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Slumdog Millionaire - The Other Woman

Title: The Other Woman
Rating: PG-13
Pairings: JamalOC, JamalLatika
Disclaimer: I own nothing except for Tanvi.
Summary: A story about a different woman in Jamal's life. One-Shot
Spoilers: None really.


It was nearly three in the morning when Tanvi woke to the sound of a tea kettle whistling. Normally, she wouldn’t think anything of it. She kept the bedroom window open at night because of the heat and usually would assume it was one of her neighbors. But that night was different. She noticed, through heavy eyes, that the spot next to her was unusually empty. She sat up, knowing that wasn’t how things had been when she’d fallen asleep. Her boyfriend had been stretched out next to her when she’d drifted off that night. She listened more carefully to the sound of the whistling tea kettle, realizing that the noise was in her home. Climbing off the bed, she slipped into her robe and made her way to the kitchen.

She found him sitting at the small table in the kitchen with a fresh cup of tea in front of him. He seemed to be staring into the light brown liquid, lost in thought. The newspaper on the table rustled from the small breeze blowing through the room. Pushing her hair back, she walked up behind him and gently placed her hands on his bare shoulders.

“Usually a man gets up in the middle of the night for something much stronger than tea.”

Jamal turned in his seat, surprised by the sudden voice in his ear. He looked up at Tanvi with some concern in his eyes. “Did I wake you?”

“You did,” she replied, brushing her lips briefly against his with a smile. He smiled back at her, squeezing the hand on his shoulder. “But it’s alright. This is better than sleeping alone.”

Going over to the counter, she poured herself a cup of tea before sitting down across from him. She sipped at the hot liquid, tentatively, as she pulled her legs up onto the chair. “I still don’t understand how you can work with this all day and then want to drink when you come home.”

Jamal smiled lightly but said nothing, still staring into his tea. Tanvi watched him with interest as he sipped his own drink. Feeling her gaze on him, he finally met her eyes with question. “What is it?”

“Nothing. It’s nothing.” If he was curious, he didn’t press any further. The room was quiet for a moment except for the cars passing outside. Breaking the silence, she said, “I spoke with my mother today. She was hoping that we would come for dinner this weekend. I told her I would talk to you about it first.”

He nodded and made a noncommittal sound but didn’t react much other than that. She waited for him to give more of a response to the idea but he didn’t say anything. He simply continued staring into his tea.

“My parents would really like to meet you. I’ve told them all about you. Their curious about the man I’ve been living with for the past five months.”

“When do they want us to come?” he asked after a moment’s deliberation.

“This Saturday. My brothers are going to be home from the university so they want it to be a family dinner.”

“Are you sure they want me to come if it’s family meal?”

“Of course. It’s my mother’s way of welcoming you into the family. When Viraj brought his girlfriend, Priya, home for the first time, our mother acted like it was the Queen of England coming to dinner. I swear the woman tends to overreact.”

“If you’re sure, then we’ll go.”

Tanvi smiled brightly when he said this and leaned across the table, kissing him swiftly. “Mum will be so happy. She’s been dying to meet you.”

Jamal didn’t say anything as he finished his tea. Standing up from the table, he took his cup to the sink before coming back to her. Taking her hand, he said, “Come on. Let’s go back to bed.”

She allowed him to lead her back to their room, leaving the dishes to be dealt with later. Slipping off her robe, she slid back into the bed and curled up next to Jamal. He slid an arm around her and held her close as he stared up at the ceiling. He seemed to have gone back to thinking about whatever it was that had been on his mind when he first got up. Tanvi looked at him in curiosity. “Who are you thinking about?”

He looked at her in confusion. “What do you mean?”

“You seem to be thinking about something important so I just assumed it was about someone.” Jamal didn’t answer, just looked back at the ceiling. “Is it about Salim?”

“No,” he said unemotionally. “I try not to think about Salim.”

“Then who is it?” Jamal was silent again as Tanvi looked at him in a different way. “Is it a woman?”

He looked at anything other than her but that was enough for her.

She pulled out of his arms, sitting up on the bed. She looked at him with cold eyes. Softly, she asked, “Who is she?”

“No one,” he told her, staring at the ceiling again.

“Jamal, who is she?” Her expression was blank but her voice wavered a bit as she tried to keep her composure.

“Someone I knew a long time ago,” he said as he sat up as well and looked at her.

“What’s her name?” she asked, her eyes fixed on his.

“Latika,” he told her, the name coming to him as easy as his own. Tanvi didn’t say anything, simply pushing her hair back. Deciding to continue, he said, “I’ve known her since I was a child. She was one of the children who worked for Maman. I haven’t seen her since I was thirteen. She stayed with Salim when I left.”

She stared at her hands, not saying anything at first. Then with some difficulty, she asked, “Do you love her?”

“Tanvi…”

“Do you love her? Or, did you?”

At first, he wasn’t sure how to respond to the question. The last thing he wanted was to upset her. He could see the tears fighting to break free and he felt terrible that he was causing this but he knew that she would be more upset if he lied to her. “I did love her. I made Salim come back to Mumbai so we could find her. She was my best friend.”

“Do you still love her?”

“Tanvi, I haven’t seen her in years. I don’t even know if she’s alive.”

“That’s not an answer.”

“A piece of me does. She was the first girl I ever loved. I’ll always remember that.” Jamal took her by the arm and pulled her closer to him. He cupped her face and looked into her eyes. “But now I love you. I still think of Latika sometimes. I wonder what has happened to her the same way that I wonder about Salim.”

Tanvi took his hands and held them in her own. “Jamal, you love her more than you admit. I’m not naïve. I can see it in your eyes. If you knew where she was, you’d be with her not with me. She’s your first love and those don’t always fade with time. If you ever do find Latika, I don’t think you’ll want me more than you want her.”

“Don’t say that,” Jamal told her. “It’s been years since I’ve seen her. I’ve been with you for half a year. I would never leave you like that. I don’t want to lose you.”

“And I don’t want to lose you either. But I don’t want to have to fight for your affection with a girl who is not even around.”

“You don’t have to. Latika is my past. You are my future. You are the one that I am with.” He pulled her into his arms, brushing his lips to hers sweetly. He brushed the few tears that had slid down her cheeks away and kissed her forehead. Finally, he said, “We should get some sleep. Both of us do have to go to work soon.”

Jamal lay back on the bed, pulling Tanvi down with him. He wrapped both his arms around her and held her tight. Soon, his breathing evened out and she could hear him snoring lightly next to her. She was beginning to drift back off to sleep, having more trouble as she thought about everything. She knew that he loved her and she knew he was being honest with her. But she knew that he would never love her as much as he loved Latika. She would always be the other woman.

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