Fifty Shades of Grey

Namrata leaned back on her beige sofa. A massive chandelier hung from the ceiling. It cast a silvery glow on the room, capturing the beautiful woman’s reflection in translucent shards.

She sighed as her eyes darted to the lemon-yellow Kanjivaram saree on the settee. How she yearned for the ivory organza lehenga by that happening designer and the pair of studs from the country’s leading diamantaire! Alas, her lavish lifestyle was a thing of the past now. The ex-socialite had to settle for an unostentatious lifestyle, all thanks to her husband’s vociferous India Always campaign. After all, Ratan Sahni was a humble servant – of the people!

Shaking her head, Namrata got up. A leading English daily had published an article on her husband’s tax evasion two days before. Not to be outdone, the vociferous anchor of a news channel requested her for an interview.

“Wait till I rip him apart!” Namrata seethed with anger. She was in bed with Ratan.

Ratan kissed her. “Your English is impeccable. Throw in a fancy word or two, and the public will eat out of your hands. That will also shut the man up for a few days.”

“I’ll cancel the wedding then.”

“Wait for the confirmation, sweetheart. But yes, our image is more important now.”

A WhatsApp notification from Ratan on her iPhone brought her back to the present. All the best for your verbal duel. Love you loads. Namrata tossed her mobile onto the sofa. Stifling a yawn, she strode to the settee. The prime-time show was confirmed. She had to don a simple blue salwar kameez from Fabindia. That means the Kanjivaram would, thankfully, go back to the wardrobe.

Her mobile rang. It was Ratan’s assistant Sharma ji. “Madam. I’m so sorry to disturb you. There’s some bad news. A young man has been killed in a fight.”

“So what am I supposed to do? Attend his funeral?” Namrata asked through gritted teeth.

Arrey, madam. Please listen. Assembly elections are around the corner. The alleged murderer is a member of the opposition party.”

Namrata’s eyes gleamed. “Sharma ji. Why didn’t you tell me that before? Now do one thing. Inform Ratan immediately. Also, call up the TV channel. Tell them I cannot make it to the debate tonight.”

“But madam…” Sharma ji paused.

“Don’t worry. After tomorrow’s headlines, nobody will care about my absence.” Namrata disconnected the call and called her maid.

“Kanta. Pack that Prada bag, and ask the driver to take it to the wedding. With my best compliments to the Saklanis, of course!

The maid nodded and was about to exit the room when Namrata stopped her again.

“Kanta, do you have any old cotton saree in white?”

Narayani V Manapadam