepak Bhargava was a 28-year-old model. He had gelled hair, and good biceps and muscular legs. He worked hard on his body. The modelling gigs took place now and then. But he was too lazy to do a regular job. So, he became a gigolo. One lady recommended him to another lady. Discretion was the name of the game. Many of them were super rich, with their husbands too busy to spare time for them. Most of the time, they were travelling abroad on business. They had no qualms of tasting the pleasures of the flesh at night in their five-star hotels.

The money was good for Deepak. He got Rs 10,000 for two to three hours of sex and companionship. That was all that these women wanted. They wanted to remain married because they liked the luxurious life and the spending allowance in the lakhs their husbands gave them.

Deepak earned well. He felt he was an excellent lover. Most of the women said they experienced orgasms when they were with him. He did not know how true this was, but he nodded and took the money.

On days he was idle, Deepak wandered around the Taj Hotel near the Gateway of India. Most of the couplings took place in these expensive joints.

But on this afternoon, he did not meet anybody. He did not need to do this. He had his regular contacts, but he also yearned for new flesh, whether young or middle-aged. Sex had become like an addiction, but he had tired of the same body after a while.

As he wandered around, he accidentally bumped into a woman. Her purse fell to the floor. The contents fell out. These included a lipstick, a mobile, some coins, and a handkerchief. He apologised as he bent to pick up the items and placed them back in the purse.

“Thank you,” said Kalpana, as she took the purse. She was wearing a pink chiffon saree and a blouse with a provocative cleavage.

Their eyes met. Deepak knew immediately she was not wealthy. Middle class, he thought. A bit on the plump side. Fading looks. There was a hint of a double chin.

He was about to step away when she said, “What is your name?”

He stopped, stared at her, and said, “Deepak.”

“Hi Deepak,” she said, stretching out her hand. “I am Kalpana. Care for a coffee?”

An invitation to a semi-date, he thought.

But he had time to kill. So, he agreed.

They stepped into the coffee shop of the Taj.

Kalpana had stepped out to do some shopping. She felt it would be a distraction. By chance, she saw a young man with an impressive physique. Even though he would be looking out for somebody younger, she felt reckless enough to ask him out for coffee. So far, so good.

As they sat opposite each other, at a corner table, Kalpana inhaled his perfume. She knew it was expensive. But could not identify the brand. For 12 years, perfume was the last thing on her mind. ‘Those wasted years, being a loyal wife,’ she thought. ‘Got nothing in return. Not even good sex. Makarand was such a selfish lover.’

“What do you do?” she asked.

He looked at her and seemed to think about what to do. Deepak knew if he said gigolo, she might not even understand the term. Even if Kalpana did, she would be shocked. So, he said, “I am a model.”

“Ooh,” said Kalpana. “Good.”

Kalpana looked up to see the tent-like ceiling with paintings of fans.

“What would you like to have?” said Deepak.

“Cappuccino and a pastry would be fine,” said Kalpana. She knew she was supposed to lose weight. But now was not the time to opt for weight control.

Deepak gave the order.

He could see a rising flush on Kalpana’s cheeks and neck, which showed excitement within her. He could go in for the kill, but should he do it for free? Or ask her for some cash? Unconsciously, he tapped the glass in front of him, which was filled with clear water.

“What do you do?” he said.

“I am a teacher,” said Kalpana.

“Noble profession,” Deepak said with a smile.

Kalpana is wondering what to do. Should he sleep with Deepak today or opt for another time? But a thought arose: ‘I am done waiting. I waited too many years. Time to make a move’.

The cappuccino and pastry arrive. Kalpana takes a spoon and ate a part of the cake. Deepak has a cup of filter coffee.

“Are you married?” she said.

Deepak shook his head and smiled.

“You are, isn’t it?” he said.

She nodded, and said, “Mother of two kids.”

Deepak smiled at her candour.

“Happy marriage?” he asked, looking straight into her eyes, urging her to be honest.

Kalpana held his gaze, and after a few seconds, looked away. She took a sip of the coffee and wondered what to say.

Finally, she looked at Deepak and said, “So-so.”

Deepak immediately smiled and said, “Good answer. It’s honest.”

Deepak looked at Kalpana and realised she had an attractive personality. It was rare for most Indian women to admit to a stranger, that too, a man, that her marriage was not going well. He thought her husband had not looked at his wife or understood her. ‘Like all husbands,’ he thought. ‘All these women are so unhappy.”

He took another sip of the coffee and said, “Would you like to have sex with me right now?”

Kalpana was chewing the cake when her mouth shut. She could feel the cake touching her tongue. Her breath stopped. There was a stillness inside her body. She was not sure whether her heart continued beating or it had stopped. She gazed at Deepak. The young man gave a challenging look. It seemed as if a wave of electricity passed between them. Time seemed to have slowed down. For some reason, which she did not understand, she pressed her legs together.

Finally, she blinked her eyes, resumed her chewing and said, “That was very bold of you.”

“Indeed,” he replied.

She liked his lack of embarrassment. Deepak was comfortable in his skin. She visualised her palm rubbing into his hair. It seemed to her that her mind and body were telling her to go ahead.

She finished her cappuccino and said in a calm voice, “Yes.”

Deepak gave a broad grin, even as he allowed her to pay the bill.

They set out for his bachelor’s pad in Colaba in his car.

As soon as she sat in the car, Kalpana’s eyes were looking to the left and the right and at the passengers in the other cars. If anybody she knew saw her, she would have to do some explaining. Yet so far, the ride had been fine, with nobody she knew being spotted.

She liked the calm and confident way Deepak drove the car. He did not blow the horn incessantly, as most drivers did. Within 15 minutes, they reached his apartment, a one-room space on the terrace of a building. He had kept it neat; she noticed. A jute carpet on the floor; low maroon sofas, and a mattress on the floor near a wall. On one side, there was a dining table. In the middle, there was a money plant which grew out of a glass bottle.

Kalpana felt calm. She liked Deepak’s taste and his innate respect for women.

After a few more minutes of chitchat, he led her to the mattress, undressed her, and got down to making love to her.

She closed her eyes and let out a small gasp when he sucked on a nipple.

Time passed. It was very silent. The tick tock of a wall clock could be heard. This was interrupted by Kalpana’s sighs and Deepak’s exhalations of breath.

Overall, it was a satisfactory experience for her. Kalpana realised Deepak was keen that she received satisfaction. This was so unlike Makarand, who just mounted her and had his orgasm. Then he rolled over and went to sleep. It was too mechanical. Kalpana also liked Deepak’s body odour. It was masculine and all pervasive. It invaded her nostrils, and she felt a rush in her brain.

Later, he used a pink dildo, a first time for her, and it seemed as if her mind had a series of explosions. This was turning out to be the most satisfying experience of her life.

After an hour, Kalpana left in a taxi.

Under the shower, in her home, she could feel her entire body singing, and an involuntary smile broke on her face.

With this encounter, Kalpana crossed the Rubicon.

Makarand had crossed it earlier.

Poonam also crossed it by having a relationship with a married man.

All three knew, in their subconscious minds, that things would never be the same again.


Shevlin Sebastian

Shevlin Sebastian has worked in major publications like Sportsworld (of the Ananda Bazar Group in Calcutta), The Hindustan Times in Mumbai and The Week Magazine in Kochi. Shevlin has published over 4500 articles on subjects like history, spirituality, literature and sports. His blog, ‘Shevlin’s World’, has received more than 22 lakh hits. He has also published four books for children and a book on spirituality. Shevlin's short stories have been published in Singapore, Rome, Calcutta, Mumbai and on India's leading publishing website:

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