Did they have an argument the night before? What led her to take such a step? Or was it part of a premeditated plan, by a woman who has put the name of womanhood to shame? The TV anchor was fairly frothing at her mouth. The visuals playing out behind her. Of a woman in her 30s in a salwar kameez, head covered with a dupatta, being escorted out of a police vehicle by two women in khaki and into a building. She had a cordon of policemen around her.

“Snake,” Mrs G’s attendant, Mandira, hissed, as the segment went into an ad break. “Nagin.” They had been watching the latest coverage of the sensational twin murder investigation.

Mandira remembered. “Didn’t Didi say not to see all that stuff. Gives you bad dreams. Such horrible things.” She reached out and turned off the TV. “What kind of woman will be living like that with a man, who is already married? In the same house with his wife, all together. Shame. No wonder it’s come to this end.”

“He loved them both.” Mrs G said to Mandira with an air of authority.

“Who?” Mandira had started to clear the glass top of the table to set out Mrs G’s lunch.

“That actor, who else...he loved them both. Wife and this girl they’re showing here on TV.” Mrs G squinted to recall the man’s name.

Mandira made a face. “The things you say, Aunty. How can he love both? How can anybody love both people like that? Dirt, that’s what it is. And these TV people, going on and on with it for so many days. Don’t they have any other news?”

“I used to only turn on the TV when they showed Teena’s father’s films. Never used to watch the TV news then.” Mrs G seemed to have suddenly lost interest in the love triangle.

“I was telling my neighbour’s niece that day, where I work. Famous film director Subir Gupta’s house, and now his only daughter also so famous, coming on TV.” Mandira’s eyes lit up at this contemplation of her privilege.

“Famous, my foot!” Mrs G snapped at Mandira. “No time even for her mother on her birthday.”

“What things you say Aunty, goes over my head. Such a nice chocolate cake she made, such a big one, last week only it was. Don’t you remember? I even took some home for my son.” Mandira shook her head.

Mrs G was starting to sulk. “Her father, he would plan for my birthday days ahead. Earrings and perfumes, all the things I liked to eat. This girl’s no good. Turned out like my own father. No good at all.”

Again Mandira shook her head. “As if anybody could please you. What happened with that nice watch she got you? You said the colour didn’t suit you. Such a nice blue it was. My son, got the new job, didn’t get one sari for me. If only I had a girl like Didi.”

“Nice blue, my foot! Didn’t she say she would look for another band, blue-grey, like that one they had, that time in that shop in Switzerland? What happened?”

Mandira was seeing the makings of a tantrum. “Aunty, you want masala tea? Like how you taught me to make?” It would work like a magic potion, that masala tea, most times at least. And no, there had been no talk about any blue-grey band, that too of Switzerland. Aunty was imagining again.

“Miu, you’re taking your tablets every day?” Aisha spoke without looking up from the magazine she was reading.

Mrs G looked up from her phone.

“Am I your father, Teena, to hide my own medicines away?” A typical Miu-like response. Thank god for Mandiradi. She didn’t miss a single of Miu’s before and after meal tablets.

“I know Miu, you don’t need telling,” Aisha smiled. It never failed to amuse her that her mother continued to take these digs at her father. Maybe it was her way of connecting with him across two worlds.

“Do you miss him, Miu? Do you miss Boy? I get so busy with everything, there’s only Mandiradi here. You were so much in love, you and Boy.”

Mrs G stared at her daughter with a blank face, which then took on the contours of a small rebellion. “Did you ever see me and your father indulge in any display of...of our love, like some of them do, even in front of their grandchildren?” Her mother spoke with a studied distaste.

Aisha laughed loudly. So very Miu to refuse to admit she missed Boy. “No, of course not Miu, who said that. But surely you miss him. I think of him all the time when I do my shows now. Remember how proud he was when I first did a segment on TV, after I won Top Chef? Remember Miu, the year I came back from Paris? How nervous I was. He kept telling me how I should stand before the camera. And now that I have my own show, how he would have loved it.” The thought lit her eyes.

“He always spoilt you. And you were always clinging to him.”

“Miu.” Aisha made one of her faces, looking very much like Mrs G at that moment. “He spoilt you too, he spoilt you rotten, and much more than he ever spoilt me. Always took your side when we had our fights. Boy always took your side in everything.”

“Only when I was right, Teena,” Mrs G cast a look of disdain.

“Even when you were not right Miu. He adored you.”

Her mother blinked.

Excerpted with permission from Unspoken, Sharmistha Gooptu, Simon and Schuster India.