Time : 1700 hrs
Place : Sanjay Park, New Delhi-23
From the distance it seemed they both were arguing. The man was trying to pacify the woman. The woman was not listening. She got up. The man seemed to plead but in vain. The message in woman’s action was clear. She did not want him to follow her. She left leaving some onlookers and courting couples bemused.
Time : 1830 hrs.
Place : Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi-24
Mukta threw herself on the bed. She was profusely perspiring. Breathing was heavy. She hid herself in the pillow and sobbed uncontrollably. She got up after a little while, went to the washroom and freshened herself. She saw herself in the mirror. “ What has become of me,” she uttered whipping towel on her face. Putting light makeup, she came out quickly changing into an embroidered top and jean. The top was somewhat transparent and her black bra was visible in contrast. She deliberately ignored the transparency while watching herself in the dressing mirror.
“Isn’t it in thing now ? Anyway who cares.” She comforted herself, picked her purse and went out of the room, down the stairs to the main road. She called for an auto and hopped in. “ Challo, coffee house, CP.” After 20 minutes of auto ride she was at the coffee house.
Time: 19 hrs
Place : Same Lajpat Nagar
“ What the hell, she thinks of herself ! I am not going to take the things lying down. How can I spend whole life with someone who does not trust me?” Manoj was furiously throwing things upsetting the decor of the room. “Couldn’t she once ask me the reason of being with my boss? How mean of her even to think of….shit…disgusting?” He picked up one shirt and then threw it. Picked up another, matched that with a pant and started pulling himself through. Belting the pant, he searched for the socks and found it underneath the bed.
“ Look, what has she done to my room. Not a single thing is in its place and she boasts of being meticulous.” So grumbling, he came out of the room, went down the stairs, to the main road and hailed an auto.
“ Challiaye coffee house, CP.” Hopping into auto, he started dialing a number. Getting no response, he furiously worked on mobile keys and pressed the send key. While closing the mobile, the image of Mukta and his own cropped up. He knew where he could find her.
Time : 20hrs
Place : Coffee House, Connaught Place, New Delhi-1
Mukta was sitting in a corner. An empty coffee cup was on the table. She was thinking fast. She thought of growing live-in relationship with Manoj. She had put everything on stake for this relationship to survive but Manoj seemed to have taken her for granted.
“ How can he be with his boss, that bitch, whole night ? What was the urgency? What were they doing ? Project work- my foot. Project work is simply a ruse to hoodwink me.” She was totally engrossed in her thoughts when she heard Manoj.
“ Mai bathun? (Should I sit down?)” She was startled seeing Manoj standing in front of her.
“ You….how could you show face to me ?” she almost shouted hardly restraining herself.
“Cool down, just cool down. You are neither listening to me nor understanding the circumstances……’” Manoj tried to put some sense into her.
“Why should I listen to you?….and what is there to understand?…you have betrayed me, you have destroyed me…,”Mukta almost became hysterical.
“ No, you got everything wrong”, Manoj said firmly raising his voice. People around then were keen to listen.
“ Look Mukta, never think me of betraying you. Reema had asked me to give finishing touches to an already completed project before morning. It was too urgent to be ignored as tomorrow a demo is to be given before a foreign delegation. I had to stay in the office whole night.”
“ OK, so far so good. Why was Reema there all night with you?” Mukta asked sarcastically.
“Well because she happens to be the super boss monitoring the project. The whole project is her baby and she wanted the report to be 100 % perfect.”
“Oh,yeah. I know that bitch since our college days. Wasn’t She your classmate. ? Remember”
“ Don’t dig graves, Mukta. It will lead us nowhere.”
“ Why not? She had always been between you and me”
“ Now, she is not. Even during college days, there was nothing serious between us and you know that. She is married now. Destiny made me to work in her husband’s firm and I am placed under her without my knowledge. I was not aware that she was going to be my boss being the director of the firm. The fact is she only came to know about my existence in the firm only when she was introduced to me and my team.”
“ He is right, Mukta.” A third voice interrupted them. While Mukta became speechless finding Reema standing behind her, Manoj wore a thin smile which faded soon.
Reema continued, “ when my husband Rakesh asked me to take up the responsibility as the director of the firm, I never knew that Manoj was part of my team heading it. The project is very important to clinch a foreign deal. Manoj being an expert only could have handled it.”
Reema settled down on a chair and Mukta still gathering her composure and seemingly unconvinced retorted, “you were there too, Reema. Isn’t it? Whole night”
“Yes, I was. Whole night. But does that mean………”
Cutting her short, Mukta made no attempt to hide her contempt for Reema, “ yes, I mean that. You had planned it. Your husband was out of town. You always wanted him from the college days, and how come you are here,” she asked sarcastically.
Manoj could not tolerate more and kept his hand on her mouth, “ Mukta, talk sense. People are watching. Don’t create a scene”
“ No Manoj, you keep out of it. Now it is between Mukta and I.” Reema was cool. She saw red faced Mukta into her eyes, “ look Mukta, let by gone be by gone. Once upon a time, I had a crush on Manoj, you know that. But it is all over now. There was nothing serious between us neither then nor is now. He is and has been all yours. I love my husband Rakesh. There has never been anything between Manoj and I”
Mukta started sobbing. “ Please don’t try to save him. Whole night you were with him and think of a man and a woman, in a room…how could not an old spark rekindle the fire”
“ Dirty mind can think of dirt only. You are paranoid, Mukta. You will soon lose Manoj the way you mistrust him”
“ I trust him, I love him but I don’t trust you Reema”
“ Ok , why don’t you then listen to him and believe?” Reema asked.,,,,,,,
Manoj who was patiently listening both of them stood up, “ no use, let her get some peace and make her mind up as to what she wants.”
Mukta also got up and caught hold of Manoj, “ no, you stay. You can not leave me in the lurch. Swear on your mother that you two did not indulge in…ah…ah… I mean did nothing to betray me. Can you prove it.”
Manoj and Reema were both taken aback. It was the most silliest question. Silence fell around them. Imaginary things can never be proved. Manoj was at loss of words at Mukta’s behavior whereas Reema was stunned at Mukta’s bluntness.
“Yes, I can prove it.” An unfamiliar voice filtered into the air. Whereas Mukta and Manoj were inquisitive, Reema was surprisingly happy to see him and immediately stood up but was gesticulated to sit.
“ I saw them both doing nothing. Both of them. A man and a woman. In a room. All alone. Doing nothing. I saw these fools doing nothing whole night except discussing the project.”
Reema could no longer hold herself and she jumped and hugged him.
“ What a surprise Rakesh?” she hugged her husband tightly and introduced him to Mukta and Manoj .Manoj shook her head in approval and Mukta made no attempt to hide her despair but she was not the one who could simply yield.
“ How do you know, Mr. Rakesh. Weren’t you out of town ?” she asked.
“ yes, but I had come yesterday night itself and my journey was preponed. I drove straight to office for safekeeping of some important documents. When I reached office, I saw the lights on in the main hall. I saw Reema and Manoj engrossed in finalizing their project . They did not even once noticed me not even then when I settled in the dark corner cubical for rest.”
“ So nothing happened……” Mukta muttered
“ What did you want to happen Ms.?”, asked Rakesh with some sarcasm.
Mukta could not keep eye contact with anyone present. She was feeling let down by her own jealousy and guilt. Her eyes became moist and she started to leave when Manoj held her hand in his. She turned weeping and hugged Manor in full view of the entire coffee house. Wet eyed she asked Manoj and Reema for forgiveness. Manoj patted her as if assuring her of her sound relationship. Reema also hugged her indicating the turce. Both went saying good bye to Reema and Rakesh.
Time: 22 hrs
Place : Outside coffee house, CP New Delhi.
Reema was anxious, very anxious to know. She could not wait to reach home.
“ How did you manage to come yesterday, Rakesh dear.? You were to come today. Where were you whole night and till now and don’t tell me that crap again ?” she bulldozed Rakesh with the question.
Reema’s curiousity made Rakesh to laugh. He brought Reema nearer to his and whispered, “ No, I did not come yesterday. I arrived an hour before. On reaching home I found your note that you would be at coffee shop as you had received an urgent sms from Manoj. I came here and heard everything unnoticed.”
“ Wow. That is great Mr. Rakesh. But how could you say that we did not…I mean Manoj and I….what ?” Reema’s naughtyness was coming to fore.
“ Because I trust you. If a wife and husband don’t share the trust between them, life is going to be hell for both.” Saying so he planted a kiss on her lips.
Reema at that moment was the proudest woman on the earth. She could express her happiness only by hugging Rakesh tightly.
“ Saviour. I am proud of you. You saved not one but two relationships today.”---------------------------x-----------------------
All rights reserved/Tribhawan Kaul
Disclaimer : This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.