She sniffed a puff of the scent tightly clutching her husband’s shirt to her chest. For a moment all her resentment dawned into ecstasy. Expensive. The word rang in her mind like bells in hillside temples, far yet conspicuous through the perimeter. After years of saving a few rupees with discounts at some mart across the city, to where it takes her one hour on foot, all she could think of was how much the perfume might have cost? May be the whole ration of the month could be bought with that money. Or may be of two months as this was the most exotic thing she had ever smelled in her mediocre life. No doubt her husband was lured by this lady.
Then the second thought that flashed to her mind what would she be looking like? Must be like some top class model with brand name hanging even from hair clips. She must be ethereal. For a while she couldn’t blame her husband. How could she even? What did she have to offer than services of a maid and a tattered body torn and scavenged twice for two children? She never even smelled this good, not even in their wedding. And what’s the benefit of even confronting her husband. If he accepts the illicit affair and says that he wants to go with the lady then where will she go? To her mother who is in knee depth of debt with her father’s treatment? And what will their two children do? Where will they go? What about their education?
The ringing of phone brought her back from the complex land of bi-headed questions. She took the call and it was from her mother. She talked to her for ten minutes and from there she came to know that her father’s health is deteriorating and doctors are planning to start a new treatment. This new treatment was going to be very pricey with no doubt and she had no idea of how her mother will manage the money alone.
The tension seemed to weigh some mountain on her head. She didn’t know how to put everything in order. She wished, like a five year old girl that some magic will happen. But her rational mind denied it. Her husband’s question broke the silence in the room.
“You ironed my shirt?”He asked rubbing his body to dry after bath.
She handed him the shirt she had clutched the whole time.
“This one, I wore it yesterday. I told you I need my white shirt today. What’s wrong with you? I am getting late for office.”
She smiled at her husband and the impatience and obedience for that lady. “The shirt” She paused. “It smells good. Is she your boss?”
Her husband stunned into a stone statue there and his handsome face going pink to purple. She watched him carefully taking breath and framing the answer. “I…I don’t know what..” Her husband stammered before she rested his words with a firm hand.
“It’s okay. I understand, at least I try to.”
“I am sorry.” His eyes were lowered with shame when he spoke these words. “I was to tell you. But..”
“But you were concerned how your family will react when they will get to know that their ideal son has done something like this.”
“Well. You don’t have to. We can keep up like this. I don’t have a problem till your pay the house bills. I just have one condition.”
“That I need some more money now. Around twenty to thirty thousand.”
“But this is a big amount.”
“The lie I am going to cover up is also bigger than the truth of our marriage.”
“But why do need the money?”
“Don’t worry. I don’t want it to squander like you. Doctors have asked to start a new treatment for Baba. I need money for that. “
“Oh.” He spoke stressing over the word.
“I need it now.”
Her husband marched toward the locker and took three bundles of rupees and threw on her that slapped on her chest and went on to take out the white shirt.
She gathered the money and put it in a brown bag and headed out for her mother’s place.