Mrunalini got up with a headache. She looked around. The room was empty, Vinish was not on the bed and the room was filled with sunlight. She looked at the clock–Oh my god! Its 10.30 am already. Why no one came to wake me up? She hurriedly got up from the bed and ran for a fast bath and got dressed. Her head was still spinning. She could remember nothing from last night. The only thing she remembered was getting ready and sitting in the cab. She was trying hard to remember but could not get any clue about last night.
She ran towards the kitchen. The breakfast table was all cleaned and Vinish already left for office. He never leaves without my masala tea and kissing my forehead- she said to herself. How can I be such a fool? Why I overslept today? I am an early riser There are so many people in the house, my sisters-in-law, my brothers-in-law, their kids. All are here to stay with us for a week. What will everyone say about me?- she thought.
As she went near the kitchen, she overheard her mother-in-law saying - "I told her not to go to the party. It was the third day of her periods. It is so much unsafe. Evil spirits are attracted to menstruating women. But she does not listen to anyone. It's been 3 years of marriage, this girl just does not know how to be a dutiful daughter-in-law." "What the hell"–she said to herself. "Ma, I was on the call with Anay. You won't believe what he said! He said there was no pre-joining party for students of the first year before joining college. He said there are still 20 more days for college to start and freshers don't know each other. How can they party? He said Mrunalini Bhabhi is fooling us and Bhaiya. She must have gone with her friends" – her sister-in-law, Drishti said. "I said to Vinish, she is not good for our family. Look now, what she is doing? We are a respected clan in society. How dare she spoil our name"– said, mother-in-law? Mrunalini had no clue what is happening around her. There was a party, I got an official invite from Tarakunj College of Fine Arts. Why Anay is lying? I need to talk to him first. He is defaming me. But why I don’t remember anything. All I could remember is wearing my favourite Zara little black dress and sitting in a cab. God, what has gotten under me? Why I have no memory of last night? When I came home? Who changed my clothes?
Mrunalini was the smartest girl in her class. She always represented the school in art and music. She did engineering but could not survive the pressures of 10 to 5 job. Her heart was in art. She met Vinish in a theatre where she was watching a horror film alone. Vinish was sitting alone in 2 rows front to him. There were hardly 10 -12 more people in the hall. Her cell phone fell. She went two rows down and crawled to take her phone. As she was getting up her head touched Vinish knee. He jumped 1 foot in the air with a scream. When Mrunalini finally stood up her specs reflected red light and hairs dishevelled. Vinish started shivering. They laughed hard. Nothing on screen mattered. Vinish fell in love instantly with this erratic girl. They married one year after dating each other.
Anay is Drishti's husband's younger brother. He and Mrunalini applied for the college of fine arts and both got selected. Vinish almost forced Mrunalini to join the college. He knew his wife well to understand what her heart wants. Anay is a nice guy, why he will lie to my family and spread such rumours. He only came to pick me up in a cab. I remember he was sitting in front, next to the driver. I can still feel his perfume. When I entered the cab, to my surprise I already knew the other two girls. It was unbelievable. How is such a coincidence possible? One girl is from my school, mathematic section, and the other was from my college, who left studies in between. She just vanished after that. No one knew where she is. Suddenly she was there in front of me. That too for a party for new entrants in art college. The world cannot be so small. As I entered my cab I was shocked to see them. What happened after that? My head is throbbing. I need a Disprin. She took a Disprin and called Anay. No one picked the call. Why this stupid guy is not picking my call now? After causing such unrest, he is nicely sleeping. I need to meet him.
She left the house telling no one. She worries about the situation back home, but she wanted desperately to know about the happenings of last night. What happened that she has this headache and she can't remember anything? She took a cab. She tried calling Anay 2-3 times. No answer. She was so angry with him. She realized suddenly to call her friend from school, who was sitting in the cab. Her name was Nidhi. She has not talked to her since school. Luckily her number was there on the school WhatsApp group. She dialled her number. Her hands were trembling. Even the driver can sense her nervousness.
"Hello", came the voice from another side.
"Nidhi, this is Mrunalini."
"Mrunalini, who Mrunalini?"- said Nidhi from another side.
"Your batchmate from school, Mrunu, the head girl."
"Mrunu, how are you? Long time dear? I am so happy to hear your voice. Its been 5 years, I have not heard from you."
"Nidhi, what are you talking about? We met in the cab yesterday, for a pre-joining party of our art college."
"Mrunu, what are you talking about. You are mistaken. I am a doctor doing my post-graduation in psychology. I am in Pune dear. I have not visited Bhopal after school. Even my parents shifted to the US with my brother."
"Nidhi, why are you lying? I saw you yesterday in the cab."
"Mrunu, I am just going to start my lecture on paranormal forces, excuse me." She hung up the phone. Mrunalini was wet with perspiration. She almost fainted.
The other girl from college was Anamika. She has no way to contact her. She tried searching for her name on Facebook and Instagram. She was not there. She tried calling a girl Anamika used to stay with. The number was nonexistent. Losing all her hopes, she googled her name. Her face became pale and numb after what she saw in a piece of old news. There was a girl named Anamika who committed suicide after hanging herself to a banyan tree in old Bhopal. They dated it to her third year of college. The reason was a boy from St. Paul's school she was in love with. She started shivering badly and dialled Vinish’s number. Driver looking towards the road, asked her, "does she need something?" She said, "water" and lifted her head to take the water bottle. She got unconscious after what she saw in the rearview mirror. On phone, Vinish was continuously saying – "hello, hello, hello".
She opened her eyes to the hospital bed. A nurse was sitting with her. She asked frantically – "Where am I? What am I doing here? Where is my husband, Vinish? Where is my phone? Call him, I want to talk to him." There was no response to the nurse. She was sitting on her phone and playing. "Hey you, talk to me. Why are you not saying anything?"
There was a knock at the door. "Yes"- the nurse said." Nurse, the doctor is calling you. I am the new ward boy at Wadia mental hospital. Who is this old lady on the bed?" "She is Mrunalini Joshi, a famous thriller writer of her time. She has given many bestselling thriller novels. She is in a coma for 20 years. There is no hope. She can't talk, listen or move."