The Unwanted Houseguest Chapter 29 Prem's Final Assault Prem and I ordered some food and drinks. As an introvert, I was never one for small talk, so the suspense was gnawing at me. "Amir, when I texted Kavita that I was coming home, she said that you wanted to speak with me." Prem replied, "Yes, Manu.
I have a few things to discuss with you." He paused as if he was at a loss for words. "Look, Manu, there's no easy way to break this to you, and you probably may suspect this already. I'm deeply in love with Kavita. She is beautiful, intelligent, fun, and caring. I adore her, I love her, I care about her, and I want to make her happy." I stared at him for a moment. I was sweating nervously and felt very uncomfortable. Did Kavita send him here to tell me that she doesn't want me to come back?
"I see, that's interesting," I mumbled, not sure where this was going.
All this time, I thought he liked my wife mainly for her body, for the sexual attention she gave him, and for the intimate pleasures they shared.
This sudden love story was unexpected, and sounded contrived. He called Kavita 'his bitch', used her like his personal slut, and slept with another woman too. Even among Muslims who are allowed multiple wives, how could he now claim that he loved my Kavita and respected her as a person?
I sat across from Prem tapping my fingers on the table. I had a hard time believing what he was saying.
But there was no point in arguing with a meathead like Prem over this. I was more interested in knowing his intentions. "What are you saying, Amir? That you want to make Kavita yours? Is that why she's wearing that belly ring? Is this her cruel way of dumping me?" I spat out. "Whoa…hold on there!
Keep your voice down. We're in a fucking restaurant!" He laughed out loud. "I'm not taking Kavita from you. That's not possible… unfortunately." I breathed a sigh of relief.
He paused thoughtfully. "See Manu, the problem is… that I want her exclusively, or not at all. I cannot share such a fine woman with anyone, not even with her husband. And your wife, bless her heart, she loves you, and she won't leave you, yet.
I respect that. I had promised her that I would never break up a marriage against the woman's will. I'm a man of my word." I calmed myself down. Just a moment ago, I thought that maybe my wife wanted to leave me. How could I be so lacking in self-esteem I wondered.
Then he continued angrily, "And by the way, I don't care about her damn belly ring. It doesn't mean anything to me!" The ferocity of his reaction took me by surprise, but now he was showing his true colors.
The Prem I knew would have bragged about marking his conquest with his initials. But now that she was leaving him, the same symbolic ring was a reminder of Kavita's rejection. I stared back at him calmly and just nodded. It really bothered him badly. She was wearing his letters but coming back to me. She was making a mockery of him, and he hated it naturally. It was further revealing to hear that he cared only about the woman's will when it came to not breaking up a marriage.
If Kavita had wanted to leave me, he'd be okay doing it. But clearly Kavita must have made it clear to him that he would not be able to take her away from me, and that she was going to stay loyal to me, her husband. Our marriage did mean something after all. I cleared my throat and straightened up in my seat. "That's very honorable of you Amir," I said, trying not to sound sarcastic while saving face and giving him a way out of his quandary. My worries had calmed down, except for the part when he mentioned 'yet'.
What did he mean by 'she won't leave you, YET?' I wonder if he knew something I didn't. It didn't matter. What he acknowledged is that she was not leaving me.
I needed to hear more from him. "If you don't mind me asking, what's changed, Amir? You've been perfectly willing to use another man's wife for months!" I don't know why I was pushing him on this point.
I should have been happy that he was letting go, yet I had a burning need to understand his twisted psychology. Prem clarified, "It's different now. When I came to stay with you, I was the third person staying with a couple.
And even though it wasn't my intention to come in between, it happened. Such is life. And let's get one thing clear, Manu. I did not just USE your wife. She and I were willing lovers, and you should know better. As I started to spend more time with her these past many months, I realized that I love her deeply. I realized that I can't share her or be 'the other guy' in her life. Yet she remains conflicted. Manu, it fucking kills me to admit this, but she loves you." He sounded sincere.
"I know," I affirmed with the first sense of pride ever in speaking with my nemesis. "So, where does that leave us?" "It means that Kavita is going to come back to you for now." He did not say anything to imply that he was 'letting her go' or 'releasing' her.
He freely admitted that she was coming back. But I scoffed. In my interpretation of his words, he was acting as if this was some gift he was giving to me, when in reality, I knew already that Kavita had told him that she was moving back in with me.
I realized I was probably being overly paranoid. But could anyone really blame me after everything I had gone through? In the back of mind, it bothered me again that he qualified his statement by adding the 'for now'. She's only coming back 'for now,' as if temporarily. Kavita had not said specifically if she was moving in permanently.
But she had not indicated that it was temporary either. It was understood. She was moving back. Period. The server brought our food over. He placed the steaming hot plates of food between us, breaking the tension. We dug into the food. "So, Amir, what does this mean for you?" I inquired happily.
Prem pushed his plate aside. "I'm going to leave. Tomorrow. I found an apartment to stay in for a couple of weeks, and then I'm moving back to Hyderabad." He said it matter of fact, stoically, looking straight into my eyes. In my mind, my mouth was wide open in happy disbelief. "I see," I replied, trying very hard to contain my rising sense of victory inside. Suddenly, he looked angry.
"That's all you're going to say? 'I see?'" he barked back. "Doesn't it occur to you to ask yourself 'what does it mean for my wife?' Huh?" I felt indignant that he asked me this question. How dare he imply that I didn't care about what this meant for Kavita.
I felt suddenly emboldened to stand up for myself. "Amir, with all due respect to you, I knew that Kavita was coming back to me. And I appreciate that you think you love her. I can't deny what you may be feeling. Kavita is a precious woman, a very lovable person. But I don't think she feels the same way about you. She's enjoyed all the physical pleasures while this sexual fling with you lasted, but you shouldn't mistake that for love.
It doesn't mean she loves you. You said it yourself she loves me and she's moving back in with me." I did it. I spoke up to Prem for the first time with confidence. He remained silent. Gone were his previous habits of growling and making aggressive gestures to intimidate me. I felt proud of myself for that moment.
He spoke in a more subdued voice. "That's where you're wrong, Manu. She does love me too. A woman's heart can expand to love more than one." Prem had teary eyes. He looked like a wounded animal. He was exposing a side of himself that I had never seen before, a more vulnerable, more human side that made me feel just a little sorry for him.
But any sympathy from me was just a momentary lapse, a symptom of my nice guy personality. I hardened myself again. I didn't want to think about what he just said. This must have been his attempt to feel good about himself, to prop up his ego now that Kavita had made clear her intention to come back to me.
It was over. I outlasted him. I won. I signaled for the waiter to bring our check, so I could go home. Prem grabbed the check from me and insisted on paying. Prem sensed my excitement. "Manu, slow down little guy. She's moving back in with you, but not until tomorrow. Tonight, Kavita and I are going to commemorate our mutual love. I'm going to show her what it feels like to be a woman.
I'm going to light up her fireworks in ways she will never forget, and she's going to take me to places I've never been to." I looked at him incredulously with a mix of jealousy, awe, and revulsion. My heart was beating fast, and with all the emotion, part of me felt like throwing up.
I drank a glass of water to calm myself down. I told him I wanted to speak to Kavita. Prem changed the subject abruptly. "I think it would be best for you to stay somewhere else for the night.
My friend Zubin from my office has a place where you could crash for the night. No one would ever know." I objected bitterly, "What?!! No! I want to be in my own home. It's not like I haven't seen and heard what happens between the two of you!" "Once again, Manu. You're only thinking about yourself.
It's very selfish, don't you think? This is not about what YOU have seen or heard. This is about what would make your WIFE more comfortable." "Oh really?" I replied. "Yes, really. Just so you know, it was Kavita's idea, not mine." He sounded like he was telling the truth.
"But look, Manu, it's up to you. Who am I to tell you that you can't go back to your own home.
Do whatever you like!" At that point, as if on cue, as if he knew I would bring this up, Prem pulled out a sealed envelope from his pocket. He held it out to me. I took it reluctantly, and opened it to read a short, handwritten note from Kavita.
"Manu, my dear love, please respect my wishes to give me privacy and space for one last night with Prem, for closure.
I will see you tomorrow, when I move back in with you. Love, Kavita." I looked closely at it to confirm that it was undoubtedly her handwriting. She added little hearts next to her name, Kavita's signature markings.
I read it over again, staring at the paper. Suddenly, my little bubble of hope had burst. I folded up the note and tucked it away into my shirt pocket. Prem tried to make it easier by suggesting that I don't read too much into it. He had a valid point. It's not like I had expected anything to happen tonight for me.
But it was clear now from Kavita's own words that she intended to keep me out of my own home so that she could have privacy with her lover. I decided that maybe it was better not to torture myself by insisting on being home. Kavita wanted privacy and space. I should let her have it, so that it wouldn't jeopardize things tomorrow.
I relented. "You're right. I have a buddy of mine who I can stay with tonight. I'll tell him my air conditioning isn't working and that I couldn't fall asleep." Prem nodded with satisfaction. He got up and shook my hand, squeezing hard. I wanted to appreciate one small thing. "Amir, thank you for starting to call me by my proper name again." Prem laughed, "You can thank your pretty wife for that.
You earned your good name back on account of her agreeing to take you back. It means you're doing something right by her. So, I'm only doing it out of respect for her. You see, I'm not all bad as you might think. I'm very fair." "Well I appreciate it, and I'm sure Kavita does also." "I can't speak for Kavita. She has her own mind about things. But, Manu, just to be clear, in my book, you'll always still be a pussy boy," he laughed.
He had to spill water all over my compliment to him. As he started to take leave, he asked, "By the way, Manu, what are Kavita's favorite kind of flowers?" I knew that she liked flowers, but the audacity of him to use me to find out what my wife liked so that he could seduce her! The bastard!
I genuinely couldn't recall if Kavita even had one favorite. "Gulab (roses)," I replied, figuring one can't go wrong with roses. Prem appeared lost in thought for a moment as he stared into my eyes. "I don't think so, Manu," he stated, turning his gaze towards various flower shops down the street.
"I'm going to get her chameli (jasmine) flowers. Those are her favorites. I'm surprised you don't know that, pussy boy. There's a lot you don't seem to know about your pretty wife, even after years of marriage." He patted me on the back and walked off towards the flower shops.
He knew all along. The patronizing bastard was just testing me. It was his final assault to my ego.