“Prashant, I am planning to go to Bombay next month for my delivery. It will be difficult for me to manage the baby alone. You can’t take leave from your shop and I need to have rest after the delivery,” Shibani asked Prashant.
“Alright Shibani, I think that will be better. Mom and dad will look after you well and I will also come I whenever I can. I will make all the arrangements,” Prashant replied.
Prashant gave a kiss on her forehead and left her for his footwear showroom.
Shibani picked up the phone and dialed a number, “Hello, ma! How are you? I have spoken to Prashant and he has agreed. It is getting difficult for me to manage everything all alone. I am still not able to find a good and reliable maid who can manage all the housework…Don’t worry I am taking care of myself and the baby. Where is papa? Ok, bye, will talk to you after some time.”
Shibani kept the phone on the table and started doing her household chores. The doorbell rang, it was Bhumi, her house help.
In the evening, Prashant came back from his showroom. He hugged his wife and said, “Shibani, I have made all the arrangements. Your tickets are confirmed for the first of next month. I will miss you, sweety. You know I can’t live without you and our baby. I will join you in the second week of the month. I have spoken to Mr. Lal, he will take care of the showroom in my absence.”
It was the first of May, Shibani was to leave for the airport.
“Shibani, let’s go, we have to reach the airport in time,” Prashant called her. “Baby, promise me you will take good care of yourself and our baby. I will miss you a lot.” Prashant hugged her and spoke softly.
“I know Prashant, even we can’t live without you. Please come soon,” Shibani replied lovingly.
Shibani was thinking about their college days in the flight. Almost, everyone in Hindu College knew about their affair. Prashant and Shibani were the most beautiful couple in the college. Even their parents were family friends and had no objection to it. Prashant’s father had a well-reputed footwear showroom in South Delhi Market. Her friends told her how lucky she was to have Prashant by her side. Prashant loved her immensely and would do anything for her.
Shibani was smiling to herself when the announcement of the flight getting landed in Mumbai Airport was made.
“Mom, dad!” she waved at her parents after coming out of the airport.
In due course of time, Shibani delivered a baby boy. Prashant had come to Mumbai, keeping his promise. Their happiness knew no bounds. Prashant’s parents also came to Mumbai to see their grandchild and there was a grand party to welcome the first grandson of both the families. Prashant left for Delhi to join back his business. His parents went back to Jammu where they had got another house for themselves after settling down Prashant in their business.
It was a usual day in the showroom. A woman in a red coat entered the showroom. She looked gorgeous in bright red lipstick and high heeled sandals. She started looking at the shelves and picked up a red high heeled shoe.
“I would like to try this,” she spoke to the salesman attending her.
After trying the shoes, she came to the counter where Prashant was sitting to make the payment. She kept looking at Prashant while he was making the bill. He felt awkward with her deep gaze. She winked at him and gave him her business card while making the payment.
Prashant followed her with his eyes as she went out of the showroom.
Sleep failed to come to his eyes since the sight of the woman in the red coat was not ready to leave them. His was still thinking about her as he lay in his bed at night. He picked up the card which he had kept along with his phone.
“Sabina, so that’s her name,” he thought.
He picked up the phone and dialed a number, “Hi, handsome. I knew you will call,” the voice seemed to be laden with honey as the lady on the other side of the call spoke. “I will wait for you at 7 in the evening at the given address and she hung up the phone. Prashant could not even get chance to utter a word.
“Mr. Lal, I have an urgent meeting with a new supplier this evening. I will be leaving early. Would you, please, take care of the showroom in my absence?” Prashant spoke to Mr. Lal and left at 6 in the evening.
The address was in a plush colony of G.K. He parked his car outside the bungalow. He rang the bell and saw Sabina standing as the door opened.
She welcomed him in the friendliest way. Time supposed to have stopped, he seemed to have been completely taken in by her charm. He was so mesmerized by her, that he did not even realize how much he drank and how many hours he spent with her.
He rubbed his eyes and looked around, still dazed. It was early morning and he found himself in Sabina’s bedroom. She was sleeping by his side. When, how, where… he did not remember anything.
He gathered up his belonging and quickly left the place.
Shibani and Aarav came back and he felt happy again with his son and wife. He decided to forget about the incident and not to tell anything about it to anyone. However, the guilt kept pricking him.
Time flew and suddenly Prashant’s health started deteriorating. They could not understand what was wrong with him. They consulted a doctor and underwent the tests and examinations as prescribed by the doctor.
The reports came in.
“AIDS, I am sorry to say Prashant that your reports have confirmed it,” Dr. Gujral told him.
“What? How on earth is that possible doctor,” Shibani spoke in disbelief.
Their world had seemed to have got shattered. She looked questioningly at him.
Prashant failed to meet her eyes. His memory took him back to that fateful night.
“Shibani, I need to tell you something…” he stuttered.
“It was when you had gone to Mumbai for your delivery, Sabina had come to our showroom…” Prashant narrated the incident to her looking down all the while. He did not have the courage to hold it to himself anymore. “Shibani, don’t misunderstand me. It was a mistake…an accident…I did not mean to do it. I could never cheat on you. I love you and Aarav deeply and can’t live without you.” He broke down as he spoke.
“It’s all over now, Prashant.” Shibani got up and left the room.
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