Harini dropped her baggage.
“How did you know?”, she asked Suji, panting.
“Suji, She has entered just now and do you really have any sense on what to talk to a bride? Allow her to get some rest.” , Suji’s mom interrupted her.
“I saw it in newspaper.”, Suji pointed to the rack where newspaper were stacked, as she followed her mother.
She saw her mom and Grandma busy checking the return gifts bags. She wanted to end this all. She wanted to scream, to stop it all, but on top of it, she was worried about Abhi. She surfed the newspaper in an attempt to read the news.
“Harini, what are you doing there? Go refresh yourself and come down for lunch. It is already late.”, her mom ordered.
She ran to her room. She had had enough. She tried Abhi’s number one last time. It was still not reachable. Tears rolled down her cheeks.
She tried Sree’s number, which was also not reachable.
She held her head. She felt, she could not take things anymore.
She rested her tear stained cheek on the pillow. The pillow felt soft for her throbbing head.
She was not sure when she fell asleep.
Harini felt a soft hand, caressing her forehead. She slowly opened her eyes to see who it was.
She woke up with a jerk.
“It is me, dear.”, her father smiled.
“Appa”, she held his hands and controlling the tears.
“It is few minutes past seven. Your mom wants you down.”, he smiled. She wondered how three hours flew.
“Appa, I need to talk to you.”, she paused, when she heard her phone beep.
It was a text from an unknown number. The number ended with 09. It was unusually familiar.
As she opened it,
“Thanks for coming to Chennai Baby. Really worried about Sree? Your worry ends here. Come up to your terrace. Your beloved cousin is waiting for you.- Pawan.” , read the text.
She felt her blood rushing to her head.
“Just a minute pa.”, she excused herself, running. She opened the door and ran in the garden. She reached the steps that led to the terrace. She took two steps at a time.
She was panting heavily. She struggled for breath as she reached the end of the steps. Her feet slowed down. It pained.
She gathered herself and stepped into the terrace. It was dark. She turned around and saw the switch.
As she turned it on, the entire terrace was lit in bright white light.
She froze for a moment, not believing her own eyes, as she saw Abhi standing there, hands across his chest.
“Abhi?”, she ran to him tears gushing down from her eyes.
“Pawan sent a message that Sree was here.”, she spoke in between her sobs, gasping for air.
Abhi nodded, as he looked behind Harini.
Harini turned in a reflex. Sree stood there smiling.
“You guys are safe? Thank goodness. I thought you were in danger. I came to know about an anonymous accident. I was worried it was you. You guys are safe. You guys are safe.”, she knelt down in the cold concrete, covering her face, weeping heavily. She was obstreperous.
Abhi saw Sree walking towards her. He touched her shoulders. She uncovered her face, trying to look at him. She stood up and looked at him for few seconds.
“Where were you?” , she asked.
“Let me tell you.”, she heard Abhi’s voice.
She strode towards him, filled with anger, sorrow and confusion.
“Where the hell were you?” , she asked.
“Tell me. Where were you?”, she was shouting.
“These guys told me so many things about you. Do you want me to believe them? You let me down Abhi.” , she was still crying.
“Where the hell were you?”, she now held his shirt, demanding an answer.
Abhi slowly raised his hands to calm her down. As he tried to wrap them around her, he saw a figure approaching. He stopped his hands in midair.
“What are you doing here Harini? Is this what you came to Chennai for?”, Harini and Abhi were startled by the voice.
“Harini what are you doing here?”, her father repeated.
Abhi looked at him in shock.
“Appa.”, she stared at him in shock.
“Harini why are you crying?, asked her dad. “I saw you reading a message and running out of your room. I tried to follow where you were going. What is all this Harini?”, her dad continued.
“It is just a thing between them. They had been in constant touch in Bengaluru, but, he had been to Chennai all of a sudden, without informing her and hence the…”, Sree who was silent for the past ten minutes, spoke his first words.
“Oh! This wonderful man is also here?” , Harini’s dad snubbed him back.
Sree ignored his comment.
Harini was not sure how would she explain. How would she introduce Abhi? With the wedding preparations going on, would it be fine to introduce him as the one she loves? , she wondered.
Her dad looked at Abhi.
“This is why I insisted not to meet frequently. It creates problem.…”, her dad spoke to Abhi as if he knew him.
“When my friend Kumar told me about you, that he saw you with my daughter, I was worried and confused.”, her dad paused.
Kumar?, Harini wondered.
“The old man who always kept scrutinising me.”, Abhi whispered, hinting about Kumar. Harini recollected. He lived in the fourth floor. Was he her dad’s friend? She wondered.
“Kumar told about him?”, Harini asked, pointing her fingers towards Abhi.
“Yes, he told me that a guy is visiting you frequently. He called me up one day. I asked him to explain how the guy looked. I was able to understand it was him. I just let it go as I felt it was ok.”, her dad paused.
“Ok, what?”, she shook her head. ‘My dad knows Abhi?’ , she thought. She held her head in despair.
“Kumar called me up again and told me that he was visiting you every day. I dialed his dad’s number and asked her to speak to him.” , her dad rubbed his forehead, letting out a sigh.
Harini saw her mother coming.
“Appa, you knew his Dad?”, Harini asked swallowing hard.
“Remember the call I got, when I was half way through my dinner”, Abhi whispered. Harini looked at him blank. “…the night you were about to say ‘Cooked with love’” , he whispered again, for Harini to recollect.
“My mom called me to check if I was with you. She also told me that your dad was not ok, with, me meeting you daily at your home. I could not talk to my mom with you by my side. That was why I left in a hurry.” Abhi smiled.
Harini who was completely lost, raised her voice.
“Abhi, please stop. Appa, do you him already?”, she asked , crooking her brows.
“Harini, why do you have to ask this? Isn’t it natural for a Father in law to know his Son in law?”, her dad asked her.
“Son in law?” , she uttered the words slowly.
“Yes. Of course. He is my Son in law. “, her father shrugged his shoulders.
“And why do you call him Abhi, when his name is Pawan?”, her dad asked casually.
“Uncle, I will leave in few minutes. I came here for meeting Harini.”, Abhi smiled, waiting for Harini’s dad to move.
“You come. They will handle it themselves. After all, she is going to be his wife in another ten days.”, Harini’s mom whispered to her husband.
“Oh My! You tell this now. But at the same time you were the one who asked me to speak to his dad about Pawan’s visits to Harini’s flat. When Pawan’s mom felt that we should not call them up and complain on her son, I did not apologize. You were the one who created a big drama for it. Remember how you had been crying for it when your most pampered son, Sreenivas came to Chennai? I am really not sure. Either I should be crazy or people around me should be. “, he murmured as he descended the stairs.
Harini’s mom shook her head in disappointment. “This man is losing his tempers so easily these days. I really hope the wedding happens peacefully.”, she looked up and closed her eyes as if she was in a prayer.
In the interim, up in the terrace, Harini was livid.
“You are Pawan? The one with whom my wedding was fixed?” she asked her veins standing out of her neck.
Abhi nodded calmly.
She looked at him furiously.
“And you knew all this?”, she looked at Sree.
“Not until I spoke to him in Bengaluru.”, Sree replied.
“You met him in Bengaluru?”, Harini asked.
“No, I spoke over phone. He came to Chennai the day I came to Bengaluru.”
“So everyone knew everything except me. I just had to sit and cry for hours together, confused and lost , wondering whether you two were alive or dead, while you cronies were busy concocting a plan to hoax me. Sounds great.”, she spoke sarcasm glimmering in her last two word.
She turned and strode towards the stairs. As she stepped out of the terrace, she stopped, as she ran into her best friend.
“Harini!”, Preetha exclaimed.
“I came to your apartment to meet you this morning; in fact to apologize. I waited for more than forty minutes. I tried calling you. But you did not pick up. I was about to leave not knowing where you were. I checked with the security too. When I was about to leave, your neighbor, the girl in the opposite house saw me and informed that you had left for Chennai. I took my car and came here.”, Preetha continued.
“You drove all by yourself?”, Sree asked, in concern.
Harini gritted her teeth and glared at him.
“No, my own driver.”, she replied, not missing Harini’s glower.
‘Driver.’ , Harini turned towards Abhi , her thoughts flooding back to Saba.
“Did Saba Anna know that you were the one?”, she asked, her voice low.
“Well, I can explain everything.”, Abhi tried to stop her.
“That means Saba knew it, Right?”, she pressed her lips together, nostrils flaring.
“I hate you guys.”, she spoke and did not wait for their reaction. She descended as fast as she could.
Pawan followed her swiftly.
“Harini, you have to listen to me.”, he tried to stop her.
“I have heard a lot in the past two days Mr. Abhivadan . Sorry Pawan. Or, do you have any other name, which is at least real?” , she spoke with moist eyes.
Harini went to her room, directly.
“Harini, please.”, he held her hand.
“Do not create a drama in front of my parents and relatives. I am not in a mental state to justify your actions to them.”, she shook her hand off his grip. “And now, get lost.”, she spoke under her breath.
Sree and Preetha reached her room.
“Harini, I just thought I could help you.”
“Helping for getting more orders in ‘Home away Home’? and did I ask you? Did I beg you for your help? I was happy with four orders, rather than a flourishing business and a name called ‘Opportunist’. “, Harini said with a snap.
“And that is how some of them call me, isn’t it Preetha?”, she looked at her.
Pawan looked at her with a ‘why did you say so?’ look. She replied with an ‘I am sorry’ look.
“Harini, I know you are extremely upset, I know you have underwent a lot.”, he came close to hold her. He cupped her face in his hands. She tried to turn away, spilling few tear drops in his hands.
He made her sit on her bed. He knelt down, beside her. He waited for her sobs to mitigate.
Sree was amazed at his gesture. This was the first time he saw Abhi and Harini together.
He slowly realized how much Harini meant to that guy.
“Harini, I am so sorry. “, he started in a low tone. “Harini please look at me.”, he continued.
She looked at him, into those golden eyes; they were moist too.
“Do you remember our first conversation?”
She nodded. “You ordered for an Aloo Paratha.”
“Not as Abhi. As Pawan.”, he smiled. She frowned.
“Ok, sorry about that. But tell me.”
“The conversation I had with you over phone. How could I forget it. I am here, at this moment right now, because of that phone call, isn’t it? ”
“Yes, you got it right. Do you remember what you spoke?”
“Of course I do, but why?”, she asked irritated.
“Just tell me.”
“Well, I asked you to reject me. I told you I have my own dreams.”
“And then what? I asked your name and I ended the conversation.”
“You said it all.”, Pawan smiled. “You told me all that you wanted to do. You asked me to reject, to put it better, you rejected Me.; but how? Well before you could know my name. You concluded I would not support your dream, well before you knew me. “
He paused, to shift his weight from one knee to another.
“You can sit on the chair. I am not going to forgive you anyway.”, Harini showed him the chair.
He smiled as he took his seat.
“Harini, the moment I saw your photograph, I decided you were the one. Your eyes; they said it all. I wished I could impress you the best. I even chose what to wear on our first meeting. To bury all my excitement, there came a call from you, asking me to reject you. I am not a man who is afraid of rejections. But, I had few concerns with your reason for rejection. How could you ever conclude just by mere obsession? I wanted to prove myself to you. I wanted to take the obsession off your mind. I wanted to gain your trust. I wanted to love you. Above all I wanted to be loved by you. “
Sree listened to every word Pawan spoke.
“Abhi , but.. ?”Harini spoke , for the first time, in the past twenty minutes, looking into his eyes.
“Harini, don’t ask me how. Your eyes had the magic. If something is attractive for the eyes, it must be beautiful; if something is attracted in the eyes , it must be love. That was what your eyes showed me to behold. It was an instinct. An instinct that popped up in my heart and rang a bell in my mind, that you were the one. I realized what it is to be loved by you. I admired the way you loved your dream. It was obvious, that, to attain and sustain what you love, you go great limits. I wanted to be one such thing for you. I wanted to be loved by you.”
Tears faded away from Harini’s eyes.
Veneration slowly crept in Sree’s eyes.
“i wanted to win your heart, trust and love. I needed space. If I had come before you as Pawan, with a tag of ‘The groom selected by your parents’, do you think you would have paid attention to me?”
She slowly shook her head,’No’.
“I needed some space. It was a luxury for Pawan to secure a space to prove him. Pawan wanted a disguise. That was why I had to change my name, my identity, my work place, everything for you. I travelled back and forth between Chennai and Bengaluru to balance home and my love. I opted for a work from home option in my office.”
Sree could not believe his ears. He knew how difficult it was. A mere transfer approval, took ages and there were so many questions were to be answered. He got a transfer and till date he considered it to be the greatest thing he did for Harini. As he slowly listened, he realized how much Pawan had done to win her heart.
“I had to speak about it to Saba because I was not wrong, I refrained my originality not for a lecherous intention or vendetta. It was for our love. I spoke to him and he understood. He was worried about facing your fury once you know it. I told him that we will handle it.”
He paused to look at Harini, who sat in a torpid state.
“Whatever it is, however you put it, At the end of the day, I was fooled.” , her gravelly voice answered.
“I am now completely lost. To be honest, I am in a state not knowing what to believe and what not to.” She continued.
“I don’t deny. My friend warned me. He was telling me all that I had been risking, first and foremost, my love. “, he paused to take a deep breath.
“Harini, all that I said was wrong, lie and spoof; except one thing. My love. My love for you.”, his voice broke, as he looked at the ceiling to conceal his tears.
Harini slowly walked to him.
“You deluded me, inorder to love me. I loved you, though you deluded me. I rejected Pawan, before even knowing who he was. But I loved Abhi, without even knowing who he was.”, Harini spoke, tears rolling down her cheeks.
Sree could understand the mutual love they shared.
Preetha realized how wrong she was. Abhivadan was a great guy.
“True. You are so innocent and genuine.”, Pawan replied.
“Let them have their moment.”, Sree spoke, asking Preetha to accompany him outside.
“I need some time Abhi, Sorry Pawan. Do you see? I am not even sure how should I address you. I hope you understand my mental trauma.” she replied , closing her eyes.
Pawan understood she wanted her space. He walked out, slowly closing the door behind.
He looked at Preetha and Sree.
“How did you guys meet? And you are Pawan? I could not believe you did all this for her.”
“Does that really matter now? But she is still not convinced. “
“She will. She is just in confusion. “, Sree gave an assuring nod.
“I am just going to wait for a couple of days. If she is not going to answer, I will talk to my parents and call off this wedding. It all started because of me. Let me end it all. Meanwhile, let me figure out how to impress and convince her.”
“Good luck, boy!”, Preetha shrugged her shoulders.
Sree and Preetha saw Pawan leaving.
“Hey, at least you tell me. How did you guys meet?”, Preetha asked Sree.
“The apartment security called me that the person working in Netway was back. I went there to meet a guy in his mid-twenties. I asked him if he was Abhivadan. He looked at me startled as though the name rang a bell. He asked if I was Harini’s friend. I was shocked. He invited me into their room. He asked me to sit.
“By any chance are you Abhivadan?” I repeated.
“No. No. I am his friend. Is there a problem?” he replied.
“Yes. Abhivadan is missing. Harini is in a complete turmoil. She is not sure where he is.”
“He has gone to Chennai for his wedding.”
“What? How could he do this to her? Harini is… ”
“Sir, please. Harini is supposed to be his bride.”
“Sir, he had lied to Harini with a false identity. His name is not Abhivadan. His original name is Pawan. Pawan Kumar.”
I was shocked. I did not believe him. But my brother mailed his photo to me, when the wedding was fixed. When Pawan’s friend showed me his snap, I had to believe.
He gave me Pawan’s Chennai Number. I contacted him. He explained me everything, as why he faked his identity. I did not listen to him much. The moment I came to know that he had deceived her; I expected Harini would not be convinced. I just stayed calm and abided by his plan; Switching off my mobile; sending her two anonymous text messages from Pawan’s Chennai number.
I just wished, Harini would not get convinced.
But after hearing all what he spoke now, I really wish she could get convinced. He is the right one for her.”
Sree smiled. Preetha smiled too, nodding her head.
“Sree Maapillai left?, his Aunt ‘s voice interrupted their conversation.
“Yes Mami. Just now.”, Sree replied. “And this is Harini’s friend. She has come for the wedding. “, Sree introduced her.
“Most welcome, my child. You have to stay here, in our house.”, Harini’s mom smiled.
“Thanks Aunty.”, she replied. ‘We will be together.’ Preetha thought, looking at Sree.
That night, Harini tried to cover her face and think hard. She could not sleep. Her mind drifted to Abhi. His eyes, his charm, the way he understood things before she could tell. She could not take him off from mind and heart.
She recollected the way he motivated her to win the competition. It was selfless, she thought. She thought how he made sure to familiarize with cooking, for her sake, though it was not his cup of tea.
She could not forget the oven, he gifted her. “You do not have to run and pull out a hot pizza stone with bare hands.”, he smiled. “Hurt less work more.”, she heard his voice.
It was not about the gift, but the care he took. His concern for her knew no boundaries. She sat on her bed. She rubbed her forehead. She could not believe what happened in the evening.
The way he knelt down beside her, calm and composed, waiting for her to accept his apology. She was disturbed. She needed him. She loved him.
“You know! How much I disliked him. When his love for you can impress a third person, who had been hating him, it should surely convince you, who had been in love with him.”, Preetha’s voice echoed in her mind.
“You had already loved him. Forgiving him and accepting his apology should not be difficult.”, Sree’s voice lingered.
She was not sure about anything.
As she closed her eyes, thinking hard, she heard a song in a distant faint voice.
“Ennodu vaa veedu varaikkum, en veetai paar, yennai pidikkum;
En jeevan jeevan neethaane , yena thondrum neram idhu daane
Nee illai illai yendraale, en nenjam nenjam thaangathey.”
The voice was beautiful with a subtle guitar. It sounded like Abhi’s voice. She pursed her mouth in a smirk. Everything around seems like him, she thought. She shook her head to bring her mind back to her life.
‘Where was I?’, she thought.
“Hum tere bin ab reh nahin sakte
Tere bina kyaa vajood meraa”
She heard the voice again. She lifted her room curtain to peep, where the music was coming from.
“Tujh se judaa gar ho jaayenge
To khud se hi ho jaayenge judaa”
She continued hearing.
As she squinted in the darkness, she saw Pawan, with a Guitar.
She ran to the balcony.
Pawan was able to see her. As he saw her, he knelt down, still singing.
“Kyonki tum hi ho
Ab tum hi ho
Zindagi, ab tum hi ho
Chain bhi, meraa dard bhi
He paused to place his hands on his chest.
Meri aashiqui ab tum hi ho” , he pointed his fingers to her.
He continued to sing.
She did not think for a second. She unlocked her room and ran to the lawn at the back of her house.
As Pawan saw her coming, he placed his guitar on the floor, still kneeling down.
Poovin kaambil pootha boomi pandu naan;
Suttri suttri vaazhven unnai mattum dan;
Un manadai yenadhai porthi padupean
Udalil Uyir pol unnul kidappean.”
He closed his eyes, stretched his arms and sang soulfully.
“Abhi.”, she called softly.
She was moved by him.
The cold night, vast sky with infinite stars, her love, kneeling in front of her, singing her favourite songs. What else could a girl ask for?
Her prince charming was right there.
He opened his eyes. She looked into his eyes; the same golden eyes.
“What is this?”, she asked.
“I thought you would love it; your guy singing for you, under the night sky, in the moon light? Don’t you?”, he asked.
“How could you know all this Abhi?”
I understood that you love to fantasize, just by the way you looked at the lake and the sky. I thought of proposing this way, way back in Bengaluru. But I wondered how it would seem to kneel down on the road, in front of your flat. No privacy there, you see.”, he looked at her.
She held her head.
“I am floored by the way you understand me, Abhi.”
“For the first time in the history of proposals, you are going to witness the most unique one.”, he spoke, as he took out his wallet.
She threw a weird look.
He slowly arranged his entire identity cards one on top of another.
He extended them, like a bunch of roses.“A proposal, made with identity cards.”, he smiled. “I am a valid citizen of this country. I am not a fraud.” he smiled.
She grabbed them from his hands and shoved it back into his hands.
“Harini, once again, I am so sorry. My identity was fake, but I was not. Everything else was wrong, but my love never was. I am not sure how much more I can convince. I cannot persuade you more. Love is not to be forced. I came here tonight, not just to apologize or convince or impress, But just to tell you how much I love you and how much you mean to me. “, he looked below, as he squeezed his eyelids tight.
He let out a sigh , as he raised his head.
“Harini, even in my wildest dream, I never thought about deceiving you , just to marry you. I wanted to love you Harini. Love you more than anything in this world.”
She looked at him. If she did not mean to him as much as he says, he would not have toiled himself, travelling between the two cities, managing his work, balancing his home and the marriage preparations, she thought.
“Harini.”, his voice broke her chain of thoughts.
“I am just waiting for you. Tell me a ‘No’ , I will go and stop everything. Don’t worry about the elders, I will take care. It was all started by me. Let me end it all.”, he spoke.
“I don’t want to miss you; but more than that I do not want to be mistaken by you. You mean so much to me. If all what it takes to prove me right, is cancelling everything and walking away from your life, I will do it. I will do it for proving myself right to the most important person of my life, the love of my life.” he tilted his head and looked at her as if he had done all , that he could.
“Abhi.”, she called slowly. She was moved. She was emotional. He was standing there, seeking her love.
“I can never explain what kind of a feeling your presence gave me. You showed me a new myself; A new way to look at things. You taught me what it is fall in love and what it felt like. You can walk away but you cannot take off all that your love left behind in me. I need you Abhi. Do you believe me I loved you, not just because you were there to help me? Did you believe that my love was unconditional and real?”
“I believe, and that is why I am here, longing for it. I believe and that is why you are here justifying it to me.”, he looked at her.
“Abhi, my life was so real and I actually lived my life when you were with me. I don’t mind who you are. I really don’t care what your identities are. I want you to be the Abhi whom I met in Bengaluru. I don’t care if you would love me more as Pawan. All that I knew was the love, my Abhi gave me. I love my Abhi. I want to love him, just him. If you could love me, as my Abhivadan , it will suffice.”
He stood still looking into her eyes.
“Will you try love me again?”, he asked.
“Will you try to fool me again?”, she asked.
“Never.”, he replied. ‘I will never fool you again.’, he thought.
“Forever.” she replied. “I have always loved and will always love you forever.”, she replied, hugging him, her tears wetting his shirt.
“You sing so well.”, she spoke, resting her head on his shoulders.
“That’s from my mom. She is a great singer. But confined to kitchen and prayer room alone.”, he paused.
She raised her head slowly.
Pawan nodded. “Yes, her dream to become a great singer was suppressed. She knew what it is to miss a dream. She will not let it happen for others, especially her daughter in law.”, he smiled.
She looked at him, stunned.
“As your husband, it is not just enough, if I could understand you. I could give you the best life, only if I make sure, my family understands you, who you are; the complete you. “, he spoke softly.
She wrapped her arms around his broad frame, tighter.
August 30: 5.15 P.M
The wedding hall was calm. From the traditional back drop, which involved paintings of God and goddess, the stage was changed to bear a pink satin cloth, with hung from the ceiling. The people in charge of the decorations were pinning up roses.
The marriage ceremony, which took place in the morning ended on a pleasant note. It brought smiles to everybody.
Harini dressed herself in a beautiful pink Zardozi saree. Pawan was waiting at her room entrance, waiting for the photographer to complete the single photographs.
“Mami, the beautician is spending a lot of time with Vinodhini. Look at me. I am yet to get even my hair, dressed.”, complained Suji.
“Ok. Come with me. Let me see what it is.”
“Ma”, Harini pulled her mom, as she placed her Mehendhi dyed hands on her mom’s.
“The photographer wanted a pic of both of us together.”
Her mom bent down and slowly tucked the hair that fell on Harini’s cheeks. She looked at Harini for a long time.
“Ma.”, Harini called again.
“How beautiful my daughter is.”, she spoke with her eyes, moist. Her eyes slowly looked at her neck, which had a bright yellow thread, bearing the Mangalayam. She was the happiest mother.
“Now please stop admiring. The make up woman is not ready for styling my hair.”, Suji shouted from behind.
Harini broke into a big laughter, beautifully covering her lips with her hands, the mellifluent jingle of her bangles, making Pawan smile.
“Madam, I need to complete the photo shoot inside this room and some more, on the stage, before the reception begins. “, the photographer hurried Harini’s mom on his behalf.
“Sure, I am leaving now.” she turned to leave.
“Oh my god. Mapillai. How long you had been standing? You could have come in. So sorry.” , she apologized.
“That is ok.”, he smiled.
Harini’s mom and Suji left.
Pawan walked in, as Harini smiled at her.
“Goddess in pink.”, he smiled as he walked near with admiration and love overflowing in his eyes.
“The photographer is here.”, she nudged him, chin down, hiding her reddened cheeks.
The photographer suggested various stills and positions. It lasted for almost 15 minutes.
“One last pose, madam. Just rest your forehead on his arm and smile. Probably place your hands gently over your lips and smile.”, he suggested.
Harini tried, but the photographer was not satisfied.
Preetha walked in. Harini smiled and waved at her.
It almost took two days for Harini to forgive Preetha and Sree. It was Preetha and Sree who helped Harini is distributing the invitation. With only ten days left, Harini almost wondered, how would she invite them all? Sree and Preetha made it possible.
Once the invitation was to be finalized, Harini’s mom sent her a picture of the invitation. After a busy day, when Harini left her mobile open, on her table and went for a short recess, the invitation image had reached her mobile.
Pawan saw it, replied that it was nice and deleted both of them, before Harini could return.
Harini came to know about the entire thing, only when her mom showed her mobile as evidence to her stubborn daughter, that the invitation image was sent.
“Once more Madam.”, the photographer repeated.
“I cannot force such poses. It has to be natural.” Harini frowned.
“Harini, he is just a photographer, not your Abhi. So please spare him and pose as he says.”, Preetha chuckled.
“We will get it right this time.”, Pawan winked.
As Harini tried to lean against his arm and smile,” What was the dish you did on that finale?” Shokla. Right?”, Pawan asked his face innocent.
Harini burst into laughter, her hands automatically rushed to cover her lips. She had a good laugh for few seconds and then replied, “Souffle.”
Nevertheless to say, the photographer clicked the most candid and the beautiful shot.
“Nothing makes her happier than food and cooking.”, he smiled at Preetha.
As they walked to the dais, Preetha walked towards Sree who was seated in a chair.
“All done?”, he asked as he saw her.
“Yes. Few more photos on stage, before the reception begins.”,Preetha smiled.
Preetha pulled a chair and sat behind him. Sree checked his watch. It was 6.00 PM. They still had more than an hour for the reception to begin.
He thought for a moment. He made up his mind to ask her.
“Preetha.”, he called.
She turned in a reflex.
“How about a coffee?”, he asked, smiling.
“Sure. I would love to.”, she replied, getting up from the chair the next moment.
They knew where it was going.