Again it was a dim evening. Madhavi stood in the balcony of her home at the eleventh floor, Parijat Apartment, located at the border of industrial area of Lower Parel, Mumbai. The set sun shone brightness on her face. Because of nearby industrial unit smoke, darkness descended very early. Just four or five years back here was the barren land but new flats and apartments gave it a new life now. Three old trees stood around Parijat Apartment. As the evening came birds sang happily over there.
This was the evening when time stood still. The clock hands became lazy and stumbled. Madhavi always felt evening as dry and cruel. Vinay always told her, ‘If you’re bored, there’s the TV, switch it on, stretch yourself on the sofa and the whole world would come to you.’ But she never could do it. And so loneliness rang all the time around her. Then se waited for Vinay in the evening. Her husband Vinay was the Senior Manager in Jhaveri Associates. Of course Madhavi too once upon a time worked as a clerk in the same firm but meagre salary, office hours, and tiring to and fro journey from Borivali to Parel made Vinay to suggest Madhavi leave the job and she followed it too.
After the evening darkness came down for Madhavi time of her loneliness and boredom ended. As the doorbell rang she was filled with life. The whole house turned live. ‘How was the day?’ Vinay with a smile asked her on his entry.
‘This very question I should ask you Vinay, you were out, I was here alone at home...’
He held her and, led her to sofa, made her sit and said, ‘I wasn’t alone and so were you. Aren’t we together all the time? See your Whats APP. Just two hours back how much we chatted! And Madhavi, you are always there in my mind possessing my soul.’
Before he says something more she would stop him and say, ‘Okay. Of course, it’s so but tell me what should I offer you with tea?’
‘Nothing. Only tea. Let’s go out today for dinner. We’ll enjoy.’
Her face showed brightness. She said, ‘But what the pleasure is?’
‘Should there be any reason, Madhavi? Without reason we remain happy that’s true happiness. Isn’t it?’
‘Oho, you seem to have become a philosopher today.’
‘Who cares philosophy My Love! I’m crazy in your love.’ To this Madhavi turned red. She held his hand asked, ‘I think you haven’t forgotten we’re married.’
He burst into laughter. The dry evening of sometime before turned into a colourful night with pink dreams.
At his home with Vinay was sitting Kaushal, his colleague. In the add break he muted TV and asked him, ‘All well at home Jamnagar?’
‘As it is. All well but tell me what’s it that you invited me for dinner?’
‘Nothing special. It’s just to have a share with you. Madhavi was to make Wedami – a sweet. I know you like it very much, that’s why.’
‘Absolutely right.... Vinay you are a very lucky to get such a wife as Madhavibhabhi. Especially her cooking. Simply fantastic! And her carrot halwa and Wedami full of ghee... Can’t resist such a delicacy.’
‘You’ll be lucky as well. Let there be your marriage.’
‘Sorrow dimmed his face. ‘Dear, you know. Even my younger brother got married three years back. But there’s something missing in me, otherwise parents have done everything. Now I’m over age and in my community it’s difficult to get a partner.’
He patted and consoled him. ‘Don’t be dismayed. For marriage there’s no expiry date.’
‘Before a few months my Father had been to Okha. It was a good family. They refused on the basis of my Mumbai job and especially of my over age.’
‘It’s okay Kaushal.’ In a consolatory tone Vinay said. Meanwhile madhavi pushed the dining passage curtain and said from there, ‘Both of you have whispered much. If it’s over, please come to the table. Dinner’s ready.’
Kaushal laghed and said, ‘Bhabhi, te sweet smell of Wedami made me more hungry. Myself ready.’ Madhavi served dishes to them and she also began with them.
Kaushal began to take the meal and asked, ‘Well, why didn’t Bhargav and Salonibhabhi turn up?’
Vinay responded, ‘I had told him in the office yesterday but they were to be at some of his relatives.’
Bhargav was seven to eight year elder than Vinay. Vinay, Bhargav, and Kaushal al three worked together in the Jhaveri Associates firm. They had a very good bonding. In a fast Mumbai life they had maintained rapport. At the initial stage Madhavi was also working with them.
No sooner they finished dinner and stretched on sofa, then Vinay’s mobile rang. It was the firm’s General Manager Mr. Joshi.
‘Yes Sir’ he said.
‘Vinay you’ve intimated your leave for tomorrow but you’ll have to be at the office. It’s urgent. A date has been fixed for a big dealing. Bhargav is also on leave.’
‘Sir I call back you within ten minutes.’
As the talk ended Kaushal asked, ‘What did he say?’
‘O dear a trouble. I took a leave for yesterday and the office demands me.there was a mail yesterday. A dealing with a party and we only two Bhargav and me. You know this work is handled by us only. Bhargav’s also on leave tomorrow. Just aminute Kausal...Let me call Bhargav.’
There was an appointment with Dr. Mitul. Madhavi’s gynaec. It was necessary to company her. He rang to Bhargav and informed him everything. He requested him to cancel his leave and attend the office. And so Bhargav got ready . As he unburden the office work Vinay thanked him. but Bhargav showed a bit anger and said, ‘Hey there’s no thanks in our friendship. Just we have to share our burden.’
Vinay then called back the Manager, ‘Sir I’ve appointment wit a gynaec for my wife. I won’t be able to go to the office but I’ve already arranged. I’ve talked to Bhargav. He’s ready to go. He’s cancelled his leave. He knows all the minute details of this dealing...’
‘No problem then. Okay see you. Good night.’
Vinay was relaxed now. Till late, Kaushal and he shared their feelings. Madhavi too talked with them. It was a wonderful time for them.
*****The next day Madhavi and Vinay were at the hospital. When they were sitting in the corridor there was a call from Kaushal. He moved out and responded. From the oter end came a desolate tone, ‘Vinay, please come quickly. Bhargav is serious. We are in the ambulance taking him to a hospital. Reaching soon there.’
The shock made Vinay dumbfounded. He went in informed her about it. He left her there and started for the other hospital.
In reality unbelievable mishap had taken place at the Jhaveri Associates office. As it was decided instead of Vinay, Bhargav had already reached the office. The dealing details were in filed in Vinay’s computer. Both of them knew each other’s passwords. He sat down on a chair in Vinay’s cubical and turned on the computer. Hardly hedid log in the computer. With a bang, tearing down the P.O.P., did fall a slab piece over his head. The office looked gorgeous but the whole complex was old and weak. Bhargav had only head injury but the wound was very terrible.
He bleed there and lost consciousness.
When Vinay reached the hospital, Bhargav’s wife Saloni also reached there leaving behind their three year daughter at the neighbour’s house. The staff members crowded the place. As Kaushal saw Vinay he went to him and shook his head. His eyes were wet. Before he frees his hands and move ahead Kaushal in a painful voice said, ‘Bhargav is no more now.’
He froze down and stood like a statue. Speechless. How it’s possible so suddenly such a big mishap take place? And how a bosom friend can within no time depart from this world?
Then a few hours passed very quickly. Saloni lost her heart when she came to know the reality. She had to be admitted. In the evening with the smoke of burning body a complete world was lost. Vinay was very much upset. Various thoughts possessed him. It seemed that he would lose his mind. At the center of all his thoughts was his guilty consciousness. He had to be at the office. Because of his request Bhargav had gone to there. He sat down at his own place and... He began to regret. He hated himself. Because of him, Bharagv had lost his soul. When Madhavi came to know all this, she to burst into tears.
Everything was torn down by His cruel knife. The time never stops for any one. But there remained a regret in Vinay’s heart. The sorrow then slowly melted. Six months passed by and the routine also came into order as if nothing and happened! Kaushal now sometimes came at Vinay’s home.
*****Madhavi had noted a couple of changes in Vinay that came after a few months back. She felt that he talked a little with her. The other was that from the office he came late twice or trice in a week. She waited for him sitting in the flat balcony. On a side set down the sun and on the other smoke of nearby factories and industrial units made the sky dirty. She would ring to him and he gave only one answer, ‘The office has more work.’
It was a matter of that day when he reached home at nine. As soon as she opened the door she asked , ‘Why it’s getting so late Vinay?’
He became angry, ‘Madhavi please let me in first. And it seems that you have investigated that I’m only getting late. You shouldn’t forget that I’m the Senior Manager.’
You’re a responsible husband as well, don’t forget it. It’s your home, me your wife and many home responsibilities...All these things too don’t forget...’
Madhavi’s such a response made him wrathful. Both of them quarrelled and he without taking dinner went into his room, switched off the light and slept. After this too, his late coming turned into some quarrels. It was the fifth month of her carrying. Whatever it may be but her sixth sense told her that Vinay’s hiding something from her. She was turning into a doubtful woman.
On an evening Vinay didn’t returned in the evening. While she was at the firm, she had befriended Maya Sharma. Right now she rang up to her. She asked the reason of Vinay’s coming late from the office. According to Maya, Vinay never stays late in the office. As usual on time he left with everyone.
‘Any problem with you Madhavi?’ Maya’s question made her weep. Finally a woman couldn’t keep her secret to another woman. Maya told her, ‘In office it’s gossip that Vinay’s often going to Bhargav’s wife Saloni. Of course a few people know it. Everybody doesn’t know. You know our Dispatch Department ‘s clerk Mr. Shinde’s her neighbour. He told it...’
As if the lightning struck upon Madhavi. Will it be an affair between them? What’s missing in me that he’s to visit her? Bhargav was his friend and so was Saloni hers... She felt giddiness.
On that night she thought much on the matter before he came back. But she didn’t say anything. For Vinay she had no feelings now. She began to hate him.
*****She had decided it yesterday night and according to her plan without any intimation she reached to Saloni’s house at noon. She thought to threaten Saloni for coxing Vinay.she would tell it in the evening to Vinay and then she would leave the home forever. She rang the doorbell. For a while she thought Saloni more beautiful than her as she saw her thin, tall, fair, and beautiful figure before her. But she pushed back such a thought.
‘Oh, Madhavi! You here? Welcome, please welcome.’ She welcomed her . They mutually addressed themselves with their names not with ‘bhabhi’.
‘Had to come because of you and Vinay’ she said in a dry tone.
‘First of all you be seated please... Let me offer you water...’ she tried to smile and said.
‘Haven’t come for it.’ Now wrath mixed up in her tone. ‘I’ve come to say that...’
‘Okay. I also have to say something to you Madhavi.’
‘What’s left now?’
‘I say that since last three or four months Vinaybhai’s persuading me....’
‘I should remarry....With that Kaushal. He’s all the time telling it to me.’
Now it was Madhavi’s turn for a surprise.
Saloni continued, ‘Vinaybhai’s coming often here and tells me to remarry. He says that kaushal is a very good man. He would make me happy. I shouldn’t waste my life as Bhargav’s widow. And so on...’
‘Oh, is it so?’
‘I think you’ve also come to say the same thing... I’m sure Vinaybhai has sent you... I don’t know what to do.’
With the revelation of the mysterious thing, a heavy burden from Madhavi’s heart was lifted up. Happiness brought tears into her eyes and she tried to hide them.
Warmly she held Saloni’s hand, ‘Vinay’s rigt. He’s always right. I also know Kaushal. He would be a true father to your Tina. Saloni you do remarry with him...’
After a few hours when Madhavi set off for her home her mind was lost into deep thoughts. It may be that Vinay believes himself responsible for Bhargav’s death, so he may be trying to bring her out of that painful condition. But he made only a mistake. He wished to keep it secret from the other people and in doing so he hid it from too. Had he told it to me than this smoke of misunderstanding might have dispersed at earliest.
*****From the market Madhavi brought a favourite sweet Badampuri and in the evening stood i waiting for him. from the balcony the sky today seemed clear, smokeless.
She muttered herself, ‘I love you very much, Vinay.’