Chapter – 1
‘THE PHONE CALL’
He unlocked the door with drooped shoulders and a dejected face. He silently made his way to the study and grabbed a pile of loose papers. The title said, “Musings of a Wordsmith”…
He turned a few pages and dropped the pile back on the table with a sigh.
Shekhar Dutta, a freelance writer, adjusted his thin specs to locate his usuals and changed into a navy blue t-shirt and black track pants (his favourite attire). He sat back on a bean bag and wondered about how he would run his house with the continuing failures. How he would pay his 9-year-old daughter’s school fee? How he would face his wife when she will ask him with high hoped about today’s article proposal?
A continuously ringing doorbell pulled him back to reality. He checked the time, it was noon and he was expecting nobody. He opened the door and was bombarded with a flurry of questions, ‘How was the interview?’
‘Did they like your proposal?’
‘You know how important this is for us, right?’
‘Why aren’t you answering?’
‘You didn’t get it, did you?’ she responded blankly.
‘No, they wanted something exceptional and my article didn’t match the requisites. So, yes, I didn’t get it.’ He retorted, pulling an empty smile.
‘Do you really understand the extremity of the situation? I’m working to be paid peanuts and what do you do? You sit here carefree ogling all that I earn down your throat. I didn’t marry you to run like a racehorse while you sit in the lounge and bet! its high time you start taking responsibilities that you yourself invited.’ she replied coldly.
‘It doesn’t fool me. You know that, right?’ She said inanely while she made her way to the bedroom.
After Tara left, Shekhar crashed on the sofa.
The, then high-school sweethearts were now trying hard to keep the relationship together. The financial crisis in the family had tainted the love that they breathed. Someone has said rightly, ‘When poverty knocks at the door, love flies out of the window’. Tara was working hard to make both ends meet. They both knew they were living beyond means, paying for the leisure they were habitual to.
After stuffing herself comfortably in the bed, Tara deliberated over what she could have been doing right now if she hadn’t married Shekhar. Tara was the second daughter to Mumbai’s leading business tycoon, Mr Rameshwar Gupta. When Tara broke the news of her affair to her father, he nearly had a heart attack. Not because Tara had an affair, but because she wanted to marry a middle-class guy. Nothing that he did could persuade Tara to not marry Shekhar; even sacrificing a few luxuries didn’t stop her. She now understood what her father meant when he said, ‘When you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you can never become one of those who live on the breadline.’ Brooding over such huge opportunity cost she had paid, she didn’t realise when she fell asleep.
Shekhar annoyingly sat up to the sound of the telephone ringing. ‘Will you pick up the damned phone?’ he called out harshly. There was no answer and the phone kept ringing. He irritably walked to the living room, picked up the cordless and spoke bitterly, ‘Hello’
‘Hello, Mr Shekhar Dutta’s residence?’ a female voice retorted.
‘Yes,’ he spoke this time with interest, wondering if this could be a call from the newspaper. ‘Sir, I am calling from RKK Girls Public School. I would like to inform you that due to the delay in payment of your child’s fees, the principal has asked to meet both you and your wife tomorrow at 10 a.m. sharp.’ She said politely. ‘We’ll be there.’ He replied coolly with his heart sinking and put the receiver down.
‘Who was it?’ asked a half-asleep Tara.
‘We have been called to meet Roohi’s principal tomorrow’ he said.
‘What will we do now?’ she asked as sleep vanished from her eyelids.