Sipla had grace, love, appreciative family and friends. There was comfort and satisfaction of being wanted by children and spouse. Now in late 30’s, she had purpose and a sense of secured belongingness.
Brought up in a protected environment, she was hesitant about opening up her inner mind with its uncertainties. The growing change in so-called value system, as exhibited by the few not-so-close friends , created some dissonance while evaluating actions of some reckless near ones.
She considered herself to be reasonably insulated and sufficiently occupied, not to dabble into any justification for so-called deviant behaviour. She had a clear black or white view when it came to “extra” physical indulgence, especially in a marriage. There was no way one can just let go, for the sake of letting go. And she was very vocal on this right way, having the support of the life led so far, giving her the strength of conviction.
That was then and a decade later, Sipla had the unfortunate task of guiding a trusted neighbor whose extra-marital entanglements had repercussion of a family split. The error was committed; the cause intentional and the learning, not at all lasting. The chances of continuing to be unfaithful were high; a new path with its many enticements but accompanied with pains of rejection and relationship-redefinitions.
“We live in a rule-based society. What gets discovered, gets blown-up. You knew the consequences, you exercised a choice.” Counseled the elder.
“Are you and I rational in such matters? I have always been told, love has no boundaries and there are many shades of love!” replied the unrepentant younger.
“You had relationships, responsibilities!” exclaimed Sipla.
“Oh, wow. I made you lose control. Anger , sadness lasts only for a while. I went through all that and then carried on; consciously like Catherine chasing the married Pilot in The Terminal, Diana in Unfaithful or like Jane Austen’s pure Elizabeth when, for a brief moment, she is carried away by the polished army Captain.”
“You think your life is a series of living fictional characters?”
“No, no; much more. While they can only be images, the true mind deceives, justifies, in innumerable ways. Blame it on our survival wiring.” The daring one philosophized.
“So what are your lessons?” Sipla spoke, more to herself.
“Some things are not planned, they happen. Aren’t such things inevitable? Did you not, too, falter? So teach me how to live on!” Sighed the errant one.
“What can I say ? You have many answers; just be careful.”
And Sipla lay awake most of that night, wondering, what the younger one knew about her dilemma. An incident long buried and she relived those days of desire, fear and the guilty thrill in letting go.
Those memories returned ….
“I will return next week, please hold the fort.” Sipla told her family and the caretaker, as she announced her official travel plan.
“Free, at last.” Sighed the eldest and they all laughed together at her mock angry face.
And Sipla was on her own, mentally at least, though she was sharing a room with a helpful girl colleague. They spent late nights doing up the legal documents. One evening, she turned in early, had a good chat with her family and went in for a long , luxurious bath.
And the accident happened. Misunderstanding of she not being in the room and girl colleague handing over her room key to a male colleague to collect some papers. No courtesy knock or call. Sipla could have been less casual. Plenty of things that ought to have been done; but he did enter unannounced and she did step out of the bath, undressed and unprepared.
Profuse apologies were tendered. The girl colleague laughed away and called him lucky while time did the cover up. Sipla returned to her cosy family corner and life went on as usual, for awhile, till they started talking to each other, their awareness growing out of the accident, their curiosity raised and denied. Once their self- judging was put aside, there was the beginning of hesitant exchanges, only for their private consumption, in their minds and their fluttering hearts.
Sipla could only urge her young neighbor, to be careful.