Glittering lights and sparkling decorations filled the charming gardens of Mr.Sharma on the wedding day of his son. Amongst the large number of guests, a slim figure dressed in embroidered emerald coloured silk lehenga slithered past the bushes in great hurry. Suhasi Kumar was seventeen with a dusky complexion, attractive features and a delicate figure and he daughter of a family friend of the Sharmas.
Apart from the excitement and hustle bustle which filled any household of an Indian wedding, Suhasi was particularly anxious and excited. After one full year she was going to meet Madhav. Suhasi loved, adored almost revered Madhav with the passion, innocence and purity of first love of a naïve youth.
She was certain Madhav would come to the wedding because the Sharmas were a distant relation of Madhav’s father. Moreover, she was confident that Madhav would be equally enthusiastic to see her and therefore,come what may, he will not absent himself from this occasion.
She did not even remember how long it had been for which she had felt a strange bond between herself and him. All she knew was that it had been quite a long time now. Her mind was filled with the times when they had played together as children or silently watched each other from a distance or smiled at each other for no apparent reason. Of course neither of the two had explicitly expressed their feelings for each other but like all of us might have felt at some time in our life, Suhasi knew that Madhav knew of her love for him and was very confident that the affection was mutual.She desperately hoped their meeting today would usher their love to another level. This was her only chance because next year she would be going away for college and given the distance that separated them she was not sure when she will have another opportunity of a casual meeting.If only he would admit to her today, there is chance of correspondence to follow in the future through letters or phone calls.
A little girl, running playfully, collided with Suhasi and broke her reverie.And her eyes fell on Madhav standing behind the bush and looking at her. Madhav almost twenty, was wheatish with a medium built .His charms lay in his extremely cool temperament, his good natured smile and his undying patience with everything around him.
Suhasi’s heart skipped a beat and leapt with delight. She was too numb with joy to react. While neither of them were likely to speak any words their looks conveyed more than words would have ever done.They just stood motionless gazing at each other while a thousand thoughts of earlier meetings passed Suhasi’s mind. “He has not changed at all though looks a little taller.God! please make him say something to me this time.Oh how I wish he would admit his feelings for me.How would he express himself?Would he hold my hand? Or just say it…How I wish he would do something”, she mused to herself when she ehard a voice.
“Hey Suhi, busy monkeying around as usual ?”, called out Sreejit, Suhasi’s friend and Madhav’s second cousin.Suhasi’s ears, suddenly went very warm with embarassment and she turned and stammered a hello and wittily replied, “Because you resemble monkeys so much, this is the phrase you use while inquiring about other people’s business”.
“Anybody can guess who is more simian between the two of us!Today the ape is dressed in emerald green with a lot a jewellery and I must admit it looks pretty.Am I not right Madhav?”, said Sreejit with a jolly laugh.Suhasi turned towards Madhav for a split second, who just stood gazing at her, blushed, smiled and walked away.
Women and men dressed in silk and satin and in all colours were gathered around the center of the lawn. A popular dance number played loudly, and instantly the crowd broke into rapturous dancing.Some danced gracefully, while others jumped without bothering about the tune or the rhythm.Elderly ladies were pulling out youngsters from the crowd cajoling, requesting and sometimes even reprimanding them to dance on the occasion. Suhasi jumped into the crowd on her own account and danced about merrily, when a guest, insisting on everyone to join in the fun and frolic, pushed Madhav almost onto Suhasi. They had barely brushed against each other that Suhasi stopped in her track all nervous and blushed. All the screams and laughter around her faded into nothingness and for a few seconds she was aware of nothing but Madhav’s presence near her.He in turn, seemed equally engrossed in her. Suhasi expectant of some joyous moment to follow their sudden closeness brimmed with a hopeful heart. But not a word did he say nor did he show any willingness to dance near or with her.He stayed there a few minutes with a countenance that was difficult to read and abruptly turned towards a little girl and inquired of her with paternal tenderness, “Sweety, do you want me to take you to your mamma?”. The little girl replied in the affirmative and Madhav carried her away without even glancing back. Suhasi was burnt, her disappointment showing plainly on her youhtful face.
Meanwhile the dancing mania continued for some more time Suhasi danced away her fury.For a particular piece she even danced with a handsome young boy together.Their movements together were so graceful and appealing that the crowd cheered and whistled. Suhasi, aware of a lot of people, including Madhav looking at her, danced more freely and expressively than she intended to.Her wounded heart wanted to make Madhav repent his mistake and she smiled flirtatiously at her dancing partner.The young partner in all his enthusiasm of being the cynosure of a pretty girl lifted her up in the air with an aura of a hero. Suhasi, satisfied and feeling revenged proudly looked about the crowd which was now clapping loudly for them.But as her face gleamed with the satisfaction of having been able to turn Madhav green with jealousy, she spotted Madhav standing in the porch happily hooting along with the others at the dancing couple’s mesmerising performance.There was no emotion of jealousy, regret or disappointment on Madhav’s face.A shocked Suhasi was left bristling with anger.
After a set of rituals and proceedings,the party now progressed to the dining area.Once again our heroine had the opportunity of being close to her object of desire.She was dining with a set of girls and almost choked on her food coughing vehemently when seemingly, out of the blue Madhav offered her a glass of water. Surprised, elated but pretending unsuccessfully to be unaffected by this gesture of kindness she accepted the glass.After gulping it down, she looked directly at him, victoriously thinking “The jerk is finally behaving himself.So is it now that he is going to want to talk to me….Will he…?”.To ease the discomfort of silence she mustered courage and enquired about Madhav’s sister. “Why did Mohana not come for the wedding?”. “Exams!” came the one word answer and he turned away to go.Suhasi,confused and not wishing him to leave, blurted out “Why are you going away…..I mean…. are you not going to join us for dinner?”.
He replied “Am not hungry now”,and followed it with a faint smile and a soft “bye”.A heartbroken Suhasi did not bother about the rest of the evening and had no idea when Madhav left.
Time seemed to just fly by. Suhasi joined college and despite being a cheerful girl she was often plunged into nostalgia and longed to know what became of Madhav. Where was he?When next are they likely to meet?Will she meet a common friend?Such thoughts occurred to her often and she her heart yearned and pined for him.But youth has a lot of distractions to offer.One meets new people, makes new friends, achieves new glories and occasionally forgets the past.And thus life went on.
On her various trips to her home and to her old friends she caught parts of conversation which informed her that Madhav and family no longer lived where they earlier used to,somehow they were not in touch with anyone and somebody mentioned that Madhav and his brother had joined the navy.Nobody seemed to know enough and also no one thought it necessary to furnish Suhasi with any details.
On a day in October, a plump cute little toddler was prancing about the verandah refusing to get into the bath tub.Running behind him indulgently is twenty eight year old Suhasi. Suhasi and her son are visiting her father’s house for a vacation.Her husband, Varun, will be joining them in a few days.During this hour of forenoon the serene calm, that envelopes the humble home of Suhasi’s father, is broken by the arrival of a taxi.And a man of about thirty alights from it.On a closer look Suhasi recognises the guest as Sreejit.
Sreejit enters the room, usual pleasantires are exchanged and general enquiries follow.He informs that he had come to this part of the town on some business and wanted to pay a visit to old friends.
While discussing a lot of subjects ranging from Sreejit’s mother’s health to Varun’s official responsibilties the conversations lingers for a minute on Mohana(Madhav’s sister).
When suddenlyl Sreejit asked “Suhasi, did you know that Madhav passed away last summer in a road accident?”.
Suhasi’s jaw dropped, and not knowing how to respond stared blankly at Sreejit. “Also, Suhasi”,continued Sreejit, “I do not know if I should be telling you this to you, now that you are married, but Madhav had a special liking for you.In fact some months before his death he once confessed to me how very fond of you he was in all his growing years.He even kept a small box with the collection of things that belonged to you.I remember it contained a blue button that once fell out of your frock once you were playing, a torn portion of a green coloured ribbon, which belonged to you, a locket , a hair clip, a dried flower you had plucked and dropped and other insignificant items. I was immensely moved at his emotions and was naturally curious to know why he never approached you.He told me that his mother would have never allowed the relationship for she was keen on another girl from her hometown as a prospective alliance for Madhav.His mother always kept ill health and he was devoted to her.On no account could he have offended her sensibilities and therefore, he never meant for his feelings to be known to anyone.But he could not bring himself to marry the other girl and to avoid much pestering by his family and relatives left to join the navy.That way he could stay away from home.Strangely, he admitted, he could not change his mind even after you got married a few years ago.I had little to offer him as consolation for his sorrows.” Sreejit paused and jerked his head lightly as if trying to erase a sad thought from his memory.
He continued “We were all very shocked to hear about his unfortunate death last year.What a gem of a person! A very kind hearted guy…!” Sreejit paused again, took a deep breath and added casually, “Anyway, I am sorry if I have crossed the limits of propriety by talking about things which are of no significance now. Somehow I just felt you should know.Forgive my insolence.”
A huge lump settled in Suhasi’s throat, her eyes filled with tears and her heart felt so heavy she thought she was going to faint from the pain.While she tried to understand if she were dreaming or if this was real, a chubby little hand pulled at Suhasi’s kurta and in childlike incomprehensible words the little boy muttered for water. Suhasi bent down and picked up the baby, cuddled it in her arms, requested Sreejit to wait for her father and left the room without another word.