It was hot and sultry outside. Sarala switched on the AC and sank in the plush sofa with the newspaper in hand. It was then the doorbell chimed to annoy her as she rushed to open the door.
“Wow, Vinitaa,” screamed Sarala and added,” Welcome, how sweet of you to have traced me after ages? True, we talked on phone a couple of times but could meet only now.” Sarala gushed with warmth even as they hugged each other.
“What a pleasant surprise! You haven’t changed much in these ten years though quite plump. You must be very happy with your life,” exclaimed Sarala with a chuckle.
“Don’t imagine you have a perfect figure, Saral. I can see clearly the folds in your stomach,” Vinita replied with a mock disdain. ” First, let me make myself comfortable in the sofa. I have so much to talk to you. Get me something cold to slake my thirst,” said Vinita.
Sarala could not miss the smug smile on Vinita’s face as she sipped Pepsi with her hand on Sarala’s shoulder. The cool air and the cooler Pepsi raised her spirits further. This was the first time they had met after they left the college and parted ways. They were roommates who had no secret between them. Sarala could see a curious sense of accomplishment in her face and her eagerness to share the news.
“Vinita, you seem somewhat different from your usual self. It looks as if you are bursting to tell me something. What is happening?”
“Did you say I seem happy with my life? The truth is I am happy only today but not with my life,” replied Vinita with a mischievous grin and added,” True, I have come to confide in you something serious, Saral, as I always did. I know you keep secrets safe. It will also calm my agitated mind to a great extent.”
“Oh! Take your time. Want some more Pepsi or fruit juice?” asked Sarala.”
“Yes, some Pepsi. Hold your breath. I betrayed my husband this morning knowingly and was happy to do it. A vile creature, I hate him from the bottom of my heart and took my revenge in a sweet way.”
Sarala was shocked and was rendered speechless for a few seconds. “What are you blabbering, Vinita? Are you really in your senses?”
“Yes, very much in sound mind. I wreaked my vengeance for what he has been doing to me all these years. An incurable alcoholic, he has been of no use to me and was treating me like a door mat and trampling on all my wishes and dreams. Though he was doing well as a lawyer when I married him, he gradually became a sidekick to an important political leader and has since been doing all nefarious and illegal activities. I was against it since beginning and asking him to commence his practice safe in some other state. Instead he has been torturing me for years to be an accomplice in his various activities and I have been putting up with the nonsense not knowing what to do. The last straw was when he slapped me last week in the presence of everyone at a family function. He was out to prove to those wretched people of his that he had me under his thumbs” replied Vinita.
” Serves him right, though I do not agree even a bit with what you did. How come you got this crazy idea? Has a devil taken control of your mind? Who was the guy anyway?” asked Sarala.
Vinita refused to answer saying she was bound by a promise she made to him. All the efforts of Sarala proved of little avail. She would not tell except that she knew him in a birthday party at her friend’s house. I met him subsequently once or twice at his office as I felt he could be the ideal guy for my plan.
“How does he look?” asked Sarala with some inquisitiveness.
“I don’t really understand why you are curious. Anyway, he is a tall, well-built hunk and ruggedly handsome.” she replied.
“My god, what name? Any prominent distinguishing mark? Do remember you never withhold any information.”
“You do not anyway need these. Sorry, I cannot divulge his name or any more details except that he had a big dark mole on his chin.”
“Can you at least tell me where this meeting took place?” asked Sarala
“Both of us wanted it to be very confidential for obvious reasons and met at a resort in Nilankarai.Why do you want to know all these details, Saral? I cannot tell his name but his surname is Dixit,” replied Vinita with a grin.
Vinita could see that Sarala became suddenly morose and her face turned pale for some reason that Vinita could not decipher.
Sarala ran inside her bedroom and came out with a mounted photograph of herself and her husband. “See this carefully and tell me whether this is the guy you met?”
It was a thousand volts shock that left Vinita speechless. Recovering slowly, she said, “Yes, it is him whom I met. I never knew he is your husband, not that it matters much. It can even be useful in some ways,”
Sarala remembered that her husband Mohan Dixit left early in the morning telling her that he had an urgent official meeting at Nilankarai. Has he stooped to such low levels, she wondered?
She suddenly screamed at Vinita,” You bitch, get away from my sight for ever. You had the cheek to snatch my husband for your nefarious deed and also dare to come and tell me. Fie upon you, you will go to hell”. She fell down on the sofa covering her face with both hands and started wailing inconsolably.
“Sarala, you have understood me completely wrong. What I betrayed is not what you think, it is the betrayal of the trust my vile husband had in me. I gave Mr. Dixit of revenue service, whom I did not know till now as your husband, all the information about my husband. I furnished him all the details I was in possession of my husband’s ill gotten money and properties, where they are hidden and who the benamies are. The information was divulged in strict secrecy. He is a perfect gentleman, fully aware that my life would be in danger has promised to safeguard my identity. I hope my man would go to jail and I will be free to move away from him and lead my life. I could not keep to myself such a momentous step I took and rushed to you to share. I can understand why you got upset,” softly and clearly explained.
Sarala stood dazed at the way things had unfolded and was struck by remorse at her hasty and rude reaction. She went down on her knees and holding Vinita’s hands genuinely pleaded for her pardon.