We reached the hotel. It’s one of the star-rated hotel and I started getting nervous. Vineeth’s father runs a business and they are quite an affluent family. I belong to a middle class family. I feel quite nervous when I go to places that are super-rich. Vineeth generally makes it a point to take me to such places, so that I become well acquainted. But I haven’t got that comfort feeling yet.
I looked at him. Sensing my unease, he took my hands and whispered “I will always love you”.
“Come on. They must be waiting”
We went inside the coffee shop. There were hardly few tables that are occupied & his parents were seated comfortably in the sofa.
“Amma, Appa this is Sandya” he introduced me to his parents. His father gave a welcoming smile to me & his mom gave me a look from head to toe taking in every minute detail of me. I wonder how come Vineeth thinks his mom like traditional things. Her hair is colored and let open freely. She is wearing a modern mysore silk saree with perfectly matching designer jewels.
“Is that a grey hair?” she asked me.
“No ma. Some paper has fallen in her head” Vineeth replied hurryingly.
I was fuming inside. Doesn’t she have something better to ask first rather than the grey hair?
Vineeth’s father was trying to put me in ease. He was asking about my family, siblings, native place etc. His mother so far has not asked anything to me. I was desperately trying to make some conversation with her.
“Aunty, I have got something for you.” I gave her the painting I bought.
“Trying to impress future mother-in-law, is it? Very sweet” His father teased.
I don’t know how far I am correct, but it appeared to me like Vineeth is treating his father like a close friend and at the same time worshipping his mother.
“Open it ma” told Vineeth.
She opened the painting and her face became small.
“Actually Sandya, we don’t worship Lord Ganesha in the family. ”
I looked at Vineeth asking for an explanation.
“Ma we have always worshipped Ganesha right?” asked Vineeth.
“Yes we do. Till she got very spiritual and decided not to worship any other god’s other than those from our caste” His father replied. “Sandya, I like the painting much & I will keep it in my office”.
I was totally furious with her.
I heard a familiar voice shouting “Hi, Vineeth”. That was Yams.
Vineeth introduced Yams too his parents.
“I came here to meet a friend actually. She hasn’t yet turned up.” told Yams. Vineeth’s mom was eyeing Yams now. She must be quite pleased as Yams has dressed well as usual.
“Is that a Gucci Handbag?” she asked Yams.
I don’t even want to consider what make my handbag is. She & Yams keep conversing about fashionable brands, places. They seem to have known some common social friends. I couldn’t join the conversation as I don’t understand head or tails of it. Luckily Yams friend arrived and Yams left.
“Sandya, are you coming to temple with us? We are going to Srirangam for quick darshan.” He asked
“No I have to be back in campus by nine. Actually, I should start now.” I replied thanking god for giving an opportunity to end this ordeal.
“Come to our house when you are in Chennai. We would like to know you better” he told. His mom too nodded her head.
I try to leave after exchanging good-bye with them.
“Appa, I will drop her back and join you for dinner” Vineeth too started along.
“Okay I think we will be back by eight-thirty here. Bye Sandya. Drive safely Vineeth” his father left trying to find the driver.
“Can’t you drop her at bus-stop Vineeth? We have hardly spent any time with you.” asked his mom.
“Yes Vineeth. I can manage. You carry on.” I told him.
“No Vineeth. I know the way. You go ahead. Meet you tomorrow. Bye aunty.” I rushed out from hotel.
“What else did you expect from her? She is going to be your mother-in-law after all. This is the way you get treated.” Said Bindu.
I was back in hostel,telling the entire story to Bindu & Ragavi.
“I think she will be okay when she gets to know you. Cheer up now” told Ragavi.
Somehow I couldn’t sleep the entire night. Though his father seems to be okay with me, his mom is unhappy. She would like someone like Yams as her daughter-in-law. No, not me.
Next day once I reached the campus, I got news that I have got summer placement in Chennai. I was glad because that was a very good company.
“You look dull” remarked Vineeth on spotting me.
How can he ask this question when he clearly knows what exactly happened?
“I didn’t sleep properly. I got very bad headache. I’m going back to hostel now.”
“What happened? Shall we go to a doctor?”
“No leave me. I will call you around lunch time.”
I dashed out off the department & went to canteen. All I want now is a cup of coffee. I was cursing myself on not confronting Vineeth.
“You got to talk to me now” told a voice sitting near me. I know its Vineeth.
“Sandya. Talk to me. “He persisted.
“Look Vineeth, I don’t belong to your place. If I don’t belong there, we don’t belong to each other.” I replied to him slowly.
“This is non-sense. I don’t care about how rich or beautiful you are. My dad liked you a lot. He even invited you..”
“How about your mom?”
“Sandya, she loves me a lot. She thinks I’m the best and I deserve the very-best.”
“So I’m not the best isn’t?”
“You are not.”
“Sandya, I’m not bloody perfect. But you like me & think I will be a perfect partner for you right. Similarly, for her you may not have a good background or beautiful face. But it doesn’t matter to me. To me you are a perfect partner. I give respect to her wish, but this is my life & you are what I want .” Vineeth said.
“Believe me Sandya.” He pleaded. I looked at his face.
“Sandya, Please say something… I can’t say how much I love you…..”
He sounded very genuine & hugged me.
“Vineeth….” Before I knew, I was crying in his shoulders.