Suseela was not happy with the new tenants in the adjacent house.She is non-interfering and helpful by nature.Still there was something about them that put her off. It was actually a small family with a husband, wife and one more woman younger than the wife.Immediately after moving in, the wife came a few times to Suseela to ascertain some details.The other woman had never come.Suseela was also not invited to their house.The man also had made no efforts to meet Susueela’s husband.It was a small municipal town.Suseela could gather her name as Champaka and that her husband was doing some business.Champaka was reticent to talk and was evasive when asked about the other woman whom Suseela thought could be a sister of the man or Champaka.
It was only after a few months that Champaka became a little free and talked to Suseela when her husband and the woman were away.They became friendly with each otherin due course.She could gather that Champaka having borne no child even after seven years of marriage was disliked by her husband.She was constantly abused, beaten and made to do all household chores without any domestic help.She was an orphan with no siblings to come to her help. She was in her early thirties.It transpired that the other woman Nalini was no relative of theirs and was just a mistress to the man.Nobody knew her antecedents.When Champaka objected to her coming to stay with them , she was given two options,either to stay in the house without complaining and do the work or get lost somewhere.Being timid to fight him out and with none to support,she chose to live the life of a drudge.Her husband never came near her eversince that woman came to live with them.Suseela was surprised as Nalini was not pretty, short and stout with a broad nose while Champaka was charming to look at. It was a pathetic story that Suseela would keep telling her husband and seek his advice as to how to make Champaka’s life better.He didn’t evince much interest.
Meanwhile Suseela observed that Nalini was frequenting the opposite house where a teacher lived.He was in his mid thrities, a bachelor and also practised Homoepathy as a hobby during evening hours.She had noticed that the young man was constantly at his window staring at Champaka’s house,evidently to catch a glimpse of Nalini.She heard from Champaka that Nalini was getting treated by the teacher for a chronic stomach ailment.But Suseela had her doubts as she found Nalini lingering for long time in his house and also frequented only when her man had gone out on work.She felt that some romance must be brewing between them.
She pitied Champaka who worked like a servant and rarely went out except to the temple.Her only diversion was to watch the road standing by the window while her husband and Nalini were away or together inside before TV.When Suseela nudged her husband to do something,he saiid that nothing can be done as long as there was no bigamy or a complaint from wife.Suseela was praying god that Nalini soon ran away with the teacher and leave Champaka in peace with her husband.
As if in answer to her prayer she heard one fine morning from her husband who returned from temple that the teacher had eloped with a woman in the adjacent house.Suseela thanked the God profusely happy that the days of hardship and privation for her friend Champaka was over.When Champaka did not come till the evening to announce the happy denouement, Suseela went to her houe to share her joy with her.
When she entered, she was shocked to find Nalini sitting with that man.When she asked “Is Champaka there?”, Nalini smiled with a smirk on her face and said ‘Don’t you know about the secret love affair between your friend and the teacher?She had run away with him last night.”
“A good riddance” she mumbled thinking happily for Champaka