Sunita was cruising along at a steady speed towards the beach resort. It was still an hour’s drive away. The weather was fine and she could feel a sense of relief and freedom from the monotony of her humdrum life. She was in no hurry to return back and was looking forward to enjoy every moment of her stay for a fortnight or more sun bathing, swimming and jet skiing. There was practically no traffic as this was not a holiday season and it suited her as she did not want a crowd in the resort.
Her marriage was a total failure. She failed to notice that her husband was diametrically opposite to everything she cherished. She loved travel, books, eating out and music of all genres. He hated each one of them and liked playing cards for stakes with friends at the club. He came late only to sleep occasionally waking her up for satiating his physical needs. She hated him, his very sight and even his things. The irony of it is that it was not an arranged marriage but one after loving. He was a consummate actor hiding his true nature during courtship.
She smiled when she thought of the resort and the care free days ahead that she had planned. It was then one of the rear tyres went flat and she stopped at the edge of road. She felt lonely in the desolate road when the car was stationary and decided to wait for a passing car. As she sat there with her eyes closed, she heard a knock on the door.
“Hey, I think you need help in changing the tyre” sad a policeman. She saw the police car on the other side.
“Yes. I need to go up to the beach resort”
“Come out and open the boot. I will take the stepney”
“There is no spare tyre.You may have to tow the car”
“That is too far. Leave the car here. We can ask an Automobile Association man to attend to the problem.”.
I can drop you at the resort. Let us transfer your things into my car. Open the boot” he said
She was hesitating “What is the problem? You are not going to beach resort without any clothes for change and other personal things. Give me the key for the boot. It is getting late. Show me your license” he urged her
“I have a bag with my dresses and other things in the rear seat. No need to open the boot”
“As a police officer I insist on your opening it for me to see” he said with some acerbity
When she opened the boot and he found a big steel trunk, he asked “Are steel trunks still in vogue for taking on a holiday to beach resort?”He tried to nudge it and found it quite heavy.”What does it contain?”
Her face became pale and beads of perspiration appeared on her forehead. She managed to say “What if it is a steel trunk? It is my choice. They contain some personal things.”
“It is heavy for personal things unless you carry a grinding stone. What is that red thing at the bottom of the box? Looks like blood”
“Oh, that.My husband cut his index finger while loading the box in the boot” Sunita replied casually
“Ok then. Can I have a word with your husband? Give me his mobile number and the phone”
“Hello, I am patrol officer on highway N20 a little before the fork and near gas station. Your wife is stranded here with a flat tyre and has no stepney. I could not catch your name. What is that?”
“Brahma Gupta.It is nice of you that you are there to help. Assure her that I will come within an hour with all necessary things. You don’t have to wait. Thanks for the help”
“How is your thumb? I heard you got it hurt while closing the door”
“It is minor. I should have been careful when closing. I have put band aid on my thumb. Thank you I will be there in an hour. You may leave, Sir. Can I have a word with my wife?”
“No need. I will tell her. Please come double quick”. He turned to her and said “Let me get you some coffee that I have in my flask” and left with her phone in his hand.
“Have the coffee. I have a few questions to ask you before my colleagues join me” he said
“I don’t need coffee” she replied and started crying.
“Why do you cry? I just wanted to seek your clarifications .Drink it. You will be in better frame of mind”
After she drank, he asked “This car belongs to Brahma, your husband. The sticker in the rear shows his name”
“Yes, it is his”.
You said he cut his index finger but he tells it is his thumb. A minor difference in details”
“Sorry, I could have been wrong”
“It happens. But the injury was while closing the door and not when trunk was put. Anyway there is another thing that is intriguing. Your driving license says Sunita Agarwal.But your hubby is Brahma Gupta”
“That is my maiden name. I haven’t changed”
“OK, ok .I wonder where is Agarwal tucked up” he said with a chuckle
“What do you mean?”she asked with fear writ large on her face
“Nothing. We will know presently. I am sure you will open the boot after your hubby comes with my colleagues”
Sunita started crying inconsolably.