Raman returned to his desk, Boss gave him a dressing down. The reports weren’t good enough for tabling to senior management. The reports need to be redone and submitted early next day. Collating so much data on an absolutely different power point may take him a lot of hours. He knew exactly he had to carry work home that night.
Heartbroken that he already was, it had been exactly a year since Shama left him broken emotionally and deprived of real love that he always thought he had for her. Raman sat down with his head in his hands, the coffee he got from the pantry had gone cold and he probably even dozed off, staring at the laptop screen blankly in those moments.
Packing his stuff and desk stationery, headed for home at 7-ish. Reached back, flung his laptop bag, tiffin carrier on dining table and straight in for a hot shower. Nero, the little Dachshund, didn’t get his customary hug; lay outside the bathroom whining slowly. Raman heard Nero but avoided as he knew Nero will be at the receiving end of his foul mood. Nero sensed it as Raman emerged from the bath; he quietly went to his little rug in front of the TV which he knew would get switched on any moment. It was not to be tonight.
Raman poured a Chivas on the rocks, opened his lappy, his mind wandered again and he sat blank faced reminiscing that evening when he returned home from the airport after he missed the Bangalore flight.
Having paid the cabbie, picked the flowers he got enroute, still 3 days for their 5th anniversary, he would be gone, may be back on time for a party. Quietly tip toed the garden path, careful not to soil his shoes, used his spare keys to open main door. He was sure Shama would be sleeping as usual in afternoons till 5:30, then her cuppa light tea before going for an evening walk.
He saw the soiled lunch table, didn’t realise there were dishes for two, it didn’t strike him. He had left in the morning with his bags for office from where he went to the airport. He walked passed lightly patting Nero to remain quiet, opened the bedroom door and heard a huge scream from Shama : “Who is there?”
Raman : “It’s me, my dear!”
But then he was aghast to see Rakesh in bed and both absolute in their skins and nothing more.
Didn’t take him much to realise, unashamedly Rakesh began dressing up in full view she lay half covered in the sheer cotton sheet. Raman asked her to dress up and come to the living room. He was crying, yes, like a baby, waited sitting on the sofa, his hands holding his head, just like he sat in office some hours back, when Boss gave a piece of his mind.
Both sat on the dining table, Raman could see them holding hands under the table. Felt absolutely disrespected and tormented at those pictures that floated in front of him frame by frame. Before he asked what was happening, Shama said she was fond of Rakesh, he made her feel complete. Raman looked at Rakesh and stared blankly, not a word between them, and she wanted to make her love confession to him right now.
“Well, then go on”, Raman said.
Shama began, “It was 2 years back, we’d to go for a picnic to Bhandardhara. I wasn’t well, but you had to go as the office team was going after you got increments“.
“Rakesh came minutes after you left, to ask if you wanted to accompany him since he was driving alone, but you had left so and asked if I wanted to go with him. I told him that I had already said I wasn’t well, but we decided to drive to Lonawala. ”
Raman, “Rakesh, you said next day in office about your car breakdown, aaah!
Shama continued, “ We were together at Lonawala water falls for a few hours, had some Beers, then he came to drop me home, I invited him to lunch and freshen himself before leaving and then. ”
“It’s been like this ever since on most afternoons, but I love you too, a lot”, Shama was now kind of being expressive.
The rest was told in much detail, every episode was delivered shamelessly and Raman sat there dumbfounded.
Nero, now between his legs, he shivered at the touch, maybe woke up, his hand moved so fast that it got the scotch glass that fell off the table. Nero rushed to the liquid but sniffed and returned to his broken master.
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