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An affair not to die for

Chetan Mahajan | Updated on November 13, 2020 Published on November 12, 2020

Tough task: “You love him/her, so you work hard to keep it alive. That means furtive calls, late-night messages, and changing your phone password every six hours” ISTOCK.COM   -  Getty Images

The pandemic has put many a workplace fling in cold storage

* The virus has forced people to stay locked in with their legal spouses for months on end

* Love — extramarital or otherwise — is not known to have any curative or preventive properties when it comes to the virus

“You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.”

— Exodus 20:17 (The Bible; source: Wikipedia)

The above lines only mention the neighbour, so one can assume that coveting your colleague’s donkey — aka ass — is legit. And it is okay to covet the colleague herself or himself — whichever gender you prefer. The coveting business was booming in the modern workplace, especially when it came to spouses of others.

That was, of course, until Covid-19 came along and became a de facto moral police. It forced people to stay locked in with their legal spouses for months on end. Like moral polices everywhere, it is spreading much unhappiness.

If you are in such a situation, many possible outcomes lie before you.

One: Your office fling may die a natural death. No, I don’t mean your love interest will die of you-know-what. I mean, maybe the close proximity with your spouse over the past eight months has helped rekindle the flame, and you assign the affair to the bin. You thought your husband was like Ted — only talks, never listens. But then he proved you wrong. You’ve rediscovered your love for each other. One tiny bit of advice: If this happens, don’t confess your fling to your spouse. Being locked in a confined space with family isn’t good for explosions.

Two: The affair was physical and goes into a coma. But you know that the moment you see your lover again, the love will spring up. “An affair is usually an outlet for pent-up emotions,” said a therapist I interviewed. “Is it not an outlet for pant-down emotions as well?” I asked. She hung up on me.

Three: You love him/her, so you work hard to keep it alive. That means furtive calls, late-night messages, and changing your phone password every six hours. It can be hard and tiresome to keep such a secret if you’re in a household 24x7. Consider it a test of your first/second/nth love.

Four: Ask your lover and yourself whether you connect at a spiritual level. Join the same deep courses online such as “Hack spirituality in 10 minutes a day” or “non-vegetarian cooking for the animal in you”. Share intellectual delight instead of carnal. Go platonic. Ask yourself if your love is stronger than this physical separation. Maybe there is a deeper dimension to this whole thing, which vaasana was hiding from you?

Five: You dive deep into your religion and holy book and realise the folly in your ways. You understand the lesson of the lord and confront your morality. You forsake passion for duty and embrace the spouse as a devout practitioner of the good book of your choice. Second bit of advice: Block your lover’s number to keep temptation at bay. And stay away from apples.

Six: You realise they’re both jerks. Or jerk-ettes. The virus grants time to introspect and reflect. You decide that neither — the spouse or the lover — is worth the pain. One is too hard to live with, but the other is not any better. You dream of a fulfilling life independent of relationships, one which is complete with just you and your solitude. In fact, you maybe free in many ways you never imagined. You dream of a life of beautiful one-ness where you never have to kowtow to another’s wishes.

Seven: Your time together with the spouse has made it clear that the marriage is now beyond the ER and in the morgue. The months in lockdown together have convinced you of incompatibility. Your Ted talks and talks, but never listens. Or maybe he/she never talks at all. In that situation, pray that your lover has had a similar epiphany. If yes, leave. Hold your lover’s hand, wear masks, and walk off into the sunset in the Zoom background. If your lover isn’t on the same page though, it’s time for therapy.

As you can see, in most of the scenarios the grass is greener on the other side. Fortunately, since you’re not a cow or an ass the colour of the grass doesn’t matter.

Through this emotional roller-coaster, remember your spouse and your lover are human. They are equally susceptible to the virus. Don’t do anything stupid. As you work your way through the mess, please ensure you stay safe and secure. Love — extramarital or otherwise — is not known to have any curative or preventive properties when it comes to the virus.

Note: No cows, oxen or asses were harmed in the writing of this article.

Chetan Mahajan is a writing coach and co-founder of the Himalayan Writing Retreat

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Published on November 12, 2020
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