Read Part 1 : “The Lover”, here.
Tuesday, 9:30 am.
Tvarit waved at him, having turned towards the school gate. Dharmesh looked at his son’s departing form and pursed his lips in a frown. He had adjusted to life as a single, divorced father, but three years on, it still confused him. Or maybe it was his son entering the teens that did it.
He put his Innova in gear and drove off to his office.
Dharmesh Hasmukh Bhide’s father had lived a life of highs and lows. From penury to a land-dealing business to almost losing it all again. Young Dharmesh saw and learnt, saw and learnt, and decided he’d not gamble his fortune away like his father. He’d saved the business once. He didn’t want to have to do it again.
He parked his car outside his office and entered the office.
“Good morning, sir.” The receptionist had a smile plastered across her lips.
“There’s a client here to meet you, sir. He’s in the waiting room.”
“Good. Get me two cups of coffee.”
Bhide eyed her blazer, and where her shirt buttoned. She pretended not to notice.
Dharmesh didn’t see that she cursed under her breath once he’d walked off.
The waiting room was a compartment with a tiny fan overhead, connected via a glass door to the main office. Bhide entered the room and greeted the man.
“Hello, Mr. Bhide. I’m Roshan D’Silva.”
They shook hands. Bhide invited him into his office.
The office was square-shaped, with velvet curtains drawn over the windows. There was a large wooden table with a glass cover. Files and stationery items were stacked on one side. There was a landline phone on the other side. The AC was on when they entered, which provided a soothing ambience.
“Please have a seat,” Bhide gestured to D’Silva.
Pleasantries done, coffee accepted, the men set to discuss business.
“We talked yesterday on the phone.”
“I want some transactions done. Jayantibhai provided your reference.”
“Yes, correct. Which area are you investing in?”
Dharmesh Bhide was a sceptic. He reasoned that when you had a father like he had, scepticism was a necessity. This kind of a business deal, face-to-face, was the perfect tool to be caught in the CID’s or ED’s net. All the same, he had his network and allies. One of those was Jayla, or Jayantilal, his cousin.
“A couple of new reclamation sites are going to be in business in Virar. I want some plots there.”
“Okay.” Bhide wanted to hear more.
“They go on sale three months later. I know you have contacts at the Mantralaya. So…some leeway would be important.”
“How kosher is your fund?” Bhide asked.
“It’ll pass the usual checks.”
Bhide’s mobile rang. It was on the table, besides his left hand. He looked at the screen.
“Yedi,” it said. He cut the call. Yedi translates to ‘mad woman’ in Marathi.
“Yeah, where were we?” he asked his guest.
Before the man could speak, the phone rang again. The same number.
He cut it again.
“Perhaps you’d like to take the call?” D’Silva suggested.
Bhide decided that that would be the right choice.
He picked the call on the next ring.
“What’s the matter?” He barked. Before he could continue, “Yedi” took hold of the conversation.
“What do you think of yourself, huh, not picking my calls?”
“I’m in a meeting with a client.” He tried to keep his voice even.
“Client? Making a lot of money, Dharmesh. What will you do with all this? Didn’t give to your lawful wife when you should have.”
Bhide cut the call.
D’Silva could see his agitated state.
“Please continue.” Bhide requested him.
“As I was saying…”
The phone rang again. This time, Bhide picked it up on the first ring.
“God damn it. I don’t want to talk to you,” he growled through gritted teeth.
There was a scoff from the other end of the line.
“We shared a life. You can’t wake up one day and decide not to talk to the woman whose kid you live with.” She scoffed again.
“I am not going to give you a single penny more, Nina. You ought to know better by now.”
D’Silva could see Bhide’s nostrils flaring. He could swear that the man’s handlebar moustache was throbbing.
“Oh I know all about you, Dharmesh Bhide. I know that right now, your nostrils are flaring, and the vein beside your lips is throbbing.”
“Would you stop calling me?” he shouted. At once though, he was aware that he wasn’t alone in the room.
“I could do that, I guess, after you pay me the 3.5 crores you owe me.”
“I don’t owe you shit.”
“You don’t?” She was cackling now.
“Oh, you do, you wife-beating, adulterer piece of shit. You owe me 3.5 crores. I have equal claim over the money you made during our marriage. Lawful claim.”
It was Bhide’s turn to scoff, which gave him huge satisfaction. “You lost the case.”
She was silent for the first time.
Bhide continued. “You lost. I won. Be happy with whatever you’re making now. Don’t eye my money.”
The line was silent. Bhide knew she was there, though. He could hear her breath.
“Don’t ever call me again at work.” He cut the call and kept the phone on silent mode on the table.
He looked up at the client, who looked flustered despite the AC. Bhide noticed his own heartbeat was slowing down to normal.
“I’ll call you next week, then,” D’Silva tried to smile.
“Uh, yeah. I’ll have your information by then.” Bhide wanted to continue the discussion, but the man was up from his chair. This forced him to get up too. They shook hands again and D’Silva left.
“This godawful woman. As if divorcing me wasn’t enough for her. Gotta do something about her,” he thought to himself as he picked up the phone and dialled a familiar number.