Ajay looked at Reena across the table. She looked away. Her eyes were swollen after crying for nearlytwo hours.
“ Shall I make tea?” he asked hopefully trying to initiate a conversation. Reena continued to sniff and then it started again- the crying! He wished she would say something to him instead of just crying like that. At least if she accused him openly
about infidelity he could say something. If he spoke now, it would seem like he
really had something to hide.
“Mummy, can I go downstairs to play” asked Tinku ball in hand.
“ Yes beta go” said Ajay. He was uncomfortable about Tinku watching this
Tinku looked at his mother curiously. He had often seen her get angry and shout but
never had he seen her cry like this. Somehow Daddy could not joke about it the
way he did when she shouted – “ Oh my God. Help! Tinku let us duck under the
table. She might throw some vessels at us”. It used to be quite funny trying to
take cover under tables and chairs until mummy started laughing and then it was
all fine again.
The phone rang for the second time in the last half an hour. “ Daddy get the phone! Why are you not answering it ? “ Tinku asked as he made his way out .Ajay ignored it. He was in no mood to talk to anyone.
He closed the front door and looked reflectively out of the living room window. He could not believe that his life had changed like this in the last three hours!
Was it only at one clock that they were all ready to go for “Harry Potter” . The car was at the service centre and the plan was to pick it up on the way to the theatre, then the movie and dinner. Tinku was very excited that they had finally managed to get the tickets. Reena had a new hair style and was fussing around with it.
No sooner had they got into the car that she took out a brush and started to do her hair looking into the rear view mirror. Tinku like all eight year olds , was at his fidgety best dropping things from his pockets all around the floor of the car. “ Watch it litter bug! I don’t want you messing up the car after they have fixed it and cleaned it” shouted Ajay as he put the car into gear. But Tinku was burrowing his way under the back seat trying to pull something out.
“ Daddy what is this? “ he asked. “ Put it back whatever it is” said Reena settling back into her seat and adjusting the seat belt. “ Shall I throw it out mum?” asked Tinku leaning forward and waving “it” in front of her- “it” , being a wisp of lace- a woman’s panty!
Reena’s face paled as she looked at the offending piece of garment. It was certainly not hers and obviously did not belong to Ajay or Tinku! Her world came crashing down in front of her !
“ What is going on..?” asked Ajay turning around to look at Tinku as he stopped at a traffic signal. “ Someone’s chaddi” said Tinku cheerfully as he twirled it round in front of Ajay. “ Put that down Tinku… Reena… !wait what are you doing?” shouted Ajay as his wife opened the door of the car and jumped out into the busy traffic junction.
It had taken him another twenty minutes to turn the car around and try to find her. The movie obviously had to be given a miss. Surprisingly Tinku did not ask why they were heading back home. Smart chap, he obviously realized that there was something seriously wrong.
After letting himself in, he found that Reena was home and had locked herself into the bedroom. When continuous knocking for fifteen minutes did not yield any response he decided to give up and wait for her to open the door.
He was hurt about her lack of trust in him. He was angry about how she was jumping to conclusions. What did she think he was ? Some teenager who had sex in the back seat of the car ( and allowed his girlfriend to leave her panty behind?). It was at one level funny but he dared not think about that side to it now.
Reena could not believe that this happening to her. She had heard about women whose husbands had affairs and as they say the wife was always the last to know. But Ajay! Who would believe her quiet introvert of a husband would do this. She remembered a saying “ Still waters run deep”. Yes indeed- they were now deep enough to drown her!
The phone rang again. “ Hell! I am going to fire the person whoever it is” he muttered as he picked up the receiver.
Reena looked behind him wondering why he had ignored the phone twice. Was his girl friend calling him? She tried to overhear the conversation.
“ Yes that is right. What? The car? Let me see…!” said Ajay as he hung up and went out of the front door. Reena followed him quietly wondering what it was. Every step that she took downstairs convinced her about who the call was possibly from. She had mental images now of scratching out the eyes of that panty owner.
She hid behind a pillar watching her husband look at the car carefully. She moved quickly to get a closer look. “ Mummy” shouted Tinku as he jumped out from somewhere.
“ Tinku, ask her to stop hiding behind that pillar and come here” said Ajay. “ Come on mummy” said Tinku as he pulled her to the car.
“ Ma’m if you would please care to look at the car carefully and tell me what you see ” asked Ajay with exaggerated politeness. “ A blue Maruti Wagon R” she murmured. “ Yes but please look at the number plate”
She looked down .. gosh was it possible? It was AP 06-2556 and not 2655! “ You mean it is not our car? But where is ours?“ she asked in a whisper.
“ With the boyfriend or husband of the owner of the lace panty” said Ajay with
a grin. “ he is coming now with our car . Wants his car back. Guess that panty will have to go with it! ”