The bell rang for the third time. Rajni who was in the shower dreaming of all the nice things life had brought her way, rushed out on hearing it. Draping herself in a towel, she ran to the main door, her wet legs dripping water all along. On looking through the peephole, she saw a scary man hovering at the door. He had unkempt hair, narrow eyes and a small goaty. He looked much like the criminals from one of the ‘crime patrol’ episodes. Unwilling to open the door for a stranger, Rajni called out from inside …”who’s that ?”
“Delivery boy madam. There is a bouquet for you.”
Rajni was relieved and sweetly surprised, all at once. It was her birthday, the 11th of may and someone had sent her a bouquet.
“Leave it at the door” Rajni shouted back and went to the room to wear some clothes.
Rajni was a 23 year old pretty girl, in the prime of her youth. With flawless skin, sharp features, slender waist and long black hairs, she could be described as someone exceptionally beautiful. A software engineer by profession, she had married Sumanth a mechanical engineer at a reputed company.
Sumanth had been swept off his feet when he first met Rajni at her house on a formal marriage interview. He had just returned from Germany then, after his post graduation in mechanical engineering. Just 2 weeks into his job and his mother had arranged for this bride seeing drill. Rajni had walked into the hall slowly, clad in a light-blue, plain silk-saree with a long black plait. She had fragrant jasmine flowers adorning her hair and the aroma had only made her more desirable. Her sweet smile when their eyes met, had mesmerised Sumanth and he had at once decided that he wanted her as his wife.
In a long drawn traditional ceremony they were married and were packed off to Europe on honeymoon. It had been 6 months since their wedding now but the young couple were still in their honeymoon phase. Sumanth often brought surprise gifts for his wife and sometimes even got fresh jasmine flowers .
They were on the 9th cloud, drifting in the winds of love. Rajni had lost count of the number of times that Sumanth had said “I love you” to her. She knew she was very fortunate to have got a loving husband like him and he knew he was unbelievably lucky to have such a beautiful wife.
When Rajni opened the door, she was overjoyed to see a large bouquet of bright red roses. It was beautiful and had a small note stuck to it. Sumanth had never sent bouquets earlier and she knew it was her birthday surprise. The note read “l love you….”
Rajni danced around her house with the bouquet in hand. She cooked Sumanth’s favourite sweet dish and waited for him, dressed in the new saree that he had bought for her. True to his promise he arrived home early that evening and further surprised her with a birthday cake and movie tickets.
” Wow… thank you so much dear… you are giving me so many surprises since morning. First the roses and now the cake and also the movie tickets…” she embraced him lovingly.
A happily smiling Sumanth stopped midway shocked at something.
“Yes. They were simply beautiful. I have kept it in our bedroom. Thank you ….” Rajni was ecstatic.
Freeing himself from her arms, Sumanth stammered ….
” I …I didn’t send any roses…”
“Stop joking Sumanth. But they were very pretty. How did you get to know that I liked red roses?”
“Rajni….I seriously didn’t send any roses. Show me where they are? If there is some note, just check who sent it. Must be your mom.”
” Really?You didn’t? The note read – I love you. There is no name of the sender. ”
“…. and I spoke to my mom a little while ago. She didn’t mention sending any roses.”
Sumanth sat down with the note in his hand. ” I love you ..” pricked his eyes. His expression changed at once.
“Why don’t you check again with your mom, aunt, cousins or friends….must be one of them.” Sumanth tried to allay his worst fears.
“Ok I will do that later. Let us cut the cake and go to the movie now..” Rajni coaxed Sumanth into celebrating her big day.
All her dear ones had denied sending roses on her birthday. Sumanth was becoming paranoid thinking about the secret lover of his wife.
“Who could have the courage to send her flowers even after marriage? Did she have any boyfriend who still loves her? She is so pretty. She is sure to have had some affair in college? Does she still go around with someone?”
Sumanth began to have sleepless nights. Seeing her husband’s sudden change in behaviour, Rajni became keen on finding the secret sender of roses.
She skimmed through her memories, thinking of all the probable guys who could send her a “love you” message. Having been so beautiful, she had had many admirers in the past but had rejected all their approaches as she believed in being a one-man woman and wanted to marry according to her parent’s wishes.
“Could it be Ganesh ?”
10 years ago when in high school, a thin bespectacled boy Ganesh was the first to propose to her. Following her on bicycle everyday, to and from the school, Ganesh had stalked Rajni for three long years. Too scared to propose his love to her directly, he had written “I love you” on her hanky with red ink and had kept it in her desk. Horrified on seeing a message written in what she thought was blood, she had rebuked Ganesh badly and had broken his heart to tiny bits. She regretted hurting him but she was sure she didn’t want any relationship at that age.
Desperate to find the rose sender, Rajni got down to search Ganesh’s whereabouts. From the Facebook group of her school she traced Ganesh’s number and mustering all her courage, she called him and arranged to meet at a cafe nearby.
Elated on receiving a call from his old crush, Ganesh agreed to meet her. They fixed Friday 4 pm for their meet .
Thinking further about her past she remembered the next guy who had fallen for her, this time at college.
Ramesh, one of her good friends in college was very close to her. They went to the same tuitions and often studied together. He was one of the many guys who had openly expressed their liking for her. But she had ignored all his advances and had only treated him as a friend.
Just a week before their plus 2 exams when they were studying in her room till late evening, Rajni had fallen asleep on the table. Unable to stop himself, Ramesh had silently tried to kiss her on her glowing cheeks.
Rajni who had woken up just on time, was horrified on seeing ramesh so close to her. Upset at having breached her trust, she had impulsively slapped him hard.
Ramesh had a swollen face for days after that and he had even attended the exams with a muffler on.
Rajni checked from her old friends, got ramesh’s number and invited him to meet her. He agreed to meet her at 5pm on that Friday
She had expected either of them to have sent the bouquet but on speaking over phone, both Ganesh and Ramesh seemed to be comfortable talking to her. There was no hint of them being the secret rose senders in any way.
That evening, when Rajni returned from office, there was another bouquet of beautiful pink carnations dropped at her door. She was shocked. Her hands trembled as she opened the note stuck in it. It read..
“I miss you so much…”
She at once dropped the note and collapsed on the floor near the door.
When Sumanth returned, Rajni was nervously walking up and down the living room balcony.
“Why are you in the balcony?” Sumanth had become skeptical of late and questioned about everything that Rajni said or did.
“Sumanth, there is another bouquet delivered today…” she revealed.
Sumanth became furious when he saw what the note read.
He threw the bouquet out of the balcony.
Holding Rajni tightly at her arms, Sumanth looked into her eyes and demanded an answer.. “How many secret lovers do you have?”
“Trust me Sumanth. I don’t know who it is? I don’t have any secrets.” She pleaded desperately.
But Sumanth was drifting away.
“I miss you, I love you….” echoed in his ears. Sleep was long lost and he was not able to concentrate on his work either.
Rajni began thinking about the secret admirer again. She had to solve this puzzle to prove her innocence and win her husband back.
“I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop…” she muttered to herself remembering all the lovely days she had spent with her husband .
“These flowers have ruined our happiness…” grumbling so, she began to think of her possible stalker.
Could it be Suresh?
Suresh was her senior at the engineering college. He was a popular cricketer in college and Rajni was a huge cricket fan. She attended all his matches and often actively cheered for him. People began to tag their names together and soon there were rumours that the two were going around with each other. Upset with these developments Rajni had stopped going to his matches when one day, suresh came searching for her …
“Rajni..hi. I know you are upset about us being linked up. But coming to think of it, I feel it is not such a bad idea after all. Can we see each other?” He was very straight forward.
Already disturbed by the unnecessary rumours, Rajni got further enraged that suresh was insensitively asking to prove those rumours right.
“I only admire your game. Don’t you dare dream of anything else. And don’t talk to me ever again.” She had severed all her contact with him and the game.
Tracing for suresh was an easy job. He had gone on to become a famous cricket player at the state level. He had even captained the state cricket team at Ranjith trophy matches. She googled his number and spoke to him. Delighted, he obliged to meet her on that Friday, at 6pm.
Rajni waited eagerly for the Friday to arrive. She earnestly hoped to get an answer to the disturbing question from one of the three.
Rajni contemplated taking Sumanth along for the meet, but finding him already troubled by that matter, she decided to confront her secret admirer herself before disclosing it to Sumanth.
That Friday, Rajni left her office early and reached the cafe at sharp 4pm. Before leaving the office, Rajni took care to go to the restroom to check herself out. She combed her hair and dabbed some make up. She was meeting her admirers. Though she had no special place for them in her heart, they were guys who had made her feel special. She remembered all the lovely greeting cards that Ganesh often used to leave in her desk. She was reminded of all the help with notes and books that Ramesh used to willingly do for her. And she couldn’t ever forget about the cricket World Cup tickets that Suresh had specially arranged for her. Those guys had loved her. And she trembled at the thought that they probably still did !
Ganesh arrived in cool jeans and leather jacket. He had trendy sunglasses on instead of his usual spectacles and looked unbelievably handsome. She wondered if it was the same Ganesh whom she had deliberately avoided in school days. He had brought a large bouquet of while lilies. He had the same loving look in his eyes and the same shyness in his words. They spoke for an hour, Ganesh looking into her eyes all along.
Ramesh reached the cafe just after Ganesh left. He was still his usual flirtatious self. Smiling joyously on seeing Rajni, Ramesh hugged her and handed her the pink gerberas that he had specially brought for her. He kept talking to her excitedly, not moving his eyes even an inch away from her face the whole time. Rajni was embarrassed by all the attention. She failed to recall why she had slapped him after all. Engrossed in each other, they spoke for over an hour.
By the time Suresh arrived, Ramesh had just left. Suresh, the guy with muscular arms and toned abs walked into the cafe in style. He had grown long hairs and a beard and was every bit a hunk. Rajni stood dazzled by his hot looks. She never knew her admirers were so handsome.They spoke about their lives for long and he handed her a packet of chocolates before leaving.
At the end of it all Rajni sat in the cafe thinking of the meet with her past.. She was unable to understand why she had rejected those lovely men in the first place. All three had denied sending her flowers and she was not sure if she was happy or sad about it. But she was sure of one thing that she still loved her husband. And to see him happy again she had to solve the puzzle of the rose sender about whom she remained clueless.
Could it be the Nepali security guard of her apartment? Or is it her boss who had recently divorced his wife? Could it be the Bihari milk man, or the paper boy, the teenage neighbour with teeth braces or the cable guy with the crooked smile? Rajni was going crazy thinking of all the scary possibilities when her phone beeped.
She had received a message from her husband asking her to come home immediately. Expecting another bouquet as the reason for his message, Rajni hurried home.
Panting for breath, she opened the door to find Sumanth sitting on the sofa, red with rage.
” Rajni. I can’t take it anymore. How could you do it to me? You have so many past relationships and you are still in touch with them.” he spoke almost sobbing.
“What?? What are you saying? It is only you that I love . Trust me. How can you doubt my character? I have not had any relationships ever.” Rajni shouted not able to bear the baseless accusations.
“I do not know who has been sending the flowers and I don’t care. It is not my fault. You must trust me…” she continued.
“And what about all the guys you meet ?” Sumant counterattacked.
“Yes. All the guys you meet and who give you roses,chocolates and hugs?” Sumanth looked away from her and slowly revealed.
“I had hired a detective to spy on you. I had to…” he glanced at her stealthily to see her reaction.
Rajni frowned in disbelief.
“I was desperate to know who it was. Now it is proved. You were in relationship with Ganesh, Ramesh and Suresh. I am sure they have been sending you the flowers with the love messages.
Rajni sobbed uncontrollably. “You have seriously mistaken. They are my old friends.”
“Oh yes…friends who hug you and have been in love with you ! I am sorry Rajni. I cannot live with a girl who has had relationships in the past and who continues to have affairs. I have spoken to your parents. Please leave.”
Rajni felt like she had fallen off a cliff. She felt like she was sinking in a bottomless well.
She had nothing to defend herself.
“Please don’t ask me to leave Sumanth. I truly love you. I cannot think of a life without you. Trust me….” she was on the verge of falling at his feet. She couldn’t think of separating from her loving husband for no fault of hers.
The crying and convincing continued but Sumanth did not budge. He did not want a tainted wife.
Rajni refused to leave the house till her parents arrived, when the bell rang…
” ting … tong…”
“Who is it?” Sumanth shouted, not interested in entertaining anyone.
“Delivery boy sir. There is bouquet for you…” the guy shouted back.
Both Sumanth and Rajni rushed and opened the door. It was blue orchids this time. Rajni grabbed the note and ran into the bedroom to read it .
Sumanth, unable to go through another love message for his wife, sat on the sofa , grabbing his head with both hands.
There was a deathly silence.
After 10 long minutes, Rajni walked out of the bedroom with a suitcase in her hand .
“I am leaving you Sumanth ….” she said and silently walked out of the house without reacting.
Perplexed, Sumanth went into the room to find the note on the bed.
“Has her lover asked her to walk out of the marriage finally? I am sure he has…” Sumanth grumbled to himself.
Angrily he took the note to tear it into pieces. The first word stopped him from doing it …
It read …
” Dear Sumanth,
I love you and I miss you a lot. You disappeared suddenly after our convocation in Germany. I tried tracing you and finally found your address. I wanted to give you a surprise. I am carrying your baby. I know you are not interested in committing to me, but I have decided to have our love child. I will raise it as a single mother. May you be happy in your world. Just wanted to tell you one last time that I will always love you and will see you in our child.