‘Koel?’ Both Love and Sahil cried in unison. The ground slipped beneath their feet.
‘Yes, Mrs Koel Choudhury. Excuse me, gentlemen; my duty hours are over now.’ the doctor excused himself and walked out. Both Love and Sahil were gaping at each other.
‘Where did Koel come from? When did she marry him? What is she doing in Pune? And what the fuck was she doing with Aarush at a highway at 04 in the morning?’
‘Why are you hurting your brain so much? C’mon, let that bitch speak for herself. The doctor said that she’s admitted in general ward by the name of Koel…Choudhury…that filthy woman!’ Love couldn’t stop cursing her. She was all by herself responsible for spoiling Aarush’s life and now when everything was becoming better, she had again appeared.
‘Nice to see you back from hell. I heard that the demons once caught, seldom return. Then how the fuck are you back?’ Love was totally out of his control. He pulled his sleeves up. Koel was lying on the bed, wrapped up in a white sheet.
‘Love please…I’m going through a really bad phase of my life. And now this. How is Aarush? Any news?’
‘You know what? I will never be thankful to you for anything, but for today, that you gave my number to the doctor and called us for our friend. Otherwise, we can’t even trust our plants with you let alone leaving our friend alone in your care, you poisonous venomous snake!’ Love stretched his hand out but Sahil held him.
‘Hey, go out. Have some cigarette, or coffee or whatever. Just walk out for some time and let me handle it here. C’mon. Walk out.’ Love walked out adhering to Sahil’s advice.
‘How are you Koel?’ Sahil sat next to her.
‘Oh, Sahil…thank God at least someone is truly concerned…’
‘Stop the melodrama and tell me what happened last night? Why Aarush’s phone was off and what was he doing with you? And most important question – you were married off to America, right? Then what are ‘you’ doing in Pune? And why did you sign as Aarush’s wife? When did you marry him?’
‘It’s a long story…’
‘And I’m totally free…’ Sahil folded his arms.
Koel sighed and told him the saga of her broken marriage and how she got a job in Mumbai last week and returned here.
‘Then why Pune?’ Sahil asked.
‘I have a flat in Pune that my dad gifted me. Otherwise I live with two more girls in Mumbai and there was no privacy there. So, I and Aarush drove to Pune but while we were coming back, I lost control of his car and it toppled. I was wearing seat-belt and the air-bags opened out from the steering wheel too, but Aarush was thrown out of the car with such a dangerous jerk. Then there was blood all around. I remember that a car stopped for us. I helped them carry Aarush, back to Pune and on the way, even I lost my consciousness.’
‘Yeah, right!’ Sahil was drinking his frustration away, just to listen to the complete story.
‘And why the hell were you going to Pune?’
‘I said it’s a long story. Can’t you be a little patient? I sent a parcel at our apartment. I mean, the apartment that I lived in with Aarush. But there was no response from him, and that wasn’t like Aarush. When in the noon I got the confirmation of the delivery by someone who signed as Aarush’s wife, I immediately called Aarush up from my new number, but he didn’t pick up. Maybe he didn’t know it was me. I waited but again no response, then finally again when I called him at 02:40 pm yesterday, he picked it up. He was shocked to learn that I was back and when I asked him about his wife or marriage, he said he was still single. He agreed to meet me and then I told him that I was near the Intercontinental, and that we could drive to Pune from there.’
Koel stopped. Sahil was yearning for more, but Koel’s lips and mouth, both were shut.
‘Koel. I know this is not the complete story. What happened after that?’
‘Nothing. We just had a good time at my place and we decided to return early morning because both of us had to join our offices today.’
‘I’m not a fool, you get me? Tell me why his phone was off? Tell me why did you sign as his wife?’
‘God! His phone wasn’t off, it was dead. He had no battery left. He kept saying that he needed to make an urgent call to someone, but his phone won’t start. And I didn’t have any charger-pin for iPhone!’
‘What happened last night? I want the truth!’
‘Oh Sahil, nothing at all! We just hung out for old time-sake. He told me about his so-called living-partner Radhika too after he admitted that he wasn’t ‘as’ single as he initially told me. Radhika was the one who posed as his wife in front of the delivery man. I know he has moved on. Nothing happened between us. We just went out for dinner together, he just wanted his mind off of something that was bothering him. He didn’t even tell me what!’
‘Yes, Radhika is living with him. She is absolutely right in signing the mailing parcel with Aarush’s last-name behind her name. But you are totally wrong in posing as his wife in front of the doctors and the hospital!’
‘Oh, I posed as his wife so that they could attend to him without any unnecessary questioning. I would have even signed the papers and asked them to start the surgery if I had any money! My cards, wallet, everything is destroyed in the crash, so I had to call you guys. Moreover the hospital authorities don’t let one patient sign official papers for another patient. And if I would have told them that I am his girlfriend or even friend, they would have asked me a thousand questions and then they would have asked me to call my parents! This is India we live in, not the USA! I don’t understand what is bothering you so much. I wish I can help Aarush somehow.’
‘You can’t. And it would be better if you just stay out of it.’
‘Why? Do you know why is he tensed? Tell me!’
‘Yes! He is in love with Radhika. He wants to marry her. He is planning on proposing to her too. And it would be better, if you just walk out and behave as if you never existed, you get me?’ Sahil shouted at the top of his voice.
‘Sshhh…This is a hospital!’ The nurse on-duty warned him and requested him to be low.
‘I’ve never had the bitchy habit to come between two lovers. And I’m not asking Aarush to stay away from her. He told me about her the second he met me in front of the hotel yesterday. He didn’t hug me even. Said it was unfair to Radhika that he was hugging me, without her knowledge. Then I told him about the parcel that I sent at our old apartment, and that is when he started crying that he wanted to make an important phone call.’
‘And you didn’t let him, right?’
‘It’s not like I stopped him. But we eventually got busy with our things…’
‘What things? Tell me you guys didn’t sleep together last night!’
‘That’s none of your business. You schmuck!’
‘I swear Koel. If you were not here in a hospital and if you were not injured, I would have slit your throat and bathed myself in your blood!’ Sahil walked out in disgust. Love was already smoking cigarettes in the balcony. They both decided to call Radhika and at least inform her about Aarush’s whereabouts.