Reena closed the door behind her. Crossing the drawing room, she threw her purse and shopping bags on the sofa, loosening her hair, crossed the bed and straight away went into the attached washroom. She came out as fresh as morning dawn with nothing on but a bathing towel. Humming she threw the towel and stood before the dressing mirror watching her entire body from head to toe. “ Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all,” chanting a childhood rhyme, she smiled and slid into the inner wear making her more voluptuous. She was about to put on the red gown when the shrill voice of the door bell made her wear the gown in a hurry while going to open the door. She opened the door and to her consternation, he stood before him smiling.
She blinked twice and thrice. Inspite of being surprise personified, she wanted to hug him but resisted the temptation as every minute details of some years spent with him in a live-in relationship flashed before her eyes like lightening. Before she could gather herself, her gown malfunctioned and she had no choice but to run inside blushing. A broad mischievous smile appeared on Aakash’s face. He slowly took steps to get inside the drawing room.
After half an hour both, Aakash and Reena were sitting at café coffee day chatting and digging the old memories when Reena abruptly asked, “ Aakash, what are you doing in Mumbai.?”
“Work” He replied gazing her face constantly measuring the effect of time on her.
“ Yours own or same somebody else’s work ,” she asked with inherent sarcascism.
“ My own,” he muttered rather unconvincingly.
“So you have set up your own business, at last,” though Reena sounded uninterested but her wide expressive eyes betrayed her inquisitiveness.
“ I am…ah ..was in escort business. I used to handle escorts and provide escorts to rich and famous.” Aakash replied sipping coffee. It was clear that he was unsure of himself whether to divulge details about his present occupation or not.
“ Used to….and what makes you to meet me? I am sure you will not want me to escort someone rich and famous.” Her tone was again sarcastic .
Aakash became serious. He took the hand of Reena in his own and said, “I am sorry for everything, Reena. I was a looser and I am a looser. I have lost everything and now I am at the brink of last ……….”. Reena interrupted him abruptly.
“How come ? Where is that wealthy women…what was her name…yeah..Roshini Mamm. As soon as you became an escort to her, you just left me rather threw me out as a fly in your soup.” Her face was reddened with anger while controlling herself.
“You have changed Reena,” he tried to pat her hand but she withdrew it.
“Am I ? You bet. But don’t change the topic. I want clarifications now.” She made him look like a culprit.
“ I realized that leaving you was a blunder,” his voice started trembling. He folded his both hands, “will you forgive and forget everything ? I again seek your acceptance, Reena, please. For the sake of those years spent together. ” Aakash begged like a begger at a cross road and perhaps this wasn’t enough for Reena.
“ Accha ! what happened to that bitch….did she threw you out or you had had enough of her?”
“ She ditched me. I lost everything, my health and my wealth. Reena, please I want to come back to you..” Aakash wanted to reach to her face and she immediately jerked his hands away resenting his move. Her patience had been tested and somewhere something snapped in her. She got up, threw a hundred rupee note on the table and dashed to the exist leading to a park. Aakash followed her when she abruptly stopped, turned and shouted, “ you b******. You took away everything from me. My reputation, my honour, my family, my love and left me in lurch. Now when you are nobody, you seek my forgiveness and want to come back to me.”
Aakash stood still. He had no courage to face her. He again pleaded, “please Reena, I am ready to repent. Absence of yours in my life is telling. I was misguided by Roshini. She and her friends exploited me.”
“And you exploited me. You know you have ruined my life. You want to repent. What can you do now?” Astonishingly Reena became a lamb from tigress. She started sobbing. Watching her sob, Aakash was happy that he had broken the ice.
“ I shall do everything for you. Just take me back for the sake of those two years we spent together.” Aakash was now hopeful of homecoming.
“ Can you cure my AIDS ?” her sobbing turned to muffed crying. Stunned Aakash withdrew his hand from hers as if thousands of scorpions had stung him.
“ You too…..! AIDS ?” he almost shouted.
“ Yes, AIDS and you f*****you gave me that…..you b****** I was infected by you…you son of a *****.” She became hysterical catching his collar.
Words betrayed Aakash. His face became grim. His mind started working overtime. Was she then responsible for his own acquired medical condition which has almost reached to a critical stage? Did she use to betray his faith when they were in live- in relationship ? His hopeful face lost its sheen as if someone had taken away the cake from the mouth of a hungry dog. The silence was deafening.
Reena broke the silence, “ would you like to come back to me now, be with me and share my remaining life with this physically acquired ailment?” She came at a kissing distance to him. Aakash immediately backed off. He stood motionless for some time but his brain was working fast.
The word revenge was taking shape in his mind.
“Han….ah…no…can’t…You know I have to reach back. I have a job to do,” he managed to say, “ I am sorry, see you later. Take care.” He rushed to cross the road and hailing an auto drove away.
Reena laughed loudly. Revenge was on her mind too
That night she again stood before the mirror after bathing when her mobile rang.
“Hello.” She said watching her body in the mirror.
“Did you tell Aakash that you have AIDS and that you got the AIDS from him.” Other side her cousin Richa sounded curious.
“Yes” Reena replied.
“But why tell a lie. You had undergone the necessary tests when he left you and those were all negative. You could have put him off by simply shooing him off.”
“Because I never wanted that b****** anywhere near me in my life again. This is my way of taking revenge on him. I want him to suffer now. Simple thought of having AIDS acquired from me will make him sleepless.”
“But Reena, Aakash has AIDS ! He has AIDS. Critical stage.” Richa informed her. Reena switched of the phone and threw herself on the bed. “ So that is why he wanted to come back to me after acquiring this deadly disease. Escort duty. My foot. Serves him right.” saying so she fell asleep. After a long time she had a sound sleep.
Next day Aakash was found dead hanging from the tree in the park near Reena’s housing society. A note in his pocket read, “ Reena is responsible for my death.”
Law then took its own course.
------------------------------------------------------------------------All rights reserved/Tribhawan Kaul