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The mobile chimed- message alert, it shook Asha, out from her thoughts, who could it be so early in the morning? …….. lazily she checked the message "I want to spend the rest of my life traveling across the world with you, you are hot and beautiful, ambitious and strong", read the message, Jitesh had sent. She kept looking at the message for a long while, a little in disbelief and a little in amazement. It was just a week since she started talking to a much married Jitesh, her colleague.
Who wouldn't like validation and appreciation from the opposite gender, After Palash, came out of the closet to declare he was more interested in men. Ending their 10-year long marriage, Asha, yearned for genuine love and affection. Their divorce had taken a toll on her self-confidence. Often, she would wonder how she could not sense it in over a decade, that her husband had married her under societal pressure and not for genuine love and companionship. Had it not been for catching him with his lover red-handed? She would have lived with the thought of a "happy family" for who knows how long, separation was tough, but the only way out of the toxic relationship. She would often think about what would she tell their 7-year-old daughter Roohi. Why her parents are not staying together like the rest of Roohi's friends?
Having been brought up in a liberal family, Asha envisioned her life post-divorce, to be one where there would be absolute clarity of thoughts. She hoped with time the wounds from the past would heal. It's just been about 11 odd months that the court gave its approval on the divorce, since then, her social media inbox trickled in with unsolicited messages from men, known and strangers, suggesting sexual favors, some promising how they would love to spend some "quality time" with her, though discreetly.
She kept thinking, whether it was indeed a wise decision to part ways with a cheating spouse or she should have remained in the security of being a "Married Woman" and not getting such sick proposals from random men. Her pet, a 4-month-old Indie dog- Khoi, she had rescued from the streets a week back, wiggled its tail asking for her attention. Continued barking and wiggling tail, brought her out from her train of thoughts, and she typed back a response to Jitesh, "Thanks for the appreciation, no, I am not interested in any world tours with you", blocking the contact on her phone, before he could read or respond.
It was time for Khoi, the love bug, the one who gave its unconditional love and attention to Asha. They stepped out on her terrace to play in the rain. Asha ran around in the puddles splashing water, with Khoi following her around. She wished she could wash away the tag of "Separated Woman" off her.

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