Of late, everyone’s favourite topic seems to be infidelity. At coffee meets, book clubs, lunch parties – after a bit of polite conversation, an awkward pause and then, the inevitable. The latest scoop on who’s dating who, and who doesn’t know. There’s just no escaping it.
Just the other day, I was hungrily tucking into a dim sum lunch at a popular Chinese eatery when in walked a couple I knew very well. Desperately trying not to choke on my sui mai, I downed copious quantities of Coke in a hurry. You see, the reason for my discomfort was that “the couple”, in question, were not married to each other and I knew both their spouses extremely well. They even had two teenagersbetween them.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no prude but I wished, at that very moment, that I was dining elsewhere.
“The couple”, however, did not seem to be bothered. Politely nodding their heads at us, the two seated themselves in a quiet corner, as far as possible from the rest of the diners. I marvelled at their quiet confidence, arrogance almost. Not worried that they would be spotted or that word would get back to their homes. “Is infidelity on the rise in Gurgaon?” my friend whispered across the table. “People are so open about these things these days.”
I shrugged. I really don’t know whether more and more people are allowing themselves to be carried away by reckless adventures of the body and soul in the Millennium City. What I do know, for a fact, is that it’s certainly easier to do so. Have a reckless adventure that is!
A certain man (middle aged by now), wherever he is, willcertainly agree with me.
Fifteen years ago, when I first moved here, all that Gurgaon had was empty spaces. Wide, open, empty spaces with or without green. A few condominiums and a handful of shops selling vegetables and groceries. One or two hole-in-the-joint eateries whose owners actually heaved a sigh of relief every time you told them you wanted the food packed to take home. No fancy malls, restaurants, lounges or pubs to hang around in. No place to have intimate dates, really. Just your own home or outside, in the lap of Nature.
Every evening I would rush home from work, make a pot of tea and sit in one of the two balconies that our charming little flat possessed. With not many buildings blocking my view, on a clear day I could see right till the airport. There was so much to take in. I loved it.
One such evening as I was getting ready to pour myself a cuppa, my husband yelled out, asking me to come to the balcony immediately. Slightly annoyed, I shouted back saying I would, in a minute, as soon as I had poured a cup for myself. He yelled out again, a strange urgency in his voice that I hadn’t heard before. “Now!”
I rushed out, my tea forgotten for the moment.
And, I will never forget the sight that greetedmy eyes, for as long as I live! A man was hanging from the balcony of the flat, adjacent to ours. Yes, you heard me right! He was hanging, clutching onto the railings, for dear life. A sheer drop of ten floors below him. Though he had his back to us, I could make out that he was quite young (possibly in his twenties) and well-dressed. Expensive shirt and trousers.
He was facing the inside of the flat. His head bent so that someone inside the flat would not be able to see him. Unless, of course, they came out onto the balcony. Sensing movement behind him, he jerked his head round and saw us gaping at him. Trying to look as nonchalant as possible (as though he was taking a stroll in the park), he went back to what he was doing, gripping the railings, looking down nervously once in a while. In those few minutes, I could make out that he was really scared. I mean, who wouldn’t be. One false move and you are history!
“Should we tell the security guard?” my husband whispered, sounding worried. “He may slip and fall.” I agreed. I didn’t want it on our conscience. We rushed down to inform the guard but by the time we got to the bottom of our block of flats and looked up, the man had vanished. Into thin air!
Poor, unfortunate soul who had risked his life for the love of a married woman. Whose husband had walked in on her! Just think, how much easier their lives might have been, had this romance played out today, in modern day Gurgaon. So many places to go to. To disappear to. Why, they might have even been eating dim sums next to me!
Whoever said falling in love was easy. Falling to your death, however, is another matter!