Nandini highly qualified and employed in a multinational company worked from home. She was busy through the day talking to clients from different parts of the world according to their time zone. Her husband Sundar, a classmate in the business school, worked for another company in senior position. He came home late, tired and exhausted, and would hit the bed after a quick dinner and doze away before TV for a while with her. An introvert and a homebird, he liked to relax at home with beer bottle on weekends.Nandini, a gregarious and sociable person looked forward to weekends to go out, eat and watch movies or spend time in social parties. Married for five years, they had no children. Life turned out to be very mechanical with no love or warmth that she longed for. All her attempts to change him failed. But he was basically a good chap concerned about her.
One afternoon after a long conversation with a client in the Middle East, she kept the phone down when it tinkled again.
“Hey, Is it Nandini?I am Swapan your college mate..Rohini gave me your number. I have come on tour here”
“Wow, Swapan, I am so excited to hear your same robust voice. How have you been? Where do you work?
“I am in an American bank. I will be here for two days. Are you free? Why don’t you come to Coffee day near Hotel Samrat.I wish to meet you? You used to be a great beauty during college days. Are you working anywhere? I heard you are married. Come at 4pm.We can talk for two hours” he talked continuously
She smiled and remembered him as a handsome, gregarious, bright and flirty chap.”OK,I will be there at 4PM sharp
When she reached the hotel at 4, he was in the lounge waiting for her. He looked handsomer in his formal suit, a little chubbier but with the same twinkle in his eyes. He shook her hands warmly and led her to the table at a secluded corner without releasing her hand. He took off the coat and loosened the tie.
While she was lost in thoughts about how he professed his love for her and proposed to her when the college had ended and her turning him down saying they are yet to complete education and settle down in a career,she was broken from her reverie when she heard him tell “You have changed a lot and frankly I was not expecting this"
Shocked she asked him “Why, do I look older or fatter or wrinkled? You look much nicer and the boyish features of college days and the mustache have all disappeared." She added with a giggle "You look like Hrithik”
"Thanks, but you are vastly changed" he insisted
"Could be with five years of monotonous married life, I may no more look presentable" she said with a sigh
"Far from it, infact you look mature than when I saw you last but ravishingly more beautiful. This is whole truth and nothing but truth" he laughed
"Thank you. Are you married and how many kids?"
"No, I loved one girl but she declined me. I decided not to marry"
"Oh, oh, when did you meet her and why should any sensible girl reject you? Any colleague of yours?"
“You are not listening carefully. I said one girl and you know the only one" he let out a guffaw
Nandini's face became red with shyness. She slowly said “In retrospect I think I made a mistake then. Fate is cruel sometimes"
"Why, what happened? Aren’t you happy?" he asked. When she kept silent, he came adjacent to her, held her hands gently and prodded her to be open." You know I am your ardent well wisher. Tell me in detail"
Tears trickled from her eyes and slowly she narrated the humdrum life she was living with everything mechanical."There is hardly any laughter and he is busy always with work or tours. He doesn't object to my going out or spending. He is not a suspicious guy and really a good man but a poor husband. I hope you get the drift"
“Five years is a long period. If he has not kept you happy, why continue this façade? Call it quits and choose a life of your own. You will find one who will be too glad to marry you and keep you always happy” Swapan suggested.
“Swapan,I did consider it though you were nowhere in the picture. But Sundar is a kind hearted and good man. I did not have the heart to shatter him. May be after meeting you I think I should talk to him. Please give me some time.”
“Be sure I am always waiting for you. I will come next month. I can even shift permanently here. Please get it done fast”
That night she spoke to Sundar telling him that she found her life drab and wished to separate amicably. She stressed there was nothing against him but they were different by nature and that he can do little to make her life meaningful.
“I do not know whether you have any one in mind. I would beg of you to consider one suggestion. We both can live separately for two months. We will vacate this four bed roomed apartment. I will get you a 3 room apartment and a two room for myself in different buildings in the same complex. If at the end of two months you still feel the need to leave me, I will let you go. Give me a week for me to make arrangements” Sundar said
Exactly after a week, he took her to an apartment in the adjacent building. What she saw baffled her.He must have put an interior decorator to help in the arrangements. It had everything new from furniture to curtains. The modular kitchen, with dishwasher a big fridge and a washing machine, a treadmill for her to exercise, big TV in living room and smaller one in her bed room with music systems in both places all made up for good living. Nothing was left out including the utensils.
“Do you like it?” he asked
“Fabulous but why did you spend a fortune on this? How can you be sure this will be my permanent abode?”
“Never mind. I want you happy. You can move in tomorrow. I have taken holiday and arranged helpers”
“What about yours? Can I have a look at it? she asked
He took her to a small apartment of a single bedroom and hall.It was furnished in Spartan manner with basic things.”You have been miserly for your apartment but splurged on mine. Why did you do it?”
“Because I love you. Frankly I did not know that you were unhappy. It was a shock yesterday. But the decision would be purely yours as you are the one wanting to leave.
That night she was tossing in her bed thinking whether what she contemplated was right. Was it not possible by slight adjustment to make their lives happy? She put her arm over him but he was sound asleep.
The next day morning Sundar woke up to the aroma of coffee with Nandini standing before him fresh after a shower.”Good morning, there is a slight change in the plan. The helpers would move all our things to the three roomed apartment. You will surrender the smaller one and let out this one. We will try to make our lives happy in the new place”
Sundar jumped with joy and pulled her to the bed
Three months later Sundar asked her jokingly “Why did you change your mobile number after we moved here? Have you made any decision? How can I help you?”
“Yes, there is plenty to do. You need to take me to a doctor. I have nausea” she said with a happy and mischievous smile.