THE WAKE-UP CALL
The response shocked her. “You should have told me, I’m travelling so you’ll have to find a hotel then tell me where you settle so I can pick you up when I get back. You should not keep secrets from me Asha, this is embarrassing. Contact me tomorrow, so I’ll know where to find you.”
Asha wept. Then she emailed her office contact and asked for their suggestion as to which recommended hotel she should seek a booking in. The reply bought her encouragement. They’d send a driver, she’d have to wait for a time at the designated pickup point and look for a man holding a sign with their company logo. In another hour and a half an exhausted Asha was on her way from the airport and deposited at the favoured hotel at the expense of the company. She showered and crept gratefully to the welcoming bed and slept until mid-morning next day. It was only then as she sat in front of breakfast delivered to her room she remembered not contacting Anil the evening before to advise him of where she could be contacted.
When eventually an angry and flustered Anil arrived to pick her up she’d recovered from the flight and jet lag sufficiently to attempt a welcome conversation. But in that this seemed not to work she sat silent wishing she was back in Mumbai among her caring family. Things were not getting off well in this introduction to reality of living together as man and wife. She resolved to do her best to make it work to preserve family face.
Their apartment was not as exciting as she’d imagined it, in fact it was small. OK as a bachelor pad but nothing more. There were unexpected smells in this bachelor pad though, smells that were common in her sister’s rooms, smells of perfume and as she unpacked and sought room in assigned drawers, she detected traces of other female beauty aids. She noticed Anil hastily placing items in a bin and her women’s intuition decided that should be checked out when Anil went off to work after settling her in. But the bags were tied and taken out into the hallways where they were thrust into an opening to hit the bottom with the echo of impact with the garbage bins. Anil returned with a guilty look but attempted to be nonchalant.
“My sisters must have left some of their stuff around before they returned to India. I’m out most of the time and would have cleaned up more carefully if I’d know you were coming. We’ll have to look for a bigger apartment. I guess I need to get back to work, see you in the evening, I’m usually home by 7pm.”
But a woman’s intuition told Asha there’d been no sisters visit and the evidence pointed to another woman in his life. She sighed and shook her head. It was while she was pushing those thoughts to the back of her mind the phone rang. Probably Anil enquiring how she was handling her first day in cramped quarters? She picked up the phone thankful for his consideration.
“Hello this is Jane Anil, I hope I got all my stuff out of your apartment. Not good for a new bride to wake up to reality on her first day in the US. Oops, did I phone your landline by mistake instead of your cell phone?” Jane chuckled at her intended mistake and cut the line. Obviously this had been callously planned to give Asha a wake-up call.
Asha wept for most of the day dreading Anil’s return from work that evening. This marriage was in tatters from the beginning and it was her parents’ fault. She dialled international, then India and loaded a torrent of anger on her parents who responded angrily in turn protesting their innocence and telling her she was married now and needed to win him from this other woman and take her place as his wife. Family name was at stake and that transcended personal feelings.
To be continued.
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