Seema was upset with Aadesh about this, she wasn’t willing to give up her job at their place, because that provided her with 4 more jobs in the neighborhood and she was also worried about the ‘image’ beating if she just leaves without notice and starts staying at the Guest House.
Seema refused it point blank and told Aadesh to go home and she would manage. Seema suddenly regained her confidence and just then her husband too came, in a total inebriated state. Much to her chagrin, started calling her names and beating her all over, Seema had enough of all that nonsense and she just pushed him to a corner inside the hut and walked out on him to go and sleep with her neighbor Sunanda, another maid servant staying nearby.
Sunanda stayed alone- old woman with no children and was very nice to Seema. She approved of Seema’s liaisons and was very happy that Seema had a nice set of looks which would make her earn good money for her later part of life, her advice to Seema was to be ‘ambitious’ and set aside money for the future.
Next morning there was a big commotion. Seema’s house was on fire and smoke all over. When the fire brigade came and doused the hut, all was over, her husband was found dead. He had died of asphyxiation on account of carbon monoxide, a burning cigarette caught up on the jute threaded cot and smoke engulfed the whole hut, which consumed the poor man who had no clue what was happening to him due to his drunken state.
Aadesh’s mother and the neighbors came to see her and all were very sympathetic and gave her enough support. Strangely neither did Aadesh or Gangaram make an appearance and in the evening Rodney came in his Van. He told her about his talk with Aadesh and also explained to her that everything was okay and Gangaram would not trouble her any more and asked her to speak to his father if she needed any help. Finally before leaving he conveyed the bad news, Gangaram and Aadesh had a bad fight the previous night, Aadesh took poison and was currently in the hospital. His mother was not aware, Roger and Gangaram were currently in the hospital, and hopefully everything would be okay.
So much had to happen- just for nothing. Seema lost color and interest in life and wanted to leave the place forever when Sunanda told her to be wise and not get around taking decisions impetuously.
Seema was shattered.
This was not her way of handling life, on the same day, she lost her husband and her young lover attempted ‘suicide’ and was hospitalized. She was very sad and melancholic. This went on for a month and Seema did not see the outside world, couple of time Rodney called up but there was no news from Aadesh. Seema also was in a different mood and could not fathom any reason to think or want Aadesh besides ‘sex’ and that was far from her mind at this point of time.
Slowly life returned to normal, Sunanda helped Seema to get a new job and steadily life returned to Seema. One day she met Pradip, elder son of Gangaram, along with a beautiful girl, Seema understood her to be his wife and quickly wished them luck and went away. Pradip did not understand why she was behaving so indifferent till he went home and spoke to his mother. Pradip told his mother that they should help and rehabilitate Seema, Gangaram was not in favor of the same and told his son to lay off from such ventures. Pradip made up his mind and one day visited Seema at her place. Seema was not there but Sunanda gave him the access to Seema’s house and told him that she will be back in an hour.
Seema was looking down and worn out but was definitely beautiful. Her eyes were attractive and face exuded energy of a youthful woman. Pradip was stunned at the beauty even though she was without her bindi and mangalustra. She was a widow but not a hag.
“Oh God, She is really beautiful”, Pradip was convinced.
He told her his reason for coming and requested her to join work, back at their place. Seema explained to him that it was difficult since she had fresh commitments and will not be able to stick to ‘old’ and ‘new’ at the same time. Pradip tried to convince her and in the process could not contain himself and took her hands in his own and started pleading, explaining to her how much his mother felt they owed to her for all that happened with Seema’s life all this while.
They wanted and would like to help her out of the crisis and make her see better days. Seema could not understand the ‘owing’ part of the whole discussion but she could make out that Pradip was somewhat similar to Aadesh, impetuous and extremely emotional. She did not remove his hands and felt them real warm and made her remember Aadesh, she was about to ask him about Aadesh when something told her not to do it so soon. Pradip then got up “Achcha ab mein chalta hoon (I will take leave now), keep this with you, they will help in time of need, please let us know your decision”, saying he handed her over a cover with some money inside. Seema let it be on the dressing table and went up to the door and saw him going to his car.
Sunanda quickly came and enquired about the visit. She gave her the usual practical advice, ” Join them back, Gangaram cannot touch you and be sure to behave yourself for a while, make use of Pradip till you get yourself around some decent livelihood, kab tak ghar ghar bhatakti aur maari maari phirogi(For how long will you lead a life of a recluse) and then chase your love – Aadesh”.
” Mujhe uski yaad sataati hai- main thodi bahut diwanie hone lag gay hoon, pati ke marne ka gum to hai par us se jyaada gam is ladke ke ‘karne’ se pareshaan hoon( I am not able to get over Aadesh- maybe I am getting desperate, more because of his act of attempting suicide then losing my own husband)”.
“Chal ab kal se vaapas kaam pe lag ja aur jaldi se jaldi sab theek ho jayega, (Get back to work from tomorrow- all will be fine” – consoled Sunanda.
Seema went back to their place and was met with lot of resistance from Gangaram- he gave her dirty looks and repeated the earlier threat. She learnt to coolly ignore him and in front of him started talking to Meena more openly and once or twice mentioned Reena. This upset Gangaram and he was pretty annoyed and asked Seema to ‘behave’ and not to indulge in ‘cross blackmail’.
Seema just gave him ‘cool steeled’ responses which left him bewildered, she was learning the trick of managing male perceptions very easily and ‘thought’ she knew what to do with Gangaram. She kept him confused and to the extent that one-day during his usual pooja time in the morning, she strayed in his way and completely ignored his naked state and turned her back to him. He put his arm on her shoulder and the ultimate happened, Seema looked around and making sure of nobody around slapped him fully on his face.
This was too much of a humiliation for Gangaram, here he was trying to make amends and wanted to make her desire him as usual.
This act of hers outraged him beyond his usual level of temper maintained and he decided to let it known to her.
She knew it was coming and started trembling as she read the note.