This is the final part of a three part story. Read the other two parts :
Part 1 / Part 2
‘Like a date, Dad?’, his daughters had teased, when they called him up earlier today….
Ria had her hair done up in a different style today. She seemed to have aged so beautifully! How had he forgotten how pretty she was? And those earrings!! They framed her little face with light when she moved. Not to mention her peach dress that promised a second look...
Roshan struggled with the thought of asking her about the affair during the drive to the suburban resort where the reunion was planned; when she put her hand over his, that he decided he would wait until later....
* * *
The reunion was a melange of hilariously endearing introductions, and surprised recognitions. Later, friends huddled into smaller groups to catch a few quiet drinks in various corners of the resort. Ria stood aside while the friends were gathering together “Are you sure you will be ok alone?” Roshan asked. “Why don’t you join us by the poolside too?”
“No… you go ahead. I am sure I can find other alumni wives and we can all sit and bitch about you guys…” she laughed, arm lightly in the crook of his elbow. She then flicked a few errant crumbs off his jacket front lightly. “Is that a new pocket square? You have been shopping without me, I see.” Was that hurt in her eyes, or suspicion?
After a moment of contemplation, she stood on her toes, and kissed him lightly on his cheek, her earrings dangling against his neck. “See you for dinner, Roshan,” and she walked towards the bar. Roshan’s hand went to his cheek involuntarily. It was not normal for her to make bold statements – in dressing or in display of affection; and yet today, she had done both.
“Something’s definitely different,” he thought uneasily.
* * *
The party continued late into the night, with old friends renewing their relationships. All through the night, he kept searching Ria out. While laughing at the jokes, he would watch her toying with her earrings. Damn! He loved those earrings…. He smiled in sudden relief as he realized what she had bought at the jeweler’s a week ago.
The drive back was unlike any that Roshan had experienced for a long time. Ria had removed her high heels, and had pulled her legs up to her chest. This caused the hem of her dress to ride back, revealing quite a bit of her thigh. He remembered a mole on her right thigh, and checked to see if his memory served him accurately. It was still there, as inviting as ever……
Back home, he opened the front door, and held it open for her, not missing the surprised look on Ria’s face. She went in for her shower, while Roshan caught up on his mail.
She came out of the shower in her towel, but she still had the earrings on. She walked up in front of him, and he moved to the side of the couch to make space for her. He was surprised to see disappointment in her eyes.
He hadn’t noticed how much her eyes had changed in the last few years. He hadn’t seen the little wrinkles around her eyes and her lips earlier. But she was still a stunning woman.
“Did you see my new earrings, Roshan?” There was something in that question that made him want to take her into his lap, and love her like he did when she walked into his life as his bride. Then he remembered the changes, the shopping, the other man.....
“Yes, I did.” Ria was surprised to note that there was a sadness in his voice. “Also your new hairstyle and the makeup… I loved your sexy dress too…” He laughed nervously.… “Are you having an affair?” Somehow, the question came out less flippantly than he would have liked. Ria was still standing, and she smiled naughtily. “Why? Do I look that good?”
“You bought yourself diamond earrings without calling up to tell me like you usually do and when I saw the amount I thought it was because you wanted to give ME a surprise gift… you wear makeup even at home…… your hair looks different, you have been shopping a lot.. I...I... Didn’t know what to make of it”
Ria looked shocked as realization struck her. She sat on the couch, looking rueful. “I’ve been missing the girls so much. I didn’t realize I was so dependent on them to make me happy… ” She sighed. “I just had so much time, and no one to look after. I didn’t realize you would feel this way.” Her eyes, with the fine wrinkles around them, threatened to well up……
“I am sorry I didn’t get you a gift,” she whispered sadly.
“Oh but you did, Ria,” Roshan said softly to his wife, his voice shaking with emotion, as he took her in his arms. “You most certainly did!”