About 10 years ago my husband Rohan and I were struggling to pay our home loan. At that time, he was forced to change jobs as the market conditions in India were not so good, it was recession and we were forced to the side of the wall financially. It was indeed a difficult time for both of us. It seemed that we would have to borrow again from my parents to retain our house and sleep on the streets in Delhi  Eventually, after 6 months of working himself nearly to death, a much better job came up in Rohan’s department. The salary and bonuses he would earn from the promotion would set us up for years and not only pay for the house, but allow us a holiday and a few luxuries as well. I can’t underestimate how much we needed Rohan to get that job. He was good enough and had worked hard enough, but the fact that he wasn’t senior in the company might count against him. A couple of weeks after the position was advertised and after Rohan had written an excellent expression of interest that he had submitted to his boss, I found myself dragged along to a night out with the families of his co-workers. As the boys from the office let their hair down to celebrate the end of the financial year, we girls joined in as well.

I hadn’t had a night out since my child was born and I guess I drank more than I could tolerate maintaining my composure As the night wore on and my husband, retreated to a couch with a few of his mates to keep on drinking, I felt a hand across my body and looked up to see the head of Rohan’s Boss standing behind me. He leant down and whispered quietly in my ear. He said, ‘You’re a beautiful woman’. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t even know if he was serious, so I giggled a little. He leant in again and kept whispering, “Nisha, I know that you and Rohan are having problems. I can help.” I asked how and he said, “They’ve chosen somebody else for the new position. But I can choose whoever I like and I can pick him.” I stayed silent waiting to see what deal he would make me. His hand became a little heavier on the small of my back and he continued, “I’ve been looking at you all night. I want to make love to you.” I turned to tell him where to go and he interrupted me, “Don’t say NO yet. Do not be an Indian housewife. Just think about what this job means to Rohan. One night with me and you’re set. Think about it,” and he walked away. I stood for a few seconds trying to gather my thoughts and realized what the man told to me.

Eventually I called my husband home, but having sobered up upon hearing Boss’s proposal I had a sleepless night lying next to him wondering if long-term financial security was enough to betray my husband for. Was it even a betrayal? It was for him as well. For the next few days, we kept on discussing the state of our loan and how we needed him to get the job to save the house. How could I tell him that there was no way he was going to get it unless I gave myself for him? I knew there was only one thing I could do. One day when Rohan had left for work I went through his address book and found Boss’s mobile phone number. I called him and said that I would give him what he wanted in exchange for Rohan’s promotion. He called me back a few minutes later and gave me the address of a lodge where we would meet. For the next hour I let this middle aged man use my body as he liked on the promise that he would hold up his promise. We left the lodge and I sat in my car for another hour crying. Had I done the right thing? Would I be double crossed? A few minutes after I eventually managed to start my car and drive towards home my phone rang. It was Rohan. I couldn’t bear to speak to him so I let it ring out and continued to drive. It rang again and I ignored it again. It was only the third time that it rang when I answered it. He breathlessly told me that he’d been chosen and would start his new job on Monday. We’d been saved. I cried again. They were tears of joy with a lot of bitterness and regret mixed in. We were saved, but at what price? Rohan has been proving to be one of the best employees that the company has. He’s earned perks/benefits/ bonuses that he never would have in his old role and looks set to be promoted again. But every time he proudly talks to me about his work and how successful he is I have to look away in shame because I can never reveal the terrible secret about how he came to be there in the first place.