Maya experienced a fetid feeling – extremely filthy to its core, as her peripheral vision witnessed a traumatic scene. Standing behind the window overlooking the lawn, she stretched her neck to get a peek of the scene playing out on a bench in the lawn. As much as she didn’t want to believe the shocker she was witnessing, Maya almost cried at the sight of it. Rahul was seated on the bench, while a girl was lying on it with her head on Rahul’s lap. A vague image of a white frock and blue top was all Maya could see. As she tried to get a better glimpse of the girl, Maya saw Rahul bend down and do something.
Maya tore her hair in disgust as she tried to comprehend Rahul’s actions. ‘Did he just kiss her? Was Rahul making out with her?’ Questions flashed across her mind as she tried to come to terms with Rahul’s actions. ‘Why are you doing this to me Rahul? I have been so good to you and have loved you with all my heart. Is this what you give me in return?’ Her conscience hounded her relentlessly, and she couldn’t cope with the pain and screamed out in fear, perspiring and panting strenuously.
Struggling to hold her breath, Maya suddenly realized she had been dreaming and woke up with a start. She stared at the darkness that enveloped her and didn’t see either the lawn or the bench. Still perspiring, she swirled to her left and noticed that Rahul was fast asleep under the quilt.
Depressing thoughts clouded Maya’s mind as she tried to calm herself and go back to sleep. For obvious reasons, she couldn’t do so. Though it was only a dream, she had conspired against Rahul and doubted his integrity. Until she dreamt this terrible dream, her thoughts on Rahul always bordered along the lines of happy, romantic, caring and a best friend. What was it that caused her subconscious to show her something that she never imagined?
Driven down the road to madness, and feeling pathetically guilty, Maya rose from the bed and after a brief struggle through the darkness, reached the lawn. She sat on THE bench and immediately her heart shattered into tiny fragments as guilt seeped through each vein of her. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she couldn’t bring herself to accept the fact that she had a filthy dream about her husband. She wept.
“Maya… Maya.” Maya heard Rahul’s voice and forced herself to wake up. She rubbed her eyes and responded in an unsteady tone.
“Huh… Good morning Rahul.”
“How did you land up on this bench? What happened last night?”
Maya sat upright and opened her mouth to say something, when she abruptly rose from the bench and exhibited strange behaviour, uncharacteristic of her. THE bench came back to haunt her and she wanted to get away from it.
“What happened Maya? Are you alright?” Rahul prodded again.
“Ya… Yeah. I am fine.” Maya lied, waving away Rahul’s concerned touch. For apparent reasons, she couldn’t mention her current plight to Rahul.
Post breakfast, after seeing Rahul off to office, Maya reasoned with herself that she had to get the adulterated dream out of her system. Rahul had pleaded with Maya to speak up in the morning, but she couldn’t bring herself to do so. A couple of hours later, Maya realized that pragmatism was the best way forward. It was only a dream and she didn’t have control over what she dreamt. She began to breathe easy when she made peace with her realization. But she wanted to confide in Rahul.
Maya decided to meet Rahul for lunch at the food-court in his office premises. On reaching the food-court, she sat herself at a table and pulled out her phone from her bag. Just as she unlocked her phone, she heard a familiar voice call out her name.
“Hi Sanjay.” Maya struggled to fake her countenance, though she was extremely happy to meet Sanjay, Rahul’s long-time colleague and a mutual friend.
“It has been a while since we met. How have you been?” Sanjay asked with genuine concern and sat on the chair opposite Maya.
“I’m good. How are you doing?” Maya responded and she was surprised she was smiling.
“Everything is great at my end. My wife though complains about the lack of our get-togethers.” Sanjay said and winked, drawing a smile from Maya. On cue, Maya’s face lit up. She realized that it had been a while since she had been on a trip with her friends. She almost forgot about her terrible dream as she returned to being chirpy in Sanjay’s company.
“I am dying to get out of here – to someplace far away. Let me discuss with Rahul and the four of us can come up with a plan.” Maya spoke in an excited tone.
“Sounds good. I am up for it.”
“So… what brings you here? Sanjay asked inquisitively.
“Oh… yeah… I almost forgot. There is something I need to discuss with Rahul – something about a dream I had last night.” Maya sounded sarcastically quirky as she spoke and winked at Sanjay. All Sanjay could do was look quizzically at Maya.
“There he is.” Sanjay looked around for a moment and pointed in the direction of the table at which Rahul was seated.
As soon as Maya spotted Rahul, her mood changed dramatically. Rahul was seen to be making strange gestures at the woman who sat opposite him. The woman’s hair fell on her right shoulder, thus concealing her face. But something else struck Maya and she froze at the sight of it. The woman wore a blue top and a white frock.
“Who… who is that lady sitting opposite Rahul?” Maya chocked on her words. Even as she spoke she saw that the woman playfully showed her middle finger to Rahul, who winked and nodded, as if in agreement with what the woman indicated.
“She was recruited recently and works with Rahul.” Sanjay replied nonchalantly.
Maya turned red with rage at the chemistry brewing between Rahul and the girl. The terrifying dream she had last night came back to haunt her. The girl in her dream too wore a blue top and a white frock. ‘Could there be any connection between the dream-girl and the one seated at the table?’ Maya asked herself, but got no answers in return.
The woman was now seen extending her left hand to Rahul and then immediately withdrawing it the moment Rahul tried to grab her hand. Even as Sanjay stood beside Maya laughing at Rahul’s plight, Maya was boiling with anger. She stared at Sanjay.
“What the hell is going on between my husband and that bitch?” Maya’s patience was at its lowest ebb and she was ready to burst.
Sanjay knew that she was serious. “Look Maya. There is nothing going on between the two of them. Just a little bit of healthy flirting, I’d say.”
“Flirting? Healthy flirting? Really Sanjay…” she rolled her eyes in disgust. “That’s what you men call it? There is nothing healthy about flirting, Sanjay, not for a married man.
Healthy flirting is a term introduced by men who want to lend legitimacy to their extramarital dalliances. Flirting invariably has a sexual connotation to it.” She got up from her chair and walked around the room gesticulating and muttering something to herself. Suddenly she stopped, turned back, looked at Sanjay and asked, “Is Rahul cheating on me? You are his friend. Did he ever tell you anything about it?”
“You are reading too much into what is happening at that table. Relax Maya, there is nothing going on between Rahul and that woman.”
Maya’s heart didn’t listen to a word Sanjay said as she stormed to the table where Rahul was seated. Sanjay got up from his chair and rushed behind Maya.
“Rahul, what the hell is going on between the two of you?” Maya banged her fist on the table and let out a wild scream.
Caught off-guard, Rahul froze when he saw Maya, as the blood drained from his face.
“She is… she is my… my colleague.” Rahul struggled to put words together due to the fear that had overtaken him. A drop of sweat formed on his left eyebrow and fell to the floor.
“You were hitting on her, Rahul. Is this how you socialize with your colleagues?” Maya roared in anger. She didn’t bother to confront the woman, who now wore a rather perplexed look.
Rahul tried to say something, but words wouldn’t come out of his mouth.
“Are you having an affair with her?” Maya growled but received no response.
“Answer me, Rahul. What is going on between the two of you?”
“God damn it, speak up.”
“Answer me, will you?”
“Maya… Maya… what happened? Are you alright?” A perspiring Maya was woken up from her terrified sleep state by Rahul.
“Huh… Yeah… Ya.” Maya responded, seeming extremely disoriented.
Rahul placed Maya’s head on his lap and gently stroked her head. “It was just a dream baby. Everything is alright.” Rahul tried his best to reassure Maya.
Maya looked dazed and petrified. Her heart was pounding due to a wretched and remorseful fear. Two days in a row, the same girl in blue and white gave her nightmarish dreams that even her subconscious wasn’t able to let go. A terrible sense of apathy engulfed her and she felt absolutely gutted. Muddled inside her head, Maya wanted to clear her cluttered mind and try and find a way around her insidious dreams.
“Maya baby, are you feeling better now?” Rahul’s anxious tone broke Maya’s contemplative reverie. “Yeah, am feeling better.” She lied again.
Maya decided to seek help from a counsellor. She had to let out the weight of emotions residing in her heart by sharing her traumatic nightmares with someone. She didn’t have the heart to talk to Rahul about her plight, not when she was dreaming terrible things about him. She had to get rid of her dreams and a counsellor would definitely be of help.
Maya reached the venue specified by the Counsellor and registered her details at the reception. The receptionist smiled and asked her to be seated. When Maya turned around, she almost collapsed and fell to the floor. Her head seemed to swirl around in a convoluted path as her world came crashing down. She felt her insides churn as she struggled to cope with the sight in front of her. The same girl who tormented her in her dreams was seated on a chair in the reception. The girl wore the same blue top and white frock, which seemed eerily scary and frightening. Though her dreams hadn’t given her a clear picture of the tormentors face, Maya had an uncanny feeling that the girl’s face was exactly the same as the face of the girl who traumatized her dreams. Terrified by fear, she couldn’t comprehend how the image of the girl’s face registered in her mind. She was on the verge of passing out, when the receptionist noticed her plight and helped her to a chair and some water.
On regaining her senses, Maya’s shivering body turned around to face her nemesis. Just as she opened her mouth to get answers to her questions from the girl, Rahul walked out of the counsellor’s room. The moment Maya saw Rahul, the world under her feet crashed open and sucked her deep into its inner core. It seemed to Maya that all forces in the universe were combining to conspire against her.
“Ra… Rahul… what… what are you doing here?” The anxiety was palpable in Maya’s voice.
If Maya was reeling under a guilty fear, Rahul was torn between a deep angst and a jittery indiscretion that shredded him to bits. Apparently, his jaw dropped and a stinging sensation reverberated through his body. The girl in blue and white stared at Maya as if to indicate that Maya was intruding into Rahul’s personal space.
“I… am… no… came… I… came…” A frozen Rahul struggled to get the words out of his mouth.
“Is this girl with you?” Maya tried her best to be authoritative.
“I… came… we… came to help… to get help.”
“We came to get help? What do you mean by we came to get help?”
Maya didn’t receive any response from Rahul, who was staring at the floor, unable to meet Maya’s eyes.
“Have you been cheating on me, Rahul? Have you been sleeping around?”
“Answer me. Are you having an affair with this girl?”
“Please speak up. Tell me what is going on in your life.”
“Who is this girl with you? Who is she?”
“Tell me… please… tell me…” Maya drifted into a monologue as there was no response from the other side.
“Maya… Maya… are you okay?” Maya was woken up by a chorus that seemed to resonate with a voice from her subconscious.
“Maya… Baby… are you alright.” Rahul cajoled Maya and brought her back to the real world. A visibly shaken Maya was sweating profusely even as she struggled to open her eyes.
Smeared images of three to four people around her registered in Maya’s mind as she tried to make sense of her surroundings.
“It… it was a bad dream.” Maya spoke gingerly and looked around to see Rahul, Sanjay, Sanjay’s wife and… and her dream.
Maya screamed in fear and jumped out of her bed. “Who… who is she?” She shrieked and pointed at THE GIRL. The blue top was the same; the white frock was a steal from her dream. Maya looked at the girl’s face and kept staring at it in dismay. It was THE GIRL who caused her recurring nightmares. Maya was on the verge of collapsing as she couldn’t comprehend the dreamy reality of her presence.
“Maya… relax baby.” A concerned Rahul spoke out.
“Who… is she?” In a very uncourteous tone, Maya reiterated her question.
“Her name is Jesse. She is my colleague at office.” Rahul replied matter-of-factly.
Maya looked on, open-mouthed and gaped at Jesse. ‘Am I still dreaming, or is this for real?’
A life-less Maya was shaken to life by Rahul. “Maya are you alright? You slept for 15 hours straight. Did you see a bad dream?”
Maya slapped herself to make sure she wasn’t in another dream. A forlorn look into emptiness ensued.
“I had a dream… a recurring dream.” Maya spoke in an unequivocal tone.
What Maya said next, turned the entire room upside down. Four jaw-dropping faces starred at her.
“I saw that Rahul was having an affair with another girl. The girl… The girl wore a blue top… a white frock… and… had a mole below her lower lip.”
Rahul, Sanjay and Sanjay’s wife turned in unison and looked at Jesse.
Jesse wore a blue top, a white frock and the mole below her lower lip was distinctly visible.