Mala giggled to herself as she picked up the phone and dialed Sandra’s number. “So,” she giggled, “what happened? You said your aunt was dying. I even gave you a bottle of blood to pull your aunt through, now why the silence?”

 “We didn’t use your blood Mala?”

 “Oh you didn’t, didn’t you? Thought your best friend would taint your family’s blue bloodedness did you?” giggled Mala. “So why didn’t you use the blood?”

 “I couldn’t.”

 “Tell me why?”

 “Mala I can’t. Not over the phone.”

 “So shall I come over so that you can whisper into my ear. I’ll see you in the evening.”



“Mala you’re HIV positive.”

 “No….! No…! screamed Mala. “You’re lying. Today is not April Fool’s day Sandra. You idiot! Don’t ever crack such joke on me. Sandra, Sandra, you’ve put the phone down. Tell me it’s a joke. Tell me you’re pulling my leg. Sandra I can’t be HIV positive. There’s some mistake. I’ve not had a blood transfusion. I’m a virgin…at least I was!”

Mala put the phone down and tears ran down her cheeks.

 “I’ve never been with another man after Suresh left for America. And with him it was just once. Just once before he left. How could I have refused him. How could I have kept those strong arms of his away from my wanting body!”

She picked up the phone and tried to dial her friends number. She threw the phone as she heard the engaged tone. She picked it up and pressed Sandra’s number again. “Sandra its me,” she screamed and heard her once best friend hang up on her again, and again, and again.

 “What have you done to me Suresh?” she screamed. “You were so solid and dependable. Any girl would have slept with you, thinking you were safe. The other girls laughed at me, because I did not allow you to take me to bed. They called me a prig, a nun, Miss Frigid. I wanted to be that way till that last evening after farewell dinner when with champagne in my head I couldn’t resist the desire in your eyes. I threw caution to the winds and forced my body to respond to you, more out of sadness and the loneliness ahead. And you had your way with me. Alas! Now you have stamped me with your killer seal and left me to die!”

She rang his number. It was a long distance ring.

 “Suresh,” she screamed with relief into the phone.

 “Is dead,” said an impersonal voice.

She looked at her body. “You let me down,” she screamed. “You let those manly arms squeeze my no’s into submission. Didn’t you smell death’s virus inside him? Couldn’t you have warned me, his arms were fatal hangman’s noose..?”

Mala looked at herself in the mirror.

 “Only once,” she said quietly. “Just once was enough..!”

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