It’s not every day that your whole world comes crashing about you. Preeti felt sick to the core.The metallic taste of disgust, revulsion, guilt and hatred filled her with nausea, or maybe that was just because of the incessant puking.

Was it really a sin, though? After two years of not hearing any news about or from your husband, who’s in the army and deployed in a war-stricken country, you come to expect certain things even if they aren’t officially, explicitly stated.

Was it really her fault then, to have let herself get so close to Sushant? It started off as friendship. He was the only one who lent a sympathetic ear during all the months of waiting, never even knowing if she would see her husband again. Their mutual love for jalebis and Paulo Coelho, and The Beatles and whatnot ensured endless hours of chatter and camaraderie. As fate would have it, they both got selected to represent their department in the annual awards function to be held in Singapore.

Maybe, one less celebratory drink and that fateful night would not have come about. But what about the nights after that? Could those have been stopped if not for the Singapore thing?

After two years of living like a widow, she was finally beginning to find happiness in Sushant’s arms. How could she have known that one fine day she’d come back home and panic at finding the door unlocked, only to find Sameer lift her up in his arms and kiss her all over with delight? Her beloved Sameer! They spent the entire weekend reigniting their love. It was as if he had never left! But what about Sushant? No, she had to end things with him. Continuing her relationship with him now would be cheating! As much as it hurt both of them, she had to end it.

Going over this whole incident in her head now, she was almost blinded by tears. Her mind traveled back to the last time she had felt so sick inside. She saw a ghost of her own past screaming at her mother hardly a week after her father’s death. ” Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? After all the love papa gave you? You cheated on him for twenty years with another man? And you didn’t just cheat him, you cheated me! Thank God papa died without knowing! You disgust me!” She remembered slamming the door behind her and never turning back.

She spent the next ten years running from her past. She lived with her friends and in youth hostels, worked part-time, paid her own tuition, built a successful career in law and married a brilliant man. After all this, she had felt she washed off her mother’s sins but life was never that simple.

She could have a discrete DNA test, but either way would she want to know the result? She felt a gut wrenching kick in her stomach. Disgust? Or that baby of doubtful origin? Only one word resounded in her mind now, over and over again. A word she had tried to run away from her entire life. ‘Bastard’.

Fate certainly had a wretched sense of humour.