Ahmed Babar stepped into the lounge of his quaint suburban cottage, gut-churning with unbridled remorse yet satisfaction flowed like liquor in his veins. It was dark; all the lights in his house had been switched off save for the faint glow of the incandescent bulb that hung over the ceiling of the kitchen. He draped his suit jacket over the arm of the settee that lined the wall of the lounge. The house was eerily quiet, he could hear the crickets chirping and something about that noise crept under his skin. He itched at the skin on his nape as his eyes found the wall clock mounted on the far wall.
4.00 am.
He took off his shoes and padded with socked feet into the kitchen. Unbuttoning the first two buttons of his wrinkled white shirt, he took a glass out of the cabinet and filled it with water. He leaned against the granite slab, every gulp loud and disconcerting. He placed the empty glass on the kitchen island, and walked out of there, climbing up the stairs. He walked into his daughter’s room, the floorboards creaking beneath his steps.
A night bulb was switched on, illuminating his three year old daughter, Alina’s features as she slept soundly. A golden hue skirted across her pronounced features, kissing her soft, porcelain skin. Ahmed placed a gentle kiss on her forehead, softly stroking her curly brown ringlets.
“I love you, sweetheart,” he whispered to her before he straightened.
A movement by the entrance caught his attention and he turned around to find his wife standing there. Even after five years of marriage, Samara was a vision his eyes couldn’t tire of.
He was with her.
After a year of rejected phone calls and petty lies, Samara could now read signs of infidelity as if they were an open book, visible before her very eyes. He was a testament of his sins. It was written all over his face, in the subdued glint of his caramel eyes, in the lazy downturn of his soft, rosy lips, in the way he scratched at his nape because her scrutiny unsettled him.
After months of pitying herself, Samara could finally see him for what he was. He was pitiful in every sense of the word. He stood over their little angel with guilt and adultery spelled across his forehead in bold, capital letters. For months, she had tried to convince herself that he would come back to her, to them. She tried to persuade herself to believe that he would leave his cheating ways and love her like he once used to. But even after calling him out on it, screaming at him, threatening him, hurtling insults at him, he always climbed right back into his secretary’s bed.
Samara walked into the room, noting for the umpteenth time her husband’s fidgety stance around her. She grimaced as she caught a whiff of a perfume neither of them used and a tear slid down her cheek, followed by another, and then another.
She wiped her tears, and wrapped her fingers around his wrist, pulling him out of their daughter’s room and into their bedroom.
She let go of his hand and turned to face him. “You were with her, weren’t you?” she asked.
He pinched the bridge of his nose in obvious frustration and expelled a heavy sigh. “Yes, I was.”
It hurt her. And he knew it did. But he had been dodging his way around the truth for so many months, over and over again, that it felt somewhat liberating to let it out.
A sob tore out of Samara’s throat and she cupped her hands around her mouth, her shoulders quaking with the force of her tears. She cried for a while, and Ahmed shuffled his feet awkwardly.
He realized how awful it was that he hesitated so much before he could touch his wife, but slept soundlessly in the arms of a woman who wasn’t his. But he knew he couldn’t leave Cecilia. She evoked in him the kind of emotion his wife couldn’t, hadn’t for years now. She gave him what he wanted, whenever he wanted it. Her limbs were supple, her skin tender, and the things she did to him, his wife never would. She smelt like jasmines and he just couldn’t get enough of her. He couldn’t disentangle himself from the web they had spun even if he tried.
Samara was saying something and it took him a moment to realize that.
“What?” he asked her, brows furrowed.
“I can’t do this anymore,” she said, her fingers fiddling with the ends of her golden locks.
He nodded, well aware of the inevitable end to their short lived contentment.
“I know,” he said, remorse clouding his eyes in a wistful haze. “I’m sorry,” he continued to say, biting his lip.
Samara shook her head. “You’re making a mistake by choosing her over us.”
His jaw clenched and he nodded again. “I know, but I can’t…she’s like a drug, and I’m addicted to her. I’m so tired of lying to you, but more than that I’m tired of fighting myself. I accept it, I lost. She’s my vice and I can’t get rid of her.”
Samara eyed him in defeat and bitter contempt. “Well in that case, congratulations. You’ve just lost the only family you had for a few hours of passion with a woman who’s not even yours to claim.”
Ahmed clenched his fists. “She says she’ll break off her engagement with him.”
Samara gave him a rueful smile. “The two of you definitely deserve each other.” Stepping closer to her husband, she said, “You’re the most pitiful man I’ve ever met, and I hope you realize that.”
With that his beautiful, heartbroken wife turned away from him, and he realized in the agonizing silence that stretched over them, that indeed, he was a very pitiful man.

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