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￭ Escape Gates
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2013-02-05 | |
Translations: Didi - Elder Sister
Sandesh - A kind of sweet (Northern India)
Most probably this will be my first work, published. The entire story is built against the timid, secretive, tabooed Indian culture, within, loads of things happen only in the dark.
Niranjana = Pure form of anything
Anil = Air (breathing)
Mangal = The star which has a bad influence on people
Though the story revolves around a woman, it is the story of an urban human being, who lives multiple personalities, switching from one to another, as required.
Story never reveals the real identity of the man, with who Niranjana is having the affair, however at a particular place, a clear indicator loudly speaks about him. For me that was the catch, if you managed to guess, Please let me through the comment session.
Niranjana definitely knew who it was. Nobody other than Mangal would ever dare to address her as “didi”.
Instead of turning towards the origin of the call she hurried on the keyboard. She knew that within moments he will be near her.
“Hey, no minding today?” pushing a cup of cola towards her Mangal inquired.
“I am tired of minding you,” without lifting her eyes from the monitor Niranjana replied.
“What about a thank you for the cola?” without being discouraged Mangal asked impishly.
“Thank you very much Mr. Mangal Thakur urf whatever,” she said filling her voice with as much sarcasm as she could, at the same time she took the cola cup in her hand and had a refreshing sip as well.
Mangal took the nearest chair and started observing Niranjana’s activities and whispered, “the spelling of quiet is q-u-i-e-t didi, not q-u-i-t-e.”
“Really? I never knew,” while correcting the spelling Niranjana said ironically.
“Say thanks,” Mangal demanded again with impunity.
“Go and fly kites kiddo,” Niranjana dismissed him for annoying her.
Niranjana calculated the time to cross the road and to walk till the cinema. She was waiting inside the ladies waiting room from the last forty minutes or so. She waited for a message and pretended that she was busy with her phone. In silent mode, the phone started vibrating. She hurried to tap open the message and it read “row number 3 seat number 24”.
She almost ran into a speeding taxi!
The pair busy in the darkness was not much amused when Niranjana fumbled towards her seat. By the time she reached seat number 24, she was almost soaked in perspiration. It was after years she was at a cinema.
She turned around and noticed there were not many people in the balcony. Her next seat was occupied, the pair who gave her a rude look and few people in the top row. She sighed heavily and turned her face towards the person in the adjacent seat.
“You are shivering,” slowly pressing her palm, the man whispered.
Niranjana could not concentrate on the movie. She shivered from the adventure. Before coming out from the ladies waiting room, she had been to the bathroom and pulled the zipper down, leaving it undone. Her kurti was knee long, as usual.
“I cannot talk to you now,” Niranjana whispered trying to make herself sound as low as possible.
By the time she had a bath and rushed through the evening chores, she received half a dozen calls.
“Anil will be home any moment, try to understand,” she felt annoyed with the person at the other end
“If you do this once again, I will never speak to you,” finally she threatened with a timbre in her voice and at the other end the phone went off. Niranjana held the phone close to her ear, and then hurriedly walked towards her shoulder bag. She opened the inner pocket and after switching off the phone stuffed it inside.
“Have one more?” Niranjana looked at Anil. At 46, he looked much older than his age. She had realized years ago that he was graying much faster than many of his friends from the same age group. However, he was much successful than most of them.
She was 27 when they got married. She fell in love with Anil the moment she met him. An arranged marriage was set up and she just had a glimpse of her ‘would be groom.’
She lost all her grounds for doubts when he called after the engagement. There was six months’ time from the day of engagement to their marriage. Niranjana still remembered a few things clearly. He called her just twice during the six months and during both the times he was so balanced…
He was working with a manufacturing company, later becoming one of the topmost officers there. After marriage he called Niranjana to Mumbai. They started living in a single room flat and by the time their first son was ten years old they shifted to their present three room apartment. Niranjana never asked Anil how he managed all those comforts and Anil never wasted his time explaining such things to his wife either.
They had two kids, one boy and one girl and the typical Indian family was complete. They were happy, they were the centre of jealousy for many and they were the best couple selected by the club many times over.
There was a problem. Anil always came home late and tired. Niranjana never was able to understand something…she kept on wondering whether the time spent in front of the television was ever counted among the 24 hours of the day.
“Row number 3, seat number 24.”
There were no names, just a number against the message. Anil literally slipped and tossed everything from the small book table. It was one of those rare days he has reached home earlier than usual.
Among the stuff that fell down, one was Niranjana’s bag. Anil hurried through the materials and found a cheap cell phone. As far he could remember, he never bought Niranjana a second phone. She had an iPhone…
Anil kept on checking the phone. There were half dozen phone calls from the same number, dated more than few days back and just one text message with some seat number. And a very few contacts, most of them ending with her company short name.
Anil put everything back in its place and waited for Niranjana to finish her shower.
“I don’t know who it is, somebody kept on calling and sent me that message,” Niranjana said, without having any change in her usual way she spoke and scolded Tamanna for spilling the daal once again. Anil pushed the ‘sandesh’ bowl towards his son, who was eagerly eyeing it for a while. Niranjana stared at Anil first and at her son next. Her son frowned, shot his hand ahead and almost snatched a couple of ‘sandesh’ prior to running away to a safer place. Anil smiled and Niranjana laughed. Tamanna continued hitting the rim of her bowl, expecting the bowl to flip and spill the daal once again as she managed the last time.
Niranjana knew that nobody will ever answer that number, if called by anybody other than her.
“So you cannot help?” Anil was not very happy with the response from the other end, as he had high hopes on his “contact”.
“Try to understand Anil, the maximum I can get you is in whose name the number is registered and it belongs to one Apoorva Shreshta, Pune, Sector 7” the person on the other side of the conversation tried his level best to include the irritation in his voice.
“Thanks Pandey,” Anil hung up.
Anil just couldn’t accept Niranjana’s explanation about the missed calls from the same number. The text message content haunted his consciousness all the while and he thought of trying his contact with the mobile connection provider.
Anil dialed another number, this time contacting the agency which did background check on candidates.
Mangal had a problem with his name. Everybody teased him and he took more teasing from his present company colleagues who were mostly north Indians. He silently blamed his parents who had spent more than half of their life in north India, and then settling back in their native place down south.
Mangal spoke Hindi fluently and he was proud that hardly few ever managed to identify him as a south Indian until they came across him face to face. Tall and athletic, fast and meticulous he was liked by most, hated by few and disliked by his immediate reporting manager.
Niranjana liked him, he always reminded her of a darker version of Anil, especially when Mangal had a close shave sometimes.
“Didi, do you have the copy of the transaction we sent to SBI last week, I think I misplaced it somewhere,” rushing towards Niranjana he shouted. Niranjana knew that he was just making an excuse to be with her. On the first few occasions she felt it awkward, she then realized she could not do much about it. Avoiding him was not possible.
Going through the bundle of documents over her table, Mangal whispered
“You are looking good today.” Niranjana suppressed her smile and said “Thanks!”
“Going for lunch with me today?” he smirked.
It was not unusual, there were groups. Groups chose a restaurant once in a week and had lunch together. Niranjana was in Mangal’s group, so was the jumpy Mangalori girl, Dolly Fernandes.
“Hi! Mangal!” Dolly beamed. Niranjana always had a feeling that Dolly had a crush on Mangal. Mangal also knew that. However, Mangal always pretended that he didn’t have any clue about it. He, by birth disliked girls with tanned skin color. He had plans to marry a fair girl like Niranjana didi.
As Dolly was rushing towards them, Niranjana tapped on Mangal’s forearm and commented “Looks like Dolly definitely gonna go with you today, Mangal Pandey.”
Mangal made a face, but immediately changed it with a broad greeting as Dolly approached them.
“Hi! Dolly, Molly, not going with your foul mouthed friend today?”
Henry was one of those dudes, who never missed an opportunity to include a ‘shit’ or ‘fuck’ word rhyming it with every second word that he delivered.
“Ai gaa…he is busy today, he asked me to join you guys. Hi! Niranjana Madam,” she replied to Mangal and greeted Niranjana in a single breath.
“Hello, Molly, sorry Dolly,” smiling wickedly Niranjana replied to her greeting. Dolly laughed, enjoying the tease.
“Why don’t you give her some attention?” while they were walking towards the restaurant Niranjana asked Mangal. He was busy sending some text messages on his phone.
“She ain’t of my interest, Christian, dark,” Mangal turned towards her and said.
“Oh! really? Have you ever checked yourself in the mirror?” laughingly Niranjana asked.
“Sure sure, everyday,” Mangal joined her laughter.
“I ain’t that bad you see,” he continued.
He was not. Actually he was one of the best looking dudes in the entire office, regardless of his darker complexion compared to her own skin colour. He was cute, witty, chatty and hardly dismissible person overall.
“Life is not always as you want it to be,” Niranjana tried not to show how displeased she was. That man is so irritating at times. She was careful with him, even though he hardly ever pressed for any personal details.
Anil was out, as usual by Saturday evening. He had built a habit of a few drinks, few hours with his colleagues and friends on weekends and Niranjana never had problems with it. Actually when Anil’s cholesterol levels were high, their family doctor has advised him to start having few drinks every week. Niranjana knew that Anil will never cross the limits with anything.
So Saturday evenings she spent her time online. Chatting with friends as well as strangers. Laughing and enjoying those hours of her private ‘me’ time.
She seldom chatted with people in private. If she ever did that, it was after long scrutiny. This man today she was chatting with was a regular on her channel. He maintained a shadowed image. Sometimes he was hysteric, sometimes irritating and sometimes quarrelsome. Niranjana lost the count of times she has kicked him out of the channel for his swearing habits.
‘What about sex?’ he shot another question to her.
‘What about sex?’ she returned the same question back towards him.
‘Tell me about your sex life.’
Niranjana felt her cheeks rushing with blood. Was a blush or anger she did not know. Searing heat spread from her cheeks towards her neck.
‘Why should I tell you about it?’ she shot back another question.
‘Your life is not as you want, you live in a rich environment, your husband gets you everything you want, then only one possible area you are not happy should be sex. So I asked you about it,’ he replied
Niranjana took a couple of minutes before framing an answer.
‘Yes, but I don’t I want to talk about it.’
‘Okay,’ he dismissed his question.
‘It happens…sometimes…my husband is not very much interested about it,’ Niranjana hurried to send the text to her chat partner. She knew that he will not ask the question again.
‘Why? Does he sleep with somebody else?’ he asked. He was still not looking at the cam. Niranjana knew that he was doing something else, and chatting with her. She felt irritated. She wanted to quit
‘I don’t know, I don’t think so,’ Niranjana replied.
‘Why do you think so?’ this time he smiled and looked at the cam. He was wearing reading glasses, as he claimed. His smile was beautiful. He was one of those rare male friends proud of a moustache.
‘I’d like to believe so,’ Niranjana replied.
‘I see,’ he looked away again.
‘Then my wife also must be thinking in the same way’ coming back to the camera he replied.
‘You know, you should wear a tight bra, don’t let your breasts droop like orphaned eggplants.’
Niranjana realized that, she was on the camera and by mistake was exposing too much to this pain in the ass sort of person.
She closed her camera first, and while hurrying to close his camera feed, she saw that he was roaring with laugher with a smug feeling on his face.
‘Idiot!’ she couldn’t stop herself from typing it.
“Ha, ha, ha’ his laugher appeared in the chat window and she knew that he meant that laugher that she saw an instant back.
The building was more than a hundred years old. Built by the British and tormented by Indians. Offices and storage rooms across the floors and poorly done electrical cablings caused power breakdowns multiple times almost every month. It was one of those days. After waiting for more than hour, managers came out of their air-conditioned cabins and asked the employees to go out if they wish and to let them know if they have to return, in case the power is restored.
It was eleven thirty by the time they reached Bombay Gate. Niranjana was accompanied by Mangal and Sonali. In her seventh month of pregnancy Sonali chose not to walk much, instead she sat on the seawall to enjoy the cool sea breeze.
“No plans of getting married?” Niranjana asked Mangal while accepting the groundnuts Mangal had bought from the street hawker.
“Umm, I don’t know, I don’t think I am yet ready to get married,” Mangal looked confused.
“You are 28, employed, earn a good salary, you have no other responsibilities…then why not?” Niranjana kept the discussion on.
“I don’t know didi,” looking away from her questioning eyes Mangal replied.
“I mean mentally I don’t think I am yet ready to give up my personal self. I thought about it, but I am kinda confused, you know?” he shot a question towards her, as if she could answer his worries.
Niranjana smiled and tried to arrange her long hair strands running all around her face, chased by the sea breeze which was quite strong now.
“Marriage is a beautiful institution, yes sometimes you have to sacrifice few of your personal interests…so that you can have a harmony,” Niranjana said, after a short break.
“Well, you see, my sister’s marriage was a disaster…they never got along,” Mangal’s gestures changed. He looked serious.
“It happens with few a people, Mangal, not with everybody,” Niranjana tried to reason.
“If a marriage means being happy forever, why I don’t I see many happy faces around me, didi?” Mangal asked her another question.
Before she could answer his last question, he came closer and asked her “Are you happy, didi?”
Niranjana couldn’t make eye contact with him.. They were looking at her and probing deep inside her. She was even afraid that he must have seen that split second vacuum in her eyes, after she heard his question.
“Yes, I am,” Niranjana looked into Mangal’s eyes and said confidently.
Mangal smiled and looked away, bothering Niranjana’s self confidence. She chose not to ask Mangal any more questions about marriage.
It was a beautiful painting. She never expected it from that ‘idiot’ person. During one of their talks online she had told him about her surprise present from her husband and thus was forced to tell him about her birthday.
He remembered the date and in her inbox, she found his painting. It was rather simple. However, the thought that he had made it for her thrilled her, without many reasons. He was absconding from every possible place from many weeks.
Anil was still out. Niranjana looked at the wall clock. It was past eleven in the night and twice she almost dialed his number, and decided not to, as she knew that it would make Anil displeased (even though he never spoke about it later.)
She started signing out from her messengers and then the ‘idiot’ appeared.
‘Hello birthday girl.’
‘Thank you for the painting, it is beautiful,’ Niranjana hurriedly typed on the keyboard.
“Glad that you liked it, I didn’t have much time to make a better one,’ came his reply.
‘Oh don’t worry about it, you know it is one of the best gifts I ever got for a birthday.’ All of a sudden Niranjana felt that this man was so dear to her…
‘I am travelling, now in India…somewhere closer to your city, I believe.’ After few moments’ silence he replied. Niranjana felt he had completely ignored her last message.
He told her all about a training he was undergoing in India; how many days he would be in India before going back to the country where he lived and worked.
‘Do you care if I call you?’ he asked. Niranjana remembered that he had never asked for her telephone numbers.
‘How you will call me?’ Niranjana asked him.
‘Obviously you gotta give me your number’ he replied matter of factly.
Niranjana gave him the ‘other’ number.
Within few seconds, her ‘other’ cell phone started ringing. There he was, shrill and loud, fast and lively. While hanging up the last line he said was “your voice is sweet.”
He then excused himself and quit from the chat. He was tired after a long day of training.
Ignoring the envelope opener, Anil hurriedly opened the package. There were one dozen photographs. All of them had Niranjana, taken on different days.
Three of them were taken on the day when Niranjana was at Mumbai Gate, with Mangal and Dolly
In one of the pictures, Mangal was holding both her hands.
Anil couldn’t understand why there was that strange girl with a large smile in all of these pictures. Anil didn’t like that girl at all!
Niranjana couldn’t stop laughing. Dolly had printed the photos and was showing them to both her and Mangal as the lunch session was progressing.
Mangal was humming the song “Tu meri zindagi hain…”
It was rather funny, the entire situation as Mangal came ahead and took her fingers in his hand, mocking the gestures of one Bollywood actor and started singing the song. He was so funny. He looked into her eyes and sang “Tu meri zindagi hain…tu…”
Then while continuing to singing, he went after Dolly, he repeated the same with her too, making the poor girl going all into knots and embarrassed as many started staring at them
The photographer kept on clicking the pictures.
“I have to tell you something, not now,” Mangal whispered as he passed Niranjana’s chair. She saw him waving to Dolly.
Later in the evening he called her. Niranjana was going through Tamanna’s lessons.
“Didi I think, I think I am in love.”
Niranjana almost jumped up from the chair. He cannot just surprise her like that.
“Err, what did you say just now?” she eagerly asked him.
“I said, I think I am in love” Mangal repeated.
“Who is that lucky girl??” Niranjana couldn’t control her excitement.
“You” Mangal responded quickly.
Niranjana expected a teasing laughter to follow, which didn’t.
And she felt her knees started shivering all of a sudden and she collapsed on the chair.
“Sorry Mister,” trying to steady her voice Niranjana said, “I am taken.”
“Oh yeah, that’s the catch didi, you are experienced,” now Mangal laughed as he talked.
“Go fly kites, kiddo,” Niranjana tried to keep balance in her voice, though she realized it was breaking.
As Mangal’s laughter echoed through the earpiece, Niranjana hung up and switched off the phone.
Anil was switching through the channels. The kids were already in bed and Niranjana wanted to lie down somewhere as the second day of her period was causing her cramps and severe pain in the legs. She noticed that, even though Anil was answering her questions, he was hardly looking at her. She understood there was an issue. She moved a bit closer to him and asked.
“Any problem at work Anil?”
Still hesitant, Anil turned his face towards her and stared at her, as if he was seeing her for the first time. Niranjana’s lower abdomen started hurting severely. It always happened when she panicked.
Anil brought the envelope which was concealed under the newspaper and handed it over to Niranjana. She opened up the envelope and her face turned white.
“So?” after going through all the images she looked at him.
“Who is that with you?”
“You were spying on me?” Niranjana couldn’t believe Anil would ever do something like that.
“I thought you were happy,” Anil said calmly.
Niranjana took a few minutes before answering his question.
“That’s Mangal, a boy from my office, we were at Mumbai Gate…there were no electricity at work.”
Anil wanted to ask something more, but he lost his courage as Niranjana’s eyes started burning him with disgust.
She stormed out from the hall and went inside the bedroom, switched on her phone and returned to the hall.
She opened the gallery and opened the photographs Dolly has transferred to her phone the same day during lunch.
She gave the phone to Anil
Anil found the photographs which were not sent by the reputation check agency to him. Without uttering a word he switched the channel to HBO, a war movie was on. Niranjana sat there, frozen for a while. Then she retired to the bedroom.
“I am being followed don’t try to meet me for a while.” The text message was short, at the same time enough to warn the recipient. Message read and deleted.
The extension started ringing, and the man hurried to attend the call, “Hello, Anil.”
Niranjana stood in the balcony, nursing the few plants that she had. She dropped the phone, from the eighth floor of the building. Within a few seconds as she watched it hit the concrete floor down on the ground floor shattering into small pieces. The few kids playing there stood scared for a moment, before approaching the object cautiously.
Niranjana gathered almost all the pieces she could find. The SIM was near the drainage, with a deft move of her feet, kicked it into the drain, watched it floating in the water for few seconds, before it was gone.
Later after changing, she went to the nearest shopping mall and bought herself a new phone and a new connection.
She smiled, and decided to have an ice-cream from Baskin Robbins.
This time he was back in his country of residence. Niranjana wondered how a person could look so content. He seldom smiles or laughs, though he makes a lot of teasers and a joke out of any word or expression.
‘You should smile more often,’ Niranjana commented, as his face appeared back on the cam.
He smiled, without the smile reaching his eyes.
‘No more new girl friends?’ Niranjana inquired.
He laughed this time.
‘None from a while.’
‘You and no new girlfriends? Am not going to take it.’
‘What if I was always telling you stories, instead of truth about girlfriends?’
‘I know you were not telling me stories.’ Niranjana couldn’t accept the fact that he was telling her stories about his involvement with many other women, even though he was married.
He laughed again.
‘I am a story teller, beautiful’ his replied.
‘I don’t believe you,’ Niranjana insisted. She wanted to believe that he had girlfriends, and she couldn’t understand why she wanted him to be like that.
He kept on laughing and Niranjana started feeling some kind of uneasiness.
‘A story teller is one, who makes wonderful stories to keep his reader engaged,’ that was what he said just before he quit talking.
She made some tea and went to the balcony. She told herself that he was blabbering.
Anil never apologized. He didn’t feel like doing that. He never saw his father apologizing to his mother.
“I am in my periods Anil,” she said slowly resisting his hands advancing towards her breasts. Niranjana was calm and emotionless.
She tried to calculate how many days had passed since they had made love. She had a secret passion for marking those days they spent without sex earlier. Over time she realized that most of the months were having maximum number of those marked days, so she stopped marking those days. She didn’t want to fall for her own findings.
“Aila!” Niranjana couldn’t believe what she heard. Dolly sat there, looking at her eagerly, in anticipation for an approval.
“I am going to kill that stupid fellow,” making an angry face Niranjana declared.
Mangal was buying some sandwiches and drinks from the counter.
He returned singing the song “Tu meri zindagi hain.”
Niranjana disapproved his wink and slapped his forearm, almost making him spill the drinks.
“Why you didn’t tell me,” she tried to make her face look very disappointed.
“I called you! But you switched off the phone.”
“You donkey it was almost two weeks back, you could have told me any one of these days.”
Mangal smiled and the smile lit up Dolly’s face too. Dolly looked radiant, beautiful than ever.
“What about your parents Mangal,” Niranjana asked him after taking a bite of the sandwich.
“Umm, they won’t have problems…I hope,” Mangal said.
“So girl, you are happy now?” Niranjana asked dolly as Mangal went for a refill
‘We live in two different worlds’, he replied, after a short break. Niranjana watched the smoke escaping through his nostrils.
Niranjana was all ears.
‘I travel quite frequently; she is busy with her career, home, and children’.
‘That doesn’t contribute towards your girlfriends, my opinion’. Niranjana replied.
‘I know, but I should ask you something. Why you insist on believing that I have so many girlfriends’.
Niranjana liked to believe the stories he told her. He had always told her about other women that he had in his life. He painted such an image for himself always, which was in deep red. Niranjana couldn’t accept him colourless. It was like baking something without a pinch of baking powder.
‘If I should believe that, you were telling me stories and nothing truthful about your women, then I have a righteous reason to believe that you are fake,’ without hiding her disgust from the confusion about him, she replied.
‘have you ever faulted?’ came his question.
Niranjana always wondered why he never behaved like other men she had met online and chatted with. He is always full of himself, she was a mere listener most of the time. If ever he asks about her anything, he always made her feel embarrassed with too private questions.
‘What you mean?’ though she understood what he had asked, she decided to play dumb.
‘You ever had a relation outside marriage? Any kind of romantic involvement? Or like, sleeping with somebody else?’
Niranjana realized that her face muscles were tightening up.
‘Even if I had, why should I tell you?’ she reacted after a couple of minutes.
‘I thought you were gone,’ he commented.
‘No I am still here’, she was not on the cam that day. She didn’t feel like it that day.
‘You are right, it is your choice’ he accepted and Niranjana noticed that his gestures didn’t change at all. She never understood why he does other things while chatting. He always moves his face from the cam and leaves the chair for minutes before getting back to her.
‘It doesn’t exist between us anymore, we have lost it’, he smiled as he typed the message.
‘And I find myself attracted, attached with women, when it happens.’
‘So you agree you have girlfriends?’ Niranjana felt the excitement was back.
‘So who is your latest girlfriend?’ she hurried with another question.
‘One forty-six-year-old woman.’
‘You are always into older women?’
‘Depends who is available’ he lighted another cigarette.
‘And?’ Niranjana was eager to know the rest of the story.
‘Nothing serious, we had a kind of involvement few years ago, thought it was over…well, we came in touch a couple of weeks back and she has given me an idea that she would like to try out her luck once again’, this time his eyes were fixed on the cam. Even though her cam was not on, she felt he was looking deep inside into her.
She wanted him to tell her in clear words what happened with his 46-year-old girlfriend. However, her inhibitions stopped her from doing that.
She knew, one day he will tell her everything in detail, like the other times.
People say you make your own future, and Jagtap Patil literally applied it in his life! He was 10 when he escaped from his abusive father. He took the first train out of his town, reached Mumbai the second day. He joined the n number of street kids and learned the tricks of survival on the streets.
One day at the paav vada stall where he worked ‘part-time’ somebody asked him his name. He liked the name “Jagtap” always. The stall owner always called him either ‘Chottu’ or some unspeakable names.
When he grew up further, he realized a second name was very much necessary. He had choices, so he opted for ‘Patil’. He realized that Brahmins were highly respected everywhere. So he became a Brahmin by his own choice as well. He spoke fluent Marathi and Hindi.
He worked in a ladies bar later, did the job of a bouncer for a while before ending up with the local MLA.
He understood that he must learn how to read and write in due course. He got married to his mentor’s daughter, fathered two kids. A son and daughter. His son was shot and killed by the drug mafia and daughter proved her capability to get pregnant while she was in the 9th grade. She was sent to Dehradun to get over with the abortion and all that, and brought back home only after she completed her graduation. Then one day he become MLA.
He made a fortune out of his political career. He bought his daughter Madhuri an engineer husband and in return built a double storey guest house for his daughter in Matheran.
Madhuri liked Niranjana a lot. For a while both women were together in the yoga classes. Madhuri liked everything beautiful and Niranjana was outstandingly good looking. Later they were linked by another factor as well. This time it was Madhuri’s husband, who quit his earlier job and joined Anil’s office.
Niranjana never understood why Anil preferred to drive, when commuting by a train was always comfortable and faster. The kids were tired and Tamanna was almost nodding off by the time they reached Matheran.
Madhuri was merry as she greeted Niranjana and family. There were two more families already in the guesthouse facility. Everybody was introduced to each other and by evening the three other families joined the group. All were known to each other in one or the other way.
Once after the afternoon nap, Niranjana took a quick shower and changed herself into an ill-fitting T-shirt and a long printed skirt that Anil had brought for her from Malaysia or Thailand.
Around 7 the men started having drinks and the women retired to playing cards in one of the ground floor rooms. As the card game was in progress, she received a text. It said “1st Floor, Room Number 23.”
Madhuri was curious to know but Niranjana laughed it off as saying it was just another promotional text message and the women started discussion about receiving such useless messages. Only Mrs. Gupta smoked.
Madhuri offered her her sanitery napkins. However, Niranjana had preferences. So she excused herself and rushed to her room. Once she made sure that nobody was in the corridor, she pushed open the door of room number 23.
‘”Here” she heard the sound from the right hand side and she walked towards the origin of the sound. The room still smelt fresh with an odd combination of paints and cheaply processed wood.
“Just one time?” Niranjana could feel his laboured breath against her neck. She was just returning from the heights of an untimely sexual orgasm.
She pushed him away. Then waited for another text message. After two minutes she received it. It said
She straightened her skirt, and made sure that she looked as normal as possible. While straightening her hair with fingers, she realized her palm still smelt his arousal.
Anil’s eyes were mild red. He was glued to the TV when she returned after the card games. Once she changed and reached him in the bed, he switched off the TV (which was unusual).
Then Anil took her right hand in his and softly said “I am sorry.”
Niranjana felt she was 27 once again and dragged his head to her breasts.
As Anil spread through her body, she smiled in the dark. She was ready for a man for the last couple of hours.
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