It all began very innocently. I was an associate at an art gallery that specialized in selling exorbitantly priced artwork to rich clients. A painting became available for sale, and my boss gave me a number and told me to message the client. He was a surname, you know – scion of a massive business family, constantly in the news. I WhatsApped him with a picture of the painting, and much to my surprise, he instantly messaged back: “Love it, will buy it. What are you doing working so late? N.” That painting was worth more than a year’s salary for me - he bought it in a second. And I was kind of flattered at the immediate response. I wrote back: “What to do? :-)” And so the bantering began.
It started off with a random message every few days – how’s your day, what are you doing. I was flattered that such a busy man was taking the time to stay in touch. He was always flying, constantly in and out of airports, in different time zones. It was an oddly intimate time. I knew the little details of his life, where he was, what he was doing. He seemed lonely. The frequency of messaging increased. We were in touch daily, several times a day. Often late at night. I would be messaging with my boyfriend sleeping beside me. I was hooked.
On my birthday, he spent hours talking to me. If I had a bad day, he would know, and would make the effort to cheer me up. But I knew it was going nowhere. I was seriously dating, he was married. Unhappily, yes, but still married. I was not looking to break up a relationship, especially as he had kids. I knew nothing would happen. It was an affair - but an emotional one, a virtual one. I would daydream of an alternate reality where we would be together. He was the one I could never have.
We even thought about meeting up once. I had left the gallery by then. I still remember - it was Diwali time. I was having dinner at home with my family. He messaged: “Let’s meet?” I thought about it. And quickly typed yes. We agreed to meet at this swanky bar. I made up a random excuse to my family about a girlfriend who had just broken up and I had to meet her for impromptu drinks to cheer her up. I got dressed, even shaved in the shower. I put on a pretty dress and sexy heels. As I drove to the venue, my stomach was full of butterflies. I stepped inside the bar. I saw him sitting in a secluded corner, fiddling with his phone. “Where are you?” my phone pinged. Still standing at the entrance, out of his line of sight, I stared at him. He looked amazing. But I couldn’t do it. “Can’t make it, something came up. :-(” I messaged and ran.
A few days later, my boyfriend proposed. Even as I said yes, I knew I would never love him as I did N. But then N would never love me like my boyfriend did. I promised myself that I would stop the messaging. I stuck to that promise. But even now I Google him to see what he’s up to, what he looks like. He’s even more famous now.
Even if I want to forget him, I can’t.
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