I dressed slowly that day. I checked myself a number of times before I left. Crisp white shirt, dark blue denims, hair tied back severely, maybe too severely. I loosened the band and watched my face transform as the hair cascaded down.
I was going to meet Anurag for lunch. I had stressed that it had to be quick bite as I was planning to meet my husband at his studio. I hadn’t told him yet, I thought if I go down there and insist he come out with me, he wouldn’t have the heart to say no.
Anurag was early as usual.
“Don’t you look nice today..” He asked, smiling at me as he got up to give me a hug. “Happy birthday Anagha..” He pulled out a chair for me.
“Thanks Anurag.” I settled out in the chair he offered. “What are you doing in my city anyway?” I asked curiously.
He laughed.. “Work Anagha, work. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten that you’re happily married!” He was reminding me about the time I had turned down an invitation to visit him.
“And don’t you forget it!” I jested. “But its really good to see you. How’ve you been? How are things?” I hadn’t spoken to him for ages.
“I’m doing alright. How about you? From the looks of you, I can tell things could be better.”
“Is it that obvious?” I smiled.
“Not really, I spoke to Suchitra.” It amazed me that he bothered to keep in touch with my friends. But he was that kind of a guy. He got along with everybody and made an attempt to keep in touch.
“She really shouldn’t be telling you everything.” I put down my fork.
“Hey,” He reached out and touched my hand, “Are you okay?” I looked up at him. I could detect nothing but concern in his eyes.
“Yeah..” I forced a smile on my face and patted his hand, “Everything’s fine.”
Sensing my discomfort, Anurag changed the topic. We stayed on safer topics like the weather, the traffic, the works.
As we said our goodbyes, Anurag held me by the hand and said gravely, “Look, if you ever just want to get away, you know where I’m at. Right?” I nodded.
“And I mean this strictly in a platonic way.” A wicked smile touched his face.
I laughed, “I wouldn’t have it any other way. Remember, I’m..”
He completed the sentence for me, “Happily married, I remember. Take care Anagha.”
I watched him leave and thought about the choices I had made in my life. If I had met Anurag before my husband, would I have chosen him instead? I had no way of finding out.
As I drove to my husband’s studio, I prepared my cute talk which was to convince him to come out with me.
I had called him before coming. He had rejected my call and sent a text message saying “Busy, got clients at the studio.”
It was locked.