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Network of Hope

Nidhi peered closely for a blinking green light on the Wi-Fi modem, hoping there was a connection. She reloaded the Internet browser and stared at the error message with increasing frustration. She knew Raj would be online, waiting for her. She called her husband hoping he would be able to help her.

“Hi, you have reached Kishore. Please leave me your name and number, and I will call you back soon. Thank you!”

She got startled by his voice mail, and the kindness with which he spoke. She looked at the time. He would probably still be in the subway train reading his copy of the New York Times, oblivious to the world outside. 

“Hi Kishore. Its me, Nidhi. The Wi-Fi is down again, and I was supposed to go online. Please call back and help me get this working.”

She hoped he would not forget to check his voice mail while he walked to his office building, and was not engrossed in a discussion with his friends about some terrorist attack, or protests in a communist country. Right now, she couldn’t care less about anything but talking to Raj.

Nidhi stepped out to the patio to get some fresh air, and saw a neighbor with her dog, who hurriedly walked away after a brief wave. Nidhi sighed. “Everybody is so busy with their life,” she thought. She had found this the hardest when she had first moved to the US three years ago, after her wedding. She took out her phone, to browse through some old pictures from the times when Kishore and she had traveled a lot together. She had felt like she was in a movie, engulfed in the charms of being newly married: the shopping, the excitement of setting up her new home, spending time in restaurants and movie theaters. It had been a welcome break from the hectic work life she had led as a lawyer back home.

But reality had soon struck when Kishore’s work hours had got longer, and Nidhi had to spend her days alone. The long winters, and not being able to drive around had added to her miseries and had restricted her indoors. She had spent the days just looking forward to the weekends. It had seemed like she was living two lives – one during the fun weekends, and the other, during the lonely weekdays. That is when she had met Raj, her senior, on a social website.

Their friendship had started with nostalgic talks about college and common friends. It had further developed as he had guided her for applying to universities in the US. He had seemed keen to talk to her, always ready to hear her out, knowing exactly what to say in return. His charms could have made any girl feel like she was back in her teenage years.

The loneliness of those initial months seemed far away now. It was now more than two years since she first got in touch with Raj, and Nidhi was really happy with the way things were going between them.  Raj had recently suggested that they perhaps could go somewhere for a weekend. Nidhi was a little taken back, as most of their communication so far had been online. But she was thrilled as this was what she had been waiting for.  She was supposed to discuss the details of the trip with him today.

Her phone beeped indicating an incoming message, and she eagerly looked at it, to see if it was Kishore. But it was a brief and hurried message from her friend Rashmi.

“Meet me at the usual coffee shop in half hour. It’s urgent. Seema is with me,” it read.

Nidhi got ready and left in her car to the coffee shop, carrying her laptop. She knew there would be a Wi-Fi connection there, and she could try to connect with Raj. As she entered the place, she saw Rashmi holding Seema’s hand as Seema sat there with a tear stained face. There was a suitcase next to the table. Nidhi understood right away, and rushed to the table.

“He beat her again,” said Rashmi looking pensive, her sympathy for Seema mixed with the old pains of her own marriage, “and this time with an iron rod.”

Seema burst into tears as Nidhi hugged her saying, “It will be over soon. I promise!”

Nidhi looked at Rashmi and said, “We have all the proof we need. But you know how shrewd Raj is. He is a lawyer too, after all. l was hoping to catch him red handed on the weekend trip. But with this, he has invited us to call the cops on him right away.”

The three ladies sat hand in hand, in the place where they had met months ago, by chance when Nidhi had wandered in looking for a Wi-Fi connection.  They had become good friends since then, the bond between them building – strengthened by the revelation of Raj being Seema’s husband, and Nidhi and Rashmi eager to teach him a lesson. A lot had happened since then. Nidhi was done with her year of supplemental law school and had just passed the bar exam.

“Rashmi, this will be the first case for our N&R Organization for Women. And Seema, I will be representing you,” she said, as her phone rang. It was Kishore. She got up eagerly to update him with the latest developments. She could not have achieved any of this without his help!

 

(Image credit: Alexander from Flickr used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license)

(This post is an entry for the online short story contest – My Pocket Story conducted by tell-a-tale.com in collaboration with youthopia.in)

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Madhu Chandrasekharan

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