This is a story of love and sacrifice, against all odds; of true love that we think doesn’t exist anymore.
Rigyel Ugen first joined TPG Technologies in January 2019. He was fresh out of college and with his grades he could have easily gotten a job in the government or one of the corporate giants. Nobody knew why he chose to join TPG Tech in the first place except for himself.
Sonam Wangmo has been working here as sales assistant for the last 10 years. She’s has seen people come and go but never thought of leaving herself. In the years she worked here, she’s gotten married and had a son. He’s 8 years old now.
Despite the love marriage, things aren’t going so well in her marriage. Her husband had changed drastically in the last couple of years. She hardly recognized him now. Still, she had been ever patient with him, thinking he might realize his wrongdoings and change but she’s fast losing hope. Of late, she’s suspected him of cheating on her but she pretended not to notice. Her only solace is found in the bunch of her single friends. They all seem just fine to her and having fun. Although they all worked in different organizations, they always found time to get together once a week or sometimes fortnightly.
Still Sonam was lonely; she’s been going to empty house every night. Her son has been living with her parents since he started attending school. Her husband was always late from work. Sometimes, he never turned up yet she never questioned him because he can come up with a hundred excuses so convincingly.
Rigyel was a tech guy; he had IT degree from a reputed college in India. As such, TPG Tech being IT based in nature is male dominant. Besides Sonam, there are only handful of female staffs. Sonam is a smart, beautiful woman of average built. Despite her minimal qualifications, she never thought to upgrade although there are now few colleges offering CE for working people. She was not an ambitious girl but she knows her job well and what is expected of her.
Rigyel and Sonam talked a few times in the past. He called her madam due to her seniority in the firm and she called him by his first name but they were not close. In fact, they hardly talked because there were no reasons to. If her computer wasn’t working well, she simply rebooted before consulting the tech guys. Besides, they are mostly busy with the customers to attend to their colleagues. Further, due to their age gap, they move in different friends circle. There is a generation gap between them; she is 10 years older than him.
Well life went on for our protagonists. They hardly noticed each other, mainly because nobody would have conceptualized any relationship between them. The odds were simply too many. Firstly, he was younger than her. Then she was married and he has a girlfriend. Further, there was the question of her son. However, there was one thing in common, they were both reserved and introvert. Apart from common trait, both are thoroughly professional; they never talked about their personal lives but few things about them are common knowledge because of their colleague Kinley. She enjoys extracting personal information out of everyone. She is also the gossip/grapevine of the office.
One Saturday night, Sonam was just watching daily soap on TV after a quiet dinner alone. Her husband was out as usual. Suddenly, she was jolted by the beep of her phone. She lazily reached for her phone, entered her passcode to open. She was surprised to see WeChat message from Rigyel. Although, there were in the office group chat, they never used private chat.
“Hi madam” it read
Thinking it must be something urgent, Sonam instantly replied, “Hey, is everything alright?”
“Nooo.. I think I am drunk..” the message came after 5 minutes with a ton of Os. She didn’t know what to make of the text. They were certainly not friendly enough to jest. She waited a full ten minutes before responding.
“Oh. Take care of yourself” she didn’t know what else to say. This was getting awkward. She only responded thinking he had some office work.
“I think you are cute madam. I have a huge cushh..on you” she knew he meant crush. He was clearly drunk but her cheeks were flushed. She had mix feelings. At first, she was excited that she must be still a little attractive. Then she was angry that he must be making fun of her in front of his young friends. Whatsoever, he never got the response to his last message.
After tossing and turning, reading and re-reading his WeChat messages, for what seemed like an eternity, she deleted the messages and went to sleep. After 2 AM, she heard her husband letting himself in. She didn’t bother to wake up. On Sunday morning, she slept late. Around 11 AM, she prepared a brunch for herself. As she sat down to it with a black coffee, there was a beep again on her phone. It was a hesitant “Hi” from Rigyel. She didn’t respond. She was still annoyed with the guy. She hated his guts but she couldn’t stop thinking about him. She wanted to retrieve the deleted messages and googled how to it but even Google couldn’t help her. It was gone for good. She regretted deleting the messages. Her husband was never going to check her phone anyways, she thought. He didn’t care enough to be jealous. She doubted if she was having her mid life crisis a bit prematurely. There were no more messages from Rigyel and she was too proud to text him. So she eagerly waited for Monday morning.
Finally, Monday dawned on her. Although, it was like any other day, she felt different. She felt vibrant and happier than she has been in months. She reached office at 8 30 AM but he was already there along with some of their colleagues. He looked up as she walked in, briefly met her eyes and then looked away quickly. His expression was bland; she didn’t know what to make of it. Soon, they were all so absorbed in their work. Their awkwardness was forgotten for the time being. At 1PM, he left for lunch in the town while she had her packed lunch. Just as she sat down to work post lunch, he walked in ahead of his friends. He sat down, in the customer chair, facing her and asked her for some computer paper for printing. She handed him a bundle but he made no move to go away. With the pretext of paper, he said, “I’m sorry for the WeChat messages I sent. Last Saturday, after football match, we had dinner. You know I don’t drink..but my friends mixed hard drinks in juice to get me drunk.”
She was a little hurt that he may not have meant what he had messaged but his next words reassured her.
“But I m glad they did what they did. I could never have the courage otherwise to confess. Why are so silent? Sorry, I am blabbering..but soon others will be in and I may not get the chance again.”
“Go on..” she said enjoying his monologue
“Well I know you are married and that you have a son. I just wanted to confess, I couldn’t tell anyone and it was killing me inside”
“Don’t forget that you also have a girl friend” she muttered quietly.
“I know” he replied. “Things can never be more complicated.”
Before they could converse further, their colleagues walked in after lunch. Then he got up with the papers he didn’t need and moved away. They didn’t get the opportunity again that day to talk. When she left at 6 PM, he was still immersed in a serious discussion with their boss but he did give her a quick glance.
Sonam reached home, changed into her pajamas, and sat in front of the TV. Then she dialed her mom’s number and talked to her son for an hour. She missed him terribly today. She slumped into the sofa and sat like a vegetable for hours after she hung up the call. Then she thought about Rigyel. She recalled a few times when he appeared out of nowhere to help her. Once her car broke down, she was about to hail a cab when he came to her rescue. He had dropped her to her house. Consequently, he had also called a mechanic and fixed her car. She insisted on paying him but he refused saying he didn’t pay the mechanic. Other time, he took her dog to the Vet’s appointment because she had an important meeting with a potential client. She didn’t make anything of it then because he was always so helpful with everyone. She only attributed this to his gentlemanly character.
Then her thoughts wandered to what he saw in her. She thought he cannot be looking for a ‘sugar mommy’ because technically he was richer than her. She heard once from Kinley that he was his parents’ only son and they have a building in the core of Thimphu town. Plus he drives a Sante Fe to the office since his first day while she only had an old model alto. He was smart, handsome, and athletic and plays football like a pro. He was like the most eligible bachelor in town. “What does he want from me?” She thought again and again but she had no answers. She couldn’t ask him, her ego wouldn’t let her. So she slept on this thought.
— to be continued —