Riya watched the man as he kept walking up and down the room at a distance; she was sitting in the far corner of the room. She watched him silently, not understanding what got him so worried. The man suddenly glanced at her and started walking towards her. He seemed very annoyed and angry. Raju stopped before her,” your husband is a jerk. He has refused to give us the ransom.” He uttered with arrogance.

“Why?” Riya asked, looking up at him.

“I don’t know. Last night he agreed, but this morning when I called him again, he refused…it seems my boss’s plan backfired on her.”

“And what is that plan?” Riya asked in a calm voice.

Raju stared at her and frowned. He hesitated to speak; ” The plan was to tell him that…umm…I have touched you…especially your private parts.” He cleared his throat and looked down. He looked away and added,” My boss thought that this lie would make him more restless, and he would agree to give us a bigger amount. On the contrary, when I said this to him and doubled the ransom, he simply refused saying he would not waste any money on a slutty woman like you.”

“Oh!” Riya smiled smugly.

“What’s so funny?” Raju glared at her and added,” Don’t you understand what that means?…now if my boss wants me to kill you, I would do that and even if she sets you free, your husband would not take you back. Any which way, you life is screwed. And you are smiling!” Raju furrowed his brow.

“My life was more screwed when you kidnapped me, Raju!” Riya laughed out loud.

“What do you mean? you live in a big house…your husband is filthy rich…you always roam around in expensive cars. Do you know what these mean to poor people like us? I do this awful job to run my household.” Raju shouted.

“I know. I was not that rich before marriage. We got married a year back. It was an arranged marriage. After a couple of failed relationships I decided I would go for an arranged marriage. When my mom showed me Dev’s picture, I liked him. He was doing his MBA in the USA back then. So we had a video chat; he seemed polite, humble and a fun person. We decided to get married. Even though I didn’t fall for him, I thought he had all the qualities a girl would look for in her husband. We got married six months later when he returned from the USA.” Riya took a deep breath and sighed. She added after a few seconds,” I clearly remember that day. I was waiting in his room after our wedding…I was a bit nervous and was looking in the mirror from time to time to check how I looked in my wedding lehenga. I was so excited and waited eagerly for the time when he would tell me how he felt seeing me as his bride. But he did not show up for the next two hours; it was nearly 2 AM in the morning when he walked into the room. He was drunk. Much to my surprise, he started abusing me and before I could say anything he jumped me. I could not stop him; I yelled aloud and he covered my mouth. He raped me that night and every night that followed.” Riya stopped for breath. Raju sat down on the floor at a distance from Riya.” Next morning, my mom called; I told her I wanted to go back home…she laughed it off. When I realized she did not get me, I told her straight out that my husband had raped me the previous night. She was silent for a moment and then told me not to say that ever again. She said it was my duty to keep my husband happy and save my marriage at any cost. Staying in that house under the same roof with that man was like staying in hell. I feel like I am a toy; he bought me from my parents and now it’s my duty to keep my owner entertained. One day Dev and I went to a restaurant with his family. A group of boys sitting at a distance were letching at me; I felt uncomfortable but decided to keep mum. Dev noticed them for a while. Then suddenly he slapped me in front of all those people. My in laws watched silently as he dragged me out of the restaurant. Once we reached home he started beating me up and said I had somehow sent them the wrong signal; I was stunned that day. Everyday I wished I had died before he came back home in the night. My job is no less awful, Raju.”

“Why didn’t you elope?” Raju asked, after a while.

Riya laughed lightly,” it’s not that easy. Unless and until he abandons me, I can’t go anywhere.” She sighed.

Raju was about to say something, when his phone rang; “It’s madam, my boss.” he said and putting the phone to his ear, went to the far corner of the room.

He came back after a while.” Thank God! she told me to set you free.” He sighed in relief. He frowned and added after a few seconds,” But…where will you go?”

Riya got up from the floor and walked to him; she smiled and said,” Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. For now, I will live with my best friend…who happens to be your boss.”

“What!” Raju was dumbfounded.

Riya smiled again;” We had started planning my kidnap a few months ago; I knew how to make my husband abandon me and my best friend helped me in this.” She placed her hand on Raju’s shoulder and added,” Thank you Raju! you are a good man. And always remember as long as you have a rich heart, you are not poor. Bye!” Riya left.


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