It had been 8 hours since he’d called her. ‘I hope he’s alright’, thought Kirti. She was prone to imagining the worst of situations whenever Sid went out of town. He had recently joined this pharmaceutical giant as Assistant sales manager and was required to travel frequently. Only last week he had to go for an overnight sales excursion to Mumbai. And now, this 4 day trip to Nagpur. ‘Why, at this rate we would hardly see each other a couple of days a week. We’ll be like room-mates not husband and wife’, she thought morosely.
It was barely two months since their wedding and already she was feeling overwhelmed at the thought of marital responsibilities coming her way. Last Thursday she was so fed up of doing everything on her own that she railed at Sid as soon as he reached home. She could not control herself. And Sid, frazzled by the trip and the late hour, had lashed out at her and they had spent the entire weekend in silence. Only on Sunday night had they reached out for each other. After the intense and rather rushed love making, Kirti had once more tried to broach the subject of his frequent travel. There had been no electricity on Thursday due to non payment of last month’s electricity bill and Kirti had to queue up at the payment office for 3 hours before they restored the power. Earlier that morning she had to call the plumber because the kitchen sink overflowed thanks to the tap that refused to turn off. She had to spend most of the morning cleaning up the mess. It had been a terrible day. Sid had dozed off while she was recounting her sob story and despite the recuperating effect of the lovemaking, Kirti remained restless and pensive.
The next morning they’d got up bickering about who would go to the bank to get the demand draft for Sid’s dad made. Sid could not go of course, he had to leave early morning for a campaign. Grumbling, Kirti had trudged along the dusty lane under a hot July sun and come back utterly frustrated with her life. Whoever said first year of marriage was a honeymoon period must’ve been really daft or a bachelor. It was nothing but an eye opener for her. A realization that marriage, even a love marriage like theirs where they’d been together for more than 4 years, was nothing more than a license to have legitimate sex and thrust all responsibilities on to your spouse.
‘Oh God, I hope no mishap has taken place. His phone is switched off too.’ Kirti was very worried now. No matter how busy he was, Sid always made it a point to call once he reached. He never talked much on the phone, just enquired if all was well with her and informed her of his whereabouts. She still worried if he was driving his bike, letting her imagination go
wild. A grim picture was soon painted in her mind, it was amazing how vividly she imagined him lying on the road oozing blood and finally losing his life in a fatal accident. Then she would see herself as a widow, doing everything on her own and getting hit on by lecherous men. She would refuse them of course, she was in love with her husband and would never re-marry. But she couldn’t go on doing everything alone. The thought would jolt her out of her reverie and she would pray to God fervently to please let him be safe.
The mobile rang at 4 pm.
‘Hi, where were you. The phone has been ringing off the hook for the last 5 minutes’, Sid sounded cross.
‘Oh, Sorry, I didn’t realize. Your phone was switched off since morning. I tried so many times. You didn’t even call last night’, said Kirti.
‘Yeah, I left my charger at home. And we’re in a very remote village in Nagpur for a promotion. Just managed to charge it now’.
‘You could have called from somebody’s mobile’.
‘I told you, there was lot of work here. I didn’t get time. And it’s been only a day. I called you when I reached.’
‘Can’t talk much now. I’ll call at night. All well at home?’
‘Yes, as if you care about what goes on here’, she said bitterly.
‘See, that’s why I can’t have any conversation with you. Why do you always have to complain about everything? Let’s talk at night when you’re in a better mood. Bye.’
And he hung up.
‘Hmm,’ thought Kirti. ‘Just like him. He’s never going to change. Why do I bother?‘
Kirti finished her chores in the kitchen by 8 pm and sat down to watch some TV, all the time waiting for Sid’s call. But the phone didn’t ring even until 11 pm. Kirti was worried sick. ‘He said he would call at night. Why hasn’t he called till now. He knows I sleep by 10. I hope there hasn’t been a mishap. Please, God, let him be alright..’
‘..No, I can never marry again. I am too much in love with Sid. Please, Rahul, don’t even hint at something like that. Besides, I’m quite used to managing on my own. Maybe that’s why Sid had to travel so much. It was God’s way of preparing me for this eventuality’, said Kirti making her intention clearly known to Rahul who had just proposed to her. He was a nice guy, friend of Sid and they had been classmates in college, but she was always devoted to Sid. Whether he was with her or not, she would remain his forever.
She picked up her phone just in time before it stopped ringing.
‘Where were you? I had told you I would call at night. Didn’t get time earlier, there're so many events planned here. What took you so long to pick up the phone?’ said Sid.