Atul could see the double ticks on all his messages, which meant all were delivered to her and that in turn meant her phone was fine. Probably it was stolen, or she lost it! But No! Anyone would switch it off first, and each time he tried the number the bell was ringing, and Sanika’s caller tune rang in his ears. It was his favourite song ‘You are Beautiful‘ By James Blunt.
He was going over and over the possibilities in his head. What could have happened? He was trying to be rational before reaching any conclusions. He wasn’t a radical person, but it was not Sanika’s thing to be away from her phone that long. Wasn’t it human nature to reach the worst conclusions when there was uncertainty or was it preparing self for the worst?
“Love, I am worried sick. REPLY!!!” It was his 82nd message to his wife as he was pacing his bedroom. It was 3 AM, and Switzerland was three and half hours behind, which meant it must be 11:30 PM there. ‘Where would she go at this hour?‘ Atul spoke to the empty room; his eyes were on the screen of his WhatsApp.
And just then all the ticks turned blue, he sighed in relief and ran his fingers through his hair. ‘Finally, she is there.’ He breathed.
He was about to call Sanika’s number when he saw she was typing something.
“Hello!” Said the message. Atul gaped at the word and anger coursed in his system at the one word.
“Sanika??? Where the hell were you all this time?” Atul texted back with gritted teeth.
“This is not her Mr Trihan” Came the next message and Atul couldn’t make out what it meant.
“I know you must be having a 100 questions running amok in your mind right now. Let me answer the first one. I am Pranay this side.” The message froze Atul. He massaged the back of his neck and pursed his lips.
“Where is my wife?” he texted back apprehensively.
“Don’t worry she is not kidnapped or something. I happen to be her old friend and saw her passed out on the couch of a bar here. I couldn’t leave her there as it was night and all sorts of people frequent bars, so I have brought her to her hotel. I am just leaving but decided to let you know she is fine when I saw that many calls and messages on her phone.” Came the next message which made Atul go through a plethora of emotions at once. From concern and worry to anger and suspicion to jealousy and fear, finally placing him in horror as he now knew who this man was. Sanika had shared all about her love life before marriage to Atul.
His thumb hovered over his keypad. What should he write back? He took a deep breath and typed “Thank You So Much; I guess I know you, Sanika mentioned you. I would appreciate if you wake her up and let make me speak to her once. I am sorry for all the trouble we are putting you through, but I need to hear her.” Atul texted back. It felt so weird, such breach of privacy. This man, his wife’s ex-lover bringing his wasted wife back to her hotel and being there in her room while he was texting, requesting to speak to his own wife.
“Alright, let me try. I can understand your dilemma.” Came the reply.
Nothing happened for the next couple of minutes and Atul pictures a millennia different scenarios in his mind’s eye. He could see Pranay patting his wife’s cheek and calling her ‘Sani…Sani! Wake up your hubby is calling‘ He felt repulsed at the idea and immediately dialled Sanika’s the number.
The call was picked, and a polished and polite male voice spoke from the other end, “Hello Mr Trihan, Pranay this side.” Atul hesitated, cleared his throat and contemplated what does one say to his wife’s ex-lover.