SHE A Serial By Varalotti Rengasamy Episode 5 “Just remember,my dear, that everything is a matter of choice – your marriage, living in Captain’s house, living with Rishi, your job, your daily chores, even your life. You have made some choices; but that does not mean that you cannot change them.” “Simple. I killed the woman in me pretty early to let the mother in me live. But the pity is, Shalini, even the holiest of mothers has to live only in a woman's body.” The words of her father and her schoolmate Sumathi continued to ring in her mind for the rest of the day. Could she change her choices now? She had personally chosen Rishi, this life, this job and life in this house, which was monotonously becoming more like the military barracks. If she chose to change now, what would be her cost? Would that be affordable? Looking back on that day, Shalini felt that the day reckoned in terms of events that had happened,was just another day in her life. Like the hundreds that had passed by and would probably pass by without significant alteration to their dreary schedule. But in terms of her thoughts, in terms of her emotions, she was sure that the day would have a special place in her life. Instinctively she glanced at her mobile. It was still switched off. ‘ Oh, sugar!’ She swore to herself, a luxury not provided in the Captain's house. She smiled to herself as she thought of how she always called it the Captain's house and never her home. She had switched off her mobile as soon as she and her father were in the car. She did not want anybody in the world to disturb her when she was with her Dad. She had forgotten to switch it back on. Now as she activated her mobile, messages started flooding in. The first sms was from her colleague, the COO of her company, Sundar. ‘Please Check Mail.’ She smiled and read the next message. It was from Rishi. “Call me. It’s urgent.” She immediately placed a call to Rishi. “Where the hell have you been? I have been trying to reach you since <st1:time minute="30" hour="12">12:30</st1:time>.” Given the days happenings Shalini was not in the mood for one more show-down with him. She patiently explained what had happened. Rishi did not seem to care one way or the other. He was keen on his work. “Whatever` he said nonchalantly. “Can you please pack my clothes for two days and give it to my assistant, who will come there now?” “Are you going out of station,Rishi.?” “Yes, I am. I need to rush to Tuticorin for an important inspection. I will be back in two days. Pack my stuff in the green suitcase. My train leaves around <st1:time minute="30" hour="17">5:30</st1:time>. So be quick.” Shalini was deeply hurt by the way Rishi informed about his travel plans, by the way he almost ordered her to pack his things. Shalini could not help visualsing the same scene had the person involved been a really loving husband. “Hi Shal, have been trying to reach you since 12 30. You are all right, sweetheart?” “Thanks for asking, Rishi. I am fine. Was with my Dad for lunch. I switched off my mobile to ward off disturbing calls from my office. I’m sorry, I forgot to switch it on.” “No problem, honey. As long as you are safe, it is okay. I just missed hearing your voice.” “Is it anything important, Rishi?” “Not really so, baby. I have been asked to go to Tuticorin with my boss, The Chief Engineer for an inspection. Kind of emergency. Do not have time to come home to pack my things. So if it’s not inconvenient for you…” “No problem, Rishi. Shall I pack for two days?” “Thanks, Shal. Two days at the maximum. But will try to be back within a day. I can't stay away from you for too long. And then, my friend has given me the address of an exclusive jewellery boutique. “They have exquisite sets of artificial pearls over there. I know how lovely you look in pearls, I want to get you a salmon pink set. And I will buy you your favourite – cashew macroon. Low fat biscuits for my slender, tender wife.Gosh, how will I survive two days without looking at you, hugging you, kissing you---” “Thanks a lot, me too, I can't wait, Rishi. Have a nice trip. I will take care of things over here.” She remembered her Hindi teacher explaining a simple word in Hindi “khaash”. She murmured the meaning of the word in Hindi itself. ‘kitna accha hoga, agar’. ‘How good it would have been, if.’ ‘Khaash’ – she sighed.