Vidya made a big O with her mouth and applied lipstick, then sat back and mused on her reflection. Since her weight reduction, her face had an angular look which suited her face wonderfully. The perfectly shaped eyebrows, the hair brushed to give a casual look, hmmm, all in all the effect was good.
In the past she had not much cared for looks, but the past two years had changed her perceptions. her mobile rang just then and she checked it, it was Shruti, ohhh, why does she always have to call up at the wrong time.
‘Hi How are you doing? Me? Yeah was just going out, couple of friends are meeting for lunch and then maybe some shopping, Yes sure, will call you up when I am free, Bye’, and she cut the line.
Shruti her first friend in Bahrain… She and Nitish had moved here Seven years back. Nitish an engineer had got a good offer and they had moved down. Shruti and her family had been their neighbours. Somehow they had bonded instantly and as it so happens their joys, sorrows had become one over time.
Then Nitish got an irresistible offer, as a General Manager of another Construction company. This company made him head of a new settlement on reclaimed land and life changed and how….
They moved to a fully furnished flat, new friends, new lifestyle and the old world was forgotten. Their house was always full of guests, and Shruti had to be the perfect hostess and learn she did. She learnt to groom herself, the perfect clothes, the perfect ‘accent’, the perfect house etc. And like bees buzzing for nectar, she was always surrounded by women; wives of juniors, wives of associates, female colleagues of Nitish. Yes there were men too who ogled, who admired but she kept them at bay.
The intercom buzzed at that instant and she picked up her handbag and rushed.
Over dinner, as was their ritual, both husband and wife exchanged the notes of the day.
‘As usual Shruti called up when I was just rushing to my lunch’, Vidya was narrating.
‘But Vidya that is the time when she is free you know. The kids will be at school and she would have finished her housework’. justified Nitish.
‘maybe but I am not free then…’
‘Vidya you may advance in life but you should not forget the origin from which you came,’ and then because he knew that his wife would not agree and would argue incessantly he moved on to ‘ our project is in trouble because of the recession Vidya nd there will be changes in the heirarchy’
‘Meaning that the project might be abandoned and people associated with it might be thrown out?’
‘Aww, don’t worry they won’t throw you out, where will they get a candidate like you’, she consoled.
‘No one is irreplaceable Vidya’, was his concluding statement
Vidya in her butterfly avatar, rarely gave much thought to anything or anybody and so this conversation too left her subconscious as also the numerous promises made to Shruti to call back.
And time moved on.
It was May, it was hot and humid and peoples attitudes also were similar. from a couple of days she could ‘feel’ that her friends were sidelining her. yesterday some of them had gone for a movie and had not even bothered to call her up.
She parked her car and went inside to see that Nitish had already reached home and was having Tea.
‘Hi darling you are early,’ and without bothering to get a reply, she continued, ‘Shwetha and others went for a movie yesterday and did not even bother to ask me….’
‘That is because, dear, we have become outcasts.’
“Your husband is no longer ‘the GM’, effective today. Rumors had been coming in from a couple of days but has been confirmed today’.
Vidya sat down heavily, her head was spinning wildly,’What will we do Nitish, go back?’
The other reason apart from a good offer for their move to Bahrain had been her inability to conceive. Back in India she had been nagged badly to the point that she had had a nervous breakdown.
‘Don’t worry, I will get a job elsewhere,’ Nitish came and sat down beside her,’It won’t be as good as this but we can survive, you don’t worry.’
He did get a job. But in the meantime all her friends flitted away to greener pastures.
They moved on to another apartment. Busy unpacking, Vidya wondered what they would have for lunch. It had been a long time since she cooked and she racked her brains as to what she used to cook that too in a limited budget, when the bell rang.
It was Shruti with her husband with a big bag, hey delivery- piping hot food’, she chirruped. But what was this, she was in crutches.
‘Shruti how did you know…..’
‘Vidya, had met Nitish the other day he told. I thought you would not be able to cook today so brought some food.’
Vidya broke down and wept.
‘Hey its okay, in these difficult times it happens.’
‘What happened to your leg, shruti’.
‘Fracture, you never told me…’
‘But you were so busy’.
Vidya cried even bitterly, ‘I ignored you so much, still you came today to help us.’
‘Don’t they say friends in need are friends indeed,’ piped in Nitish, ‘Life’s misfortunes are stepping-stones to make us a better human, now haven’t you learnt to distinguish between the opportunists and the genuine?’