Short Fiction – A Love Story
“I want to marry your husband.”
“What? Are you mad or something?”
“No. I am not mad. Can’t you see? I am perfectly okay. I want to marry your husband. So I have come to ask you to please let him free…”
“I don’t want to talk to you. Please leave my office.”
“Come on Anu…”
“Anu? Listen Madam, my name is…”
“Anamika – Mrs. Anamika Prem Kumar, Senior Project Manager, IT whiz kid, ambitious, ruthless, careerist… I know everything about you…and don’t ‘madam’ me…call me Priti…that’s my name...Prem must have told you about me.”
“Priti?...never heard of you…I don’t know who you are…Prem’s told me nothing about you…he’s never even mentioned your name.”
“Funny, isn’t it? Think about it. I know everything about you but you know nothing about me. You see, your husband Prem tells me everything about you – each and every detail, he even shares your intimate secrets, but he doesn’t tell you about me – your darling husband hides his relationship with me from you!”
“Relationship? Intimate secrets? What nonsense…”
“Shall I tell you about your honeymoon…Things only you and Prem should know?”
“Who the hell do you think you are? Barging into my office unannounced…”
“Hey, I didn’t barge in. I sent you my visiting card, and you called me in, isn’t it? It’s all there on my card, my name, designation, the company I work for…Let’s say I am your husband’s colleague, his work-mate, his teammate, we almost share the same desk...”
Anamika looks at the card, picks up her cell-phone, but before she can dial Priti interrupts her, “You’re calling Prem? Don’t disturb him, Anu. Prem must be sleeping.”
“Sleeping? At eleven in the morning? He should be in office…”
“See, you don’t even know…”
“Prem had his wisdom tooth extracted last evening…it was very very painful…Poor Prem…He was in such excruciating agony that I had to sit at his bedside the whole night…First thing in the morning I gave him a sedative and drove straight down to Pune to meet you.”
“You were with him the whole night?”
“No. No. It’s not what you think. We’re not having a physical affair – it’s purely platonic – maybe you can call it an emotional affair – at least till now – but it’s still a love affair, isn’t it?”
“Love? How can he love you? I am his wife!”
“Wife? Oh yes, you’re his legally wedded wife! But tell me Anu, where are you when he needs you..?”
“See, you’re so busy out here in Pune chasing your career dreams that you don’t even know what he’s going through staying alone in Mumbai.”
“Of course I know. I speak to him on the mobile every day…”
“I know. Prem tells me all about it…and he also tells me how you bore him sick during your weekend rendezvous with your nauseating mask of fake love, he is fed up of your sugary sweet talk, your pretence, your ‘caring and sharing’ act...”
“That’s not true…we spend ‘Quality Time’ together…”
“Ha, Ha... ‘Quality Time’ indeed…once a week…it’s once a month now isn’t it…since you have started working on weekends to meet your deadlines…and long gaps when you go globetrotting on your projects…well you may be having your rare moments of ‘Quality Time’ with Prem, but me and Prem are spending plenty of ‘Quantity Time’ together…and that’s what really matters…”
“Listen Miss Priti…I’ve tolerated you long enough…I think it’s time you go now…I’ve work to do…And I am warning you…don’t try to steal my husband from me…”
“Steal your husband? There is no need for me to steal your husband…he is already mine…it is you who have thrown Prem into my arms then I am quite willing to have him be there…and hold onto him tight...”
The woman called Anu gets up and says, “I think it is time for you to go now.”
“I’ll tell Prem to get the papers ready. I think it’s best to get this over with as fast as possible.”
“Papers? What papers? I am not going to sign any papers. And I am warning you Miss…you just stay away from my husband…Good Bye!”
“Be reasonable, Anu…we are three persons in this marriage. That’s not good. There should be only two persons in a marriage, not a threesome. You are his paper wife, I am his office wife. Between the two of us I think I am more in tune with him, so I think it is you who will have to leave the threesome…Think about it…take your time…I am sure you will understand…” Priti says and leaves Anu’s office.
She doesn’t take the lift, but deliberately walks down the staircase, reflecting on her tête-à-tête with Anu, congratulating herself on a job well done.
She returns her visitor’s pass at the reception, walks past the foyer, crosses the road and reaches her car.
The moment Priti sits in her car she calls up her “office husband” Prem from her mobile.
“I spoke to her,” Priti says to Prem, the moment comes on line.
“I know. Anu rang up just now,” Prem says.
“You really seem to have really rattled her. Anu’s coming down to Mumbai this evening after work. She’s taken a week’s leave. She wants to stay with me in Mumbai, talk things over. She was even asking about my wisdom tooth…she said she wanted to look after me!”
“Thanks, Priti. I think you’ve saved my marriage.”
“Come on Prem…there’s no ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ between friends.”
“Yes, Priti, you’re really my true friend, my best friend in the world!”
“Hey, don’t get senti…and by the way…if she doesn’t turn up…gives you a ditch…remember I’m always there for you…but I’m sure she’ll come and everything will work out for you two.”
“I hope so.”
“I’m sure of it…and now I am going to make myself scarce for a few days…spend some time with my sister in Pune…then we’ll meet at the office and talk…bye.”
“Bye,” Prem says and he feels a flood of love, a unique affection, a sort of warm gratitude for Priti.
Meanwhile, Anu aka Mrs. Anamika Prem Kumar leaves her office and walks across to the cabin of her “office husband”. She enters and closes the door.
“You won’t believe it,” she laughs, “dodo is having an affair!”
“Your husband is having an affair? I cannot believe it!” the man says incredulous.
“The female was here. Her name is Priti...works in Prem's office...she came here all the way from Mumbai,” Anu says, and then Anu tells her companion all about it.
“Just imagine, Anu! You were almost going to tell him about us...and you were feeling so guilty...now what are you going to do?”
“I’m going to Mumbai to meet him. I’ll throw a real tantrum…I will create a ruckus, tell him he is a cheat...I will accuse him of infidelity, of being disloyal, of betraying me...I will tell him I want out...I think it is better that he has the guilt conscience, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” the man says, “it is much better that he has the guilty conscience.”
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.