“How long have you been seeing him?” Again. My head reminded my battered heart to add again, but I could not muster the effort.
“A month or so.” Ama didn’t look at me.
She’s been avoiding my gaze since this conversation started. Well, longer really. She hasn’t quite been able to hold my gaze for a month or so.
It was what I didn’t get. What I couldn’t get—why she would leave me for another man. She has left me, hasn’t she? Having sex with another man, being unfaithful to me—that was leaving me, right?
I thought so. But I was confounded, so I could be wrong.
“He made me feel better.”
It was a defiant retort. It wounded me. It said I was not enough. I was not better.
I shouldn’t ask maybe but I had to know.
“Yes. And in every other way.” Then as if to make it clear it was my fault, Ama added. “He was more generous too. He understands my needs and always makes provisions for me. He is never full of excuses.”
Like you. That was the part she left unsaid. He, the man she’d been unfaithful with, was never full of excuses like me. He understood her needs… what were they really?
“So it is about money and sex then?”
My head hurt. My heart hurt even more. And my pride? It was shattered. Torn to nothingness by the unfaithfulness and callous words of my girlfriend.
“Don’t make it sound cheap.” Ama glared at me.
She had always had a loving look, now she glared. Of course she’d been sullen most of last week. That was when I’d suspected—and then snooped.
“You mean it’s not cheap, you sleeping with another man behind my back?” I stared at her.
So beautiful. Maybe too beautiful. Was that why it had happened, because she was too beautiful? Were beautiful women fickle as some of my friends do say? Would I have fared better dating an ugly woman? Or one just plain to look at?
I did not know. Not at present when I hurt so much.
“You’re playing the victim here and making me out to be the villain.” She was sulking now.
She made a habit of sulking instead of taking responsibility for her actions. It used to make me want to pet and placate her. Now, it just left me astonished.
“I am playing the victim? Am I not the victim then? Am I not the one you cheated on?”
She was selfish. I saw that clearly now. Selfish, self-centred. Self-absurd. Why had I not seen all these before? Blinded by love… lust?
“I did not cheat on you, Muna.”
“You did not?”
“No, I didn’t.” She insisted defiantly. “I only made a different choice. We’re not married, so cheating does not apply. You have not even met my parents, proposed marriage to me and you’re talking about cheating.” She let out a long hiss.
And I stared at her. So unfaithfulness applied only to married couples? That was her belief… or her excuse? She had a right to cheat on me because I have not yet proposed to her, I have not yet met with her parents, we are not married, I am not generous and I am not good in bed. Those were her excuses—multiple of them. I felt so weary.
“You’re unworthy of my love.” I murmured. If it was love I felt for her, then she was unworthy of it. “As you have cheated on me, so another will cheat on you.”
“Ah, please don’t curse me oh!” She snapped a hand over her head to reject the curse.
But it wasn’t a curse.
And I told her this. “It’s not a curse, Ama. It is karma. What goes around, comes around.”
She glared at me, hissed, snatched up her handbag and stomped out of my house.
I curled into my seat, closed my eyes and tried to soothe my broken heart.
* * *
“I want to know who that whore is that you’re cheating on me with.” I clapped my hands in his face.
Anger burned through me. But it was the pain of betrayal that was more poignant.
“Get a-hold of yourself, Ama.” His tone was disgusted. His expression even more so.
That look of pure disdain, cast in my direction, wounded me deeply. When had I become a thing of such repugnance? Tears pricked behind my eyes but I defiantly held them back.
“Why would you do this to me, Owans?”
Even as I asked, somehow I knew he’d have no real answer for me.
“Do what to you? Do you own me?”
Did I own him? No. But I thought we were in a relationship. That meant belonging to each other at some level, didn’t it?
“I gave everything to you. I gave up what I had for you.”
“And what did you give up?” Owans sneered. “That you left that miserable boyfriend of yours? Is that the sacrifice you are whining about? Please don’t be melodramatic, Ama. We both know you left him because he couldn’t afford to satisfy your greed for the good things of life.”
“No!” I was horrified that he would think me greedy.
But I was, wasn’t I? I had left Muna because of my desire for more—more money. More sex. That was greed, right?
And now it had backfired on me.
I cheated on him, now Owans has cheated on me.
“Maybe I was greedy. Still I loved you.” I think I did. In my own way. “I cared for you. You should not have cheated on me.”
“Cheated?” Owans laughed mockingly. “That particular crime only applies to committed lovers, Ama. We were only friends with benefits. And now even that is over.”
My own words tossed back in my face.
I looked at Owans and I realised sex and money wasn’t everything. They were useful, pleasurable even, but they weren’t everything. Love mattered more. Respect was worth more.
I lost both—because I was unfaithful.