My ill-advised extramarital affair

By Suneet Sood




I’m hiding.

My wife, is out there, looking for me. She has a huge rolling pin in one hand and a certain look in both eyes that won’t do my health too much good. In the year 10,000 BC she would have been mistaken for a caveman. Today she looks like a woman who is angry because her husband is having an affair. Which, I admit, he is.

Mind you, this is not my first infatuation. Some years ago, I developed a bad crush on Aishwarya Rai. It lasted a year, but during that time I dreamt Aishwarya, thought Aishwarya, talked Aishwarya. I even wrote poetry about her. My wife was amused, not in the least upset. She once remarked, “You’re like a dog chasing a car: you only want to bark about Aishwarya, not really catch her!”

This time, however, it’s more serious. I’m infatuated, lovesick, besotted, and obsessed. I would be more, but I don’t have my thesaurus handy.

I remember the first time I met my infatuee. (Is that a word?) It was 2006, and we were visiting a friend. He said, “Suneet, let me introduce you to Durian. Durian, meet Suneet. Suneet, meet Durian.” I admit I wasn’t very impressed at first. Durian came across as one with a rather prickly attitude in life and a bad choice in perfume. My wife and I were polite to her, but we forgot her existence immediately after meeting.

The next time Durian and I met, it was 2008. We shared a brief kiss. The sensation was not earthshaking, but the taste lingered. I said her it was nice meeting her, and she seemed to have enjoyed the meeting too. This meeting, too, was forgotten, but more quickly by my wife than by me.

The third meeting was fateful. I distinctly remember the event: it was March in 2009, and we were once again at the same friend’s house, invited for a party. I had had a touch of gastroenteritis, but since this was a close friend, it never occurred to me to decline the invitation. At this party one of the guests was a man famous for his fruit farms. Durian had come to the party with him, and I was quite pleased to see her. Our first kiss was explosive, and I was undone. I was all over her, to the point that it became embarrassing. Guests who disliked Durian were giggling in amusement; guests who liked Durian were grumbling that I was monopolizing her and not sharing her with them. My wife did not take my infatuation seriously at first, but she derived smug satisfaction from the fact that I had an upset stomach for the next two days. It’s because of Durian, she declared, with a pleased smile. I didn’t know what irritated me more: that she was wrong, since my gastroenteritis started before the party, or that she was happy I was sick.

I soon became an incorrigible Durianaholic. My desire for Durian turned into an obsession. She was often to be found among roadside hawkers selling fruit, and in malls. I would sneak off from my work and try to find her there. Sometimes we were shameless: we would meet and kiss passionately in public. The hawkers were surprisingly understanding: they even had a table where Durian and I could do this! At other times I was more discreet: I would bring her to my car. Unfortunately, Durian’s powerful perfume lingered in the car for hours, even days, and my wife would always know that I had been unfaithful.

By now my wife was fed up. She sulked a lot, and the atmosphere in the house was quite strained. “I don’t know what you see in her,” she said. “If you had to have an affair, couldn’t it be with someone better looking? This, whatshername, Durian, she has no grace at all. She’s a cross between a porcupine and a skunk!”

Well, of course she was wrong. I mean, that’s very silly. Porcupines never mate with skunks, and anyway, even if they did, they would never produce someone like Durian. Women have no knowledge of biology. But my wife decided that her crack was highly intellectual, and decided to say it again. “I’ll say it again,” she said, saying it again, “Durian’s a cross between a porcupine and a skunk!”

In August 2009, Durian disappeared. I searched for her desperately. I looked in malls, hawkers’ tables, small bylanes, all her usual hangouts. No luck. I was heartbroken, but there was a positive side to this. My car stopped smelling of Durian’s perfume. My wife thawed, and even started smiling at me. After a few weeks, I thought I had got over my infatuation.

Then, suddenly, I saw Durian yesterday. It was a nice, pleasant October day, and I was driving back from Shah Alam when I saw her sitting on a hawker’s bench by the roadside. Durian was back! All my resolve melted. We met like long lost friends. I gazed lovingly at her. I spent long hours soaking her in. We had a great time, and for a while I forgot that I was a married man.

But only for a while. Finally, it was time to go home. I had my car washed and fumigated. I went to a hotel and took a bath, first with soap, then with a shampoo, then with Dettol, then with povidone iodine, then with soap again. I brushed my teeth with mint toothpaste, then with clove oil toothpaste, then with fluoride toothpaste, then with formaldehyde toothpaste, then with mint toothpaste again. I bought a new set of clothes.

I had removed all traces of my brief fling with Durian, and was ready to go home to my wife.

The door was unlocked. As I stepped in, she called from inside. “Darling, is it you?” “Yes, sweetheart, it’s me,” I quavered, my voice and grammar both unsteady.  My wife started out towards me. I started out towards her. As I did, I felt just a little queasy in the abdomen. A couple of small bubbles of gas had started to travel from my stomach, up my esophagus. “Down, boys, down,” I pleaded, but the bubbles moved up, heedless. I swallowed, then swallowed again, trying to keep them down, but the zephyrs were defiant. And as my wife came forward to give me a hug, they burst through in a thunderous eructation that carried a concentrated aroma of Durian’s distinctive perfume.

My wife stopped as if struck. “So,” she said, between clenched teeth, “you’ve been seeing Durian again! You two-timing, unfaithful, double-crossing, traitorous, treacherous, adulterous rascal!” Unlike mine, her thesaurus was handy. Off she went into the kitchen, and came back with a rolling pin. Off I ran, the other way, setting a record for the hundred-meter sprint. I finally outran her, gasping for breath, and am now holed up in a dingy hotel room, fearing for my life.

It doesn’t pay to be unfaithful. There’s some gain, but lots of pain.