It was monsoon on the streets of Mumbai, and I was waiting for her at the famous Oberoi Cafe near Malad flyover. At last, she turned up after making me wait for almost 15 minutes. She accompanied by two of her assistants, who seemed to be a kind of identical crooks. I had the table reserved, which made it easier for her to spot me. She shook my hands with utter firmness.
“My apologies for being late Mr. Shyam as I got caught up in a traffic jam due to heavy downpour near Goregoan signal. I am Prabha Tiwari, your appointed attorney and these two gentlemen are here to assist me in documenting our conversation to prepare a case.”
I never understand the fact that why women lawyers are so hyped about, especially those who have rusty guys with heavy mustache as their assistants. I had the initial hesitation to discuss a case related to divorce to another woman because I always believed that they have a kind of prejudice against all the men. Somehow, she sensed it with another over hyped sixth sense of her.
“So, tell me all about your marriage without hiding any facts and nuances related to it. Has your wife been cynically lunatic, medically unfit or is she cheating upon you in some or other way? I had done my little research on your life and found that it was quite a love marriage without having love at first sight, which is good. I admire such concepts of life where things are based on facts rather than instincts but was not really able to relate it to a stockbroker.” She said that many things breathlessly with a witch kind of smile over her broad face.
I decided to tell her everything about it right from the inception of my relationship with my wife. She switched on a recording device before I could start.
“Back in year 2014, when everything seems to be falling apart in my life, a woman appeared from nowhere and held my hands firmly. It was the time when I thought of giving up on myself and anything associated to me. But she ignited that flame and brought me back into the game, which I almost lost few weeks back. I incurred so much of loss to my organization that they were about to show pink slip to me, but some members from the board of directors were still having faith in me. They appointed her as my personal secretory.”
I got into stock market again, did my research thoroughly and made some smart investments and all that turned the wheel of fortune towards me. I became the star once again, got rid of any overhead liabilities on me, went to meet my parents and brought them back from their world of sorrow and agony. They agreed to come and stay with me at my new flat here at Versova.
After few days of success and celebration, I finally acquired the courage to propose her to marry me near the bank of river Ganga during one of our vacations in Uttarkashi. She seemed to be skeptical initially but later had to trust me after I made her hear out my heartbeat.
She asked me to light a cigarette for her and after having few puffs from it, she said “Yes, let’s get married and settle down. Our association has been favorable from quite some time, so let’s make best out of it.” And then she winked at me with a pretty smile over her face. River Ganga never appeared so serene to me before. Such was the bliss seeing her around me.
We got married in the month of July and went to Paris for honeymoon. Soon after the trip, we resumed back to our work. She continued to be my personal secretory and did all the financial assessment for all that transactions I did in those days. I must tell you that she was an unmatched analyst in terms of risk assessment of any financial deals we made. Not a single anticipation of her went in vein. Many a times I felt that she was way smarter than me and deserved to be on my chair as Managing Director of the company. My obsession increased for her with every passing day and one evening while having coffee on our terrace garden I said, “I love you Issica and I can never imagine a life without you even for a moment”.
She looked at me in dismay, which gave a shiver to me from inside. I wondered what went wrong. She said, “I love you too, but please do not say things which you don’t really mean. Such words from men are very likely to be a kind of sweeping statement, which are often said metaphorically.”
That night I hugged her tight on bed in a way to cast her all over my chest. She too curled up like a baby in my arms and kissed my forehead. I asked her gently, “Why did you choose to marry me? You could have said no there in Uttarkashi. I mean just look at you. You are beautiful, educated and quite an achiever. You must be having a lot of choices to make. There were bunch of younger souls than me in office, who were dying to seek your attention even for a second.”
She looked straight into my eyes and said, “I know where all this is coming from. So, let me clear your doubts. The day I was appointed as a personal secretory of yours, I realized that I needed you more than you needed me. I saw you struggling to make time to speak to your parents and friends despite so much of pressure at work, which showed that you truly value relationships. Your marriage proposal might have been in heist, but that certainly was an opportunity for me to have a wonderful husband like you in my life. On top of it you are a marketing genius with a golden heart. You treat people with respect irrespective of their social stature and such a trait is rare to find these days.”
“I felt little peace with myself like a typical male chauvinist after hearing her out, but somehow that insecurity was already instilled in me.” I took a pause and asked the waiter to serve another round of coffee.
“So, how did you end up suspecting your wife for infidelity despite having such a romantic chemistry between you two?” asked the lawyer.
“Nothing starts suddenly. First, she stopped cooking the breakfast for me, which she did out of passion every morning. Initially, I thought it’s just the burden of work, so I hired a cook and instructed him to follow her orders. Then she stopped travelling to office with me and preferred to drive herself.”
“Did you try to speak to her or met anyone from her family like parents?”
“Yes, I did. She never answered me for any of my questions. She says that she had been orphaned when she was 22 in age. In last 5 years of our marriage, I haven’t seen anyone in her life whom she could refer to as a friend of her.”
“How did you find out that she is cheating upon you? I mean is this just a kind of speculation or do you really have any evidence to prove that?” asked the lawyer.
“I have a reason to believe so. Couple of months back, she took few days of leave from office citing health conditions. One day it was bit late for me at work, so I decided to have my dinner at a famous Irani Cafe near to my house.” I said.
“So, what happened there?”
“There was a couple sitting in the cafe when I walked in. As the light was low, I didn’t know who they were until the woman turned around, and I saw it was my wife.”
“So, you mean all this which you call infidelity started from there?”, Ms. Prabha asked.
That caused some sort of irritation in me and I said, “I wonder how they call you a prestigious lawyer because I see you as a person full of prejudice. Do you really believe that I can simply declare her a cheat by mere seeing her sharing a table with another man?”
“My job is to suspect everyone including my clients because most of them lie to me shamelessly and expect me to win the case for them. I really don’t care who you are personally till the time you are paying up my bills. Anyways, shall we continue to this as I am not left with much of the time. You wanted us to file the case tomorrow. Right?”
Even I wanted to get rid of narrating a story. So, I continued, “The issue was not seeing her with someone over there at Cafe rather it was the way I saw her. She never appeared that happy to me before. She was holding the hand of the person with poise and everything looked like a perfect romantic date. She was wearing the same red dress that I bought her during our honeymoon trip in Paris”
“Did you recognize the person she was dating with?”, the lawyer.
“No, I told you before that due to low light I was not able to see the face of that person. But I believe it was one of my colleagues Amar as he was in tremendous love with her before we got married. He continued flirting with her even after our marriage.”
“Did you take any kind of photograph to prove that your wife is actually seeing someone known or unknown to you? I mean we must convince the judge not to let you go under serious counselling, which is very likely to happen if we simply go with hypothesis without anything to prove”, She said while making few notes.
“I did try to do so, but not sure what went wrong with the camera of my mobile phone. Everything came so clearly except her new boyfriend. In fact, I took the service of a detective agency as well.”
She looked at me suspiciously and frowned. “You hired a detective agency against your wife!! And what did they come up with?”
“They simply wasted my money. They deployed one dedicated person behind my wife for around a month and they found nothing against her. They saw her in that Cafe multiple times, but all alone.”
“In short, we do not have anything against her to prove the betrayal, which is okay. Did you ever tell your wife that you want to separate out from her?” She was still frowning.
“I did say that to her but never had the courage to mention the reason for it. Somehow, I didn’t want to offend her. She asked whether I have found someone else to live with. I felt like laughing at, but then I saw her weeping for long throughout the night. I still wonder why she cried?”
Ms. Prabha looked at one of her assistants and he nodded about something in ‘Yes’ to her. She asked, “Where is she staying now a days? I am sure she is not staying with you anymore.”
“Yes, you are actually right about it. After couple of days when I came back from office, a note from her was lying at the door. She has mentioned that she has rented a house in a nearby locality and she was fine. Same day I received her resignation.”
Finally, one of the lawyer’s assistant spoke, “Can you please take a day off tomorrow? I need you at my clinic for around 3 to 4 hours to have some important sessions. Trust me this is serious!”
“And by the way who are you Sir?”, I asked gently to the gentleman.
“I am Dr.Mhatre, a clinical psychiatrist. An expert in such cases. Many lawyers seek my services in a matter like this.”
I did not understand what he meant, but before I could say anything, they were gone leaving me puzzled.
Next day, I went to see the psychiatrist. Ms. Prabha was also sitting there. She greeted me with generosity and guided me to a well decorated room. I was offered a glass of wine. “So, what is this about?” I said to her.
“Alright. Let me be very straight to you. Based on our discussion we feel that you had a kind of delusion. We feel that you are being mistaken someone else with your wife. You might have seen some other lady wearing a similar kind of red gown that you bought for your wife in Paris.”
I was literally pissed off and wanted to break that glass of wine over her head. “You mean I am being illusion ed by considering some random woman as my wife in café. You must be joking.”
“No, she is not!!”, said Dr. Mhatre from behind. I did not see him coming.
He further continued, “And I can prove that to you. Let me ask you a question. Why do you think that detective agency failed to get anything about her in 30 days even after deploying their best men behind her? If she is having a perfect romantic relationship as you said and witnessed, then why others are not seeing it?”
For the first time in my life, I was not having answers to so many questions. I felt perplexed by all his questions. Anticipating my reactions, he pointed towards the projected screen. It displayed the CCTV footage of same Irani Cafe near to my house where I saw my wife dating someone.
“I have gathered those footage from the Cafe you mentioned yesterday specially for all those days when you felt your wife’s presence over there.”
“Felt?”, I failed to control my obvious reaction to his words.
“Yes, my friend. Because half the time she was not even there. Coincidentally, she went there two to three times on the dates mentioned by you, but just look at footage about what it says.”
The CCTV footage was showing her having coffee all by herself at a corner without accompanying anyone. Nonetheless, she was not wearing red gown in any of those footage.
One thing was getting clearer that my wife was not seeing anyone as per the available records, but the fact remained same that I saw her with my own eyes holding someone’s hand in that Cafe.
“Okay. Let’s do a virtual reality session. It’s simple. Please wear this head device. We are going to create a simulation to recreate the cafe’s situation. Let’s see what we can find through this. You will be able to hear me throughout this session and let me know wherever you find it uncomfortable.”
He handed a kind of heavy mobile device to me with head gear and bands associated to it. I was not knowing what was going around me, but I wore that device which totally covered my eyes and area around it. He switched on something and once again I found myself standing in the same Irani Café. It was an evening time and there were couples mostly students having coffee and chattering their hearts out.
“Did you see her?”
“Not yet!!”, I replied.
I took a corner seat in the cafe and ordered my favorite late and continued rolling my eyes at every corner of it. And there she was. I smiled to find her in the same red gown, and someone was sitting opposite to her. She was holding his hand exactly the way I saw her the other day.
“What do you see now?”
“I see her sitting with her boyfriend.”
“How does she look?”
“Stunning like she always been.”
“How do you feel?”
“I feel totally in love with her. I want to tell her that how much I love her and cannot live without her even for a moment.”
“Whom she is sharing the table with?”
That I was not sure of once again due to low light.
“Then why don’t you go bit closer and see it by yourself. In that way we may have some evidence against her. Right?”, This time it was Ms. Prabha and hearing those words from her scared me to the core. Now, I had no intentions to gather any evidence against my wife. I had nothing in me except love for her and it felt so ecstatic. Still, I decided to go.
Every step of mine towards her was taking my breath away and I was feeling numbness in my legs. My lips were getting dried up. And there I was, just behind her. I could smell the perfume she was smearing on.
“Now, can you please kneel down a bit and see the person she is dating with?”, It was a mixed voice of two three people.
I slowly knelled and saw who it was for the first time in last six months. I felt the gush in my adrenaline.
“What happen Mr. Shyam? Tell us who was it?”, asked Mhatre impatiently.
I wanted to tell them but fell short of words which made me to cry inconsolably. He took away that VR (Virtual Reality) device from my head and asked me to relax but I wept for next half an hour.
“Hope you are feeling better now!!”, asked the lawyer.
“Can you please share with us about what you saw there? I mean if you are comfortable then only.”
I gathered all my strength and said, “It was me!! All this time I was seeing the romantic part of me sharing the table with her in that cafe.”