Resentment towards her was one thing that had kept me energized these past two months, and my very existence now depended on seeing her ruined.
I hope her husband kills her!
I had plotted a fool proof plan for revenge against the woman who had stolen my husband. I sat at a corner table a Cranberry Bacardi Breezer in front of me, keeping an eye on the entrance so that I wouldn’t miss Ronit Saluja when he came in. The Purple Haze Lounge Bar was in a friendly neighbourhood and was frequented by working men and women on their way home from work to indulge in a drink or two, and to play their favourite songs on an old jukebox.
I had no idea what the man looked like – big and muscular, thin and scrawny, stout or short, no doubt a typical working man, and just as naïve as some husbands are about their so called faithful wives waiting at home.
That’s why I was waiting here at the lounge bar even though it made me very uncomfortable and I generally shied away from such places. I don’t drink as a rule, but here, I boldly ordered a Bacardi and a vegetable satay. And I was amazed to see pretty and sexy girls with clinging tops serving at the bar, no wonder men came here so often.
Every few minutes I picked up the bottle and gingerly touched the chilled liquid with the tip of my tongue pretending to enjoy my drink.
I was going to tell Ronit Saluja all about that wife of his. I could feel the rage twisting through me like a knife.
Easy, easy does it now, I warned myself. You’ve already been through the anger and tears bit. The main thing now was to expose Nandita Saluja’s escapades.
Every time the door opened, the men drinking and biting into their snacks at the bar counter called out good-natured greetings to whoever came in. These men were old hands here; it appeared that they knew everyone who frequented this place. And I hoped they would greet Ronit Saluja the same way.
When I had called his workplace this morning with my trumped up story about being a long lost cousin passing through the city, his colleague who had answered the phone volunteered with the information that Ronit was attending a meeting which could go on the whole day, but I could definitely catch up with him at the Lounge bar around nine.
“You won’t miss him if you wait there,” he had assured me. “Rain or shine good old Ronit will be at the Purple Haze. It’s a ritual he never misses.”
Good old Ronit, well-liked, dependable, a hard worker – solid virtues for a husband to have, but it appeared that was not exciting enough for Nandita Saluja.
Maybe Ronit didn’t have dark eyes and a deep voice and a slow sexy smile like my Kunal. Maybe Ronit did not know how to make the woman happy and excited every time he came near her.
I will never forget the day I got wise to them. I was going through the pockets of Kunal’s old coat, planning to give it to the Sisters of Charity when I found the letter.
“Last time it was so wild and sweet, Kunal,” she had written. “Just thinking about it makes me hungry for you. I don’t know how I can wait till Ronit’s next trip.”
Now I know why Kunal had been so pre-occupied lately, short-tempered and critical of everything I did.
All the years we were married, I had tried to please my handsome husband by keeping a lovely home and raising a fine family and he had rewarded me by having an affair!
Once this knowledge came to light, I went through Kunal’s cupboard, shelf by shelf, and found hidden notes and letters, and I had found out where Ronit worked from one such letter written by Nandita. After I had gotten over my initial outrage, I had decided that the best way to punish Nandita Saluja would be to tell her husband. I would show him the letters and let him take it from there. And, as for Kunal, by the time he got home a week from today, kids and I would be gone.
I tried to picture Kunal, finger on the call bell and no answer from within. Waiting, removing the key from his briefcase and entering an empty house. There would be no toys to stumble over – we have had some nasty arguments over it. For once the television would be off and no constant ringing of the phone. Instead, he would be met by silence and emptiness.
Well, Kunal could find a cook to work in his kitchen easily enough, and of course, with me and the children out of the way, Nandita would be there to share his bed.
I pushed the offending Bacardi away. The music from the jukebox was loud and jarring, giving me a head ache. What happened to all that soft and sweet music? I wondered. It was twenty after nine. Where was Ronit Saluja?
I tried to collect my thoughts, wondering what kind of a job a divorced woman could get after eleven years of doing nothing but cooking and housework for a man she loved and who expected her to drop whatever she was doing, or let the kids fight and tear each other’s hair out when he felt in the mood for sex. And if I showed unwillingness or said no, he would get angry.
“I’m your husband, damn it! Not just a paying guest around here.” And if that wouldn’t work he would say, “Once you always wanted me Anu, what’s happened now. Found someone else have you?”
He had actually been jealous of our kids, my friends, and the social work I was involved with.
“Okay, so I want you to drop everything when I am around,” he’d admit. “Isn’t that a husband’s right?”
When we had first been married I had given in under those so called rights, wanting to make him happy. Every time he snapped his fingers I was there with a smile and eager to please. I didn’t think twice when he decided to study further in order to climb up the ladder in the business world. I took up a job willingly to support us, so that he could attend college free of hassles. I’d been so glad and I thought we had a mutual goal. Kunal would get a good paying job and we’d buy a nice house and raise a family.
But when the dream came true, Kunal decided that he was not made out to be a blue collar executive sitting behind a desk for the rest of his life. Instead he talked about quitting his high-paying job, and take up another with a multi-national where he would be travelling far and wide for a major part of the year.
I thought he had gone crazy, and told him so. When I flatly refused to even listen to such nonsense, he shouted and threw things around; when that didn’t work he threatened to walk out. I finally gave in on one condition, that he gave one year to his present job, if he didn’t get the promotion he was looking for and got a transfer to the Sales and Marketing department in order to fulfill his dream of travelling, he could quit for another job. And somewhere along the way he met Nandita Saluja.