The Price A Novelette By Varalotti Rengasamy Concluding Part “Done, Chandar. I shall consult my auditors and lawyers and have the transfer formalities completed within a month. Then she has to sign the mutual consent divorce papers, Okay?” “It’s a deal.” Vidya heard every word that was spoken. She was devastated. She was more furious with Chandar than with her husband. Who the hell wanted the money? Her father’s riches were any day worth much more than her husband’s. Did she not throw away that wealth to marry Raghavan? And now why the big bother about assets and money while all she wanted was just her husband? Why Chandar made a big fuss about the assets? What was in Chandar’s mind? What was he scheming for now? In her confused mind a drastic decision was taking shape. When the next day dawned Ramkumar intuitively felt that something was going to be seriously wrong. He looked at the place where his bed-coffee used to be kept. Along with the coffee was a folded paper. Ramkumar took the paper with trembling hands. ‘I don’t want to stand between you and your new life. I am indeed grateful for the happiness you gave me before you became an actor. ‘You know you gifted me a diamond ring which you bought out of the OT money. You also said that was your way of dedicating your hard work to me. That was my last moment of real happiness. Not for a second thereafter I was really happy. ‘The clerk Raghavan needed Vidya; the actor Ramkumar needs Neha. There is nothing strange about it. ‘But I am afraid that for the second time in your life you are paying a high price for the thing you need. But it’s your life and you are paying the price and I, the price paid by you. Take care. I am leaving you. Don’t try to look for me.’ Vidya had not even signed the note. Ramkumar rushed to Chandar with the letter. Chandar could not bear the shock. He did not speak any thing. He stared blankly for a while and then fainted. Ramkumar was nervously loitering outside the ICU of the corporate hospital. He did not know whether he should wait there for Chandar’s sake or go in search of Vidya. As he was pacing up and down the corridor his cell phone rang. He was very relieved to see Neha’s number flashing on his mobile. She was the only person in the whole world who could console him now. “Neha, can you rush to….. “ Ramkumar’s words were cut short by a rude female voice. It was not Neha but her mother. “I hear that you are going to give all your properties to your wife and marry Neha with empty hands. Have you taken us for suckers? Enough is enough. Forget Neha. She is going to marry a Telugu film producer. Don’t ever try to call her. Okay?” “But my child, how can I leave my child just like that?” “You mean the child Neha is carrying? How do you know for sure that you are the father? Have you done a DNA test to confirm that? In these matters one guess is as good as the other. Anyhow we didn’t want to take any risk. Neha had a D&C yesterday and she is clean now.” Before Ramkumar could respond to the shocking news the line went dead. A doctor came running out from the ICU. “He is in a pretty awful shape. Would not last for more than an hour. Wants to talk to you badly. Please go.” When Ramkumar entered others left the room. Chandar began to talk. “I have just a few minutes to tell you every thing. I am not a good man, Raghavan. And I know you from your acting-school days and I also know that nasty affair you were forced to have with Reshma. “When I met you and Vidya in the restaurant it was not a chance meeting. I was trailing you both for some time and just barged in at that time. “Even before you saw Vidya I set my eyes on her, but lost my first love to you. When Vidya came to me one morning seeking a role for you I wanted to wreak vengeance on her. “I heartlessly told her that if she consented to sleep with me once then I will see to it that you come up in the cine world. She spat on my face and left the place. “In a matter of days when you resigned your job and were driven to the extreme of suicide, she came to me again.