“Your grandfather is trying to call you.” Saravanan smiled.
Gopal, who never spoke a word since last night, was now wide awake, trying to call Harini in his feeble voice.
Harini rushed to the bed. She smiled involuntarily. A ray of relief and hope spread across her face.
He was fully conscious and was calling her name.
“He was trying to call you. Hence I almost shouted your name.”Saravanan spoke to Harini.
“Thatha.” Harini rushed.
Gopal looked at her, eyes wide open and tried to smile. He raised his hand to hold Harini’s hands.
She extended her hand. The Granddaughter Harini wanted to hold his hand for longer. The doctor in her, urged her to check his parameters.
She checked the pulse and blood pressure. They were normal. His pulse rate had improved. He was breathing in regular pattern.
Harini’s joy knew no bound.
“Thatha.” She smiled. Tears of joy appeared on her eyes. She composed herself and informed Gopal that he was safe.
She took another ECG just to see regular patterns. It was a huge relief. The X-Ray was taken and Harini saw that the congestion in his lungs was mostly removed.
The ABG test at 6.45 A.M showed that the oxygen saturation percentage was now 87.5.
Gopal had improved tremendously.
Harini came out just to see Mohan , who was still waiting anxiously. The exhaustion in his face explicitly implied that he had had a long night too. Her Uncle Ashok was with her dad.
“Appa, Thatha is able to speak now. He is much better. Please ask someone from home to bring coffee or milk now. Dr. Kumar and Dr.Sachin will attend him shortly. They will prescribe on what could be given next.”
Mohan smiled. A ray of relief appeared on his face, as tears appeared on his eyes. He gently touched his child’s shoulder.
“You saved my dad.” Mohan held Harini’s hands. Harini nodded, feeling emotional. Tears rushed to her eyes. She fought them and swallowed hard to push them inside.
“I have to go back. Dr.Kumar and Dr.Sachin will be coming soon. Please be here to hear from them about Thatha’s health.” Harini spoke hastily and took two steps at a time and reached the ICU.
Gopal was smiling and happily talking to Dr. Saravanan. His voice was feeble and he took long pauses between each sentence. He was still lying down, eyes drooping and his face looked weak and sleep deprived.
“Thatha, please don’t strain much. You had not had a proper sleep last night. Right now you have energy only for inhaling and exhaling. We need your speedy recovery.” Harini spoke as she looked at her grandpa.
Gopal smiled at her granddaughter and called her. She walked near him. Gopal tried to reach Harini. She moved closer and held his hands. She gave a gentle pat. He smiled as if the warmth in her touch gave him a lot of promises.
She looked at the clock. It was 7.30 A.M. Viji had left after her night shift. The day duty nurse had come in.
Coffee was brought. Harini stayed beside and helped Gopal to drink it in small quantities to make sure he had no problem in drinking and breathing alternatively.
She waited for five minutes after he had consumed 100 ml of coffee.
She also checked that he did not vomit. She was relieved.
There was a sudden tension in the floor. The number of nurses moving around swiftly increased.
Dr. Kumar should be there for rounds. Harini thought.
She looked at the clock. It was 8 AM.
Harini went to the table and grabbed Gopal’s file. She checked and arranged the reports and test results, retaining the latest on top.
“Good morning.” Harini heard a warm voice from behind, as she stacked Gopal’s report.
“Good morning, Gopal.” Dr. Kumar greeted the old man with a smile. “How are you doing?” He asked.
“I am fine.” Gopal smiled with a feeble voice.
“Can I have the last night’s monitoring reports, please?” Dr.Kumar extended his hand towards Harini.
As Harini handed over the reports, she saw Dr. Sachin and smiled at him.
“Good morning Doctor.” She greeted him. Dr.Sachin smiled back and nodded his head in acknowledgement.
“Dr.Kumar told me.”Dr.Sachin spoke, as he saw Harini.
Harini wanted to ask Dr.Sachin about his travel and arrival to Chennai, but ICU was not the place. She stuck to the ethics and kept her greetings short.
Dr.Kumar viewed the reports and sat on Gopal’s bed.
“You are doing well.” He smiled. Gopal smiled weakly and mouthed ‘Thank you.’
He went on rounds to check on the other patients. He spent few minutes near each of them, checking them and came back to Harini.
Kumar and Sachin discussed few things.
“Your father is present here?” Kumar asked. Harini nodded.
“Ok, both of you shall meet me in my room downstairs.” He instructed and swiftly went up to complete his rounds.
Harini came running down to see most of her family present there. Mohan was there inside the premises while the rest of her family was near the parking lot.
“Appa,” she came running.
“What is it?” Mohan asked in curiosity.
“As per my knowledge, Thatha is fine. Dr Sachin and Dr.Kumar checked him. They asked us to meet them in Dr.Kumar’s room.” She gasped for breathe and continued.”Dr. Kumar will complete his rounds and will be back here.”
She checked the hospital entrance. She saw Sarva, Harshith walking towards them.
“Thatha is fine. We are yet to hear the confirmation from the chief doctors.” Harini spoke looking at the men.
‘Sorry.’ Sarva mouthed. She nodded. Her mind was stuck with what the doctors would say.
Few minutes passed by. She sat on an empty chair. Her feet were sore. She was not sure for many hours she had stood last night. It was the longest night of her life – A night that was filled with anxiety and mental distress.
She saw her Grandfather’s health deteriorated right in front of her eyes. The thoughts were still sending shivers down her spine.
She was interrupted by a warm hand on her shoulders. It was her dad. He signaled that the doctors were back.
She stood up and walked fast. Dr.Kumar asked Mohan to come in along with Harini. Srimathi, Uma, Thanuja and Akhila joined them.
As Harini and Mohan took the seats, the rest of them stood in the doctor’s room, looking at Kumar, anxiously than ever.
“Mr. Mohan. Your father is doing well. He has showed tremendous improvement in the past 6 hours. I am planning to keep him in ICU for another few hours and if his health continues to improve, I might shift him to general ward by noon. I will suggest some soft solid foods then. He will be continuously monitored. Once he starts eating and regains his lost strength, I feel I can discharge him in a couple of days. My friend Dr.Sachin will prescribe few additional medicines apart from what I am going to prescribe.” Dr.Kumar looked at Sachin.
“Thank you so much.” Mohan and Harini said in unison. Mohan had tears. Harini felt the emotions slowly take over her.
“We generally do not hide anything from patients. Based on the reports your daughter took, Last night, around 12, his health had come down badly, as his lungs, heart and kidneys, did not function properly. I have to tell this, your daughter had taken incredible, meticulous efforts and she was wise enough to bring back his health to normal by early in the morning. You have to thank her.” Dr.Sachin smiled.
Mohan looked at his daughter and smiled.
The meeting ended with mundane questions and Mohan and his family thanked the doctors and came out.
The younger generation stood there anxiously. Mohan directed everybody to the parking lot and shared the happy news. He also shared Harini’s role in it.
Harini walked out slowly from Dr.Kumar’s room. She was not sure why, either the anxious night or the roller coaster of emotions or the extreme decisions she took or the emotional distress, Harini broke into tears. She ran to the visitor rest room that was outside, near the parking lot. She did not want her cousins to notice her tears.
She took her time, composed herself and peeped out of the rest room. She could not see anybody for the next few steps. She came out and as she walked few steps, to her surprise, she saw Sarva, who was waiting for her.
“I am so sorry. Though I never meant it, I shouldn’t have spoken that way. I was a fool. ”Sarva apologized.
“No. you are not.” Harini spoke in Sarva’s defense. He was astonished.
“You followed me?” She asked him. The soft, gentle voice took him by surprise.
“I cannot leave you when you aren’t ok. I know you were physically and emotionally drained. The previous Night had taken a toll on you. I thought I should not leave you behind and that is why I followed you. I saw you heading towards the rest room and hence I could not follow your closely. I just stopped here. ” He spoke, his voice calmer, huskier and warmer. She felt a unique sense of comfort and warmth creep over her through his voice.
“I am neither going to ask you to stop talking nor going to ask you how did you know all of these things. It is not surprising. After all a psychiatrist will know all this, wouldn’t he? I saw – The Brain and heart magazine, the column, the photo.” She looked at him.
Sarva stood dumbstruck. He thought for more than thirty seconds.
“Let us talk about this, but as of now let us go.”Sarva signaled Harini to move forward.
“But I need to know.” The curious Harini re-appeared.
“Sure, not just that and but also much more. But now you have a bunch of people waiting for you. Go to them. Tell them about your grandpa. Share the happiness. Come on quick.” He moved away.
The next couple of days went busy for Gopal’s family as they had to balance the wedding proceedings and the hospital visits. Sarva and Harini never got a chance to speak about anything personal as Harini spent most of the time in either hospital or at home, thinking about what was happening in the hospital.
Sarva knew it would definitely be one of the important conversations of his life and waited for the right time.
Harini knew she had to ask and understand a lot of things and waited for the right time. A few glances, moments of togetherness in complete silence prevailed between them which were completely new to Harini.
As promised by Dr.Kumar, Gopal’s health improved and he regained his normal health.
It was the day of discharge. Mohan, Uma and Harini went to the hospital while Srimathi and Thanuja took care of the preparing the home for Gopal. It was almost 7 P.M in the evening.
“Mama’s car has come. They are here. Thatha is coming.”Kirti and Adithi cried in excitement.
Gopal slowly got down. Mohan and Harini held his right and left hand to support him. He was slowly taken into his room and was made to lie down. He refused to do so, protesting that he was healthy. The doctor in the family ordered him to stay at rest.
“This will make me feel sick.” Gopal argued.
“Fine, if you are going to listen to my words, I will let you sit in your rocking chair tomorrow, but only tomorrow and only if you listen to my orders today.” She raised an eyebrow at her grandfather and smiled.
He showed his thumb up.
Harini smiled and came out, slowly closing the door behind here.
She saw Kirti, Adithi, Arjun, Harshith standing in a straight horizontal line, Dhothis and over-sized pants worn over their jeans and kurthi and three fourths. Harini made a face at their costume.
Sarva counted down from three to one and all of them in unison, pulled the Dhothi and the over-sized pants down to their feet and shouted in unison.
“Jahapannah tussi great ho!” imitating a scene from one of the Bollywood movies.
They folded their hands across their chest and shouted again.
The rest of the elders smiled at the scene, not knowing what was going on.
Harini blushed and covered her face with her hands.
“You saved Thatha.” Arjun began.
“You saved my marriage.” It was Kirti’s turn.
“You brought back the happiness.” Harshith smiled.
“Though we often pulled your legs, it was same strict, punctual , perfectionist doctor, who saved our Grandpa’s life.” Adithi flashed a half smile.
“You are so great.” Kirti pinched her cheeks. Sarva joined the group, stood as one among them and admired her.
“I am so sorry Sarva.” Harini slowly began. ”I shouldn’t have been hasty in insulting you the other day at the dining table. I am Sorry.” Harini put forth an apology.
The group looked at them.
“That is ok.” Sarva smiled and group clapped. Harini smiled.
“Yaay!” Kirti and Harshith shouted.
“Shhh.”Harini shushed them signaling towards Gopal’s room. The elders peeped from the kitchen and the other rooms. The cousin group made sure to keep their composure and slowly dispersed.
Harini sat on the couch and brought her laptop to life, before it booted, she checked the time.
It was around 10 PM, Harini slowly peeped into Gopal’s room and saw that he was sleeping. She went near him and touched his hand. Temperature was normal and he was breathing easily.
Harini let out a sigh of relief and walked out slowly.
Harini decided to sleep in the couch that night, just in case if Gopal needed any immediate attention. She informed the same to her Grandmother and Mom.
She saw Sarva seated alone in the dining table. She took her laptop and moved closer to him.
“The wait was just horrible. I could not wait to hear from you.” She spoke in a low tone.
She turned twice to her right and left respectively and checked in someone was around.
“You are really weak in starting a conversation, aren’t you?” He smiled.
“What?” She made a face. She also signaled him to speak softer. She tilted her head upwards, making sure no one watched them.
“For the first time…,” Sarva spoke slowly, while Harini was looking at his face curiously, “…the doctor is eager to hear about me.” He smiled.
Harini heard footsteps.
She immediately turned. She saw Srimathi coming towards her.
“Thatha is sleeping peacefully. Why don’t you go to your room? I can call you if something is needed.”
“I thought…,” Harini tried to speak while her grandma interrupted her and assured her that everything was fine at that moment.
“Ok Patti.” Harini nodded.
Srimathi looked at Sarva. “Haven’t you slept? What are you doing here my child?” She asked.
“I was just …” He was about to say that he was waiting for a call. He looked at Harini. They hadn’t begun their conversation yet. He wanted to talk to her. He was worried she might hate his lie.
“I was just trying to talk to your granddaughter.” He smiled. Harini’s eyes widened.
Srimathi threw a weird look at Harini.
“Harini, go up and sleep.” Srimathi ordered. She waited for a moment and turned to leave.
Harini walked into Gopal’s room and checked his pulse. His heartbeat was normal and his breathing pattern was regular.
She walked out of the room and headed to her room, unsure about the conversation that ceased before it began.
She turned around. Sarva was not there.
Patti might have asked him to leave. She thought.
She headed to her room.
As she opened the door, she tried to turn the lights on, when she saw a silhouette of a man sitting on her bed.
“Sarva?” She called.
“Mmmhmm.” She heard a mumble. She turned the lights on.
“Hey, you!” She exclaimed in surprise.
She glared at him. He smiled.
“That is my bed.” She raised her voice.
“What?” he asked in surprise.
“How dare you sit on others bed without their permission?”
He smiled moving away.
“Take a seat,” she said and sat on a chair, “and tell me.” She continued.
He took a chair opposite to her, folded his chair across his chest and began.
“I am Sarvesh Dev.” He began. For the first time Harini listened to Sarva.
“I am a Chef Risk officer in one of the famous US based bank in Pune, after completing my MBA from IIMA.”
Harini did not stop him, though she was completely lost.
How were management degree and psychiatry related?
“I was born in Mumbai to Tamizh parents- Mom Lakshmi, Dad Murali and me Sarva, their only son. My dad had a transferable job due to which, until my age of eight, I kept switching schools at least once a year. At some point, we weren’t sure, Was it the changing environments or was it the fact that I could not make friends; I started performing poorly in studies and almost lost interest in everything around me. When we were in Nagpur, my parents took me to a doctor. He assured that everything was fine with me, except that the changing environments had taken a toll on me. It concerned my parents a lot and they decided to leave me with my Mom’s parents in Delhi, much to my dismay. I never liked leaving my parents.”
Harini kept nodding her head.
“My parents visited me twice or thrice a year. I felt bad when they left me every time after a visit. I wished that I could go with them. But things started to change slowly. I started liking the new place. It was surprising how I started to love my new place, in just few months. I started making friends. One such boy in my neighborhood started getting close. He was Nikhil – Now the groom, then my childhood friend. I started liking the stay with my grandparents. My school was good. My grades improved; Above all, the bond I developed with my Grandma was something great. Probably like the one between you and your grandpa. She was my inspiration. She was the most optimistic person in my life. At one point I got closer to my Grandma, than my mom. My mom continued to visit me twice or thrice a year. By then, her departure never made me cry. By then I had developed a beautiful friendship with Nikhil too. As they were our neighbors, my grandparents knew Nikhil’s family well. Whenever my parents visited, they made sure to meet Nikhil’s parents and greet them. Things were fine. Suddenly at the age of fourteen, after almost six years of deep bonding, I had to leave my grandparents, since my dad got a permanent job in Pune. My dad did not want me to stay away further.I wasn’t sad that I was going back to my parents, but I was definitely sad about leaving my grandparents. My grandmother’s thoughts filled my mind. I wanted to see her often. But due to my schooling schedule, we could visit them only twice, one for summer and one for winter holidays. I felt bad. I missed my grandma so much. We used to make STD calls, but that did not bridge the gap of being beside her, close to her in the warmth that her eyes, smile and her wrinkled skin gave me.”
“It was one usual summer visit, when we started noting a change in her. She started forgetting things quickly. It was not just a hunt for misplaced spectacles. It was more serious. She started forgetting the conversations we had. We panicked. We took her to doctor. He first gave medicines and some counselling and concluded that it was signs of aging. He asked us to wait for a week and revert. My holidays ended in the next couple of days. We had to leave. We left our ailing Grandmother, after the positive assurances that my grandfather gave us. We spoke to Nikhil’s parents and explained the situation and requested their help in case of any emergencies. My Grandma and Grandpa came to the railway station to send us off. I saw her smiling and waving. The hand luggage was heavy with the jars of my favorite sweets and pickles, which my Grandma made for me, while my heart was heavier, as I was leaving her while she was still ill. I could not wait for the winter, for I had to be there by her side and comfort her. I could still remember myself as an adolescent boy in the moving train, fighting hard to hold back the tears.”
Sarva stretched his back as he was speaking. She pulled out a pillow from the bed and offered so that he could support his back.
Harini had stopped nodding her head by then. She felt she did not need a gesture to convey that she was listening. She was engrossed even to blink.
Sarva placed the pillow, adjusted his position and continued.
“The rest of the six months went in repeated phone calls to my grandparents checking with them if things were fine. My Grandma spoke well, but she remembered none of the conversations. My grandpa never elaborated to me about the repeated doctor visits. He just told that she was fine. The most expected winter holidays were declared in schools and colleges and we finally reached our grandparent’s house. I rushed inside. My Grandpa tried to stop me, to tell me something. But I never bothered to stop. As I rushed in, I saw my Grandma in her reading table, smiling at me. I ran and hugged her. The rest of the family followed me. I held her hands and placed the flowers I bought for her. She took it from me and smiled.”
“‘ How are you?’ I asked. She was looking at me longer than usual. She signaled my Grandpa to come closer. She held his hands and asked, ‘ Who is this young man?’ her face calm. I was devastated. That was the least thing I expected. Tears dripped from my eyes, wetting my cheeks. I got up and moved away, tottering my way back. It was a huge shock for all of us. My Grandma vaguely remembered my mom. She forgot the rest of us. My Grandpa, himself, had to remind her about him, frequently. I wept. We managed to gather ourselves and listen to our grandpa.”
Harini was listening too.
“Dementia. My grandpa told us that she was suffering from Dementia- A brain disorder. The doctors have told that her brain cells were deteriorating and hence her memory power was almost gone. She had slowly started losing her sleep. The illness had started interfering in her daily activities. We all went to the hospital along with my Grandpa. The doctor explained her current state and stated that there was no particular cause or relief for the disease. It was all under research. It took a lot of time for me to understand that it was the medical condition that had made her to forget me completely. I had sleepless nights. She was first woman whom I loved as much as my Mom – in fact a little more. It took a lot of time for me to accept it. We decided to take our Grandma and Grandpa with us to our home. I was in constant touch with Nikhil, though we did not visit Delhi after that. Our friendship grew deeper despite the geographical distance. Mobile phone started to creep into every household. My dad bought one; Nikhil’s dad bought one too. We conversed frequently. “
“In a few months’ time, my grandma passed away. I was in my eleventh standard then. In an attempt to distract me from the sorrow, my parents enrolled me in a more strenuous coaching, than the previous one that wracked my brain more for IITJEE. My grandma’s demise affected my studies. I aimed for IIT Kanpur. I landed in IIT Chennai. My Grandpa passed away after a year. I was in my second year. I was never able to come out of the loss. Everything around me reminded me of my Grandmother. I was in a state of shock for a couple of months. I tried to gather myself and move on. I couldn’t. The loss was huge. One fine day the doctor’s words rang a bell in my mind. I remembered him telling that the causes and relief for Dementia were under research. I started searching in the internet. ”
“I tried to understand about Dementia. I read about the research that was carried out so far on understanding the cause and prevention. I started studying more about the Brain, its cells, how they interconnect and communicate with each other causing the humans to remember, co-ordinate and carry out our daily activities. As I began to research and analyze, I came across many interesting things on how to prevent Dementia. I started saving the links of my analysis in my system. I completed my under graduate degree in Technology from IIT Chennai by then. Social networking like Orkut, Facebook started evolving.”
“One fine day I realized that my research works were not of any goodness just residing in my system. I started to publish them slowly. Initially it was only my friends who were following and reading my articles, just for my sake. There were hardly 10 views for my articles. I started following and connecting with neurologists in my circle. I wanted to know more about the ailment that took my grandmother away. I want to research and make people aware on how t could be prevented. I couldn’t imagine how much of a help it would be for aging people and who loved them. It drove me to research better and come up with various topics. The circle slowly expanded. The response rates for my articles gradually increased. I was able to connect with doctors, who took time to read and acknowledge my works. One of the doctors invited me for a conference that was held in my city related to neuro science. I attended and I made friends. I attended many such meetings. My ambition of doing a Master degree in Business Administration came in between my thesis. I had my CAT preparations. I had to crack a problem faster than 98% of the people competing to get a seat. I cracked the exam and made it to IIMA. I could not be physically present in Pune to connect further. I used the internet and mobile to stay in touch with my research. I completed my MBA and was posted in my hometown. I started publishing my research work again. I slowly started getting popular for my research articles among certain group of doctors. I was identified for my unique ability of breaking complex medical terms into simpler, easier words for better understanding. ”
“As I understood more about preventing Dementia, I came face to face with a truth that the first and foremost risk factor was related to cardiovascular risk factors. As I started shifting my research in that angle I was able to get in touch with many more research analyst and doctors. One of the neuro surgeons read all my posts and met me personally and approached me for the magazine of a famous research center in India – ‘Brain and heart’. I started writing for them. Their editorial team reviewed and started publishing it. I guess you had read one such issue of the magazine. They have this habit of publishing a photo of mine, near to the column I write and I guess that was what you saw. There was a very small article about me in ‘Metro Plus’ – An IIMA graduate interested in neuro science. I guess that was the reason why Adithi had felt that my face was familiar, but she could not recognize. I am not famous enough for immediate recognition. There are few thousand followers in Social media for my publishing. I hardly post any photos of mine. I save them all for my personal Account. So that’s me. The ‘Me’ you wanted to know.”
Sarva looked at Harini and reached for the glass of water after his long narration. In due course of narration he walked for some time, stood near the window, came back to the table where they initially sat and then landed on her bed, for which she never objected. Few minutes later she joined him too. Both of them were seated at the two farthest corners of the bed.
Was it the medical terms in his story or the term Cardio vascular or his own story, Sarva was not sure, but something had let her to stay put when he accidently sat on her bed.
Harini let out a huge sigh. “Whoa.”
“I am sorry.” She spoke, her voice cracked due to the prolonged silence.
“That is ok. I have moved on, though my grandmother’s memories are so fresh in my mind.”
“No, in that case, Sorry and a Sorry.”
Sarva looked puzzled.
“Sorry for your loss. Sorry for my attitude towards you. Every time you told something, I guess I was harsh. I never wanted to know about you.”
“That is okay. Unless and until you know a little about the profession, it is not easy to correct a brilliant doctor.” Sarva smiled.
“True, and thanks for the compliment.” Harini smiled. “How surprising it is.” She spoke looking at the wall in the front.
“What?” Sarva asked in curiosity.
“A person who researches about Brain is ruled by his heart. A person who reads about the heart is ruled about her brain. How contradicting!”
“How interesting!” He corrected.
There was a long silence.
To begin with she was impressed with his skill and knowledge related to the Human brain. That was the first thing that caught her attention- probably the tiniest green plumule of their relationship. She was later, curious to know who he was. Though she knew it now, she could not let the interest she had invested in Sarva go off. She wondered what else was still holding her onto him. She was impressed, but not with him, with his ability. Was that the only one, she slowly questioned herself.
Harini did not know where this was going. Her mind suddenly became restless.
His voice broke her chain of thoughts.
“Brain is a faithful slave, but a dangerous master. That is why I always go by the heart. “He smiled.
True. She thought. She nodded and smiled.
Sarva looked at the watch it was almost 12.30 A.M.
“Oops. It is so late.” He stood up in haste.
“Thanks for talking to me.” Harini stood up as well.
“A good talk is all we need. Every problem in this world is unique, but there is a common solution, “he paused and looked at her, “a good talk. Talk your heart, everything is possible.”
“You still don’t believe, I guess.” He was looking at her.
“Ah, No, I was..,” she stammered.
“If you don’t believe you can take this instance.” He showed the crinkled bed sheets. “A good talk from the bottom of the heart had promoted me from the chair to the bed. A good talk had moved an austere doctor. She had let me sit on her bed.” She realized how well she was engrossed in his story.
His story or him. She thought for a second.
He smiled and walked away, after wishing her a Good night.
As she closed the door behind, he stopped and turned. She stopped and looked at him.
“I was worried that you would not let me use your bed forever. Things would have been very difficult in the future.” He winked.
She looked at him confused. She stared at him, the moment she understood the hidden meaning.
“When will you stop flirting?” She asked , this time her tone softer.
“Probably, the moment you understand that this is not flirting but kind of a sweet conversation a Guy is having with the girl with whom he wants to build a relationship.” He spoke and walked fast, not waiting for her reaction. She tried to speak, but he was gone.
She came back to her bed. She rested her head on the pillow, as her thoughts drifted to Sarva. For the whole of the time they were speaking, she almost never thought about anything, except him.
Was it her interest in his past? Or what is his past? Or was it him? She was confused.
It all began with the curiosity in knowing him, but where was it leading to?
His last sentence confused her further.
Is he seriously trying to build a relationship with me? Her restless mind raced.
Too soon. Too soon. Too soon. She reminded herself. She turned on the AC, wrapped herself in the blanket and drifted to sleep.
It was 8 AM, the next morning.
Harini came back after a brisk morning jog. Adithi, Sarva and Kirti were seated in the living room.
Gopal was seated in his rocking chair with his reading glasses on. Harini smiled and walked towards Gopal.
“How do you feel now?” She asked. Her voice turned few heads.
“I am fine.” Gopal answered briskly. Harini smiled and walked towards the stairs. As she ascended the stairs, she heard a voice calling her. It was her mother.
“Harini, the groom’s family is coming tonight.” As Uma spoke, Srimathi joined the conversation.
“Oh, Fine.” Harini shrugged her shoulders.
“They are landing here at 1.30 AM.” Srimathi spoke, as she sat on the sofa.
“What? Unbelievable! They are just landing from Delhi , why can’t they take a flight that reaches here in the morning after 6 or something?”
“Looks like it was a last minute decision.” Mohan added.
“Come on Appa.” She shook her head.
“Can’t help it dear.” Mohan gave a gentle pat on her daughter’s shoulders.
“We have to be up for receiving them.” Thanuja spoke to all of them.
“Oh, so 1.30 is the flight, it will take 47-52 minutes for reaching home from Airport. So If someone can please wake me up by 2, that should do.” Harini tried to walk back.
“You are going to receive them in pajamas?” Kirti’s voice stopped her again.
“What else do you expect me to wear at 2 AM?” Harini replied in an irritated tone.
“Harini, please wear a silk salwar and dress perfectly.” Uma ordered.
Ridiculous. She thought. “Fine.” She replied and hurried for a shower.
Few hours later, the grand children were sitting around the dining table after a relaxed lunch.
The house already started bustling with the preparation for the groom’s visit. The breakfast menu was decided as it was perfect blend of both north and South Indian menu.
The grandsons along with Sarva and Granddaughters were asked to take one room each as all of the rooms in the first floor of the house were allocated for the groom’s family.
The bed covers, curtains were changed and fresh ones were added. The room sprays and the washroom refreshers were refilled and the house smelt wonderful.
“Mmmm,” Harshith walked in, sniffing the fragrance, who had called for a half a day leave.
“Harini, aren’t these room fresheners chemicals?” He asked his sister.
“Of course they are. They are flammable too. We can just leave the doors and windows open for the fresh air to come in. That will do. No one listens. Let them do whatever they want.” Harini replied, tearing the orange skin into small pieces.
“Don’t get her started.” Kirti smiled.
“Truce truce.” Harshith raised his hands.
“Ma,” He raised his voice. “I am hungry. Lunch.” He threw his bag on the sofa.
“Hey, place your bag on that rack. Remove your socks. Do not go around the house with your sock. Wash your hands and legs. Change to a causal wear and then eat.” Harini ordered.
“You are just the younger and female version of Thatha.”Harshith gritted as he removed his socks and started to undo the buttons in his shirt.
Gopal felt much better as the proceedings of the wedding gave him new energy. He was busy discussing with Mohan regarding the itinerary for the rest of the day and all that followed.
“Let them have a good rest tonight. After the lunch tomorrow, let them take time for getting ready for Nichayathartham at 3 o clock in the evening, which is going to be completely traditional. If everything goes as per the plan, the Nichayathartham is likely to get over by 6 in the evening, after which a good spread of evening snacks will be served, with which tomorrow’s function is going to get over.” Mohan spoke to Gopal.
“Kirti, Thanuja.” Mohan called out aloud.
“What is the plan for day after tomorrow? A Mehendi Function is planned right? “Mohan asked his sister.
“Yes Mama. That will be exactly one day before the reception and two days before the wedding so that the mehndi color remains intact. Also one more thing, since the Nichayathartham is done at home, we decided to use our existing make over equipment. The actual beautician will come home later that day, after snacks and do the facials and other related things for both our side and groom’s side.”
Mohan and Gopal smiled.
“Fine. Are the arrangements done?” Mohan confirmed with his sister.
“Yes Mohan. For Mehendi and facials, we have requested them to come prepared for at least 20 members.” Thanuja replied.
“Payment?” Mohan asked.
“We will have to pay 20% in advance, which will be done today and the rest of it, once they complete the service.” Thanuja replied.
“Ok, I hope the payment for beautician is also taken care. Anything extra needed, please let us know.” Mohan spoke to his sister.
Thanuja and Kirti smiled at each other and headed to the room, discussing further.
Adithi moved away as she got a call. Harshith had completed his lunch and went to the newly allocated boy’s room downstairs for a nap, leaving Harini and Sarva alone at the dining table.
“Nichayathartham?” Sarva asked.
Harini looked behind. Srimathi, Uma and Akhila were nowhere found. Mohan and Gopal moved inside Gopal’s room so that Gopal could lie down and talk. Harini ensured that there was no one around and then replied.
“You don’t know about that? You are from a Tamizh family right?” Harini asked with overwhelming inquisitiveness.
He smiled at her.
“Of course Yes. As I was born and brought up in the Northern part, I am not too familiar with big terms. That is it.”
“Oh, Fine. Nichayathartham is the engagement.” She sulked.
“That is good. You seem dull, though. You are still not able to get over that early morning make up stuff for receiving the groom?”
“Oh, No. Not that.”
“What happened to her?”
“She is fine. Just that she is either snubbing me or not talking to me.”
“You don’t like to talk, do you?”
“I don’t like meaningless long talks. Short and sweet ones are always my preference.”
“Ok,ok. Why do you think she is behaving that way?”
“I don’t know. It has been this way all of a sudden.”
“From when on?”
“From the day on which we went for jewelry shopping and you guys had been out for dress stitching.”
Sarva thought for a while.
“Hey, that jewelry shop incident. You remember? It is the same since that day.” She shrugged her shoulders.
Oh you remember that. He smiled as he thought.
“Don’t worry. Let me try speaking to her.” He gave an assuring nod.
“Oh Yeah. You are the expert.” Harini smiled.
“But, that does not seem to sum it up. Is there something else that is running at the back of your mind? You seem equally restless compared to how dull you are.” He looked into her eyes.
She eyed him with surprise, their eyes met for the longest time. She was the first to withdraw the gaze, in an attempt to brush away the fringe of hair from her forehead, which had never fallen on her forehead.
“That is it.” She looked away.
Harini heard voices from the kitchen growing louder. She stood up in a reflex. She bade a bye and moved into the newly allocated Girls room.
It was 1.45 A.M. Harini cursed herself, as she brushed her teeth. What has she gotten herself into? She cringed like a baby.
She brushed her teeth, though she had slept only for few hours, washed her face and stared at the pink and orange salwar that was lying on the bed. Kirti occupied the large mirror, eyeing herself for more that thousand times.
Harini went inside the restroom and changed her dress. The mirror was free. She looked at herself once. She was looking fine. Eyelashes were a little bulged due to the short sleep. A stroke of eye liner would help, but she was not patient.
Harini went out and sat on the sofa. Her dad, mom, Ashok Chithappa had gone for receiving. The women in the house were dressed well and waited for the arrival.
Gopal was also eagerly expecting their arrival. She sat beside her grandpa and enquired about his health. She was happy to know that he was fine.
Kirti came out of the room after hours of makeup.
She looked at Harini.
“You look beautiful dear.” She exclaimed. “Something is missing.” Kirti scrutinized Harini’s face. “Got it. Eyeliner.” Kirti ran inside to bring a bottle.
“Hey, but…” Harini tried to stop but Kirti was gone.
She made Harini to sit on the dining table and asked her close her eyes as she applied the liner.
Harini tried to open her eyes.
“Hey, dont. Your eyes are so small. The liner will smudge if you open immediately. Just sit here with your eyes closed for at least a minute.” Kirti ordered.
Harini let out a sigh and sat there. As she waited impatiently, she felt a cold hand on hers.
She withdrew immediately.
“Harini.” The voice spoke in a low tone. She knew who it was. She opened her eyes.
“Adithi?” Harini called in an excited tone. Adithi smiled.
“I am so sorry.” Adithi held Harini’s hand firmly. “I am so sorry for my behavior.” She repeated.
“Why were you so angry with me Adithi? You know how bad it feels when your cousin doesn’t talk to you properly?”Harini asked.
“I know Harini. That is why I came to apologize. Sarva spoke to me this evening.” Adithi began.
“I first refused. He then assured me that things will be fine once we talk. I had to accept and started listening to his words. He told me how much he loves you. “Adithi paused and looked at Harini.
Harini raised her brows. ”Did he?”
“Yes. Not just that. I know who you are. We ourselves have told you so many times that you will never be loved. Loved as in for relationship, marriage etc. We all thought Arjun will be best for you, because, only when someone knows you well, they can get along with you. It was not Arjun’s fault. It was us. We made him to think about you and hence he started loving you.” Adithi paused again.
Harini raised her brows again. “What? I have never thought…”Harini stumbled.
“Yeah. You never knew it at all because Arjun never expressed it. He did not know how to. We all stuck to smaller picture of finding a love for you, while Sarva showed me a bigger picture. He told me how well your partner needs to understand you. He also told me that there is a general saying. ‘For a successful marriage – A wife should be loved more, compared to how much she is understood; A husband must be understood more compared to much he is loved’. Sarva told how this will never work in your case. He made understand that you need to be understood more and you are not someone who cannot be loved; you are tough from outside, genuine and pure from inside. We all know how hard you are to convince. He explained the extra efforts he took. He never told me that Arjun was a wrong choice, but Sarva made me understand how right he was. He has convinced me now. I guess he had spoken about this to Harshith too. Mohan Mama and Thatha are already impressed. As far as I know, he loves you deeply, more than that he wants you to love him deeply. He is trying so hard. I was amazed at his persistence. I hope you accept his love soon. ” Adithi smiled.
Harini was looking at her dumbstruck. Adhithi came close and hugged Harini.
“I am so sorry. You are gem of a person. I never understood you, not as much as a guy who had been with you only for few days. It is incredible to think how love makes one crosses oceans. I was angry that you did not understand Arjun’s love for you. I should have understood you better. I was angry because my Brother was missing a good girl. I am sorry. You deserve better. ” Adithi almost had tears. Harini gently patted Adithi’s back.
“I am happy you came and spoke to me. It was bothering me too much. Anyways, Apology accepted.” Harini smiled. “Now, Where is Sarva?” She asked.
“He is along with Harshith and Mohan Mama, near the gate. He is waiting for welcoming his friend.”
The car honked, followed by the screeching of the Iron Gate. They were there.
“Ok. Let us go.” Adithi called. “One sec. I will have to help Thatha. I asked him to be seated here as it was cold outside and he has just recovered.”Harini moved away.
Srimathi and Harini helped Gopal to move to the entrance, while others followed. Akhila and Thanuja stood with broad smiles, with the string of flowers in their hands.
Mohan’s car came in, followed by the three other cars arranged for travel.
Nikhil and his parents got down from Mohan’s car. The rest of the groom’s family got down from the cars that followed behind. Mohan handed over the keys their driver to park his car and joined Gopal in greeting the Groom’s family.
Kungumam and Chandanam were given to each member of the groom’s family. They never knew what to do with the red powder and yellow fragrant squishy thing. Uma guided them to place the Kungumam on their forehead and to apply the Chandanam on their neck. Mohan placed a string of flower around Nikhil’s neck. Gopal placed a string of flower around Nikhil’s father’s neck and Uma did the same to Nikhil’s mom. It was the Chakravarthy’s way of greeting and welcoming the groom’s family.
Sarva greeted Nikhil’s parents and joined Nikhil, who punched Sarva in his arm. Sarva touched the feet of Nikhil’s parents.
“Lakshmi and Murali are here?” Nikhil’s mom enquired about Sarva’s parents to him.
“No Aunty, mom and dad will be landing here day after tomorrow.” Sarva smiled.
Harshith and Arjun greeted Nikhil and shook hands. Adithi and Harini clasped their hands as if in prayer and welcomed the guests.
Kirti was waiting inside the house. As the in laws stepped in, Kirti touched their feet.
The mundane introductions and greetings went ahead.
“Hey.” Sarva came and stood behind Harini.
“I was searching for you.”She replied.
“Really, for what?” He smiled, as his eyes widened.
“Adithi spoke to me, Thank you.” Harini smiled.
“Oh, OK. No Problem Madam. It is my responsibility to look after things that bother you.”
As Harini tried to reply she heard someone calling Sarva. It was Nikhil’s dad. Sarva excused himself.
“She told me that…,”Harini began.
‘I love you.’ Sarva mouthed and moved away.
That was what Adithi told me. Harini thought.
Harini felt a new sensation within when he saw him spilling those words and walking away.
Uma asked Harini and Adithi to help the guests to settle comfortable in the rooms.
Kirti was talking to her in laws.
It was almost three when everyone in the groom’s family settled down in the rooms.
The elders asked the grandchildren to get some sleep as they had a big day tomorrow.
Select Page below to Continue Reading…