Monday came at last, and with it, the letter. Kala held the letter with trembling fingers. She turned it this way and that way, read, reread her name, the address and the senders name. She read it in her mind and then with a jiggle of sheer delight, she read it aloud in an Oscar Awards voice, "Open the envelope".
As she began to open the envelope, she was beset with doubts. "Suppose it says--Oh my God! I wish Mani was here," she wheezed. " Its just not fair. When I need him, he's never there. He was not there when I fell of the ladder, nor for Sannu's delivery or for his growing up milestones" and ran out of breath.
Kala sat down on the sofa and had a whiff of her handy inhaler placed in every room for just such moments, to ease the breathlessness due to the combined tension, excitement of the letter and annoyance against her husband. She picked up the letter as she got her breath back and started to tear it open. She suddenly realized that the envelope was packed tight with the folded letter. "What if I tear an important part of the letter?" she asked, doubting her adroitness. So she got up from the sofa saying, "I better open the envelope with a pair of scissors or knife," and went into the kitchen.
She had sent off the reply to the letter with so much expectation and finally the reply was in her hand. She picked up the thin bladed knife and began to insert the sharp edge into the little area that had missed being sealed. She stopped and placed the envelope in front of Lord Ganesha's picture on the Pooja shelf. After a brief prayer, she opened her eyes and to her utter joy, a flower had fallen on the letter. "Oh God! What a wonderful omen," she chortled and picked up the letter and knife and went and sat on the dining table outside the kitchen.
She now inserted the knife into the envelope and slowly slit it open. She pulled out the folded letter very, very carefully. The letter was the best bond paper, white with a navy blue, embossed letterhead. Her eyes quickly scanned and zoomed on to the main paragraph.
"Congratulations. You have completed the first step to our fantastic offer of a sure win at the lottery. We request you to send your International Postal Order for $25 so that we can process your application to the next step in the process."
Kala crumpled the letter in her hands and threw it angrily at the wall as the mocking words of Mani, her husband played back in her ears. "These people have got your name and address from a database generated from your credit card. They will demand money as processing fee and that will be the end of their contact with you. Nobody gives away money for free, Kala."