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This is my first submission, after having enjoyed reading various stories, I wanted to contribute something myself. All events in this are pure coincidences. This is not a wham bham to the end sort of novel, the build up I feel was a bit over than necessary and I would hope you guys give a commentary on the same, will appreciate it much.
Archana checked the time, stared at the wall clock, it was going to be midnight and she was expecting a call. Her phone buzzed and she picked it up, it was Aryan, her husband.
“Happy Anniversary Sweet heart…” Aryan greeted her.
“Same to you…”
“Please smile… that is not the way dear…” Aryan replied.
“You know I wanted you here right… you could have come just for the weekend…”
“Honey… I told you when I left.. I’m doing this for us… work here for few years… build a resume and have some savings…”
“Jesus… just drop this… we have had this conversation a hundred times… I know how it ends… I know how it very well ends…”
“One more year Acchu… just one more…”
“They are putting people in cages there and throwing them out… why can’t they throw you out…”
Aryan chuckled, she had used the same sentence last few times, he knew better not to get into an argument, not today, it was their anniversary.
“Okay… you sleep dear… you look tired… very tired…”
“Happaa… he finally notices it…”
“I said tired…you are still pretty…”
“Ya… I know…” Acchu replied.
Aryan smiled, the telephone on his desk rang, he stared at it and looked at the mobile cam, talking to his wife.
“I need to go baby… love you…”
“Love you…” Acchu’s voice trailed, he hadn’t even heard it when he disconnected the mobile.
She stared at the mobile for few seconds watched the light go off. She then turned around, gripping the mobile, as she cried into the pillow. She hadn’t slept in the bedroom for the past few days, it was happening all over again, just like the previous two years. All over again. She felt lonely in a big apartment, the nights were the worst, she had felt neglected and watching television series repeatedly was beginning to bore her, she wept into the silk cover of the cushion as sleep took over her.
Archana had waited for six year to finally find the person she wanted to be with. In her mid thirties she was the marketing head for south India for an MNC firm, with a good salary and good life, from the outside she looked successful. Appearances that was always important. Focused and dedicated to her job, the only thing that mattered when her husband had left to pursue his ambition abroad, she knew it would only be a matter of time when she would finally begin to miss him. Over the last few months she had realised that. The trouble of it all was she was the one who forced him in the first place, hoping he would start a career there and then she could join him and leave India once and for all like most of her friends did. He had yet to move out from his old firm when two years she saw no hope of moving out with him, they had finally decided it was in best interest for him to return home and continue with his job, at least they could then start a family together finally. She was already thirty four and most of her friend had kids who were going to school.
When she had passed out with her BTech and MBA from two of the finest institutes in the country, she had decided she’d want to first focus on her career, her parents too agreed, they were not in a hurry to send her off in marriage after all she had worked hard to be where she was. With a good take home she was already among the one percent of the professionals in the country and she needed to get to the even elite one percent of the one percent. Maybe retire by the age of forty five and live out the rest of her life as a consultant or director of few firms, living peacefully.
During the first few years of her professional life, she had dated few times, mostly casual, nothing serious, none ever had even progressed to a kiss. Mostly because she was not really interested and in her own words, testing the waters to see the quality of fishes. Her first committed relation was with a strapping young guy a year younger to her from West Bengal and she had been happy through the relation. The sex was great and so was the cuddling and talk after that. He listened and he cared for her, something rare in most young men. When they realised they both wanted different things, they parted amicably. She remained in touch with him for few months and then they lost contact, not one to waste time hunting for ex-partners on facebook and instagram she moved on. She had got a promotion in her job and she had to relocate to the digital capital of her country, a hip and happening town in the up. Though like rest of the big cities in her country an absolute crap in terms of traffic and pollution and got flooded when it rained. At twenty seven she bought her first car, a SUV to be precise, a second hand Suzuki Grand Vitara, she loved silivri escort the engine and she loved how comfortable it was and above all she loved how rare it was to see one in India. Her meticulous research had told her Grand Vitara was a good buy and when she found one used by an elder woman, she purchased it without a second thought.
The next few years went between few long drives home and some vacations in India and abroad and few relations and one abusive relation. Someone who had always been frank and honest to her parents had told them about him and they got worried. They hadn’t insisted on marriage for a long time and they finally decided it was time to look out for. They didn’t ask her to marry the one they found for her, they just wanted her to find one and they too would find boys eligible for marriage. Months later she met with one of the first guys her parents had found for her, not the typical, come home with family meet a nervous woman and not say a word. This was more outside a coffee day meet. He drove in an Swift, it had been heavily modified, with comfort seats and stickers on it. She had already made up her mind about him even before she shook his hands. When they parted and she stepped into her Vitara she could see him staring at her in an awkward manner. Many of the proposals went bust in similar manner, she was too western, too full of herself, smoked, drank, had former boy friends and the ever present, ‘too western’.
When she met Aryan, it was supposed to be another hi, bye. She could see he too had seen enough girls and had been rejected or had rejected and neither of them were there because they wanted to be.
“Do you really want to meet here…” Aryan asked looking at her.
“I’d rather meet at a pub with a cigarette in my hand…” Archana replied.
He chuckled, “Same…”
He pulled out his purse, “Since I cancelled this… let me pay… but this is not going to happen… you pay for your shit…”
“Done…” Archana smiled as she stood up.
Aryan was even more happy to be driven around, as he put it, the fucked up traffic fucked him up. Archana loved driving and she was drove fast even for a guy, one of the perks of having brought up in a hill station with big Gypsies and Ambassadors around, none of them had power steering when she learnt driving at twelve.
They stopped at one of the pubs and ordered a pitcher, with lit cigarettes they spoke about the people they saw, though Archana noticed how he didn’t laugh at anyone, just like her, neither did he say a thing bad about anyone.
She had observed.
He was a good listener which most men were not.
After just a mug of beer, they shook hands and said they’d be in touch.
A week later they were dating and months before they even married they were living together like husband and wife. So marriage was just a formality to announce their relations to friends and family. A formality that had to be done. The first two years of marriage had gone as fast as their fifteen day long honey moon had gone, on the bed, under the blanket, fucking. Aryan was a gentle lover, he knew how to please her and he made sure she was pleased, the days or nights he could not, he would apologise and go down on her and make sure she too had her climax. With him climax was guaranteed. Few of her previous relations that was not assured.
Morning light washed down her weary face, she opened her eyes and stared at the television screen, it was turned off. She didn’t remember turning it off, maybe the timer had turned itself off. She saw the reflection of a man in the kitchen and she figured she was still asleep. Her eyes fell on the door and it was open from inside. Had she not locked the door the previous night, it had happened few times, but she remembered locking the door.
She sat up and turned around.
“Jesus… you scared the shit out of me…” Archana said as she grabbed the blanket to cover herself. She wasn’t wearing a bra and her sleeveless t-shirt was too thin. The boxer shorts she wore was one of Aryan’s old ones.
“I’m sorry… I rang the bell and tried calling you… but…”
“The bell does not work…” she replied wrapping herself in the blanket, wiping the sleep of her eyes, “And the mobile must have been silent…”
“Coffee..” Her father-in-law asked.
“That would be great…”
“Go get refreshed… I’ll make some eggs and bacon…”
Archana nodded her head and walked into her bedroom, shut the door.
Sid, or Siddhart, Aryan’s father was part of an environmental think tank that advised governments and private corporations around Asia, helping with policy decisions and setting up environmental goals. When he got free he found time to go travel through forests around the world, with a camera and some devices mapping forests and the bane of deforestation. Though he called himself an amateur wild-life photographer, he was more professional than many established ones.
Archana stepped out of her bed-room, she had refreshed bakırköy escort herself and changed into a crisp cotton shirt and a long skirt, her usual wear when she worked from home as she had decided she would that day.
“Good… now you look like a million dollars…”
Archana grinned, she always knew he was a charming man and was always generous with his compliments. He pulled her chair back as she sat down and he served scrambled eggs with bacon strips and nice coffee with the right amount of milk and sugar.
“What’s your plan for the day…”
“What else… work from home…”
“Nope… it’s your fifth anniversary… and you have to be pampered…”
Acchu raised her eye brows sarcastically, “Ya… the last thing I need is to lie to myself…”
Sid’s face turned serious as he stared back at her, “You won’t be lying to yourself dear… none of us want the repeat of last year…”
She smiled, “I know… even I’m scared…”
“That’s is why I’m here…” he replied, “To just keep an eye on you… come out… let me take care of you today…”
“Pappa… I have work…”
“And it will be there tomorrow or the day after… it will always be there… you can’t run away from it… nor are you… you are just taking a break… you deserve one…”
She nodded her head.
The last two years she had cashed her excess leaves that she hadn’t taken, the mandatory leaves was all she took. Maybe she just needed to put her head somewhere else, for a single day, it had been office home, home office for many months now. She knew she needed a break.
“So who’s going to call your boss… you or me…” Sid asked, staring at her, “You know I will…”
“No no… no need to scare him… I will call…”
Sid chuckled as Archana framed a quick message to her boss.
“Need leave today… personal reasons… sorry for the late request… something showed up…”
Her bosses reply was almost immediate as though he was expecting it, “Yes please…hope nothing bad… keep me posted.”
Her boss was a sweet lady who had been in the industry for decades and was renowned among peers. Someone who knew how to manage a team and how to manage it very well. She turned her mobile and placed it by her side as she tore into her bacon.
“Need a smoke…” Sid asked.
“I got mine…” she said as she pushed her chair back.
“I’ll get it…” Sid said as he walked to the tea table, grabbed the smoke and lighter and handed it to her.
“Don’t… as I said… you just take a break… and do what you want… I’m just here to make sure you don’t overdo anything…”
She knew what he meant, he was indeed referring to her accident last year. She hadn’t getting sleep for a while and was on tablet for depression and the usual long night in office she was hurrying home for the phone call when her car aquaplaned in a pool of stagnant water slipping into a nearby ditch. Thankfully she was not driving her Vitara and had driven down in Aryan’s old car, the one he kept for sentimental reasons, the vehicle had to be written off with serious damages to it’s chassis and engine. She had sprained her ankle and wrists and the seat belt had torn into her skin while the air bag had broken the bridge of her nose and she suffered a swollen left eye. She had to take a medical leave and few days in the hospital.
“Sorry… I still feel shitty about the car…”
“Ah…” Sid brushed it aside, “The boy’s first car… he was sentimental… he’ll get over it… after all you walked out unscathed right…”
“Literally…” Acchu smiled, “I guess I should have taken mine that day… it’s too big in the traffic…”
“Start early dear… that is what I tell everyone… you have a meeting… reach ten minutes before… no harm…”
Archana nodded her head. She was not hurrying for a meeting, a phone call, sure, but it was personal. It was way more personal than she could admit and she was never going to admit it.
Breakfast finished and they sat in front of the television. Sid would not for a long time as he swiped through his mobile, lost in his own world.
“Come on… get dressed… we are going for a movie…”
“Toy Story…” Sid replied, “Kids like that…”
Archana burst out laughing, she had seen Toy Story 1 years ago and remembered Woody and Buzz Lightyear and ‘To Infinity and Beyond’, she grinned and walked to her room, enjoyed the movie just like she had years ago when she first saw it. They had a quick lunch, sandwich and pineapple juice at a small cafe and then drove around in her Vitara.
Archana felt comfortable talking to Sid who was well read and highly educated. He’d speak about things that most people didn’t even realise, about the worsening floods and the booming water crisis how floods didn’t necessarily mean a raise in ground water level. She could see he was passionate about what he did and he was technical and factual about his criticisms, drawing from facts and examples around the world. şirinevler escort Archana used to be a book work when she was in college, but once she got a job, books had faded away from horizon. She made a mental note of getting back to reading something or anything, maybe it was what she needed when she felt lonely, a communication with another mind.
For now, the only mind she had access to was Sid’s and what a wonderful mind it was.
A second movie followed, one fit for their age, an action, she had opted it over Avengers, she never liked comic book heroes and the only exception to it was Nolan’s Batman trilogy, that was a treat with some masterful performances. Even the critics hailed it, money didn’t always mean class, look at few President’s all over the world.
The last time she had seen two movies in a single day was with her friends during her MBA days, there was a reason for that, they hardly got time those days and the one day they got they’d seem it fit to watch movies, some even slept in the theatre, the air conditioner was a welcome treat compared to the hot summer breeze in their college rooms. Evening tea over, they headed home. She could see Sid was checking his watch quiet often as though he was late for something.
“Am I keeping you from something…” Archana enquired.
“I had a dinner meeting in the embassy…”
“God… and you are telling me that now…”
“It’s okay… it does not start till eight thirty…”
“I thought Europeans had dinner early…”
“Not those in India…” Sid smiled as he eased back. Archana quickened her pace and sped towards her home, she figured it was best to drop him to his hotel and then she could ease and head home.
“Do you want to join…”
“For a dinner…”
“It’s a formal function… no dinner… just interaction…”
“Would I like it…”
“I get bored after a while… you could make an excuse and rush out of there…”
Archana chuckled, she knew how it worked, she had walked out of many such formal dinners.
“Is there a dress code…”
“Indian… a sari would just do fine… you will see that Indian’s wear western clothes and look ridiculous while western women wear traditional dress and look even more ridiculous… so best is stick to what you like…”
“I’m not representing my country am I…2
“Na… a friend is being given a formal sent off… he is moving back to Europe on new posting… so just a sent off…”
Archana had slipped into a costly sari, a light white with golden threads on the border, a costly gift she had picked up during one of her shopping crazes few years back. It was hand crafted and elegantly done and cost a bomb, she didn’t care. She wore a black blouse with a white border and golden trim and high heels. She rarely wore high heels, except when she had client meetings, for that she always kept a black or brown one in her office, though she had more choice of footwear at her home. As she drove back to pick him up, she realised she hadn’t called Aryan.
She dialled his number and the his voice boomed over the speakers.
“Hey… guess what… I am having the best day in years without you…”
“Now you got me worried…”
She burst out laughing, “Didn’t you hear Guess what…”
“Let me guess… you are going out with a handsome man…”
“And he is taking you out for a candle light dinner…”
Archana giggled, “There will be candles…” she was not sure, she had never been to embassy farewell parties, but how different could they be from office parties.
“And then he is going to drop you home…”
“Nope…” Archana replied, “The poor sod doesn’t own a car…”
“You are not worried…”
“No dear… I trust you…” Aryan replied.
Archana giggled, “Ya… I know…but after three years I kind of need to be pampered and he is good at pampering me…”
“Wow… now you are getting me really worried…”
“We went for movies… ate burgers and sandwiches and smoked cigarette like old college days…”
“Then he asked me out for dinner…”
“Okay that is it… I’m booking my flight…”
Archana burst out laughing.
“I never thought you were this paranoid about me…”
“Not any other day… anniversaries and special days I kind of get paranoid…”
Archana slowed at the hotel entrance.
“Give me a second…” she spoke on the phone, “Apartment security…” she lied.
“I’ll hold…” Aryan replied.
She cleared the hotel security and drove right to the lobby, she had told she’d arrive at eight to pick Sid up and he was there waiting for her.
“He looks stunning…” Archana spoke on the phone.
“Wow… I looked tired and sleepy…” Aryan replied.
“Wait let me open the door for him…” she pressed the central locking and Sid pulled open the door. Archana motioned him not to speak.
Sid kept his mouth shut as he strapped his seat belt.
“You wanna speak to him…”
“Hi dad…” Aryan replied.
Father and Son burst out laughing and Archana was red faced. She wanted to punch Aryan for pranking her, of course he was the reason why Sid had landed on the first flight, he was worried how she would take a day off and may get drunk and end up doing something she would regret.
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