‘You’re getting hitched?!! You’re giving up your freedom, man! Why on earth would you marry? That’s it, you’re a dead man now! Ho ho ho! What a pity, another smart dude will cease to exist!’ yelled Sudhir, slapping Mihir on the back, his loud boisterous laughter carrying over the bar to the dining area. Mihir moved a little on the bar stool, swiveling around and ended up looking right into the eyes of a fellow patron, a female at that, who from the look on her face seemed to have heard it all. He cringed under her watchful gaze, almost apologetic, appalled that his friend would cast a doubt on the entire women species and invite their wrath, like maybe that of the one sitting next to him. He almost mouthed a silent ‘SORRY’ but then thought better of it and decided to let his friend bear the brunt instead. After all, Sudhir had gotten him into trouble on several occasions earlier. Picking up his glass of Blender’s Pride and sporting a smug smile, he leaned back on the stool, allowing the lady a clear line of sight at his friend. And the woman took the bait – hook, line and sinker.
‘Ahem … I couldn’t help overhearing, Sudhir. Loss of freedom, you were saying?’ she enquired, a sickly sweet smile on her face. Mihir glanced at her, feeling something amiss but then his gaze settled on the way her eyes spoke, almost as if she were challenging Sudhir to war. He hoped Sudhir would just apologize for his misogynistic remark and step back but Sudhir, being the utter moron that he was, didn’t see the danger in her question.
‘Yeah, duh! What’d you think? He’s gonna be governed by the Home Secretary now – what times he comes home, who does he meet, who he calls! He won’t even able to go to a bar in peace. Look at me. Cricket, booze all terminated. That your idea of fun, lady?’’
Mihir downed his glass of whiskey and asked for a refill. This was going to be interesting. He wondered if he should just call an ambulance and have them on standup while the lady chewed him up.
‘I see. And what would you be doing in a bar then?’ She asked, her voice calm, but her eyes twinkling with a dare.
‘What’s it to you?’ Sudhir asked, his speech slightly slurred.
‘He just played a tournament. Cricket with the school team. Celebrating their victory.’ Mihir said softly, pitching in on behalf of his friend.
‘In a bar. After cricket. Of course. And so, what freedom have you lost, if I may ask? Aruna’s still home running the show while you bitch about losing your freedom, you ass.’ She remarked, her disgust apparent in the shake of her head.
And then suddenly it struck Mihir, what he had missed noticing.
‘How do you know their names … Who are you?’ He asked, looking at her like he was trying to place her from before, wondering where he might know her from.
She let herself smile. ‘I was wondering when you would ask. I thought you’d have recognized me by now! You should have made me when I called him Sudhir earlier!!’ She remarked, letting out a soft chuckle. ‘Rachna! …’ She said, continuing. ‘Aruna’s friend from work! Don’t you remember we’ve met once? At bowling?’ She asked.
‘Oh man, I’m so royally screwed, ain’t I?’ groaned Sudhir, from the other end of the table.
‘Not so easy, old man. Why would I lose my insurance so quick! That’s my trump card mister! I’m gonna wait for my moment of glory! You just wait, ha! ’ smirked Rachna, grinning devilishly.
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