When Sekhar mentioned over morning coffee that he will be away at Washington for two days on official work, Veena demurred.She had never stayed alone in this place.Her house in Fort Lauderdale was independent though with many adjoining houses on both sides. She was by nature timid.
Sekhar said with finality ”Look honey, I cannot put off this tripI will leave tomorrow morning and will try to be away just for one night.I will be back by day after tomorrow night, you can be sure.You have to get adjusted to staying alone.There is absolutely no fear here.”
Veena woke up with a start when she heard a heavy truck pass through the road.Without moving she looked at the clock it was 1 am.Her child was fast asleep on the tiny cot by the side of their king size bed .When she opened her eyes fully and looked around , she was shocked to find a dark silhoutte of a man standing by the side of door .The room was dark as Veena never liked even the night light in her room as it disturbed her sleep.The street light that found its way through the curtained windows was adequate.It was clearly a tall young man and must be a burglar as he had no business to intrude in her bedroom at this hour.She did not move and had her eyes almosts closed as if she was asleep.She cursed Sekhar for having left her alone.The figure came close to the child and stood staring for a couple of minutes at the child and towards Veena.It then slowly tiptoed to another room.
Veena making sure the figure was not there, jumped out of the bed and locked the door.She rang up 911 seeking help.In a few minutes she heard four police cars with coloured lights blinking screeching to halt outside her house.There was dazzling light from the cars.She gained confidence when she saw through the curtain of the window the policemen approaching the door.As sh e was waiting for the bell to ring, she heard voices in the living room
“You say you didn’t call us.But we got the panic message clearly with this address.Who else are there in the house?” asked one of the policeman in gruff tone.
“My wife and childare sleeping on the first floor.There must be some mistake some where.”Veena heard someone telling
When she came down, she saw Sekhar and understood what had really happened.She explained to the policemen how she mistook the shadowy figure for some burglar as her husband was supposed to come only the next day.There were profuse apologies by Sekhar for the surprise he wanted to give his wife and the loud laughter at the gaffe as the policemen left.
“Why are you angry? I thought you will be happy at my return. I saw you both asleep and did not want to disturb.So I came to the living room and reading the unfinished novel.Come up and let us go to bed”said Sekhar
One month later Sekhar had to go to Newyork for one day.He promised to come back by next day evening.Veena was half asleep as she felt she heard her child making some noise.She found the child sleeping soundly.The clock struck 2 am.When she turned to the other side, she found the dark shadow standing near the door.Not to be taken in by her husband’s trick again, she smiled and said”I know you will come.I am waiting for you.Come and lie down by my side”
The shadow stood for a moment and then hesitantly moved towards her bed.
Sekhar was snoring heavily in his room on the 7th floor of Sheraton Manhattan at Newyork.