An unhealthy nation?
By Kumud Bhatnagar
It could not be called a sudden happening. It was brewing – rather simmering – for the last few months. Maya had observed a few peculiar changes in her husband Manish’s behaviour. He had become quite particular about his appearance, clothes, shoes, hair style and even after-shave lotions. He had accumulated quite a few brands of perfumes. Not that Manish was listless or lousy earlier. He was always well groomed and wore trendy stuff. After her marriage, with many other responsibilities Maya had started taking care of Manish’s wardrobe and toiletries etc, as well and he seemed to be quite complascent with the arrangement and her selection. Even when Maya asked for his choice he would tell her to pick up whatever she liked herself. He never found fault with her selection or bothered over the price either.
Being a sales executive he used to go on outstation tours quite often. Once in while he would pick up some speciality of a particular place either for Maya or the house and rarely anything for himself. But for the last few months, he had started buying shirts, suits, ties and shoes etc. Nothing exclusive but those popular brands which could be bought anywhere. Without Maya’s asking he himself told her for the need of anything else to do in the evenings, I go out for window shopping and pick his if anything catches the eyes.
He did not ask her how she liked his choice. Not even hair styled in the new trendy mushroom cut. When she herself commented on it, he casually replied, “On barber’s suggestion. I too opted to sail with the tide.”
Not that she had failed to observe a romantic aura around him, a dreamy misty look in his eyes to be exact, which she mistook for herself. Love being an infectious emotion engulfed her too. Not that Manish rebuffed her, he too responded with equal zeal and fervour but always with a far-away look in his eyes as if looking for a distant object from some other planet perhaps. And that craving look intensified whenever he was talking rather whispering on the mobile. Being a sales executive, he was supposed to receive and make a number of phone calls at any hour, as overseas parties could be contacted only at unearthy hours. Maya was accustomed to this and thought of these whisperings as a polite gesture, the foreigners speak that way.
She didn’t suspect anything even when he started coming late and quite often after having dinner, on the pretext that the meeting went on being stretched and big boss being a diabetic had to have some grub and shared it with others as well. Then meeting started to be held on week-ends too on the pretext of development and diversifications although bored with Manish’s being away for most of the time even when he was not on tour but in town, Maya did not complain. How could she ask him to ignore his work to give her his company? The things would have continued had there not been that devastating call from Stay Ahead, an exclusive and expensive men’s store.
The caller asked for MrMehra and politely informed that he could somehow procure the off-white brown striped jacket in MrMehra’s size, she was quite particular to have. Naturally, the disclosure benumbed her with shock but after thinking the caller, she managed to ask, “How could you get this number?”
“From Mr Manish Mehra’s business card, ma’am, I could have contacted him on mobile but thought it better to call you on landline as more than him you were quite keen to have that jacket in his wardrobe.”
“Oh how very thoughtful! Thank you so much,” she replaced the receiver and fell on the chair with a thud with her dream world crashing down with a bigger bang in thousand fragments on the hard ground of reality. So there was another woman, another MrsMehra to be exact! The diversification was not of office business but Manish’s own interests and life. He was simultaneously enjoying with two women. The two women were like two shores of a river and Manish was merrily swimming from one shore to the other. She was not sure of the other woman but she herself for sure was being taken for a ride.
She could not take it quietly lying down any more. She had to confront Manish right now. She was about to dial his number when better sense prevailed. She should collect more facts so that Manish could not blow away the charges as a figment of her imagination. But how could she find the truth and more facts? Yeah, Sanjeev could help her. Being Manish’s close friend, he must certainly be knowing about this clandestine affair. She herself was quite pally with Sanjeev and sure that would not conceal the truth from her. She phoned Sanjeev and invited him over for a chat just like that. She tried to keep herself composed all this while but when Sanjeev came, she could not control herself.
“What exactly is going on between my husband and that slut?” Maya’s patience was at its lowest ebb and she was ready to burst.