Sitting on the passenger side of their plush car, sorry, ‘Vikram’s‘ car, was a new sensation for her. Some night of firsts this is turning out to be! She thought wryly.
Her eyes ran over the details of the sedan. The plush upholstery, the beverage holder, containing a crushed styrofoam cup, no music on the CD player, or radio playing in the background here. Everything spick and span, dustfree, carefully maintained. He had always been a man of business. He had no other hobbies, he knew nothing else but his work. That styrofoam cup looked so out of place.
He’s troubled by something or someone.
Funny how marriage teaches you so much about another person. One would think it should become easier with the elapse of time to adjust to someone, and yet, most marriages break because of adjustment issues. Guess we don’t give due credit to our egos that grow in direct proportion to the age of our unions. And then there’s this – familiarity breeds contempt.
Inoluntarily, her eyes flitted to his hands resting lazily on the power steering, and she saw flashes of last night when those same hands had flung her into a wall, knocking the wind out of her… and her trust in him. Her breathing quickened and she shivered a little.
As if her thoughts were spoken aloud, Vikram turned and looked at her. Really, looked.
“Is this…. some sort of punishment for last night?” He spoke in hushed tones, as if he couldn’t believe he’d done it himself.
Her answer was a stoic silence.
“Netra!! Why did you do this?” The car swerved slightly to the left.
He must be very angry to let the car go like that! She noted. Or troubled.
“God, will you answer me?! What were you doing with those idiots at this time of the night? Why vandalism? That’s so unlike you!”
She stayed quiet. He was panting now, fighting hard to stay in control of the car and keep his anger in check. But her silence just seemed to fuel it even more.
“Netra, I know you’re mad at me for hitting you last night, but you didn’t have to do this. God, why don’t you ever think? What if something happened to you? How could you do this to me at a time like this?” He ran a hand through his hair in frustration.
It’s always about him. His career, his image. That’s why no driver to escort me tonight. He had to come himself to do damage control.
The Police Station had been abuzz with talk that she was ‘The‘ Vikram Mahajan’s’ wife, the Chairman of the Sypher group of companies, and possibly, the next Mayor of the city. On his arrival, the station had been immediately barred to the public for the next 35 minutes that they were in there for. Yes, 35 minutes is all it took for Vikram Mahajan’s wife to be released, without any official reports, without any delays. Just a very heavy pocket and a very happy Police Officer.
“You know I have a press-conference in less than 12 hours. If someone brings this up…”
“Then your budding political career is finished, isn’t it?” she added, matter of factly.
He looked back at her, his eyes had reduced to slits. He was desperately trying to figure her out. “You seriously did this only to punish me…”
“Oh puhleeze, Vikram, I’m not that mediocre. If I wanted to take revenge on you I could have, would have done far worse. There’s so many ways to ruin a man like you!” The last she said more to herself than to him.
He was stunned. “What does that even mean Netra? What… God, why are you acting this way?”
Why indeed? How should she answer that? Should she even answer that? He was her husband, he ought to have known what was going on in her life.Too bad marriage didn’t come with a set of warranties and guaranteed customer service.
But for sometime now she had been planning this. It was time. She knew she couldn’t take a single step further with this man by her side. She was done.
“Stop the car”, she commanded.
“Stop. The. Car” she said through clenched teeth.
“What the fuck, Netra?! I’m not stopping anywhere but at home.” She could sense his anger mounting but she couldn’t care less. So while he was still figuring out what was wrong with her, she recklessly opened the passenger side door of the car, forcing him to slam the brakes down. Thank god it was four in the morning, the traffic was far lighter than what Mumbai is known to have. Any other time of the day and he would have had the choicest of Mumbai invective hurled at him for stopping in the middle of the road.
She was out of the car before it had even stopped completely. He was still fumbling with his words and the clasp on his seatbelt. He cussed out loudly and then called after her when she ran out, ”Netra!!” He saw her heels on the floor of the car. What the heck is going on with her?! “NETRA!!”
He could only catch a glimpse of her slim form shimmying into the dark. He realized they were somewhere near Bandstand. She had made a run towards the beach. The sea was roaring beyond the concrete parapet, slamming into the breakers. It was a perfect place to get lost or… Fuck! I hope she doesn’t have a deathwish. He hit the road running, almost getting run over by another car. But by the time he had reached the spot where he’d last seen her, she was gone….
To be continued.
Copyright ©2017 Pradita Kapahi.
All rights reserved.
Image Credits: Cosas Cool