There was always riot of laughter in the common room for women in that office.The employees often escaped the boredom of the files at their work place by rushing here for the fun and gossip that is found never in dearth.You could see clusters of ladies talking animatedly or loudly or in hushed tones depending on the explosive nature and the secrecy that shrouded the matter. It could hover around a plain topic like the new hairstyle of the staid Angela or the plunging neckline of vampish Vanita or the stale smell of upma laced with heavy dose of hing that emanated from Soundarya’s lunch box or just the rude behaviour of the manager Manickavasagam or the unctuous smile and double entendres of the aged Muthuswamy iyer.But more often than not the chatter revolved over the known Romeos and stylish hunks of the office on who they flirted with currently and who are their likely quarries.Some even boasted of their dates with them.There were a few prudes who pretended not to be paying attention to what is being said but their ears actually tuned sharp not to miss even one word.It is in this room that reputations are made or marred as nothing escaped their hawk-like eyes and wide mouths.
However we are concerned about Namitha in the same office who has fallen in love with Sekhar her colleague, a handsome chap who was quiet and deep.Very few know about him as he kept his counsel to himself. Namitha was attracted to him when one day he offered to help her reconcile some discrepancy in her work.They stayed late and it took much effort to locate the mistake.That was about a year back and since then she has been dating him.Whenever she broached the subject of marriage, he was evasive and pleaded for some time till his younger sister got married.He never took her to his home and kept his love for her away from his parents.There was one thing that bothered her.He was miserly by nature and whatever gifts he gave her were cheap stuff.Namitha’s parents were affluent and she was accustomed to use only classy things.Even this she did not mind but was upset about what he did two weeks back.They took a day off from work and left for Mahabalipuram on his motorbike to spend the day amongst the rock temples and the beach.When it was lunch time they came to an expensive restaurant for food .He ordered many items and it was a fabulous lunch. When the bill came Sekhar had gone away.She then remembered he always did so making her pay and quite often plead that he had inadvertently forgotten his purse or the card.She paid for the lunch and when he returned he took no notice of her settling the bill nor did he mention one word of apology.
Namitha pulled out Savita another colleague from the common room and said to her“I wish to talk something personal in private with you.” She knew Savita was an ex friend of Sekhar and that they moved away after a short but intense friendship.
“Tell me Namith what I can do for you” she asked
“It is about Sekhar.You are aware of my friendship with him for more than a year.There are two things that worry me.I wish to seek your advice.” Namitha said
“Proceed, I am listening” Savitha replied
Whenever I broach about marriage he recedes into his shell and tells about his sister’s pending marriage.Ihave a suspicion he just wants to prolong the friendship without any commitment.Secondly I find him tight fisted.He never opens his purse and makes me pay for all expenses.Though I can afford I do not want to be tied to a stingy person.I am also not sure whether he is open with me as many times I find his mobile switched off for long time” Namitha said.
“I am not surprised.Let me take you to Sukanya who put me wise about that rogue before I broke away from him.”
Sukanya laughed when she heard from Savitha and said “So you are the new prey.He is a scoundrel of the first water.He has no sister and it is all hogwash.He will have the fun with many girls at their expense.With his meagre salary he cannot entertain the many girls with whom he has liaison.He should be thrown out but I have a suggestion before you ditch him”
Three days later Namitha took him to a five star hotel saying she wanted to celebrate the Valentine spirit.She ordered a lavish dinner and some costly drinks for him..She giggled and made him think she was an easy lay.Just before the last course she excused herself to the restroom.Sekharr happily enjoyed the drink dreaming about the pleasant time ahead.When the server brought the bill, she was not to be seen.He waited for nearly 30 minutes and there was no trace of her..This time he truly neither had his purse nor the credit card.The rumour doing the rounds in the women’s common room was that he was in a real soup at the hotel unable to shell out five thousand and odd rupees and that Namitha wisely ditched him as if he was a plague.