Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Kiss

A month, a remodeled kitchen (for Jayant) and a change of job (for Sheila) had passed when they returned to her place after dinner and a movie. They had stopped for some groceries on the way home. She let him unload the packages from the car as she went inside to straighten up the living room. It was already late so she did not know if Jayant would even step inside. Then on an impulse she went into the bathroom to brush her teeth and freshen her makeup.

When she came out, Jayant had everything put away in the fridge and was taking his coat off. She sat a little away from the end of the couch and as if on cue so did he. It was like the scene from the last time they had been together was unfolding with a slight variation. He stretched his legs in front of him, his body language much more relaxed than it had been the other time. In a pause during their conversation he looked at her and said “You look very beautiful”.

Sheila smiled and asked “You mean right now ?” "Yes . You look happy and beautiful." he added. Then he leaned over and kissed her - the touch of his lips on hers soft but assured. “I know I should not but it's very hard not to ” he said as if by way of apology. When she laughed, he reached over and kissed her again - this time with much more passion.

She asked “Are you sorry about what you just did ?” “Not right now” he said softly as he kept kissing her. "How about tomorrow ? Will you regret it ?" she urged. "I think I will" he said but made no effort to stop. At some point, Sheila responded and his body reacted like an electric pulse had surged through it. “It's very hard to be around you and not show any affection” he said a little breathlessly."You try very hard though" she teased. "You think I do ?" he laughed.

They both feared intimacy but for different reasons. Sheila wanted to be absolutely certain it was the real deal and would last for life before she went that far. Jayant found it difficult to remain objective in his decisions about the long term prospects of a relationship once things turned physical. To rationalize what happened that night, they both agreed there was nothing wrong in wanting to be close and kiss someone you had a romantic interest in for a while. It did not have to be the game changer - it was a beautiful experience they would both cherish but continue as if it had not happened.

But there was something that Sheila did not admit even to herself until much later - that she had known for a fact that there was no future for her with Jayant at that instant when she had brushed her teeth. She was attracted enough to him to want to be kissed and held but that was probably all she wanted - she could not imagine making love to him.

She had sensed that the ice could break that night and wanted to be prepared. It was almost as if the incident had been choreographed - nothing about them was spontaneous because that connection had never sparked. That kiss had taken a lot of cuing - subtle prompting even to happen and just that was enough to tell her that he was completely unsuitable for her. Yet she had wanted it, if only to prove she could get what she wanted.

But she hated to admit it to herself that she had used Jayant because she had no interest in him long term. How was she any different from the men who lost interest in women right after sleeping with them - the kind of men her she and her girlfriends found so repulsive and disgusting. How could she claim any moral high ground after what she had caused to happen. The end of her relationship with Jayant was full of anger and bitterness which she chose to direct at him instead of coming to terms about her real motivations to herself.

For months she pursued the actual idea of marriage with him if only to absolve herself from feeling guilty. That night, she was the one in charge and decided how far to go and where to stop. If was only afterward that he regained control of himself and the situation. In the clear light of day, he was confused by what had happened and failed to understand how that incident could turn their relationship absolutely serious. There had been no emotional context leading up to it.

He had not felt anything special like Sheila insisted it had been for her. She accused him of being disinterested, emotionally distant and worse for saying so. The truth was, she did not want him to think that she seduced men when she felt the need for intimacy. The truth was, she would find an excuse to bail out if he did indeed consider marriage the next step. The truth was, Jayant was not the one for her and she knew it fully well that night and that was the only reason she threw caution to the winds.The truth was, the she had set herself standards that she was just not able to live up to but refused to lower the bar and make peace with herself. The truth was, she had felt powerful that night and luxuriated in that feeling.


1 comment:

Vikas Gupta said...

I read the complete Sheila Tales to date. Liked it.

Am emailing you my review.