Her mobile rang. It was from her ex boy friend. She ignored the call and deleted the missed call. It rang again and again many times. There were five missed calls she had deleted and he should have known that she was not interested. Then a tinkle for a sms message.”Swetha, I am having high fever and shivering since evening. Can you please come for a few minutes to help me”? She deleted that also
Arun was living in the adjacent block in the same Purva Mantri complex. She never met him after they broke up. She was happily married to Suresh both in the same IT line but in different offices. He was aware of Swetha’s past friendship with Arun and why they broke up. Her parents never liked Arun from day one, his parents had separated and married again and he belonged to a different community with different eating habits. It was only after striking friendship with him that she came to know he has had many girl friends and ditched them one after the other whenever a better one came along. She had observed his roving eyes and decided to sever her relationship much to his annoyance.
He was now pleading sick and needed help. It could be a ruse but what if it were true she wondered. May be she could go and size up the situation and have a doctor called or have him admitted in ER.But what deterred her was that it was past 730 pm and he was alone in his apartment. Further Suresh had gone for a party and was expected only around 11pm.She gave him a ring but there was no response.
When she finally went to his place, the door was not locked. She gently opened the door to find him lying down on the sofa in the drawing hall. He had a pillow and had covered himself with several bed sheets and a blanket. The light was on as also the TV on subdued volume.
“What happened, Arun?”she asked
“Since evening I am having terrible shivering, body pain and I think I have fever”
“Why didn’t you go to doctor? Have you eaten anything?”
“I took a paracetamol and hoped it would subside. I haven’t taken any food. Tell me if I have temperature”
She felt his forehead and found it warm. She also noticed an electric warmer by his side to keep him from shivering.”Okay, let me heat some milk and give you along with bread”
She went inside boiled the milk and came with a tray containing glass of milk and toasted bread.
He ate the bread and drank the milk.”I am having splitting head ache. Would it be too much to ask you press my forehead?”
“I may have to hurry up as my husband would be back anytime .I will press for a few minutes” She sat in a chair and pressed his forehead as he kept looking at her with a wry smile on his face.
Suddenly he said “I wish we had not broken up. At least you can keep visiting me once a while”
She abruptly got up and said “I am leaving. There is no point in discussing the past and that it is best we do not meet. I came only because you said you were unwell”.
As she was walking back to her block, she saw Suresh coming towards her to her surprise and shock.
“The security in our block told me he saw you walking hurriedly towards the adjacent block. So I came looking for you. What was it and whom did you visit?”
She narrated to him what all had happened and that she left him as he was feeling better. As they were climbing the stairs to their apartment, there was a beep in her mobile. She turned to her husband and said “It is again from him asking me to come urgently. We are not going. Let him take the help of security”
Suresh said “No, let us go and have look. In case he needs medical help, let us take him to ER”
This time the door was locked and after they pressed the bell, he opened the door and said to Suresh with a big laugh “What a surprise to see you also along with Swetha”
The sofa was clean with no pillows or blankets. There was a beer bottle with two glasses on the table. The TV was on. There was no evidence of his sickness and he was in T shirt and well groomed hair. Suresh looked at Swetha questioningly
“Arun, when I came here a few minutes back you were shivering and said you had fever. You had covered yourself with many bed sheets and blanket. You said you had taken paracetamol.I boiled milk for you and gave you with bread. How come you seem ok in a few minutes? Why did you text me to come urgently?”
“Who unwell, me? Are you day dreaming? You came to spend some time with me saying your husband had gone out. You left abruptly and so I sent a message whether you would like to come again if free”
“You dirty liar” exploded Swetha and dragged Suresh to kitchen to show the vessel in which she had boiled milk. The sink was dry and clean with no vessels. She was dumbfounded and crying fell on the chest of Suresh telling him “Trust me, He is lying to sow a doubt in your mind”
Suresh led her out of the house even when Arun was having a mischievous sneer on his face. On the way to their apartment he consoled her and said “I trust you implicitly. I know he is a scoundrel. Never go to his place again”
It was two days later, Swetha had gone to her parent’s place on a Sunday .When she returned in the evening there was a commotion outside Arun’s block. When she went to her apartment, Suresh said “Do you know Arun had committed suicide? I heard that he did it possibly consuming sleeping tablets along with beer. Serves him right, isn’t it?”
When she turned to look at her husband, she saw a happy smirk on his face. She was confused. As she opened her fridge to take milk for making tea, she found the beer bottle missing.