04. Deceit, again | Ivory

August 16, 2020 Sujay Sarma

Though it had now been seven years since her divorce, she continued to run into common friends and people from that life gone by. Sometimes, she had spotted her ex-husband browsing through stores she was visiting and she had just about managed to run away without being spotted. “I think he wants to get back…


Though it had now been seven years since her divorce, she continued to run into common friends and people from that life gone by. Sometimes, she had spotted her ex-husband browsing through stores she was visiting and she had just about managed to run away without being spotted.

“I think he wants to get back with you.” A friend had told her once.

“Why do you say that?” She was puzzled.

“Truth be told, I think he misses you.” The friend had teased her. “Either that, or no one else would marry him.”

“I am guessing its the latter.” Spruti had winked.

She did not want to get back with him. Or even see him. She was over it and wanted no part of it haunting her or her daughter.


“You know, I think it is high time you married someone.” Her mother once begged her.

A chill ran down her spine. The thought terrified her. She was over Satish, but the thought of letting someone into her life, into her heart, and trusting that person… mortified her.

That weekend, as Naina and Spruti lay on the couch, curled up, watching a re-run of Tom and Jerry, she decided to ask her.

“Do you think I should get married?”

“What?”

“Do you think I should get married? Do you feel you want a father?”

“No mumma, I am an alien. I don’t need a father.” Naina replied.

Spruti was shocked. She had always imagined that her daughter would share her thoughts. She prided on telling everyone that she knew her daughter’s heart. Clearly, the young child had other thoughts. Thoughts that did not gel with her own.

Beta, am I not enough for you?”

Naina looked soulfully at her mother. Her eyes said everything. But Spruti refused to believe what she was expressing.


Back in Delhi, Satish had tried with half a heart to find Spruti in an effort to rekindle things. He missed her desperately. The events that led up to their divorce had taken a toll on his relationship with his parents and sister.

Alia had since married and moved out. They hardly ever spoke now. Last year, she did not even call him for Bhaiyya Dhooj or Rakshabandhan. When she came home for Diwali, she was cold to him.

With a heavy heart and at the insistence of his mother to find himself another wife, Satish set up his profile on a popular matrimonial website. One day, he was browsing through the suggested list of matches, when he came across Spruti’s profile.

He sat up bolt upright.

“She’s looking to remarry too!” He whistled to himself.

He moped around the house all day, upset that if she were to remarry, then he would lose her for ever.

Later that evening, Satish sat at a bar with a few of his friends. As he sipped his Long Island Iced Tea, he explained his predicament to his favorite boys.

“Are you still seriously thinking of her, bro?”

“You know I would never land anyone better.”

“Better for what?” One of them laughed.

“Everything.” He sighed. “You know, she used to tolerate everything I threw at her. She was gold.”

“And you were stupid to let that broad go.” Another jeered him.

“You know what you should do?”

“What?”

“Create a fake profile. Use someone else’s photos. Maybe Jiten’s… she has never seen Jiten.”

“Oh shut up!”

“No, listen.” The friend insisted. “Then send her a request and chat her up a bit. And who knows…”

“Yeah, right.” Satish said dismissively. “And what happens when we have to meet? Wouldn’t she see it was me all along!”

“So what?”

“So.. she will be even more pissed off at me.”

“Nothing lost.”

Satish tossed and turned in his bed all night. Unable to sleep. He sat up and opened his laptop. Deciding to try Viren’s advice, he set up a fake profile, with the name ‘Karan’, on the same website. He used Jiten’s photographs and sent Spruti a connect request.

“Karan would like to connect with you.” read the email.

The photographs were intriguing. Well traveled. Not someone she would usually go for. And though he was in his late 30s, according to his profile, he was never married. Karan listed his reason as having too busy professionally and now he was well off and so wanted to start a family.

Strangely, he seemed to be looking for a ‘beautiful, divorced woman with a daughter’. How strange!

She set the laptop down and thought about it. Either this was a fake profile, or it was too good to be true. She took a deep breath. Then she picked up the laptop and with her eyes closed, she clicked. Almost afraid to look, she sneaked a peak.

You are now connected to Karan!

Fate, that’s what it is, she decided. Karan was online.

Ting!

She looked at the screen.

“Hello!” came a message. From Karan.

“Hi.” She typed back.

“Up so late?”

“Hmm. Finishing up some work stuff.”

They started talking. She told him about her work. He told her about how his life was based around having fun. Strangely, she felt a great connect with him. As if she had known him for a long time.

“Do you want to talk on WhatsApp?” She asked. “I would like to continue talking with you.”

There was a pause.

Had he gone to sleep?

Unknown to Spruti, Satish was frantic. The moment he gave her his number, she would know who he was. He called his friend. The one that had given him this ludicrous idea.

“Himanshu! What do I do now?”

“I have a spare number I don’t use on WhatsApp.” Himanshu told him. “Clone your WhatsApp and use my number.”

“I don’t know how to do all that.”

Himanshu helped him clone the app and walked him through setting up another WhatsApp account on his phone.

“Okay.” He replied to Spruti finally. And gave her the number.

Spruti opened Truecaller on her phone and tapped the number in.

“Himanshu” it said his name was.

“Your name is not Karan?” She typed into her chat with Karan.

“It is, why?” He replied, his heart beating fast. Had she found out?

“Truecaller says your name is Himanshu.”

Whew! He sighed. “Yes, it used to belong to a friend of mine.”

And immediately he regretted telling her that.


For about a month, Satish managed to keep Spruti restricted to chat. Himanshu had already blocked Spruti’s number on his phone. She had tried to call a couple of times and found him engaged. Satish convinced her that his phone was always busy with business-related calls.

“What business do you do?” She asked him once.

“I arrange stuff for people. I run an agency.” He had fibbed.

Whenever she had tried to ask him about his past or his provenance, he had deflected the questions. “Leave the past in the past.” He had insisted.

Similarly, he had never once asked her about her previous marriage or anything else related to her. When she had attempted to talk about it, he had shut her down. “I don’t think it is time now to talk about that.”

One day, Spruti decided enough was enough with the mystery. She called up an uncle of her’s who used to work at the Police Commissioner’s office.

“Uncle, I need some help.”

“What is it, Beta?”

Spruti told him about ‘Karan’, and his strange behaviour.

“Okay, give me the phone number he gave you.” The man assured her. “I will try to get to the bottom of whatever is happening.”

A few days passed. Spruti interacted with Karan as normally as she could, so that she could keep him unawares of the investigation she had started secretly. One day, Jehangir chacha called her to his office.

“I have the information you asked for.” He told her simply. “But you are not going to like what I am about to tell you, beta.”

“Tell me.” She asked.

“It is your ex-husband. Satish.” He stated, staring vacantly into the ceiling above her head. “Do you want to get back with him?”

Spruti shook her head. Nervously, she picked up her handbag from the seat next to her and started fiddling with it.

“The number you gave me is registered to a close friend of his…”

“Himanshu.” She completed what Jehangir chacha was telling her.

“Apparently, a bar-conversation led to him plotting a strategy to try and win you back.” He said. He told her about his plan and what he had been doing. “But, I have not found any reason to think he had any negative intentions, beta.”

She looked into the eyes of her friend and one time mentor. There was no agenda there. But his aged wrinkled eyes seemed to be silently pleading with her to give her earlier marriage another shot.

“Think about Naina.” Jehangir chacha told her as he escorted her to the steps on the veranda of his office.

As she drove back home, miffed, she seethed. “Everyone keeps telling me to think about Naina… Naina! Naina! Naina!” Narrowly avoiding hitting a person who was trying to cross the otherwise empty road, she continued her reverie. “Sometimes I wish I never had the girl. I should have listened to my mother and got an abortion.

When she got home, Naina greeted her at the door with a big smile.

“Get lost. Don’t show me your manhoos face.” she screamed at the little girl and sat down on the couch, her head between her hands.

Naina was upset that her mother had called her ‘manhoos’ (a person of badluck), but she had become accustomed to being called all manner of ill-names when her mother was feeling low. Sure, it was not fair to her. But the little girl thought she understood the stresses that her single-parent mom had to go through every day.


“Hey darling!’ came Karan’s message on her WhatsApp that night.

“Oh shut up with the nonsense, Satish!” She replied.

“Satish?” He asked. Some distance away, Satish’s heart pounded away within his chest. “Who is that?”

“I know everything. Jehangir chacha discovered your deceit and told me.”

Silence.

Had he run away?

“Hmm. How long have you known?” He asked.

“He told me this evening.”

“Look, my parents are pestering me to find another wife. I know you are still single. So I thought why not give ‘us’ another shot?”

“There is no ‘us’. Understand?” She replied.

Then she added angrily. “Seriously, get the fuck out of my life and don’t come back.”

“Naina is my daughter…” He tried.

Spruti considered it a moment. He had a point.

“If she wants to talk to you, I am not going to prevent it. And heaven knows that I haven’t spoken one bad word about you, regardless of how you have treated me.”

“Thank you.” He replied.

Spruti deleted the contact from her phone.


About the author:

Sujay Sarma is an IT industry veteran, about 43 years of age. He has spent 25 years in the IT industry and has done it all, and seen it all. Now, his passion is writing [blogs, stories, novels] and music. He has his own YouTube channel called "Sujay Sarma's Musical Adventures" where he posts his covers and originals, and a Podcast named "Interesting People Interesting Stories".
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