|Creative Writing Competition 2012 India
|Old Palace OR Bungalow
I watched her descending into the pool with satisfaction. Her wet hair clung to her shoulders, and a few stray strands were draped across her forehead, around her soft, pointed nose. She smiled at me, as I stared at her. She was tall and slim, her body streamlined to perfection. Her neck, thin and graceful, sat on delicate shoulders, which gave way to her perky breasts, and I remembered myself exploring the contours of those fair mounds with my fingers. Her waist was slim and long, her legs graceful. She was the picture of loveliness.
The bungalow stood dark and brooding in the twilight, and we watched it sprawled beside the pool. Then lights twinkled in one of the room on the first floor. I watched Shyamlal descending the stairs, lantern in hand. The bungalow still had no current supply. Nights were strange in the candlelight, but Shyamlal lit enough candles to read by. The churrping of birds died out, and the woods stood brooding in the faint light the bungalow cast over them. They were old woods, and the bungalow still seemed shy of disturbing their peace. I thought about my satisfaction. It was the forbidden comfort of making love to a woman who isn’t your wife. It was the enhanced joy of adultery. With an air of superiority, I lit a cigarette. She lay beside me, breathing softly. I turned and watched her breasts gently heaving, her legs spread out, secure in my presence. Her red bikini glistened with the water from the pool. I wondered how long I should wait before waking her.
The car turned into the rhododendron lined driveway. Two ladies jumped out, laughing. The chauffeur drove into the garage. I watched my wife and her best friend walking into the bungalow. In the morning, the bungalow seemed almost normal. It shed the menace of its years, and the vines covering its walls made it seem almost happy. I was nervous. This was the first time I was going to be in the presence of both my wife and my mistress.
I have been married to Komal for nearly ten years. During that time, I have often felt drawn to other women, but had never plucked up the courage to do anything about it. Sasha was the first woman who had responded to my charms. I had been briefly introduced to her last year. So ten days ago, when I bumped into her on my way to meet a friend who was also holidaying nearby, I boldly asked her to come over.
Sasha wasn’t the kind to make it awkward. After a few glasses of whisky, she leaned over and kissed me. We made out in the open, on the grass. In the ten days that it took for Komal to reach Dehradun, I met Sasha everyday. We made love like newly-weds. I had never known such happiness, and I barely thought of Komal during those ten days. But now she was here. I smiled meekly at her as she entered the room. She seemed really happy. She dressed quickly, and then took Sasha out for a walk into the woods.
I milled about the ancient house all day, drinking whisky. They returned just as the sun was setting. We sat in chairs around the pool, watching it go down. Sasha gaily asked about my health, my business.
“Must have been really lonely without your wife”, she tittered.
I stole a glance at her. She was just as beautiful in the tight t-shirt and jeans as she had been in her red bikini. Komal, in contrast, was plain and boring. In the early days of our marriage, I had found her body irresistible. Now, though she looked much the same, except a little older, I could barely bring myself to make love to her once a week. I sat watching the two women talk, drawing comparisons in my head. Komal was unusually happy, and later that night, slightly drunk, she kissed me full on the lips, while Sasha watched. I couldn’t look Sasha in the eye as I said goodbye.
The car drove away, and I was left watching the dust churning in the light of the the driveway, with a tipsy Komal by my side. Komal was demanding, and we frolicked late into the night. Somehow, I found myself warming to her, just as she did to me. Perhaps it was because I was trying to make amends in my own way. I was wrecked with guilt. Komal hadn’t shown such affection in years, and I felt obliged to make it up to her somehow. I took her out for walks in the following days, and we made love every night, but each time, I thought of Sasha.
It wasn’t until the end of the second week of our vacation that I saw Sasha again. She came over for lunch. I was going out for a spot of jogging, and I waved at her she passed me by in her car. Lunch was much the same, with the three of us sitting by the pool, talking and sipping beer between mouthfuls. The ladies decided to swim, and I watched them strip off their clothes from my chair. Sasha was wearing a yellow bikini this time. I was spellbound again. It wasn’t until Komal called out to me to join them that I noticed her. She was also in a bikini, and out in the open, she somehow seemed more appealing. It took me a few seconds of staring to realize that she was wearing a red bikini. It seemed uncannily like Sasha’s.
That night I went through her drawers. There wasn’t anything there that I couldn’t recognize. I was almost ready to dismiss the similarity. I watched Komal and Sasha out on the lawns, and felt a pang of jealousy. I couldn’t reason why I felt it, but it felt an unpleasant after taste. I was cheating, and I was probably the lowest scum on the earth. As I waved goodbye, Sasha winked, and I had to turn my face away. All night I struggled to stow the guilt away, but it would not go.
The next day I decided to stay over at my friend’s. He lives permanently in Dehradoon, and its almost like he’s permanently on vacation. He’s in the tourism business. I spent the day in relative peace, and towards the evening, I began to miss the presence of Komal. I drove back after dinner. The night was cold, and I shivered as I unlocked the door. The house was silent. I walked upstairs, and turned the corridor to head into our bedroom.
And there was Sasha, completely naked. She didn’t even look at me as she walked into my bedroom. I stood frozen until the groans forced me out of my delirium. I peeked in through the key-hole, and there the mystery of the red bikini unfolded. Lying on top of my wife was the wondrous Sasha, and she was dexterously removing the clothes from Komal’s body. Komal giggled, and I backed away. I walked downstairs with, absorbed in thought. That night, I slept on the veranda, wrapped in a blanket with a half-empty bottle of my favourite whisky. I sleep soundly, like a baby. I was happy and guilt free again.