"Congratulations, I heard that you were pregnant" I said as soon as Natalie came on the phone. Natalie, by the way, is my wife. And don't get the wrong idea, the child is indeed mine!
"Who told you? No one except Roger knows that I am pregnant." Natalie replied in a clam professional manner.
Roger is Natalie's best friend. Sometimes, I wonder why she did not marry Roger. They were a couple for a very brief time in collage and then decided to continue a platonic relationship. I knew about the baggage named Roger when I proposed, so I knew pretty much everything that I needed for an advance warning.
What I did not know was the extent to which it would come to haunt me. I am not insecure and I am not afraid of losing Natalie to Roger. The reason is - I never had Natalie, I was just the life partner to share the bed with while he was her confidant. He was the first person she called when she got promoted. He was the first person she called when her father died - not me, but Roger. I took that in my stride because I was secure in my relation with her and did not feel that the relation was in any danger.
"I received a text message from him congratulating me on the joyous news. Very well, I thought I should congratulate you." I was not happy with the situation and now, i intended to make her see the true consequences of her actions.
"I wanted to tell you the message myself. Roger should not have sent you the message." Somehow the words and the feelings in her voice did not point to the same meaning. While the words were that of regret, the tone was still flat. It was then I realized that she must be still concentrating on the computer screen looking at her work while chatting with me. if a phone call like this did not warrant her full attention, I knew how to get her attention.
"Nothing new, I came to know of your promotion and your father's death from him. I would actually be surprised if something will prompt you to give me a call before calling Roger. Anyway, I am off to a meeting see you in the evening." I said and snapped the phone.
This news that would have caused me to a throw a party for the whole neighborhood was actually successful in depressing me, what had my life come to?
When Mike called and congratulated me for the pregnancy I felt bad that he came to know of this wonderful news from Roger and not me. I would have loved to see the look on his face when I gave him the news. I was on Skype talking with one of my supplier in Macau when Mike called and was not able to give my undivided attention to him.
I simply stopped typing when Mike started talking about my promotion and my dad's death. Was Mike angry? Why would something as petty as order in which I phone cause him anger? Did he not know that I loved him more than anyone else in the world? And why would he be surprised if I called him first about something. I did call him first when I came to know that my younger sister Amy was getting married, or did I?
I was in for a long talk with him when I got home today. I would have to reassure him that he was my only priority and Roger was just my personal diary and nothing more. I never knew that Roger was a matter of concern for Mike.
I entered the house at exactly 6 and got cleaned up and cooked a nice dinner. I knew that I had screwed up slightly and needed to reassure him. When Mike did not turn up by 10 PM and his phone went unanswered I got concerned and called Roger. I was surprised to find that Mike was with Roger, Ted, John and Steve. It was very common for Mike to hang out with his three musketeers but Roger was not a part of that circle and I was surprised to find him with them.
As he entered the house I started shouting on him for being irresponsible in not calling me up and letting me know that he was put celebrating with his friends. He did not utter a single word all the while I shouted. As i sat down and started to cry he got up and brought me a glass of water.
"When I did not come home on time why did you not call Ted, John or Steve? I am sure there was better chance of them knowing my whereabouts than Roger. What prompted you to call Roger before ascertaining if I was with my friends celebrating?"
As he calmly looked into my eyes I knew that any explanation from this point on was going to be shredded to pieces by Mike. I had seen him in action a lot of times. His cross questioning in courtroom was a stuff of legends. There was no explanation why I called Roger, and not the people who could have answer to the questions about Mike's whereabouts.
"I knew that you were angry because I told Roger about the pregnancy first and not you. Believe me, he just happened to call the time when I came to know of it and I told him, it was not like I called him and told him." I tried to subvert the situation with a lie.
Mike got up and opened up his briefcase. He took out a neatly typed piece of paper and put it in front of me.
"A few too many times he calls at the most opportune moment to become the first to share the happiness or sadness with my wife which I should be given to chance of sharing. I will never come to know what your voice sounded like when you first realized that you were pregnant. The thrill of telling the first individual, the sheer joy of coming to terms with another life being formed, the realization that you were going to mother my first born are all lost because he called at the most opportune moment. By the way, does your secretary know that you are pregnant? if you could abstain from telling her about the pregnancy there was no reason why you thought it was alright to let Roger know about the pregnancy first." his voice betrayed him towards the end. I could feel the anger built up inside him.
"My secretary is a nobody compared to Roger. There are things that I tell Roger and not Nellie." I retorted.
"And Roger should be a nobody compared to me. There should be things that I should be privy to that Roger should not!" He rephrased my statement to make me look even more ugly.
A casual glance on the paper in front of me told me what it was all about. Mike had listed the occasions when Roger or Roger and I together had broken a good or bad news about me to him. The fact that two letter size sheets were required to list it all, spoke volumes about Mike's memory and my stupidity.
"So, I still do not have an answer to the original question. When I did not turn up on time, why did you call Roger and not my friends?" He got back to the question that had no easy answer.
Even after 6 years of marriage, Roger was my first call not Mike. I know it could be just habit, but I have broken worse habits than this. Why did I not think it was important for Mike to be first person on my mind in any situation where I was emotional? Before I could finish my line of thought Mike spoke up.
"I am not your emotional partner, emotional anchor after all this time." his shoulder suddenly drooped, "You have two different set of relationship going on and I am tired of it. You have nice financial, sexual and social relationship going on with me and a deep emotional relationship going on with Roger. I agree that one person cannot be everything to the other, but to take a back seat, play second fiddle to Roger in my marriage is something I am not ready to do with." Mike was not looking at me.
"I will agree to talk further with you if you give me the permission to call Roger and ask him to lose your phone numbers, your address and any other contact information that he might have. If even by mistake he dials your number or you dial his number, and I come to know, I will proceed with a divorce and not see the faces of you or the child ever in my whole life. I will not call him without your permission but if I do not have your permission by morning I will pack and leave without any chance or hope of reconciliation. You have either had your final conversation with me or with Roger. I am leaving now and the only two words that I will respond to are - Call him. If I do not hear these two words by tomorrow morning, we are through." Mike stopped
I was speechless. Had it come to this? His anger and his frustration had turned him into someone I had never known. He was a very compassionate man and never spoke an angry word in all my years with him. Even now, he was sounding calm, the only rage was in the carefully worded decision that he just handed down to me.