"You know something," she said, "whenever it rains all of a sudden, something good happens to me."
"When the postman came with the appointment letter for this job, it had just rained that afternoon."
"And you started believing in it?"
"No, wait. Not just that. Many years ago, dad was in hospital. He had a heart attack. We were in Chhattisgarh then. There was only one small hospital there, a government hospital. Doctors said the only way to save him was to fly him to Delhi. How we managed to get into the plane is another long story, but the moment we landed in Delhi, it began to rain. And doctors in Delhi refused to believe that he had had a heart attack. He was perfectly fine."
"And you started believing in it?"
"Don't make fun of it," she playfully punched his arm.
So that night when it suddenly began to rain soon after they had ended up doing what they shouldn't have, considering that she was another man's wife, he was surprised as well as relieved.
Do you hear that? It's raining," he whispered to her. She didn't respond. She lay clinging to him, absent-mindedly drawing invisible geometrical figures on his bare chest.
"Do you hear that? It's raining," he said again. This time she looked up at him shyly, her face glowing in the darkened room. She smiled at him and nodded. They locked their lips and bodies once again and rolled over, trampling upon the guilt-bug that was lurking on the bed.
When he woke up, he found her arm around him. She was wide awake. Their cheeks were touching and her big, beautiful eyes were fixed at him. The gaze, at any other time of the day, would have made him feel smug. But right now it unnerved him.
"You are up already?" he asked.
"I didn't sleep at all."
"Because I was busy looking at you."
"Come on," he blushed. "What's the time now?"
"Wait," she said and reached for her mobile phone that was lying behind her. In the process, she let him have a good look at her breasts, something that she had refused outright the night before. She had made it clear that she would remove her clothes only if the lights were off, or else he could forget about the whole thing. So they had spent the entire evening in near darkness, guided by the dim light emanating from the next room. But now, bare under the streaming sunlight, she made no attempt to cover herself.
"Seven-twenty," she said. As she checked the time, he couldn't help notice that the phone showed fourteen missed calls. She pressed the key to find out who all might have called her, and they all turned to be from one number, identified as 'Hubby.' From the corner of her eye she noticed he was watching, and she quickly pressed the 'exit' button and flung the phone away.
"Why didn't you answer his calls?" he asked.
"Because I didn't want to. That's why I kept the phone on silent mode."
"But won't he be worried? You've been missing for the night."
"I want him to worry. I have lost count of the nights I worried about him."
"So you want to get even with him."
"Yes, can't I?"
"Using me as the tool?"
"Shut up, I love you. If I had to sleep with someone just to get even, I would've done that long ago. Do you think there is any dearth of men?"
"I didn't mean that way."
She now pulled up a sheet and covered herself. He got up and walked, naked, to the door to collect the morning's newspapers. The only other flat on that floor was mostly locked, so there was no problem opening the door a little while naked and stretching the hand out to pull in the small bundle of newspapers. He got seven newspapers, one of them being the newspaper he worked for. A part of his job was to read through the other six papers the first thing in the morning and find out if his paper had missed any news and then scan his own paper to look for errors.
He slapped the bundle next to her. She lay there motionless, her gaze fixed at the ceiling. He didn't feel like indulging her. He put on his clothes and went to the kitchen to make tea. In the fridge, he found three eggs. So while the water boiled, he chopped an onion and two green chillies and made an omelette. And while the tea leaves infused, he toasted four pieces of bread. He carried the breakfast tray and placed it on top of the pile of newspapers. She was still looking at the ceiling.
"Look," he said, "I have never done this even for my wife. Do you mind getting up and having this?"
"Why, do you think you are doing me a big favour?"
"Not a favour. I am just being nice. Now please get up."
She sat up, holding the sheet tightly around her throat so that it didn't come off.
"What's this fuss about? I have seen you naked. Now what's the big deal?"
"Oh, shut up! You haven't see me naked."
"No, you haven't."
"But I have."
"Ok, whatever. Where's the ketchup?"
When he got back from the kitchen, she was not there on the bed. He heard water running in the bathroom. He lit a cigarette and drank his tea. But hers was getting cold, and that was now irritating him. He rarely made tea, not even for himself, and now that he had presented an entire breakfast on the tray, she chose to go to the bathroom. Couldn't she have gone to the bathroom before, or a little later? When the bathroom door opened, she emerged fully clad, just like she was the evening before, and sat in a corner of the bed in a dignified manner.
"Could you pass me my plate, please?" she said. She smelt of his soap.
"But the tea has gone cold."
"Oh is it? Don't bother, I can't drink it hot anyway."
"Are you sure?"
"I told you, don't bother."
"Are you pissed off about something?"
"Pissed off? Whatever for? All men are the same."
"All men? But what did I do?"
"You did nothing. When did I ever say you did anything?"
"But you sound angry."
"Not at all," she said, as she took a bite of the bread and omelette. "Why should I
be angry? You men are the same."
Since she was fully clothed now, he suddenly felt like disrobing her and making love to her once again. But he didn't have the courage. She was sitting on the edge of the bed, in a ladylike fashion, eating her breakfast. He tried arousing her by placing his foot on her right shoulder and ticking her ear with his toes.
"Hello! What do you think you are doing?" she snapped at him, shaking his leg off. "Can't you see I'm eating?"
He felt a bit embarrassed and withdrew his leg. "I am sorry. Just that I was overcome by affection."
"Affection, my foot! All you men want is sex."
"Why do you keep saying 'You men'? I don't know about the other men in your life, but I certainly was not keen on the sex part."
"Oh yeah? And you want me to believe that?"
"I swear on God."
"You don't have to say anything. I know what you mean. I know you men."
"You are getting me wrong," he said.
"I'm getting you right."
"But what did I do? Did I do or say something to piss you off?"
"Nothing. It's just that I love my husband."
"Then why didn't you take his calls? He kept calling the whole night"
"That's a personal matter."
He saw her off at the elevator and said, "Bye, Meenakshi." Only last evening, she had told him, "Get used to calling me Meenu."