That night, Harini stood in her wrought iron faux balcony, leaning forward, elbows pressed hard against the iron railings. The cold wind blotted up the thin cotton sleeves of her night pajama.
She stood there losing herself in to the tenebrous sky that spread indefinitely.
Jana – what was happening with him? If she had broken the relationship once for all, why was she brooding now? ‘You have not moved on.’ Her mind tried to remind, which she ignored.
How was she supposed to be? Happy? Sad? Her Sathya Anna, Jana, Amsadhwani – She thought about them for a moment.
She knew Jana was wrong, but he had been repeatedly asking her for a moment’s time to listen. She did not bother to hear.
‘Why should you when you are already over it?’ Her mind reminded her again.
“Yes. Why should I?” She faked anger as she spoke to herself.
It was not easy. It was a beautiful orchard that was nurtured in their hearts for five years. How would it even be possible to get over it and move on? She looked at the sky, letting out a sigh.
“What if, if it is the only final chance to prove me? Wouldn’t you listen even then?” She heard Jana’s voice through the windows.
She was startled. How would he be here? She rushed to the room, slamming the balcony door, against her bedroom walls. She turned on the light. There was none. Her Jana was not there. A tear drop gushed down her cheek.
The word ‘Final Chance’ sent shock waves through her body. She grabbed her mobile and tried to call him.
The line was busy.
Few miles away, as Jana sat on his bed, his mind drifted back to Harini.
“What if, if it is the only final chance to prove me? Wouldn’t she listen even then?” He spoke to himself. . He grabbed his mobile and tried to call her.
The line was busy. He was not in a mood to text her. He wanted to talk.
He was hesitant to text her. What if she overlooks again? , he wondered.
Both them, fell asleep with tears, not knowing they were the ones dialing and making the either of the lines busy.
The next morning, as she saw her dad leaving for their office, she decided she could talk to him.
“Appa.” Harini spoke, as her dad got into his car.
“I have got news. I am coming with you. I will drive.” She took the driver’s seat.
“I have got something to ask you too.” Her dad rubbed his chin.
“What is it Appa?”
“When is Jana going to come home for resuming the talk? Your mom is really concerned about it.”
Harini looked out, as if scrutinizing the road. She did not have an answer yet.
“I will let you know Dad, but before that, Sathya texted me yesterday. He is coming home, this Sunday.” Harini paused and tried to capture her dad’s expression.
“Is he coming along with..?” Her dad paused.
“No, he is coming alone. There will be a lot of emotional moments, which if happens in front of Radha Ma, might create an air of uneasiness, which we do not want.”
“That sounds sensible.” Her dad smiled. Harini smiled back, thanking all the good stars that her dad was now thinking about Sathya and not Jana.
“Can it be a surprise for mom? She asked.
“Hmm. Can we hide it?”
“No we can’t. We should pretend someone else is coming.”
Her dad’s idea surprised her. She started panting as her eyeballs moved rapidly. ‘Why shouldn’t this be true?’ Her mind raced.
“Harini.” Her father called.
“Nice idea Dad.” She managed to smile.
“Why don’t you wear a saree?” Harini’s mom asked as she adjusted the divan cushions.
“Amma, please. It is ok this way.” She sat on the sofa.
‘When will you be here?’ She sent a text to Sathya.
‘Another 15-20 minutes.’ came in the prompt response.
“When are they coming?” Anu looked at her daughter who was busy with her cell phone.
“20 minutes Amma.” She replied.
“Are you sure this dress will do? What about the saree?” Her mom repeated.
“Why don’t you stop nagging her?” Harini’s dad interrupted.
Anu threw her hand up in dismay and walked into the kitchen to check on the preparations. As the father and daughter saw her leaving, her dad signaled Harini by giving thumbs up, taking pride in his pretense.
Harini looked at her cheerful Dad. He was excited he was going to meet his son.
“How am I pretending about this whole thing? See, how good an actor I am.” Her father smiled.
His wrinkled skin and greyed eye lashes disturbed her. He was happier that he is pretending about something that was not happening that day.
‘Poor Dad. He is thinking that he is pretending about something that isn’t going to happen today. He is not aware that he is pretending about something that is not going to happen for this lifetime.’ She thought, as she let out a sigh. She felt bad for fooling them. They believed her. ‘They do not deserve this.’ She thought.
“Harini?” Her dad called.
“It is awesome dad. You are a rock star.” She held her father’s arm tight and rested her head on his shoulders. She pushed down that tears that brimmed.
Anu looked at the wall clock. She came out of the kitchen, pat drying her hand in the cotton hand towel.
“We are deciding the wedding dates today, aren’t we?” She asked.
Harini nodded weakly.
“It is almost time, are they here?” She peeped out through the window, when they heard the calling bell.
It was the dad and the daughter’s plan to make Harini’s mom open the door. They sat where they were, reluctant to move.
“Why do you always expect me to do everything in this house?” Anu grumbled as she walked swiftly towards the door.
“Fine let me welcome my Son-in-law.” She unlatched the door.
She stood there puzzled for a moment, before she raised her voice to call her husband.
Her dad rushed to the door, excited enough to see his surprised wife and his son.
As he reached the door, he crooked his brows as he called Harini.
“Harini.” He raised his voice.
Harini placed her mobile on the sofa and ran to the door.
Harini froze as she saw their guest.
She stood there smiling at the three of them. Their expressions eased her job of guessing. They were all puzzled.
“Hi.” She smiled at them. Harini crooked her brows and then raised them, as if she recognized her.
“Before I could trouble you further, I am Amsadhwani.” She smiled.
“You are…,” Anu tried to ask her who she was.
“What the hell are you here for?”Harini wanted to shout. She closed her eyes tight and thought for a moment. Her parents would never feel comfortable that way. She decided to let her in and then vent out her angst, later.
“My Friend.” Harini interrupted, forcing a smile, which never appeared.
“Oh, please come in.” Harini’s mom and dad moved in, leaving way for Amsa.
“School friend.” Harini successfully forced a smile, as she scored another point in the lie game.
“I am, indeed, but I am afraid that I’m not Harini’s friend.” Amsa’s words baffled the other three.
Harini’s mom and dad looked at their daughter, bemused.
“What is happening? Do you know her? Who is she?” Anu shot series of questions.
“Aunt , Uncle, I can explain everything. Will you please spare 20 minutes of your time?” Amsa asked.
“Sure, but what it is regarding?” Krishnan’s bewildered tone filled the living room.
“It is regarding your daughter. To be more precise, it is regarding Jana and Harini.” Harini’s mom who moved her lips, to ask something, was confounded and stood frozen in the same position.
Harini turned to Amsadhwani , her face red. This was the limit, she thought. Harini took a deep breath in, before she raised her voice to hurl Amsadhwani out of the house. As Harini rose from the sofa, motioning her hand towards the entrance, Amsa’s words stopped her.
“Jana was almost in the verge of losing everything; His job, reputation, above all his love.” Amsa trailed, as if she waited for the people around her to react.
“I am not sure, if you are aware of this, but, things are not fine between your daughter and Jana.” Amsa looked at Harini’s parents.
“What?” Harini’s dad looked at her.
“That is why he did not visit us for finalizing the dates?” Her mom asked her.
Harini held her head. “No Dad, it all started on that day.” Harini let out a sigh. Her eyes were in the verge of shedding few tear drops.
“No, Harini. I am sorry to interrupt. It all started way back, to be precise, February 15th, when I accidently called the Merc company customer care to get few details on my dad’s car’s service. He had bought it on my name and hence I had to give my details.”
Harini looked at Amsa, panting, as Amsa continued.
“The front end office had to transfer the call to the back end after they asked me for the branch of purchase. To my surprise, a warm male voice attended the call and he had to put me on hold for a while, before he collected the details for me. His voice trailed off somewhere in between when he read my full name.
As you all would have noted by now, my name is a little unique, which makes it easy to remember and recollect.
Before he could share the details, out of the blue, he asked whether I did my schooling in St. George’s 2006 batch. I was totally taken by surprise. When I asked him who he was, he told me that he was my batch mate, Jannarthan. “ Amsa stopped as she Harini who was entwining her fingers , seeming perturbed about the things happening around her.
“We spoke a lot that day; school buddies, you see. Jana spoke a lot, a lot about the love..,”Amsa paused to smile, as Harini closed her fist tight and took her hand to her forehead. It was the last thing she wanted her parents to hear. She can never answer them.
“About the love Jana had for Harini. I was not sure if my old friend was too expressive or his fiancée was so great.”Amsa looked at Harini, directly into her eyes. “He loves you so much.” Harini looked away and then looked back again, just to shoot an ‘I know that already’ look.
“It went well for a couple of days, until my Brother, Varun, who runs a NGO, Came up to me with a list of students. I usually help him with some data entry and other miscellaneous tasks for his organization. It was usual for him to hand over a list and ask me to feed it into the system. He told me that it was related to adolescents and teenagers. A strange thing in the list caught my eyes. It was Jannarthan’s name. The year 2011 was circled in red against his name. His name remained inscrutable in the list. ‘Why should his name be here?’ I wondered. I checked with Varun. He told me that it was the list of teenagers, who had a case filed in their name, which was forced to put aside due to some powerful intervention. My brother also added that, they were trying to bring back those cases and prove that the law should be neutral and should never succumb to any pressure from super powers, especially political powers. I was astonished and asked him what was with the year against his name. Varun told me that , it was the year of filing the initial case. I wondered why they went back 5 years, as if they were running out of cases. Varun mentioned that it was a special case because it was made void with the intervention of an Ex-MLA. As Varun was focusing on powerful intervention, this case caught his eyes and he had taken it immediately. Varun mentioned that they would be soon filing a proper F.I.R after a short background check about the case. I tried to explain to Varun about ruling out few names, to which he gave a stern ‘No’ as a reply. I could not contain my state of discomfiture of finding an old buddy’s name in the list of names which were about to get a case filed against.” Amsa paused to let out a sigh.
Harini shook her head in disbelief. ‘Where is this going?’, ’What is she talking about?’ Harini wondered. She assumed that Amsa was back for reviving the left pieces of an old love, but what she was hearing was completely discordant.
“My Son-in-law is convicted by law?” Krishnan raised his voice.
“No Uncle, the reason is really silly.”
“You know that too? You mean to say my Son-in-law is safe and could be acquitted?” The concern in Anu’s voice filled the room.
“I can explain you, Aunt. “Amsa began to speak again. “I got to know the date on which the initial complaint was filed, from the background check my brother made. I called up Jana and asked him whether he was able to re-collect any important happening on the same date.
He could not immediately recollect any of the happenings on that day. He asked me why. I had to tell him about my brother and his list.
He sighed suddenly, as if he remembered it.
Looks like it was the day, the placement was conducted in his college. The results were out by 11 P.M and he was selected. Jana and his friends decided to celebrate their success. As they returned home in two bikes, they four of them, who bought few cool drinks, started drinking and started shouting cheerfully. His friend rode Jana’s bike and Jana took the back seat. As they rode on a bridge, Jana who was seated at the back, almost tried to stand and shout out his excitement. His friend, who was driving, turned to look at Jana. The motor bikes lost balance and the bike in which Jana was traveling hit the two wheeler that came in the opposite direction. The axle of the vehicle’s front wheel broke. The scooter guy had got furious and he demanded an explanation. Jana and his friends, who were rejoicing in their victory, did not bother to answer or apologize. This had gotten into the two wheeler guy’s nerves. He went directly to the nearest R.T.O, to file a case for insurance claim purpose and as he was agitated, he logged a complaint, after noting the bike’s registration number.
The next morning, Jana was called to the police station, for an enquiry. Jana called up his friends to inform about the case. One of his friends’ father, being a close friend of an ex-MLA, was able to stop further proceedings in the case. The case was called void, though it was still open. After the ex-MLA’s intervention, there was no problem and Jana had forgotten about it, totally.”Amsa looked at Harini.
It was true. Jana had not spoken anything about it to Harini.
“We had to have a lot of conversation over phone when we started discussing regarding this. We met in person a lot of time and I had to meet him out, because I had to keep my brother out of it. That was why he had to turn down your meeting ideas and that was why his line was almost always busy for you. “Amsa looked at Harini. Few instincts in Harini prompted her to believe Amsa. There was real concern in her voice.
“Whatever she had been telling us, does this have any real connection with why Jana hadn’t turned up for wedding talks or hadn’t personally notified us?” Krishnan continued.
Harini hung her head, as she nodded.
“Haven’t you both been speaking properly, lately? How come you did not know all this?” Her dad’s question startled Harini.
Harini nodded weakly.
“Jana decided to keep you away from this.” Amsa spoke as she looked at Harini.
Harini looked at her, crooking her brows. ‘Who is she justify what Jana is doing? Shouldn’t I be the one?’ Harini’s possessiveness glistened in her face.
Anu went into the kitchen and came out with few glasses of juice.
Amsa took a sip of the orange liquid, as she continued.
“I had a thought whether we could talk to the R.T.O in which the complaint was logged. Jana felt it would be as though we are revealing ourselves too much. Jana met Varun and tried to explain. It just worsened everything. My brother pretended as though he never heard us and was too stubborn to get the cases filed.
Jana held his head and collapsed. A single formal F.I.R would ruin his future. He will not be able to continue in his work. He will not be able to travel abroad, at least for next few years. He was worried about his future. On top of it, he was worried about you. If the case was filed and once he is expelled from his job, he was sure he can never approach you for marriage.
I was not sure what day it was. We were seated in a restaurant, almost lost, not knowing what to do, when he kept getting repeated calls from his parents and from you too. Later he told me that he was supposed to bring his parents to your home and finalize your wedding dates. He was reluctant to tell you anything. That was why he left all your calls, unattended.” Amsa trailed off as she heard Anu’s voice.
“And that was why he lied about some relative accident and things?”
“No Amma. Those were my stories. Jana never told me anything.” Harini’s eyes moistened.
“His parents were harsh on him, when he told them to ignore calls from anyone of you.”Amsa shrugged her shoulders. “He decided to keep all his loved ones, off this issue.”
“This does not sound like a big issue. This is not worth this entire bustle. There was no life loss or major material loss. Of course, there were few damages to the vehicle. Insurance should have covered the major portion of it. I really don’t understand why this has to come up after so many years. “Harini’s father threw his hands up.
“That’s the whole point Uncle. The actual case was not the issue. The fact that there was some powerful intervention, which had made this case, void, was the problem. My Brother, a fervent supporter of equality, was seriously digging for such cases and was causing all the havoc.” Amsa replied.
“What are we supposed to do now?” Anu’s worried voice came from behind.
“It is all done Aunt. “ Amsa smiled.
“You mean to say, this is resolved? Jana is out of it?” Harini almost moved to the edge of sofa seat.
“How?” Harini asked.
“Not until we met..,”Amsa paused, as if she was trying to choose the right word to address.
“Not until we met Sathya Anna. “Amsa lowered her voice.
“Sa..,”Harini’s father who began to exclaim, trailed off somewhere in between as he felt his daughter’s hands on his’.
Harini was puzzled. There were too many things coming up. Sathya and Amsa have met each other? She wondered.
“I think it will be good if you could hear the rest from Jana and Sathya.”Amsa raised her eyebrow and smiled.
“Jana is here?” Harini’s voice grew louder in excitement.
“Why are you so shocked? Isn’t he supposed to be here today?” Harini bit her lip, for her mom’s question, which made complete sense. “By the way, who is this Sathya?” Anu continued.
The doorbell rang.
Amsa turned towards it with a smile.
“Our hero is here.” She smiled.
Harini frowned at Amsa at the word hero.
Her mom slowly walked up to the door and opened to find a man, whose face was oddly familiar. For the first few seconds, as he walked inside she grabbed a few extra seconds and shot intent look at him. The same brown eyes, the unique shape of lips, above all the way his cheek muscle twitched as she smiled, told her something. She was not able to hear her instincts initially. She was able to understand who he was, a little later.
She felt her hand tremble, tears gushing down, as she stood immobile, fixing her gaze at her Son.
“Sathyaswaroop!” She called in a low voice.
Harini’s dad slowly came up, who wanted to get a better view of how their son looked after so many years. Harini followed her dad.
Harini’s mom placed her palm on her chest which rose up and fell quickly, as she was panting heavily.
“Amma.” He called and held her shoulders, as if to prevent her from falling.
Harini saw her parents. Their eyes were moist. It was the moment of re-union.
Sathya made sure Anu sat comfortably in the divan and then took his hands off her shoulders. He scrutinized the hall for a second, meeting Harini’s eyes longer. Sathya swiftly looked past his dad. He hung his head and skipped his father’s gaze in embarrassment.
“Sathya!”His mom held his knees as she cried. He knelt down beside her, comfortably placing his hands on her lap.
“Mom, please forgive me.” His voice broke, as he apologized.
“Have you forgotten me?” Sathya felt a warm hand on his shoulders.
He stood up in a reflex and saw his dad.
“Appa, I..” Sathya swallowed hard.
‘This is your dad’s office. Do you want to be here as the managing director, when you become big?”
His father’s words echoed.
Sathya could still never forget the way he wore his father’s spectacles and scribbled on empty papers, stacked inside the file, pretending to sign them.
His lips went dry, when he thought how hasty he was to leave them behind. He had his own justification, but now, he wanted to apologize to his parents who were actually his foster parents, but have never been so.
Driven by multiple emotions, he hugged his dad tight.
Harini felt tears as she saw the emotional re-union. She was benumbed to see how deep Sathya’s love was, when he pulled his Dad into a tight hug. ‘They adopted me because they did not have a child, not because I did not have a home.’ his words lingered in her mind. The scene that was going on in front of her eyes had not relevance to what she heard. It was a day of Surprises for her.
By the time her thoughts travelled back and forth, Sathya had released his dad off his grip and the three were now seated, with Sathya in between.
“I should have come here long back. I did not realize what my fault was, until Harini came down to meet me and know me more.”
Harini’s mom nodded. She knew Harini and Sathya had met. She was just not aware of Sathya’s visit today. Harini slowly walked towards Sathya and sat on the floor beside her mom.
Sathya took a few minutes to tell them what happened after he left home. He also tried to explain why he never bought Radha Ma along with him.
Every word Sathya spoke, raised a lot of questions in Anu’s mind, while Krishnan was silently listening to his son.
Anu took a lot of time to discern the fact that already another woman had replaced her position in his life. It was hard for her to imagine that her son was already calling another woman as ‘ Amma.’
“I had a lot of..” Sathya began to speak, when he heard his mom’s voice.
“Do you call her Amma?” Anu asked, probing her gaze into his eyes, with numerous questions still running in her mind.
Everyone there, except Sathya, turned their head towards Harini’s mom, startled by the overwhelming innocence in her question.
Sathya shook his head, gesturing a ‘No.’
“You are my ‘Amma ‘. She is my ‘Ma.’ Please don’t ask me why, I have never had the intuition to call her Amma. Radha Ma had done so much to me. She sacrificed her life for me. She had the guts to lie that her husband was no more, when she was asked about my father. Even when she attended her father’s funeral, most of her relatives thought she was married. She did not object, just to make life easier for me. Most of her friends even asked her about , why she did not have a thought about another son.…,” Sathya paused to look at his mom. Lines of curiosity appeared in her forehead, as she heard her son praising another woman in front of her.
“.. but .., ” he shook his head, bit his lips and held his fist tight, as if he ran out of words. “.. but, I have never had that inner emotion that drove me to call her ‘Amma.’ I do not know how assertive and convincing my answer is, but, you are my Amma. There is no doubt.” He paused, as he took his hands to touch her cheeks, but trailed off in midair.
Harini slowly took his hands and placed it on her mom’s cheeks.
“That will make her happy.” Harini smiled at Sathya.
Sathya cupped his mom’s face in his palm, while his dad embraced him.
“I am so sorry.” He apologized as he turned to Harini.
“Harini, wondering how all this could happen? After what we spoke that day, I went home and pondered more. I realized that from the moment, I left this home, I had been thinking about the challenges and the troubles that I was facing. I was aware that life could be difficult once I move out of this house, but ever since I moved, I now realize that I have been thinking about myself alone. I stayed put and thought the whole night, how difficult it should have been for my parents. I realized that I should apologize.” Sathya looked at his Mom.
“Radha…,” Her mom began, when Harini cut her short.
“Amma, we have all met just now. Let us take things one at a time. Half of your saree pallu is already wet with tears. I don’t feel right to take up more emotional things now. Moreover Sathya Anna is getting married soon. We are going to have a lot of time to meet and greet.”Harini smiled.
“Yes Amma. Her name is Chandani- A girl from a middle class background, almost the same status as that of mine. She liked my..” Harini’s dad heard his son speaking. He looked around at his vast ceiling. ‘Middle class- almost the same status as that of mine.’ Sathya’s words echoed in his brain. His son has completely accepted and gelled into the reality of life outside his foster parents, he thought. He nodded and smiled to himself.
“Ahem. “Amsa cleared her throat.
“Oh my God! There is a poor guy’s life at stake, which I had forgotten completely.” Sathya winked at Harini.
Harini glared at Sathya, as she heard Amsa’s gentle chuckle.
“You helped Jana?” His dad asked.
“I helped my brother-in-law.”Sathya replied with a smile on his face and he started to speak, looking at Harini.
“That Monday evening, after you left, I asked Jana If I could be of some help. He snubbed me and strode away. Later that night he sent me a text telling that he wanted to talk to you and I should help him for that. As a big brother, I first wanted to know what the problem was. From Chandani, I came to know that another girl was involved and the whole break up was because of that. I asked Jana about it. He assured me he will explain everything. He also confirmed that he will bring the girl along with him.
Amsadhwani, Jana and I met a few days later. When they began, I was just a keen listener, but as they proceeded, I could guess what it was. Once they told me the date and venue of the incident, I almost rose from my chair in dismay. The two wheeler was none other than my scooter. I was returning home from an interview which I did not clear. When my scooter was hit, damaged and I fell down, my anger and frustration were agitated badly and it made me walk into the nearby R.T.O to file a F.I.R for insurance and file a complaint against Jana and his friends too. The police called me next morning for an official F.I.R against those guys. I thought how juvenile I had behaved and decided to drop the case off. I did not want to pull those guys into trouble, just because they never apologized or answered me properly. My soul purpose was to get the repair cost covered and the insurance did the same. I did not go to the police station the next day. I never really cared whether the complaint was discarded and the case was closed.
Jana, Amsa and I approached Varun and explained the reality behind the case. I assured Varun that I would have made the case void, myself, if I had cared to walk into the police station the next morning. I also told Varun what an asinine act it was from my side. Varun was convinced after several minutes of talk and he told us he will withdraw Jana’s name off the list.
After few days, I received a text from Amsa stating that Jana’s name was removed and it lured me into complete joy. I was happy for my little sister. It was then I confirmed to Harini that I will come here today. We planned to come one by one, explaining you all everything. “Sathya let out a sigh as he ended the narration on a happy note.
The doorbell rang.
Everyone paused to look at Harini.
“What?” She shrugged her shoulders.
“Come on. By now all of us could guess who it could be. Go open.” Her brother ordered.
As she opened the door, Jana stood there, resting his hands on the door frame.
The heavy rosewood door opened widely.
Harini and Jana locked eyes for more than thirty seconds. They stood there, running out of words. His sudden hand movement distracted her. She wanted to look away but she could not.
He slowly raised his hands and placed them on his ears and mouthed, “I am Sorry.”
Harini stood there shaking her head.
Jana dropped his hands off his ears. He slowly raised his right fist to the center of his chest and circled in clock wise direction. He mouthed the words “I am Sorry.”
Harini stood there looking at him, as she started breathing heavily.
Jana brought his hands together, joined them and intertwined his fingers and mouthed the words, “I am Sorry.”
Harini shook her head, her eyes glistening with tears. She walked backwards, taking her hands off the door, paving way for Jana.
Jana slowly walked in, without expecting any warm welcome.
He looked around the living room.
“We have told everything- What went wrong and how things were set right.” Sathya spoke as he walked towards Jana and put an arm around his shoulders, to comfort him.
“Uncle, Aunt, I am so sorry.” Harini heard Jana’s voice for the first time, since he arrived.
“We heard it Maapillai. “ Krishnan gave an assuring nod.
“I am so sorry Uncle. I should have told you my real situation, but I felt it was not fair to pull you all into this. I could have approached you for relieving myself off this case, but that would just aggravate Varun further, hence I did not.”
He turned to look at Harini, who looked away.
“Harini,I…” He was looking at her, desperately yearning for a look.
She was still looking away.
Sathya stopped Jana, as he tried to speak again.
“Hey Bil, just a second.”
“My dear sister.” Sathya called waiting for Harini to turn.
“When Jana did not come home on the other day, what actually happened?”
“Sathya , now why are you trying to remind her?” Jana interrupted. Sathya winked at Jana.
“I did not get a proper response.” Harini looked at Sathya, not missing to note Amsa through the corner of her eyes.
“So how did you manage when your parents asked about it?” Sathya bit his lips as the words ‘Your’ slipped through his lips involuntarily. Luckily no one noticed.
“I lied. I cooked up some stories.”
“But, why?” asked her Dad.
“I thought you need not know all this. I know I was in trouble, but, pulling you into it unnecessarily, was not right. I thought I could handle it myself. I care for you, I love you and that is why I had to do it.” Harini was looking at her father.
“Now repeat the same thing what she spoke.” Sathya murmured into Jana’s ears.
“I thought you need not know all this. I know I was in trouble, but, pulling you into it unnecessarily was not right. I thought I could handle it myself. I care for you, I love you and that is why I had to do it.” Jana’s voice made Harini turn to him. She paused for a moment, as if it struck her. If she was right, then he was also right.
“That never meant you have to be harsh.” Harini’s stern reply came in a few seconds. She did not miss to note the people around her. She had snubbed him in front of them. He seemed to care less about it and continued to speak.
“I know. I should not have been that way. I have a couple of reasons for it. I was in a state of panic. I was about to lose everything in a matter of days if a formal F.I.R was charged against me, but I am not going to use that for justifying my stupid act.” Jana looked at Harini as he spoke in a soft tone.
She let out a sigh and turned away.
“I was deeply hurt by you. I came to you, every time you knocked me out. Remember the office incident?” She shook her head in dismay, as she spoke.
“I was harsh to you in the showroom the other day because, Amsa visited me often there. The last thing I wanted was you to assume that I had chosen another woman over you, which in my case unfortunately happened. I knew this would be your assumption, the moment you see or hear about Amsa. When Amsa told me that she saw you in the restaurant, I was in a state of panic. I wanted to call you imeediately and let you know everything, whatever it takes, but you did it first.” Jana was looking at Harini.
“You have all rights to punish me, but don’t hate me for it. Please.” He continued. “For what I have been to you, I know, I don’t have the right to ask you to forgive me, but, for what you are to me, I think, I can beg your pardon. If not for you, I don’t have any reason to live. If I miss you, I am not going to have a future at all.” His voice broke.
Harini turned to look at him, tears flowing through her cheeks. The wetness in her cheeks, reminded them of the love they had. He slowly raised his hands to wipe her tears. She stopped his hands and stepped back a little.
As he came closer, she took a better look at his face. She had never seen him cry.
A glistening thin line of tear appeared along his lower eye lid. .
Harini was still looking at him. She felt his cheek muscles were twitching. As she watched closer, the thin veins that surrounded his eyeballs started to redden. As she still had her intense gaze into his eyes, she saw a tear drop appearing in the corner of his eyes, which filled his eyes slowly. As she was still watching, the tear drop ran down, which was veiled by his thick beard, half way through his cheeks. Few of his tear drops escaped and landed on his t-shirt making wet marks as he occasionally turned to his in-laws for help.
She looked at Jana, who was standing there for her, desperately seeking her attention. He ignored the fact that he was surrounded by his in-laws. Harini realized that he was standing there, embarrassed, just for her.
That was the last sight, Harini ever wanted to see. She was always moved, when someone cried. Jana’s tears were different. They muddled her emotionally. She started to cry.
She pressed her lips and shut her eyes tight, allowing the tears drops to flow easily through her chin and onto her salwar top. She covered her face with her hands, as she began to weep badly.
He walked towards her slowly, trying to touch her hands.
He gently placed his hands on her. She removed her hands off her face. Her hair strands were stuck to her cheeks. He slowly moved towards her, looking into her eyes.
“I love you. I am so sorry.” He swallowed hard.
She suddenly leapt forward and embraced him in a tight hug.
“Please don’t ignore me or shout at me, when I was never wrong. It just hurts.” She spoke as she rested her wet cheeks against his chest.
“I promise I won’t. Have you forgiven me?” He tucked few of her hair strands behind her ears.
“Yes, I have. I love you.” She tried to look at him.
“Love you too.” He smiled.
He released himself off her tight grip. ”I think we have to be more careful. Your mom and dad are here.” He chuckled. Harini realized it. She moved away quickly and hung her head as her cheeks reddened.
Sathya turned towards his in-laws. “I am sorry. I will bring my parents soon. I hope you are ok with it. I am so sorry for everything.” He apologized.
Krishnan felt that Jana was repenting for his mistake whole heartedly. He was happy that his son-in-law was able to prioritize Harini over his ego. He smiled to himself and assured that he had made the right choice.
“Sure, bring them soon.” Krishnan gave a gentle pat on his son-in-law’s shoulder. Harini’s mom came close and smiled at Jana.
“Come on, B-i-l. Her big brother is around too.” Sathya smirked.
Jana froze for a moment. Harini’s parents had a good laugh. Jana understood that the mood was light and decided to make it lighter.
“Oh I see. That’s true, but don’t forget, your family’s finance is quite dependent on me.” Jana winked.
Harini’s mom crooked her brows.
“Amma, I am getting married in another two months. My fiancée is working in one of the showroom, which is managed by Jana. She reports to him and Jana processes most of her incentives and hence he is saying this.” Sathya looked at his mom.
She smiled weakly. She felt it was not graceful enough for her to hear her son’s wedding as a mere information. Harini was worried, as he cracked what her reaction implied.
She nudged her dad.
“Just because he had come to visit us, we cannot force him to stay here or make him our son again. It is always mature and healthy to give space to our kids. I am happy he visited us. I will be happy if he could do that in the future too. We have to still remember that he was our son who opted to walk out. He has found his life. He will live there only. In fact he has to. How would you feel when he steps in and ask how could we decide her wedding without him?” Harini’s dad paused looking at his wife.
“He was not with us all these years. I don’t think he could ask that when he suddenly reappears one day.” Harini’s mom looked at her husband.
“Exactly! Likewise, unfortunately, we do not have an option to have an opinion on what had happened so far in his life.” Her dad rubbed his wife’s arms. Harini’s mom let out a sigh.
“It is difficult right now. It will get better. We were able to move on with our lives when he left us. Moving on now, with the thought that he is still our son, who could only visit us and not stay with us, should not be difficult. Let us see what future has in store.” Her father assured and smiled.
“I think, all of us have had too much. Let us call it a day. Children, if you want, terrace is all yours. Hope you all call it a day too, before it gets darker. Harini, I will arrange for some snacks and dinner for all of us.” He smiled at the youngsters and made his wife rest comfortably on the Divan.
Later that evening, Jana, Harini, Sathya and Amsa sat on the roof top.
“I am so sorry for being an uninvited guest.”Amsa smiled at Harini. “I was the reason for all this chaos. I thought I should personally talk and make you understand what it really was. I never came to take Jana off your life. Even If that had been my intention, it would not have been possible. He loves you so much. The best is reserved for the best. Stay blessed.”Amsa smiled.
“Thanks for everything.” Harini smiled.
“Please don’t mention, and not to miss, your brother was the brain behind this entire show today. We three planned how we should approach and talk, so that all three of you, your parents and you, are convinced.”
“Thanks guys.” Jana flashed a smile of gratitude as he stood beside Harini.
Sathya and Jana fist bumped and hugged each other.
“Good Bye folks.”Amsa started to leave.
“It is dark. I will drop you.” Sathya stood up.
As Amsa and Sathya left, Jana and Harini waved them a good-bye and turned towards the sky.
Harini let out a sigh.
“I am sorry.” Jana began, while Harini took her finger and signed him not to speak further.
“We will just leave it in the past.” Harini smiled.
“Thank goodness, I was happy Amsa never mentioned about your love for her to my parents. She played that very carefully.” Harini continued as she looked at Jana.
“Even if she had not played it carefully, she would not have told that..,” Jana paused and turned towards Harini. “ and that is because she never knows I loved her.” He smiled.
“You did not tell her even the second time?” Harini looked at Jana, her curiosity overflowing in the valley in between her rooked brows.
“No. If it is love, It is you. I promised, I will forget, and I did. When I saw her again, I did get reminded of love. Not the love I had for her,but the love you have for me. I am truly, deeply and madly in love with you. My eyes can never look at any other girl,as my love, because you are vision. My heart can never hold any other love, because you have already filled in yours and it is just rushing through the smallest cell in my body.” He folded his hands across his chest and looked at the sky.
She slowly rested her head on his shoulders. Jana held her hand tight. He slowly took out the fresh slam book, he hid in his bag.
“Wedding gift.” He grinned.
“I love you forever.” She mumbled. They smiled.
“Harini!” Her mom called out loud. She rushed through the crowd, holding her pleats of her silk saree, so that she does not trip.
“Aren’t you supposed to be around during this part of the Muhurtham?” Her mom pulled her to the stage.
The GuruVihaar Marriage hall was bustling with colors, lights and sound. Sathya and Chandani were getting married. Harini, being the sister in law, was expected to do the honors to the couple, before Sathya tied the Mangalyam around Chandani’s neck.
As Harini completed the rituals, people in the hall stood up to cast their blessings on the couple, in the form of flower shower, as Sathya tied the Mangalyam around Chandani’s neck.
Harini felt tears of joy. She could not wait to be seated in the same position, a month later, with Jana doing the same thing to her. The bustle of the Nadaswaram and Mirudangham gave her goose pimples and tears of joy ran down her cheeks. Jana and Harini were engaged a month ago. Their wedding was about to take place in a month’s time.
“My Son, this is my wedding gift.” Harini’s father handed over an envelope to Sathya. “Before it could intrigue you, it is a job offer in my firm as a Chief financial advisor. Take your time, go through the job description and let me know if it interests you.” He gave his son a gentle pat on his shoulders. As the wedding rituals were completed, Harini joined Sathya and Chandani for a wedding selfie.
Harini looked at Chandani and smiled. Chandani returned the pleasant smile. Chandani was happy and relieved to hear from Sathya that the call she missed did not cause any havoc in Jana and Harini’s life, rather, Sathya made her feel good, by explaining how good it was for her to miss the call if not for which Jana and Amsa would have never spoken and the case would have gone in a different angle.
“Hey, bro-in-law!” Sathya called out for Jana. Jana stood in between Sathya and Harini. Jana looked at Harini and smiled. He held her hand and posed for the picture.
“Hey wait!” They heard Radha’s voice.
“Sissy!” Radha called Harini’s mom. “Come let us join them.” Anu and Radha met twice and the ladies have started to know each other. Things were going good between them. Sathya’s wedding enhanced the goodness in their relationship.
Harini struggled to get the best angle as the group grew bigger. She handed over the phone to Jana , who raised it to capture a perfect shot. Harini and Sathya did not miss to notice how Radha and their mom stood adjacent to each other, with big smiles. Harini felt Jana’s fingers, entwined between hers and it became tighter, as he was still trying to get a good angle with his other hand. Harini could not suppress a smile. She blushed.
The picture was getting clearer as Jana adjusted the focus parameters. Picture got better and clearer, so was their life.