S1E26: Raima’s Grief
Recap S1E25 Shom Meets Aneesha : On the way back from Harry’s factory, it is Shom’s turn to narrate his side of the story when Raima and Khush had been uncontactable ten years ago.
Repeated failed attempts at contacting Raima had left him in a state of anxiety. He had even suspected it to be Khush’s ploy to get Raima out of his life.
In desperation, he had visited one of Khush’s favourite hangouts and drunk himself silly with a shemale acquaintance of Khush.
Getting through to the driver had only infuriated him further. The driver had driven Khush and Raima to Daman.
The absence of contact with Raima, the aftereffects of excessive drinking and the driver’s report had been too much for Shom to handle any more.
Raima got a start. She looked at Shom who smilingly told her that incidents that had occurred ten years earlier were irrelevant now.
“Poor you,” she replied, “I could see all that you went through when we met the following day. This is only because you did not have faith, it’s no different now. We don’t have the faith we should and the times are really trying. Have you seen your messages on WhatsApp? Mine are loaded with questions from almost everyone including that dirty bastard.”
“My uncle who tried to rape. He was the one you spotted in my car at Worli. Do you remember, it was the second time we met? Immediately after our first trip to Khandala. I lost my confidence that day.”
Despite the work pressure, Shom could not get Raima out of his mind all week. He was angry with himself for getting into this emotional mess. He was also beginning to question their monetary arrangement, the one he had suggested in the first place. He much preferred Raima pursuing her career than being dependent on his money. Then again, he had no business to see her without this arrangement. It was a catch-22. He didn’t mind Raima using him as a stepping stone to achieve her goals. He would rather be taken advantage of than take advantage of anyone, especially her. Shom felt guilty of being in love with someone much younger.
As he tried to deal with his conscience, his thoughts were interrupted by the alert on his BlackBerry. Raima had texted, wanting to meet immediately. He was confused and for the first time in many years, not sure of himself. The only person he could confide in was Khush. He decided to do so on the weekend.
‘I am busy with my family,’ he texted back. He wanted to clear the cobwebs in his mind. How could he get so involved with her in a single meeting? He cursed his EQ count, it must be quite low. That evening after work, he decided to drive alone, taking the Sea Link. As he approached Worli Sea Face, he thought he saw someone who looked like Raima in a car. He took a U-turn to go past the car that was parked alongside the pavement. Yes, it was her, sitting in the car with a middle-aged man.
Shom was shocked. He skilfully reversed to park just behind them in a way that he could see them but at the same time be out of their line of vision. They seemed to be deeply involved in some kind of a discussion.
Why was he so disturbed about this? She was just a hooker with a client. But Shom turned possessive. It was quite clear to him that he did not want her to be a hooker anymore. He had other plans for her. However, this probably was her main occupation and the money must be good. How else could she buy an expensive apartment in this part of Mumbai? How else was she able to look after her sick mother and pursue her career at the same time?
He decided to drive off before he was spotted. In any case, there was nothing to be deciphered unless he could hear them talk. Then a wicked thought crossed his mind. He sent her a text message to say he was crossing Worli and would like to meet her briefly.
Through the windshield, he saw Raima reach for something and step out of the car. Shom panicked and reversed out of sight. His phone started to ring. It was Raima. He answered it.
“Hi Shom. What a surprise! Where are you exactly? I am in a car just opposite the Aarey milk depot. Come quickly. Should I wait for you right here?” she asked, in one breath.
“Are you alone?” he asked.
“I am alone now. I was with my uncle in his car when you texted me.”
“Meet me at Atria Mall, all alone. But how will you come?”
“Don’t worry. I’ll be there in twenty minutes, all alone.”
She didn’t have to lie, he thought, he must really be her uncle. Was he the same nasty uncle she had mentioned? He would find out later. For now he was preoccupied with concern. What was he to do? He hadn’t made any plans to meet her and he had to go home for dinner. How would he do that now, especially when Raima sounded so charged up and thrilled to hear his voice?
When Shom entered the mall, he spotted Raima window shopping by a lingerie store. They exchanged a quick hug and went to Don Giovanni to relax with a glass of wine.
It had been that nasty uncle, her dear aunt’s husband. The rotter had come pleading for help to resolve certain issues with his wife. Her aunt always went by Raima’s opinion.
“Don’t you have any young friends?” asked Shom.
“I have many acquaintances – boys and girls from college as well as work. I once had a serious relationship with a boy two years older than me, who promised we’d get married. We met at a fashion show where I was walking the ramp. He was the son of a rich film financier. We were in love. But the two-year affair came to an end when I realised he wasn’t man enough to stand up to his dad. I felt cheated. This was three years ago and ever since I’ve decided not to live on false hopes, but to face reality. After that, I met some good people and some not so good ones like Saif. I cultivated contacts with some who helped me with lucrative contracts.”
Shom wondered who Saif was but did not want to prod. Instead, he asked, “Who have you been going around with lately?”
“I cannot think of anyone but you right now. You are my soulmate and my sole mate,” she said with a smile.
I can be neither, Shom thought silently. But he couldn’t say that to her. All he could do was keep looking at her. Then he kissed her hands. She insisted he visit her house which was a short walk away. He excused himself to go to the washroom but instead called Khush to fix an alibi for the night.
“Is this the same woman?” Khush wanted to know.
“Yes,” Shom said.
“Are you serious? Don’t be a fool, bro. You seem to be on a deadly mission.”
“What do you mean? You think I’ll get involved? You know me better than that, buddy,” Shom said.
“What if the girl makes a lot of demands on your time and money? What will you do then?” asked Khush.
“She is an educated girl from a good family. She will never do that.”
“You sound like you are caught, hook, line and sinker. I’m really worried.” Khush sounded concerned. “You would normally never take anything for granted.”
“Keep your concerns to yourself. I know what I am doing,” Shom retorted, a bit shaken up and unsure of himself. “She doesn’t even know my real name – only knows me as Shom.”
“What’s her name? Has she told you her real name or do you only know her by her trade name?”
“Her name is Raima Sengupta.”
“Raima?” exclaimed Khush in total disbelief. “Raima Sengupta! Holy shit! How can the world get so small?” He was practically shouting.
“How do you know her?” questioned Shom, in an urgent voice.
Suddenly Raima appeared, looking for him. Before she could call out to him, Shom turned away and pressed Khush for an answer.
“Tell me. Tell me quickly, Khush, I don’t have all day.” Khush knowing Raima left Shom with an uneasy feeling.
“I shagged that babe, Shom. How else will I know her?” Khush said softly. Shom did not like the way he put it.
“I want to meet you soon. I need to get to the bottom of this. Let’s meet this weekend. By the way, we are supposed to be together tonight,” Shom said.
“What? Where do you want me to come now?”
“That’s just for our families to know. I’m busy today and you can be busy too, with your whores,” Shom added in disgust. “I can be your alibi too. See you soon,” he said and disconnected the call.
“Who were you talking to?” asked Raima, coming up to him. She seemed visibly shocked by his demeanour. “Is something wrong, Shom? I haven’t seen you like this before.”
He did not answer and she could see that he was in a nasty mood.
“What happened? I was waiting for so long. It isn’t easy for a woman to be in a restaurant unescorted,” she said, trying to lighten the mood.
“Sure. An escort should not be unescorted, you mean,” he snapped.
“I am not an escort now.” Raima spoke firmly. “Why are you behaving like this suddenly? What have I done wrong? Who were you talking to just now?”
“You want to know, you really want to know?” he said, shaking his finger at her.
Raima nodded. She was shaking.
“I was talking to one of your clients, someone you escorted,” he said.
“Oh, so that’s it! I have already told you that and I’m willing to tell you every little thing about my past. So why don’t you just chill a bit? Let’s go to my house. You can calm down and ask me what you want to know and I can be with you. That way we’ll both get what we want,” she said.
She seemed to be a smooth operator, Shom thought. In a way it was good. He was less likely to get emotionally attached to a professional, although he knew he shouldn’t be taking chances. He remembered Khush’s warning. What if she was underage and later blackmailed him, as she did with her uncle?
“I don’t know what is troubling you exactly,” Raima said, interrupting his thoughts. “I’d like to help you any way I can.”
“I thought I trusted you and if you trust me, you should be willing to sign a declaration,” Shom stated in a harsh tone. He knew what he had in his mind would be quite offending.
“Alright, anything you want,” she said.
“You aren’t worried I might take advantage of this?” he asked.
“I know you won’t. And I’m willing to do anything to appease you,” Raima replied.
Shom felt terrible pressuring her. “Are you sure? Keep in mind, I have revealed nothing about myself. I will understand if you decline it. You don’t have to trust me and you don’t have to sign anything.”
“I know you enough to trust your intentions. I don’t need to know anything more. If it is my signing this agreement that will calm you down, then so be it, I will sign it,” she said, looking straight into his eyes.
Shom looked away. The ball was in his court. He got the waiter to bring him a writing pad. He dictated a passage to Raima.
To Whom It May Concern
I, Raima Sengupta, daughter of late Sameer Sengupta, born on 8th October 1986, would like to state that I have come here of my own accord. I offer my services as an escort. I promise never to be the one who makes contact as this will amount to harassment and an attempt to blackmail.
Signed: Raima Sengupta
Although she wrote what asked to, Raima did not like the idea of being referred to as an escort, but she did not really care since she was only giving it to Shom.
“I don’t know the purpose of this. Is it because you don’t want me to contact you anymore?” she asked, sounding edgy for the first time.
“Yes, you cannot contact me now. I will, if I have to,” he said. He could see that she did not like this. He was, however, pleased and greatly relieved that Raima did everything that she was asked to do. Somehow that touched him, he didn’t know why.
“Let us go to your house now. Tomorrow I will send you my new cell number for you to get in touch with me when you want. Don’t ever contact me on my old number as that will be against the declaration you just signed.”
She was thrilled and hugged him in response.
The new cell number belonged to an old driver who had passed away some time ago and so it could not be traced back to him. Shom thought he had planned things quite well. Raima too, looked pleased and wanted to hurry with their dinner so that they could get to her house early.
“I am sorry Khush put many negative thoughts in my head and I did not know you at that time,” said Shom hanging his head down in shame. “Why are we thinking about the past.” he said looking at Raima who looked completely lost.
“It’s okay to analyse our past, but let’s not dwell in it,” he added.
Shom’s comment made Raima feel better. She sipped her Cappuccino when they stopped at Manor, half-way to their destination. Shom was glad to see her smile. She was herself now.
Next Story: S1E27 – Shom’s Spends the Night at Raima’s Place