• After a long time, longer than Jim could remember, he heard a whisper in his heart, “I would like to sleep with another woman.” And he had a desire, rather an urge to go to find his black note-book in his closet in which he had saved the numbers of Carol, Sharon, Mary, Natalie and a few other women, with whom he had secret affairs in the past. He knew these women liked him and were always willing to sleep with him as they were trapped in loveless marriages. He used to call them his ‘fixed deposits’ as he could call them anytime on their cell phones. They were always excited to hear from him and arrange a ‘date’ when their husbands were out of town or quite busy in their work. He was reluctant to call those meetings ‘dates’ but because of the poverty of English language he had no other word to describe them. He associated ‘dates’ with going out and enjoying the get together publicly rather than meeting them secretly, which was the hallmark of ‘affairs’.

                But this time he paused and started doing some soul-searching. The more he thought about himself, the more he realized that he was madly in love with Julie and did not want to jeopardize his relationship with her. It was the first time he acknowledged to himself that he was an unfaithful, promiscuous and a polygamous man. Like many other men and husbands he knew, it was part of his nature. In the past he had either denied his truth or tried to suppress his feelings. But the more he tried to suppress them, the stronger they became and he could not resist giving in. Finally he reached a stage in his life where he could accept himself, his nature and say, “I am a polygamous man” the way he had said to himself, “I am an alcoholic.”

                And he remembered all those times when he would be stressed and go to the bar to order Gin and Tonic, Rum and Coke, a glass of red wine or a cold beer, depending upon his mood, the way he called Carol or Sharon or Mary or Natalie, depending upon his romantic mood. While he was daydreaming a smile spread on his face. He felt as if he had a developed new awareness, received a new revelation and experienced a romantic breakthrough.

                “If I can control my alcoholism, I can also control my polygamous nature.” he thought. Since he had joined AA, he had adopted a sponsor. Rather than going to a bar and getting drunk he used to call his sponsor who offered him support and his desire, his urge to drink subsided and he had another sober day.

                Lately he had also adopted a diary. Rather than denying or suppressing his feelings, he shared them with his diary. He realized that his diary had become his second sponsor, available to him day and night, every day and every night. In AA he had also learnt the philosophy of one day at a time. There was another smile that spread across his face when he asked himself a question? “As an alcoholic if I can be sober one day at a time, being a polygamous person, why can’t I be monogamous one night at a time?“

                When he first adopted that lifestyle he believed he was doing a favour to Julie. He wanted her to be appreciative that he loved her so much that he had stopped drinking alcohol and also stopped sleeping around, adopting a monogamous lifestyle. But then he asked himself, “If Julie died tomorrow would I start drinking and being promiscuous again?” And he realized that he had adopted his new lifestyle more for himself than for Julie. He also realized that he had a dark side to his personality and he had to keep it in control, one day at a time, one night at a time.

                Jim had not thought about all these things for a long time. He was so happy with Julie. They had a wonderful loving relationship. They were in harmony, at peace with each other and with themselves. Finally he had met a woman who complemented him.

                But like all loving relationships they experienced peaks and valleys. And when they were passing through one of those valleys, he had a desire, an urge to call his ex-lovers. But this time when he found his black notebook from his secret closet, rather than opening it and calling one of the phone numbers, he burnt the notebook. It was like burning all his boats. After doing that he felt good. He felt free. He was proud of himself. And then he put the ashes in an urn and offered it to Julie as a Valentine Day’s gift with a card that said,

    Dearest Julie,

    With all my love

                Yours Jim

                            One night at a time

    Julie did not know what to think of such an unusual Valentine Day’s gift.

                                                                            Sohail  2004

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