She stepped onto the deserted platform and looked about her. She felt the drop of perspiration drip slowly down her back. Where did Mr. Murthy disappear? Damn! There was so much traffic on the road, with cars, auto rickshaws, bullock carts, cows and hand-carts, all occupying the same strip of the road! If only she had followed him discretely but kept a safe distance!
She fumbled into her bag and fished out the cell phone.
“Hello Mrs. Murthy. I lost him again.” She whispered into the phone.
“Oh! No! Search him! I need to know where he is going. I heard him talking to somebody on phone this morning. Whom does he meet on a Sunday mornings at this hour?”
Urmi looked at her watch. 9 o’clock. The morning sun was warm and pleasant. She walked up to an empty seat and sat down. ‘Patience’, that was the first lesson she had learnt at ‘Rammu detective agency’, who took up the most challenging assignments, cases ranged from financial and property thefts to government overthrows to murder to infidelity. And the agents always got their man (and woman)
It was better to wait here. Maybe, he might come here if he has to go to town by train.
She removed a magazine from her hand bag and started to leaf through its pages.
“Hi, excuse me puhleez, may I share your seat?”
Wow! Holy Cow! She couldn’t believe her luck. Mr. Murthy wanted to sit next to her.
“Er…Ye..es! Of course! Please!” she said as she shifted to the end of the seat.
Mr Murthy wiped his thick brow as he looked from left to right.
“Are you new here?” he asked casually as he neatly folded his kerchief and pushed it into his pocket.
“Yes.” She said as she shifted her gaze from his long stretched legs
She heard the horn of the approaching train, few more people had gathered at the station.
They got into the train and sat facing each other.
While the train moved, they talked of many different things… when they reached the town after an hour; they were chatting as though they were old pals.
“Would like to join me for a coffee? I have fifteen minutes to kill.” He said as they crossed the street at the green signal.
“Are you meeting some-one?” She couldn’t help asking.
“Yes. Just a friend.” He smiled and he passed his hand through his thick brown hair.
They had coffee in silence, enjoying the jazz from the juke box.
He shook her hand and took leave of her. She followed his movement as she saw him enter a dental clinic that was facing the side lane.
She waited in the coffee shop and ordered more cups. She saw him leave the clinic after an hour. It was time to follow him to see where else would he go now. She followed him discreetly as he walked towards the station and boarded a return train.
‘He came all the way to meet a dentist? Eh?’ she wondered. He had said ‘a friend’, not ‘doctor’? ‘But why didn’t he say that he was visiting a dentist?’ ‘Was she a lover?’ ‘Was he unfaithful to his wife?’ Should she inform Mrs. Murthy?
She decided to investigate. She went back to the clinic and read the nameplate that said “Dr Suman Dutt’ she went inside to speak to the receptionist.
“Is Mr. Murthy in?” she asked innocently.
“Mr. Murthy? What about him?”
“I need to meet him.” She said
“Meet him next week. He just left.”
“You mean to say that he comes here regularly? Why?”
“Sorry Maam, it’s personal. I cannot discuss with you.” She said as she continued to look into her files.
For next 2 months, she watched from a coffee shop, and saw him enter the clinic regularly, and she was convinced that Mr. Murthy had more than one reason to visit his dentist.
“Mrs. Murthy. You were right. It is serious!” she spoke on phone, giving her all the details. “You can confront them.”
“Oh Miya Goodnesh! He comes to Mumbai regularly and does not even visit his sister, who lives in the same town!” she exclaimed as she made a note of the address.
That evening, Mrs. Murthy casually asked her husband whether he knew any dentist by the name of Dr.Suman Dutt. But, he faked ignorance.
Following Saturday, Mrs. Murthy took permission from her husband to stay with his sister for few days in town. How could her husband cheat on her? She was feeling miserable. His sister, too, was unaware of her brother’s visits to her town.. She had to put an end to this. She needed to teach that dentist a lesson!
Early Sunday morning, she reported at the clinic.
“Do you have an appointment?” asked the receptionist as she looked into her appointment book.
“I need to see this doctor immediately. I don’t need any appointment.” She said as she barged her way through the door.
But Mrs. Murthy was already inside the cabin. The soft breeze poured into the cabin as the door shut heavily against the wall. Dr Suman Dutt raised her brow and stared at Mrs. Murthy.
“What the hell…Who are you? Coming forcibly like this…..” said the doctor
“I am Mrs.Murthy. Does my husband visit you often?” What a question. How many women go round to dentist clinic asking questions like that? She must have treated more than two thousand husbands on record and most of them visited her many times.
“Mr. Murthy?” said Dr. Suman as she turned to face this angry woman and took a deep breath.
“Now, now, now, don’t pretend, I know he has been visiting you” She was standing so close to the doctor that she could actually count her cavities. Even her teeth needed a little bit of whitening. The strong odor from her breath made her turn away
“Excuse me please. I have many patients. I have no time to discuss my patients with you? And why should I” she said
“Because this particular one happens to be my husband” as if she cared! She wished that all women gave enough care and comfort to their husbands so that they wouldn’t go barging off like that and making a fool of themselves?
“Oh really, then why don’t you ask him, huh?”
“Because he won’t tell me, and he actually faked ignorance. But I believe that you are having an affair with him.” Thank God, she was alone in the room. If her children were to hear this madness they would have laughed heartily. Theirs was a happy family and they usually laughed away at the dinner table when they discussed the moods of different patients.
“I don’t believe this, you must be crazy, please excuse me I have to attend to my other patients.” She said
“Oh yeah! You have more patients to attend? Who? My husband? He will be coming any moment, isn’t it?” She was shaking now as she spoke.
The cabin was small and her loud sound reverberated in the room. Dr Suman was tempted to bodily drag her outside.
“Mrs Murthy, please lower your voice.” She told her politely.
“Okay, you want to tell me what treatment are you doing for my husband? Huh?” she said as she approached forward, her hand dragging against the smooth, glass surface of the desk and dropped a book on the floor scattering all the loose sheaves on the floor.
“Calm down Mrs Murthy. Sorry! I cannot discuss this with you. It’s confidential.” said Dr Suman as she bend down to pick her book and the papers from the floor.
“You cannot discuss with me? Confidential? Huh?” she walked two steps and came closer to Dr Suman, and pulled her arm with her tight grip. Dr Suman wondered if she had gotten up from the wrong side of her bed.
“Please Mrs Murthy. You are hurting me!” said Dr Suman as she released her arm from her grip.
“I am his wife and you cannot tell me? Why? Eh? Tell me the truth! I know about your affair. Just let go of my husband…Do you hear me? I will not allow it…” she was almost screaming now as she came forward and suddenly pulled doctor’s hair hard, almost plucking it out from its roots. On an impulse, Dr Suman took a sharp turn raising her elbow up in the air, gave a swift punch and Mrs. Murthy went stumbling, losing her balance, two steps backwards and was down on the floor on her back with her feet up in the air.
Dr Suman was surprised and embarrassed. She had not intended to hit so hard. She went closer to Mrs Murthy and sat down on her knees and held her hand. “I am sorry! But believe me. There is no affair. The secret is his, not mine. I am only his doctor, sworn into secrecy”
“What do you mean?” said Mrs. Murthy, as she straightened and tried to get up.
“Listen, your husband lost his eight front teeth in an accident when he was twelve years old.. My dad had made denture for him then. He came to me for regular check-ups. Three months ago, his dentures chipped off. He needs to make new sets.”
‘And why wouldn’t he tell me that? Why are you so secretive?” she was whispering now
“He did not want to tell you, because, he was embarrassed, because, he loves you too much and he was afraid of your rejection on knowing the truth.”
There were tears in her eyes as her husband entered the room.