20 January 2015

*Short Story* The benefits of being evil - Part IV

Peeved and frustrated, Rukmini had to summon all her maturity as a businesswoman to keep from storming to the DJ station and making an announcement that someone had forgotten their pregnancy test on the bathroom sink. It would not have struck the right note. Instead, she used Rekha as her sounding board. Rekha's plan was simple - install a CCTV to catch the culprit. Rukmini grappled with the do-it-yourself technology. Hitherto she would have used a detective or paid someone to stand near the loo, but now all she needed was a gizmo hooked up to her computer.

The following week the camera was purchased and installed. Vikas was deputed to put it together and he couldn't understand why Rukmini would want a camera in the bathroom, but not near the till or the main door or the kitchen. The idea that she wanted to simply catch a pregnancy pen user amused him no end; would she also like one installed on her balcony to identify the pigeon who was playing havoc with her plants?

Saturday night rolled in and Rukmini felt taut with excitement. They were going to get to the bottom of this mystery. Both Rekha and she had brought their drinks into her office and while snacking on peanut masala, watched the CCTV footage like it was an India-Pakistan cricket match. The bathroom stall doors swilled open and shut, someone left a lipstick on the counter, someone lit up a cigarette (how had Rukmini not smelled it?); mostly it was women in twos and threes coming to gossip. Sudha, who was in charge of the bathroom came and did her job; Rukmini couldn't help but admire her fastidiousness. Then, after she put the mop and pail away, she used the bathroom. As she was leaving, a pregnancy pen was on the counter. Both Rekha and Rukmini rushed out of the office to the bar bathroom. As soon as Sudha saw them rushing towards her, she panicked, hitched up her sari and ran through the kitchen, through the back door into the alley. It was Rekha who caught up with her and assured her that they just wanted to talk. Rukmini, panting, put a reassuring hand on her and told her, whatever she said, she would still have her job.

Sudha was crying by now. She slobbered on about how sorry she was and she didn't want to do it, but the money was good, and with the baby she wanted to save as much as possible. Money? Rekha and Rukmini exchanged glances and Rukmini could wait no longer, blurted "Why would you, a pregnant woman, need to take a pregnancy test? Did someone pay you?" Sudha confirmed this between wails. One of the bar's clients had offered her five thousand rupees to take the test and leave the pen on the counter. She did it twice, but the lady could not find the pen. When they took her back to the bar, she identified the client as Rose.

Although they tried to be discreet, with the sixth sense all woman have about being watched, Rose picked up on their stare and then calmly walked towards them. Her manner suggested - Shall we settle this inside?

Rukmini was the first to say something. "Hi Rose, I don't know you. Whatever is happening between Sudha and you is private, and since it is not harming the bar in anyway, none of our business." 

Rose just smiled and said, "Aunty, I know you are trustworthy and a curious cat." Charmingly blunt, thought Rukmini. "I needed to be pregnant, so that I don't get married. You see, an astrologer has told my boyfriend that if he were to have another child, he will definitely get caught by the police and die a horrible death. I was going to announce this at my bachelor party, till I realized that I will need more than just words to convince him. So, I paid Sudha for taking the test and giving me the pen. Only, by the time I got to the bathroom to pick it up, it was missing."

Rose looked at a trembling Sudha, "Where is the pen?"

"Amma, I left it there only." 

The four of them trouped to the bathroom.

The pen was gone. Someone had put their dupatta to good use and picked it up anonymously!


  1. Gosh Shoots, this was a hard story t do. Thanks for commenting all along. I realized after I tied up the story that it really didn't do justice to the title. There was simply no creative way I could make Rukmini do something evil that was a benefit. Sigh. Last time I attempt to do a story with just the title as a muse.

  2. Ah! I'd say it was a good shot. Carry on writing :)