Dancing in the dark

Updated: Oct 26, 2019, 20:24 IST | Rahul da Cunha |

Till this point, she had been his Mount Olympus, solidly standing by his side. But today she felt a Mount Vesuvius simmering within her. The straw on the camel's back

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Rahul da Cunha

She watched him as he bounded around the room.

He was high-profile and he was high.

That Binaca smile was as radiant as it had always been.

She felt all eyes were on her, a patronising, "tsk tsk" following her like a toxic fragrance.

And then, the DJ put on Bruce Springsteen's Dancing in the Dark.

He trotted up to her, "Our song… do you remember?"

His eyes gleamed with a weird anticipation, almost genuine.

The stories sickened her. It wasn't just a grope in the dark, 'copping a feel' as it was called.

There was a refrain with each of them—many accused him of a deceptively avuncular, a passive aggressive, "Come dear sit next to me, that's a lovely dress you're wearing".

One girl had said of him, "Why can't these 'creeps' just get a life?"

With her he'd behaved as if nothing had happened—it was becoming the perennial elephant in the room, in every room she was in—including her girlie gang. Ladies she'd known and confided in for years—now most of them desperately attempting to remove the vignette of pity in their eyes.

She'd looked the other way when the first one came forward, putting it down to a vengeful intern, who hadn't gotten a promotion. But then they came crawling out of the woodwork. It wasn't just young women—younger women, somehow she could have justified in her head—but as the numbers swelled, she realised they were of all ages, the younger ones had taken to Twitter to vent, the older ones to voice.

How he had escaped the public humiliation, she couldn't understand. The accusations were sticking to the others like Post-its. Some had been sacked overnight, others had lost consultancies and contracts. For still others deals had fallen through. He was unscathed.

What had got to her was his two-facedness—he wanted a family photograph. "It'll be 25 years this year, you remember na?" Let's have the girls and us, I know some fab portrait photographers," he had said to her. "Do you even know what your girls are feeling," she had wanted to reply. But, she knew if she'd spoken the words out loud, it wouldn't be rivulets, but a torrent of emotion. She'd given up her practice, everything had been the girls and him. Could she go from homemaker to homebreaker? Could she just walk, but where would she go? This was the life she'd known for 25 years. Could she ask him to leave, that damn word called 'stigma' kept staring her in the face.

All those evenings she'd waited up for him. Tonight he repeated, "It's Dancing in the Dark, babe, come on, it's our song… let's dance, ya…," the Binaca smile flashing. She might have joined him on the dance floor if he hadn't finished his sentence with, "…we must show a united front."

Till this point, she had been his Mount Olympus, solidly standing by his side. But today she felt a Mount Vesuvius simmering within her. The straw on the camel's back.

Rahul daCunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahul. dacunha@mid-day.com

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