“You have again added sugar to my tea. You were very particular about these things. You are quite unmindful these days. What happened Ria? Please do tell me.’’ Amol asked her daughter-in-law, Ria.

Ria was silent for some time and then said, “Nothing Papa, I just forgot. I am very sorry. It won’t happen from tomorrow.
Amol continued, “It’s not about the tea, Ria. Something is troubling you. You were not like these. I am just like your father, please do tell me, dear. Please don’t hide anything. Are your parents okay?’’Ria said, “Yes they are fine. It’s nothing, Papa. Believe me.’’ Ria then went away while Amol started pondering about this matter. Amol has been widowed for the last four years. Ria was the daughter of his bosom friend, Bikash. Bikash had come up with the proposal two years back. Both Ria and Ravi soon consented, and they soon tied the nuptial knots. They had been married for more than a year, now.

Amol was quite pleased to have a doting daughter in law like Ria. Ria has taken complete charge of their household. Amol soon noticed that Ria diligently fulfilled her responsibilities and always has a sharp eye on the household. She always reminded Amol about taking medicines at the right time. But, Amol could apprehend that something was wrong with Ria, nowadays.

In the meanwhile, Ria was busy with her daily household chores. She was talking with her maidservant. She now went to check her emails on the desktop, which was located in the drawing-room. She hurriedly scrolled down the inbox and her gaze was affixed on a particular mail. She looked a bit nervous after going through that mail.

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She then again started engaging herself in some work. She was now ironing some clothes and was brooding about something, looking aimlessly at the glass window of their bedroom. Suddenly she could smell something. She realized that she has just burnt Ravi’s blue shirt.

It was late afternoon and Ria was flipping through the pages of a magazine. She suddenly heard a knock on her door. It was Amol. She said, “Yes, Papa, do you need something?” Amol said, “No. I have something to tell you.’’Ria motioned him to enter her room and he sat on an overstuffed chair and said, “I know everything Ria. You were too absent-minded to keep any secrets, I guess. I have seen your mails. You had forgotten to log out of your account, this morning. I was going to close it when suddenly a few recent emails in your inbox grabbed my attention. I know, I should not have read it. But, Ria, I could not see you like this. I consider you my daughter, Ria. You should have told me and Ravi, earlier. We trust you, so much. There was no need to hide this from us. Doing so, you have encouraged that lech to torment you like this.’’

Ria was silent and then she started weeping. Amol came close and tried to console him. He then said, “No, need to cry, dear. That goon will get what he deserves. We will visit the police station after Ravi returns and file a complaint against him. He won’t be able to blackmail you, anymore. But you should have told us earlier.’’
Ria now said in a weak voice, “I did not want to break your trust, Ravi’s trust. I am so sorry, Papa. I never imagined that Anil will do this to me. We had a relationship, but I soon realized that he is a womanizer. And I disconnected from him. But somehow he managed to get hold of my email address and started blackmailing me. He said he had some of our pictures. He wanted a hefty amount in return. He recently incurred heavy losses in his business and wanted to replenish it by extorting me. He also sent me some of these pictures and was routinely threatening me that he will parcel these photos to our place.’’

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Amol listened with rapt attention and said, ‘’ You should have at least informed Ravi. These incidents can happen, but your honesty could have saved you from all this mental turmoil. Anyway, don’t worry. I hope Ravi will understand your condition.’’ Ria was silent and was looking quite pensive.

Amol then added, “I think he will understand. I guess, he won’t like to have holes in all his shirts.’’ Amol gave a meaningful wink at Ria, who now gave a wry smile.

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