‘Good riddance!’, Rishi muttered to himself as he got down from the train. He’d had one of the roughest travels in his life. A lady had accused him of touching her private parts with intention, when in fact, it was just an accident. And he didn’t see any sense in apologizing since that would imply he was guilty. “If you are so worried about this, why did you not board the ladies compartment?”, he had said to the lady.

“So what? You do not have any right to touch ladies. At home, you do the same to your mother and sister also.”, the lady retaliated.

Rishi was left fuming. If only he was brought up in an abusive family; he would have given it back to her, but he didn’t want to invite trouble and checked himself. He remembered a quote that he had read somewhere- “Never mess with a pig. Both of you’ll get dirty, only the pig enjoys it.”

He just moved himself to a different compartment and waited for the train to reach his destination. A kind soul, having taken pity on his frustrated state, assured him – “Don’t worry mate. That woman is mad. Gents compartment if you’ll climb then little bit of touching will happen only. Don’t give undue attention to the fact.”

“Exactly.”, he had said, acknowledging the man’s comments.

***

Rishi didn’t double-check the address he was going to. Long years in the insurance industry had given him a photographic memory for addresses. Halfway there, he passed a restaurant where he saw people eating various delicacies. The smell of freshly cooked rotis elicited a ravenous hunger in him. He was mildly jealous of a man who now had a plate full of Mutter Paneer alongwith a couple of rotis, and onions for a good mouthfeel.

Instinctively, he entered the restaurant and looked at the menu card. The prices dampened the immense gluttonous desire that he was experiencing. Eating here would totally spoil the daily allowance he had allotted to himself. He ordered tea just because he was obliged to order something now that he had entered. Ordering tea always reminded him of his college days, where tea would be had with a cigarette. Oh, how he devoured the feel of smoke inside his mouth in those days. His wife, though, had made him quit smoking right after she officially became his wife. He agreed to her demands, so deeply moonstruck was he. Starting again now would not be a bad idea, he thought, considering it, but checked his thoughts at once when he realized that hiding these things from her wife will constitute a faint form of infidelity.

***

As soon as Rishi entered the house, he knew what he had to do. This was not a family that needed insurance, they were already insured. But, giving up for such an insignificant reason was against the code of insurance agents.

It was incredibly lucky for him that the housewife was watching the same serial that he too watched at night. It was something he did to keep an ample supply of topics of conversation with his prospective victims. Instead of interrupting her viewing with the narration of the various policies he had, he decided to watch it with her. Going by the predictability of these serials, he once correctly predicted what was just about to happen. “Haha. You should write these shows you know.”, the lady said, visibly impressed by his intelligence.

When the show was over, she even offered him an orange sherbet. And, listened to his policies with adept attention. Rishi compared the kindness of this lady with the one he had the ill fortune of seeing in the train that morning, and couldn’t help but smile. The orange sherbet had made him totally confident that he was making a sale today.

The woman went to the other room and came out after a while. Rishi was ready to take out his papers for signing, but then she said, “My husband is coming in three days. So he is telling me to wait till then.”

Rishi got up, saying, “No problem, you call me after three days.” He was disappointed that he had become so overconfident in the first place. When will he learn to avoid jinxing things that are almost in the bag. While leaving, he just smiled nicely at the woman, who returned the smile, and made his way home. He decided not to go to office that day, since he was hungry and sleepy. And depressed.

***

After three hours of good evening sleep, he turned on the TV. He hoped that his favorite football team would give him some reason to celebrate. The match was against a weak team, and a win would not be unexpected, but he’d celebrate it anyhow.

However, twenty minutes into the game the main defender was red carded for committing a completely ridiculous foul. He chose to shut down the TV thinking to himself, “Let these morons earn money and play football. Why spoil my mood for them? Even if they win the title, I will not get a single penny.”

While he wallowed in these thoughts, the bell rang. He knew that this could be a human none other than his great wife. He opened the door and found his wife smiling brightly.

“What happened? How come so happy?”

His wife handed him a letter. While reading it, Rishi faked a plastic smile, but internally, he was shocked. Ideally, his wife’s promotion should have made him happy, but the disparity that now existed between him and his wife in terms of money was incredible. Yet, somehow, he managed a smile and said, “Congratulations! I’ll go and bring sweets!”

“Yes, I was about to ask you to do that. By the way, my colleagues are asking for a party so I told them that I’ll throw one on Saturday.”, she said.

He was slightly annoyed by her behavior. She was already hinting at imposing herself on him. God knows what she would do if she gets promoted again. And party. He hated parties. Parties meant the inevitability of people asking him, “What do you do?”

He never lied to them, and said insurance agent. Their reactions made him feel awfully bad. “They are probably thinking, how come a nincompoop like me married such a talented girl? They will probably think, why on earth did she marry an insurance agent and not a doctor or something? Lucky guy, they must be thinking. One who is a servant to his wife.”

“Lucky guy, my foot.” He wanted to say to them. “I may have money and all, but self-respect and happiness? They have deserted me.”

He thought of the endless nights he had pined for this girl. How much he believed at that point, that getting her would be the medicine to all the sadness in his life. Now, the same lady was causing him sadness. He told himself, ‘Love is such a fickle thing. People should not let their lives be decided by it. If only she had decided not to marry me.’

The thought seemed very sharp even to Rishi, the one from whom it had originated. He realized that his thoughts were becoming unreasonable. “Poor lady, what is her fault? Why am I blaming her? This is such an important moment in her life and, I, instead of being there to celebrate with her am behaving completely selfish.”

He immediately decided to make up for his unjust thoughts by giving her something. But what to gift? Bouquets & chocolates were too cliché and to him, something he found that people with a lack of ideas gifted. Books seemed not-so-appropriate in that situation. Jewellery was something that rich people with lack of ideas gifted. He was neither rich, nor did he lack ideas.

After much contemplation, he knew what he had to do. Yes, it was cheesy and out of character, but he was damn sure that it would make his wife happy.

***

This time, his wife opened the door to find him smiling.

“What happened? How come so happy?” , she asked mocking his tone.

Rishi just handed her a letter. Which she read,

“My Dearest Wife,

You know I am not good at writing love letters any more. But then I couldn’t think of giving you a better experience than this. So yes, fighting my inner demons which are now crippling me for being so mushy and all, I have decided to slit open my heart to write this for you.

It’s amazing how the person that once dominated your heart for every living moment, becomes estranged to you the moment you realize that you have every living moment to live with them. Nature has a funny way of keeping us dissatisfied, I tell you. But tonight I am defying nature to re-experience the same love for you as I did in my younger days.

Tonight, I am the same Rishi whose arrogance you found irresistable once upon a time. Tonight, I am the same Rishi whom you knew you could spend the rest of your life with. Tonight, I am the same Rishi who sang songs of incredible love to you for hours on mobile.

We’ve grown. Yes. But, our love shall remain young no.

Yours Lovingly,

ME.

PS: There are a lot of things money can buy, for everything else – I’ll be there for you!

Rishi’s wife reacted the same way as Rishi had predicted. With happiness. He heaved a sigh of relief. At least here he did not suffer from bad luck.

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