-by KParthasarathi Wednesday, October 31, 2007
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With the children gone to school and husband at office, Jaya found the days long and boring. A bit conservative in outlook, she had no hobbies or intellectual pursuits. Occasionally some friends visited her. She never watched TV serials. She used to take a nap in the afternoons.
In the opposite apartment there was a young couple, Govind and Ranjana. Govind worked as an executive in a foreign bank and generally returned after 8pm. Ranjana too worked in a reputed company in secretarial position. They were married for five years and seemed happy. The weekends saw them invariably in some outing. A very soft and well mannered person, Govind was not handsome.Ranjana on the other hand was very attractive. Except the hello when they met in the common stairs, Ranjana was aloof and never mixed with Jaya. The latter also did not take a liking for her for the way she dressed and talked in a coquettish manner. What irked her was that whenever Jaya and her husband met her on the way or in the market, she talked more with Jaya’s husband than with her. Govind left for office quite early and Ranjana would leave around 9am.
One day when Ranjana left for office, Jaya was following her about hundred yards behind on her way to bank. She saw a young man coming out of a waiting Maruti opening the front door for her. She saw the same thing happening on several occasions subsequently. Probably a colleague staying nearby giving lift to her, she thought. But being suspicious in nature, this rankled in her mind. When she mentioned to her husband, he chided her for being petty minded.
One afternoon around 1pm she heard a car stopping opposite her house. When she peeped thro the window, she saw Ranjana with the young man alight from the car. Jaya saw them thro the peep-hole getting into their flat with his arm around her shoulder. After about one hour they left the flat.Jaya felt that all is not well from the way he put her hand on her and their spending an hour alone in the flat. She stopped sleeping in the afternoons and kept a constant vigil to see whether they come again. Her vigil revealed to her that they came twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It was the same routine of one hour secretive stay in the flat. Jaya’s husband was not amused at his wife playing the role of a peeping Tom.
On one Thursday the postman after delivering a parcel wanted Jaya to accept a registered letter for Govind.After telling him that Ranjana was in the house, she closed the door and observed thro the peephole.Ranjana in her nightie opened the door after a few minutes with disheveled hair and looked exasperated at the intrusion. She appeared relieved when she saw the door of Jaya’s flat closed.Jaya was now convinced that Ranjana was having secret liaison with that young man. She was sorry for the trusting Govind who was totally unaware of the betrayal behind his back.Jaya’s husband firmly said that it was none of their business to meddle in others’ private affairs. She was restless and felt her head would break if Govind was not apprised of the treachery.
An opportunity presented itself soon for her. There was a special Puja on a Thursday in Jaya’s house with the pundit performing some havans.Ranjana had left for office earlier and Govind started a bit late around 10 am. When Jaya saw him coming out of the flat, she opened the door and requested him to participate at 1-30pm and partake of the feast. When he mumbled some excuses, her husband too came out to invite him. He agreed when told it will be over in an hour.
Jaya‘s mind was more on the likely tempest in the afternoon than on the puja. As expected Govind came at the promised time only to find that there was no lock outside his door. He presumed that Jaya had invited Ranjana too and knocked his door eagerly to meet her. Meanwhile Jaya had opened the door of her flat to welcome him. Ranjana’s door opened after some minutes and Jaya could witness the horror and disbelief in her face. A beaming Govind entered the flat only to be followed soon by loud noises, shrieks and abuses.Jaya saw Govind dragging the young man in his under garments outside the flat unmindful of several eyes on them. The door closed with a big bang.
Jaya heaved a sigh of relief though she felt a tinge of regret for planning the ‘discovery’. The couple vacated the flat within a week leaving no address behind.