Note: Me and friends started this project a few days back where one of us would decide a title or word and then each of us had to write on that title. ‘Salt’ was a title suggested by me. Password was suggested by another friend. I hope you enjoy the second and final part of ‘password’. If you haven’t read the first one yet, here is the link- password-1
Rama had been waiting for three hours now. She was supposed to go out with Biju for dinner tonight. A plan they had made after several cancelled plans. In her Pink saree she sat on the ‘deewan’ of the living room.
“He’s not going to come home tonight. As usual.”, she thought to herself.
Rama had grown tired of this usual routine. She got ready and waited for Biju. He came home late in the night or sometimes never at all.
“It’s too much work. My boss will kill me if that sheet is not ready by tomorrow.”, he’d say.
The phone calls never ended. One after the other a different matter had to be discussed. Rama had been happy when Biju had been promoted. Their son was just two then. More money would mean better things for Ravi. The increment in salary had come with a lot of additional work. It wasn’t easy but Rama hadn’t gone back to work after her pregnancy so it was expected that she’d look after the house henceforth.
Rama had always believed she would work, even after marriage. She loved the independence that came along with it. However, the sickness after pregnancy had paralyzed her will to work and physically weakened her. Eventually, she couldn’t keep up and had to give up her job. Now it was difficult to find a new one because of the gap. She had given several interviews but nothing good had come out of them. Biju was earning well so the house was working smoothly but she missed work. The happiness of getting a salary, completing her work and going home to Biju, discussing each other’s work along with other things. Somehow amidst all the money and pretty things something still felt incomplete.
Ravi was four now. She would cook for Ravi and Biju in the morning. Ready Ravi for Kindergarten and pick him up after he was done. She’d then sit with him, make sure he did his homework. At night, she would cook again. On most nights, Biju ate outside. She’d message Biju but the reply would come hours later. She felt frustrated because she knew he was working but it had gotten so lonely that she felt pathetic. Sometimes she’d send him a flirty message and the reply would come quicker but Biju soon got busy and the frequency diminished and the conversation eventually died out.
At 2 am, which had become Biju’s standard sleeping time he’d climb in bed. He’d try to grab Rama and pull her closer but she’d be fast asleep by that time and he didn’t want to wake her up. He’d then take her phone from the nightstand. Rama was not much for technology. Her phone did not have a password. Just a swipe, and you could access everything. At night before going to bed, Biju would go through her phone. Just scroll through things.
He lay there wondering how his wife’s day was. He realized he was missing out on things but felt helpless like there was nothing that he could do except work. He’d see Rama’s whatsapp messages and read her chats with her school and college friends. Some memes, some stupid good morning messages some Hindi forwards. He’d then turn off the night lamp and go to sleep. Biju felt that somehow Rama was aware of this routine. As the night descended, Rama would be up before Biju swimming in her pool of activities that needed to be done to get Ravi ready for school and make lunch.
In the month of monsoon that year,Rama joined a school as a teacher. She was teaching grade X. Every morning now, she’d get ready along with Ravi and left for work. She travelled by a local train,as Biju would take the car. She didn’t mind. She could drive really well but she enjoyed not having that responsibility and looking out of the window. She was soon becoming a regular and even made a few friends in the local. Teaching was fun. It was easy. Not a challenging job. She hated mundane activities like checking journals. What was the point?
There were several staff rooms. Each staff room had separate desks for every teacher. There were four teachers in Rama’s room including herself. Mrs Lata was a widowed women. She was quite senior in age and experience and a favourite amongst the students. Mrs Singh who had joined recently just as Rama. And there was Deepak Jain. Every day in the lunch break the four of them would eat lunch together and discuss all sorts of things. Kids in school, kids at home, daily soap and other things that went around in the world.
Rama was happy. She felt she finally had something to look forward to. A world of her own, she thought. They soon made a whatsapp group. The four of them became good friends. Rama was happier. There was a lift in her spirit. Biju could feel it. She was happy,so,he was happy. She wouldn’t feel disappointed if her plans with Biju didn’t work out. She’d call her friends and ask them if they’d like to go out. On such days, Ravi would stay at his maternal grandparents house and Rama would pick him up later.
The routine continued. Biju was still swamped at work and came home late. He’d go through Rama’s phone. Sometimes,he felt bad like he was snooping through something private. He knew Rama wouldn’t approve of it if she knew.
One August evening,on a public holiday Rama woke up and did her usual chores. She then played temple run on her phone. A game that was introduced to her by Deepak. Deepak was the most tech-savvy person Rama had met. The previous day he was telling Rama how ridiculous it was that her phone didn’t have a password.
“Oh what’s the use of all this?”, she had said carelessly which had been followed by a lecture from Deepak about how dangerous it was to let your phone be without a lock. Mrs Lata and Mrs Singh had agreed. Rama felt he might be right. Mrs Lata was much older than her and still knew so much about these things. She decided she’d learn some stuff herself.
That morning Lata carefully set a password to her phone. She kept it simple so she wouldn’t forget it.
Biju woke up. Rama made coffee for him. Strong. Biju used to drink tea when Rama had met him but over the years the corporate world had turned him into a caffeine junkie. They had breakfast together,all three of them.
“I’m going out for lunch today with my friends.”, Rama informed.
“Oh. I thought we could go out today since I’m home.”, Biju said slightly hurt.
Rama had been looking forward to go out with her friends but she realized that Biju didn’t get as many holidays so she decided that she would cancel her plans with her friends.
“Okay, let’s go. I’ll go out with my friends later. Where should we go? I heard that new movie of Kareena is quite good.”
Biju felt bad that he’d flattened out Rama’s pre planned outing.
“You go with friends today. You’ve already made plans. I’ll catch up on my work. We can go out on Sunday.”, he said.
Rama got ready. She wore a red salwar suit.Her favourite. Biju gawked at her from the corner of his eye while working on his laptop.
“You look ravishing today Mrs Biju. Are you trying to kill me?”
Rama stood there stunned. It had been so many years since Biju had called her that. He would always tease her with all these traditional names. Mrs Biju, Mrs Rama and so on.
“I’ll drop you.”, Biju said.
They sat in their new car. A gift from the office. Rama suddenly remembered the old days. How they couldn’t afford a car so they’d go to Khandala by train. Suddenly she missed everything. Today even though she was sitting with Biju, she missed him. She wished he’d come home sooner. She wished they could go for a walk together.
They reached the restaurant. It had started to rain.
“I’ll call you before I leave.”,she said. She looked at him one last time. She’d talk to him tonight she thought. Tell him that she missed him. Ask him if it was possible to reduce some work and delegate it to others.
She got out of the car and started jogging to escape the rain. Biju sat in the car to wait till she was inside. From inside the restaurant,Deepak emerged out with an umbrella. He caught her midway and took her inside the umbrella. Biju felt a sting in his chest. He wasn’t the jealous types but he knew he had a beautiful wife who he hadn’t been able to give much time lately. He drove home with a heavy heart and drowned himself in his work and a bottle of whiskey.
When Rama came home,she saw Biju sprawled across the floor asleep.She saw the laptop was switched off and assumed he must be done with his work. She would not be able to lift him and put him to bed so she ran inside and got a cushion and a blanket for him.
When she tried to lift his neck, “I love you Rama”, Biju moaned in his drunken stupor.
She then proceeded to do some school work. Eventually she went to sleep,earlier than most days. Biju woke up not long after that. He noticed the cushion and blanket and smiled. He knew Rama had put them there. He started walking towards the bedroom. He knew what he had to do. He had decided to quit his job. Nothing was as important as Rama. No job, no amount of money could make him feel the way she did. On reaching the bedroom, he saw Rama was fast asleep. He would tell her the first thing in the morning, he thought.He climbed in bed beside her. He grabbed her phone. He was surprised.
“PASSWORD?”, it asked.
6 letters. He wondered what the password was. He kept thinking why Rama had put a password on her phone all of a sudden. He tried to think all night. He tried various words. Letters with numbers. Symbols. Nothing worked. He suddenly remembered Deepak. His mind raced around. Is that why she had kept a password on the phone. Did she like this guy? Did he like her? Were they talking to each other? He felt angered. He tried to type in Deepak’s name in the phone. He thought this was it. The phone would unlock but, it didn’t. Biju felt helpless like he had lost everything. He couldn’t ask Rama for the password. She would know he had been rummaging through it all along. He closed his eyes and tried to contemplate where things had gone so wrong.
——————————————- The End ———————————————————————–