The Other Woman



This story/prose poem that I’ve attempted – to tell/show you, is inspired by the Hindi movie “Dear Zindagi” …trailer is in the link: and not the Cameron Diaz Hollywood movie that the title of the poem is derived from. It was written the very day I watched ‘Dear Zindagi’ at a multiplex near my house in Calcutta (at a 9.30 am show for the first time) a fortnight ago, and is still an early draft, that I will chisel in due and delayed time…But sharing it now before you forget all about the movie. 🙂

The Other Woman

She’s always there in my life, what if
I’m a success or failure – in my mind.

I first met her when I was twenty-two,
As she sauntered into my unwitting sight
In a pink georgette Anarkali churidar suit,
Teamed with black suede stilettoes:
Oh, I thought she was awfully trite!

Plain-featured, she got off the black car
Of my senior in college – I was dating over a year,
At the amusement theme park from where
We were to set out on our rendezvous. 

He introduced me to her as – ‘My friend’
But from all I’d heard of her from sources – 
I read much into the fine print of their friendship.
So, in silent protest, siting a family emergency,
I retrieved my soiled pride from the gutter nearby –
In view of our group of friends, by walking 
Over to my own car to be driven away –
oh so coolly, with my girlfriend in tow!

It was after dropping her, cursing his cruelty, home 
That I allowed my scorching heart to thaw – 
Through my smarting eyes to flow:
My kohl ruining my white and tender-green
Salwar suit, by the time I walked into my room sore.

Then She returned to my life in a few more years
When I had travelled all the way
To Mumbai from Calcutta, to morally 
Support the man who had been courting
Me gallantly on his fortnightly official tours:
He had just lost his coveted, flashy job – 
On charges of sexual harassment, 
Which in my youthful naivety 
I did not comprehend was possible. 
Till after landing, at the Chattrapati Shivaji airport,
On the way to my plush hotel – he introduced
Me – to ‘the other woman’ – the one he was 
Marrying shortly out of a supposed family compulsion.

“She is my sister’s best friend and I cannot 
Refuse…” he said apologetically, reminding me of
The times I had helped him choose lovely, sexy clothes
For his sister OR was it her friend – I just realized,
On his shopping sprees
in Calcutta, on daylong rendezvous: 
“How could someone cheat me so!”
My mind screamed – as if a car had knocked me 
In crossing the road striding out of the airport.
Though I was never to see this ‘other woman’ –
Wrapped in a pall of shock, swathed in the blood
Oozing from every pore of my being from the sever knock –
I remained silent, merely nodding supportively 
As the taxi crept its way to my hotel: 
Embalming my spirit with the cool January breeze 
Of my stupidity – in coming to support this man, risking 
My own shining career in the same company,
Even after being warned by my senior boss to stay away.

It was the morning after, on the flight back, when 
I wished desperately for it to crash and spurt  
My ashes in the Arabian sea, that 
A handsome, suave, successful man – I learnt soon,  
Saw me and hatched a plan to hitch me. 
Again, in the lift of a luxury hotel, I met
‘The other woman’ a third time:
This while riding up to the top floor
Suite – with this man from Europe 
I’d met two years ago on that fateful
Flight from Mumbai – I’d wished upon to crash. 
We were on our way to see his boss and friends
After we’d just left the hotel’s lounge bar
In a cozy mood after a few drinks –
listening to a live rock band.

This young woman was with her girlfriend,
And as ordinary looking 
As they were – we did not notice
At which point of time – she got off the lift.
But then the doors reopened abruptly
To our surprise – with this woman’s 
Excited introduction to my man – 
Calling him her sister’s childhood friend,
With whom she too had supposedly played
At common army postings –
both their officer father’s had shared.  

Thus, reigniting their lost friendship,
‘She’ again entered my life,
Finding her way into His apartment,
To cook him meals like his mother –
Who living in another city,
Also with his extensive travelling,
He disappointedly rarely met.

Despite my doubts on their ripening friendship,
I silently tolerated stories about her –
Along with his insistence on her being – ‘Just a child.’
Till one late evening, when with my close friends
I walked into his high-rise apartment –
To have her emerge from his 
Bedroom – to then graciously offer us tea,
As if I was the guest, and she his bride.

After a showdown between her and my friends –
In support of me, that robbed my pride,
She wailed and clung to him as a child
even as I silently stomped out:
To shortly learn that this ‘other woman’
Once again beat me to the position as wife.
But to my deep satisfaction I was to learn
Decades later -bumping into him, 
She had only wanted a trophy husband –
Which he had shortly after marrying realized.

It was after I could no longer find in my heart
The depth to love as I had before,
I encountered a man – who ironically mistrusted me,
As in his view I had a ‘colorfully tainted’ past:
That I had myself naively enlisted to him –
Even though at no point in my life 
Had I been disloyal or untrue to any man! 

But then I justified to myself he was focused on me –
Thus, I patiently accepted his erratic jealous rages
As a passing phase – over the failed attempts
At catching me with any other prospective mate;  
Even absolving his secretly emailing my ex-boyfriends –
In spite of my embassassment, if I had been true to them:  
Thus, I had become assured he was not inclined
To find again – ‘the other woman”
like every other man I’d met before.

But the biggest physical blow
This dramatically possessive man struck me was 
When he blurted under pressure
At the hour we were to wed –
This after 7 years together as an engaged couple,
And a couple of unexplicably failed marriage attempts:
“We must convert to Islam now, if we want to wed.”

After all these years, wasn’t I crucified
to learn – I was ultimately the same myself:
The much hated ‘other woman’ –
For he had already been registry married
Though not communally, before we had first met –
And then usually publicly dated. 
Also that he was seeking, while hiding from me –
A divorce, which for long was impacting most my life –
After which, he and I could someday wed.

After I finally felt emotionally anchored 
In marriage to another man –
Who within weeks of meeting me
Decided I was for him ‘the perfect woman’ –
This from our long-distance telephonic chats –
In which I had bared my crushed soul,
Since learning of this secret divorce –
Followed by two years more in waiting
Unwittingly in being the cursed ‘other woman’
In the hope of his divorce coming through.

But it was barely few months
After my being magnificently wed,
That I was awarded and treated
for my newly garnered, Insoluble trust –
In being the coolest, most naive woman he’d met:
By being introduced to perceptively
shrewd women from his trade – who humored his taste –
Bringing them home serially as ‘good friends.’ 
Though the position of – ‘the wife’
Was solely and reservedly to be mine,
Which in his view – I should consider divine!
Even though in my now convoluted mind,
It was my elevated place I wished in my misery –
Upon his every ‘other woman’
Who for years was to come into my life.

Ironically, when I stripped all my reserve 
And pride, to fall in love so steeply
from a height – as I’ve never fallen before,  
All because I now feel an inexplicable
Connection sublime –
For which I have waited lifelong;
I am mentally and emotionally
robbed of my capability
To discern any other woman from ‘the other woman’
As another commonplace neurotic woman –
My varied experiences killing the gullible girl I was,
To have created one who fears
Her own shadow
as that of ‘the other woman.’ 

But with sensitivity, love and kindness –
I know, someday I will
Surely tide over this illness of mine,  
That dissolves me painfully as shrapnel might: 
From perennial perceived threats
Of ‘the other woman’ every time. 



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