‘Sorry I will not be able to make it up to the restaurant today. I have booked cab for you. Reach home safe. Just wanted to say, I don’t think, it is going to work out’, read the message.
My eyes were moist. I was not sure why I was emotional. Why did I believe him so much? I was so sure that my conditions were rigid and hard to take. I made up my mind that no guy would accept to those conditions. That was why I refrained from the thoughts about love or marriage, wasn’t it? Why I was crying then, I wondered.
Something in Rajiv’s eyes the previous day, gave me an assurance that he would be mine and he would love to take me as his’. I could not digest the fact that it was all broken.
I just walked out of the restaurant. I saw the taxi waiting for me. I thought of ignoring the cab which he had booked for me. I walked straight. My Mobile rang the next minute.
“I know you are angry. Don’t ignore the cab and put your safety at risk. Deal with me separately. Don’t mix your safety and anger”, he spoke in haste.
I punched my fist in air and walked back towards the cab.
I reached home at 9.15 PM. I felt dejected. When he asked for time, the previous night, I thought he would think about it and tell a Yes, though not an immediate one. I did not expect this from him. I was about to knock the door when I found it wide open.
I could hear voices inside my house.
“Amma!”, I called out loud. My mom did not answer, “Ma!”, I raised my voice this time.
As I removed my slippers and rushed into the kitchen, I froze, panting.
Rajiv was seated on the Kitchen countertop, playing with a tomato, as he tried bowling a leg spin.
“Have you seen Harbhajan? That’s what we call an off spin. This action is leg spin.” My mom was an ardent cricket fan. Her favorites were Kapil dev, Ravi Shasthri and Vivian Richards. I knew she loved cricket, but I did not know what was going on.
When Rajiv stopped talking suddenly, and fixed his gaze towards my direction, my mom looked at Rajiv and saw in the direction where his eyes froze.
“What in the world is going on here?” , I asked, looking at both of them.
“Refresh yourself, dear. I have made Rajma rice for you and Masala Dosa for Rajiv. Can you imagine? He loves South Indian dishes, as much as I do. “, my mom smiled.
As she tried to pat my shoulder and send me to my room, I stopped her and demanded what was going on.
“It was around 7.30 PM. I heard our door bell ringing. I saw a young man standing. He excused himself into the hall revealing his company card. He introduced himself as Rajivalochan. He spoke about so many things, including the love he has for you. At first, naturally, I panicked and said a No. I did not know anything about him. I demanded an explanation. I was puzzled. To be practical, I don’t even know who Rajiv was, his background, his family, his native etc. He slowly explained everything to me. I was moved . ”, My mom stopped and looked at him. He flashed his beautiful smile.
“His next set of actions, took me by complete surprise”, my mom continued.
“ “Lakshmi Mam, I am so sorry for troubling you, in the first place, and Thanks a lot for trusting me in the first meet and allowing me here.”
“I like your daughter very much and I thought I could convey the same to her. She poured in all her conditions yesterday. To be honest, I was ok with all of it, last night. I would have told it right there. But from what she spoke, I understood that she was not the one whom should I propose, rather it is you.” He said and smiled. I was completely shocked.
I crooked my brows as he got up. He took out a small box and extended it to me and said, “Will you allow me to marry your daughter and accept me as your son? I promise I will marry your daughter, to give her just Happiness, all that she missed in this birth and all those she would get in her rest of the births. I promise I would try to be a good Son for you.”, he extended the box further and my hand shivered as I took the box from him. I had tears. I looked at him, with all smiles.
“Mam, I am not sure if you are aware of it, but in such situations, if you take what the other person offers, means you are accepting their proposal. So can I take it that you are accepting me as your son in law?”, he asked me.
I looked at him and said, ”No, Sorry.” and I paused. His face shrunk.
“Not as a Son in Law, but definitely as my own son”, I smiled. I had tears in my eyes; tears of happiness. I was not sure when the last time was. “, my mom completed her narration.
I looked at Rajiv, with my mouth agape.
My Mom turned to me now.
“Harini, you might wonder, what made me accept him. But there was one thing about what he spoke, that captivated me. The promise he made about keeping my daughter happy. That was enough for me.“ she cried. I could not hold back my tears. I hugged my mom. We slowly opened the box Rajiv had gifted my mom. It had a gold coin.
“Sorry Mom, I wanted to gift something in gold, I was not sure which ornament to choose. My Aunt suggested a gold coin will be preferred, so I went for it”, he shrugged his shoulders and smiled.
My Mom and I were in tears.
“It is not the time to cry. Now why don’t we celebrate by start eating? ”, Rajiv reminded. We smiled and had a wonderful talk throughout the dinner.
It was an hour later he drove me to a nearby juice shop. As we stood there, I looked at him. The moon casted a thin silver lining on the elevations and depressions present on his face. His long lashes, broad eyes looked perfect on his face.
“Rajiv”, I began.
He slowly turned towards me.
“How come , I mean, how come you could do so much, Rajiv? What have I done to you? “, I waited for him to reply.
Chinna Thayaval Thantha Raasaave
He hummed one of my favorite songs.
(It is a song from a Tamil movie. It is a sad lullaby, which means,
My dear one, from a young mother,
You are a little rose, which had bloomed amidst thorns,
I shall tell you, sweet one,
Who are kith and kin are,
Why do you have tears in your eyes, my loved one?
I was still looking at him, confused.
“Can you remember when did you sing this song in a competition?”, he asked.
I was a good singer and always have been a part of singing competitions organized by my company.
“A few months ago.”, I replied.
“That was when I saw you first.” he smiled. ‘What does that song had to do?’, I thought, and before I could speak, he continued.
“My Mother was a wonderful singer.” I looked at him stunned at the word ‘was’.
“Yes, you got it right. She was, because she is no more; my dad, too.” He stopped. I looked at him in utter shock. “I am so sorry”, my voice broke. “That is ok, dear. That was 14 years back.”, he nodded his head, as if his brain had flashed him the life which he spent with his parents.
“My mom and dad were classical singers. They lived their love musically beautiful and I was added as another beautiful note to the musical family. I had always grown listening to my mom’s voice. A lullaby is the most beautiful song, anyone had heard. If the same comes from a singer’s voice? It was beautiful beyond imagination. My mom’s favorite song was Chinna thayaval from Thalapathi. She used to sing this song to persuade me to leave the bed and go to school every day. Unless she does that, I never moved from the bed. The happiness did not last long, they both died in an accident, when they were returning, after a musical performance. It was devastating. I was not able to understand, what has happened. According to me, my parents did not return home one evening. The performance organizers came home to take me to Airport, to move to India. I was later moved to Chennai, where my uncle and Aunt was. I grew up with them. They adopted me. “He stopped and swallowed hard. He took a sip of the juice and he continued.
“That’s my story. So coming back to our story, I came to the competition to cheer one of my friends. Your voice and song addled me. I was completely lost in your singing. I could not believe my ears; I felt I heard my mom’s voice, which I lost long ago, again for the second time. It was the moment; I decided you are the woman. I slowly started gathering information about you. It was just few weeks later, I saw you in Deepthi’s cubicle, and just because I already knew you, I took extra steps to speak to you in a friendly manner, right at the first meet and the rest, you know.”
“I thought I found you, just to give me all that I missed from my mom, but when you spoke yesterday, I made up my mind to give you everything , that you had missed from your dad.” he smiled.
I looked at the sky. There were million stars. When was the last time I looked at the sky, trying to count the stars?, I wondered.
As I kept looking at the sky, he slowly placed his hands on mine, raised my hand and held my index finger straight. He then moved closer resting his chin on my shoulders and started counting the stars with my finger. “One, two, three, four and till it ends, I will be there for you”, I heard him say.
He slowly came in front and looked at me directly.
“We have counted the stars, now it is time for me to see the moon”, he looked at me, with love filled eyes.
In a distance, I heard a song in a low tone.
“Paarayil seidadhu yen manam yendru thozhiku solli irundean
Paarayim idukkil ver vitta kodiyai nee nenjil mulaithuvittai”
( I had told my friend (girl) that
my heart was made of stone.
But like a creeper that roots between the cracks of the rock,
you have grown into my heart.)
I smiled to myself, thinking how appropriate it was.
The following months seemed so happy and positive for me. My mom convinced my relatives about my relationship. My Perima and maternal uncle met Rajiv and he did not fail to impress them too.
Rajiv decided to switch company, as he felt odd about being in a relationship and same team too. I felt it was perfectly right. Just to keep me away from crooked eyes and safeguard our relationship without embarrassment, he was ready to leave the company where he had established himself well and had a mammoth reputation.
He looked new to me, every day. There was something in him which I could admire, in every passing minute.
He was the greatest blessing I had ever received in my life.
When it was all going good- Bang – came in the news.
It was a sunny Saturday noon, we met for lunch.
The smile and excitement which would automatically come up in his face when he met me, every time, were not found that day.
“What’s wrong Rajiv? Is there anything that is bothering you?” I asked.
He just shook his head. We ordered for food so that we got some time for ourselves.
“Harini!”, Rajiv called.
“Hmm “, I mumbled as I saw the inverted image of my face on the spoon kept in front me.
“Harini, I have got an onsite opportunity. It is a big deal. None other than managers have got it in my company. It is long tenure- five years”, Rajiv spoke in single breathe.
I looked at him in shock at the last words. “Five years? Whoa that is a pretty long tenure”, I shrugged my shoulders.
“Yes and I cannot afford to miss you. I cannot stay away from you for five years.” he added.
I looked at him and smiled. “Is it ok if I drop paper and accompany you?” I smirked.
“Well, that is up to you. But, since it is for five long years, and Columbia being an entirely new place, I do not want to trouble our Mom. “
“Oh! You feel so?”
“Yes”, he nodded.
“Well, then I am going to miss you for those five years. “, my face shrunk. It is going to be very difficult staying away from him, I thought.
“No, Harini. I cannot offord to”, he replied.
I looked at him confused.
“But, How can I leave my mom back and come for five years?” , I protested.
“Harini, I really understand, how important Mom is for you. She is equally important to me too. I am not asking you to come once for all. Just these five years. For me, for the love we share. Please”, his tone was soft and requesting.
“Don’t you understand my Mom is important to me? She is my mother, she is staying with me. Look Rajiv, I cannot leave her and come with you.”
“Harini, please try to understand. You are to me, how your mom is to you. I cannot leave you either, for five years.”
“Then we will take her with us.” I suggested.
“Harini, we will not be able to get Visa for her within a month.” his tone saddened.
“A Month?”, I asked, perplexed. “Ok Let us assume, I accompany you. How will the Visa be processed in that case? I continued asking, taking pride of posing a difficult question.
“My office has offered this opportunity to be availed in next one month. I can buy some more time; probably a month extra. We have known each other well for so long. So I guess two months should suffice for….” he dragged.
I was totally lost. I could not decipher where this conversation was going.
“Suffice for?” I asked, my eyes focusing on his lips as If I could draw the words before it fell.
“Wedding”, he replied casually.
“What?” I shouted. He looked around and signalled to talk softer.
“Rajiv do you really mean what are you telling?” I continued, softer this time.
“Of course yes. Dependent Visa will be processed easily. Just these five years. We will be back and we will live together happily.” he was as casual as compared to how tensed I was.
“Rajiv, but why?”
“Why not? Harini, I cannot afford to miss you. I cannot live without you.”
“I understand Rajiv, but.. ?”
“I cannot leave you here; I cannot take you there for a long period without you being my wife. So I thought wedding is the only solution.”
“Rajiv, please. Listen. I can wait for you, here. Our love is not bound to any timelines Rajiv. We can wait for ages for each other. I know it is going to be difficult, but we will manage and bite it off. ”
He shook his head, as if he was not convinced.
“Harini, just sit back and think. What will I tell your mom or my uncle about it? That I am taking you for five long years without marrying you? It is not possible at all. What do you think is the problem with marriage?”
“Rajiv. First of all, I am not ready to accompany you without my Mom.” I stiffened my tone.
“Harini”, he called my name and let out a sigh. He started rubbing his forehead and eyes.
“Rajiv, imagine. We are married and we go there. What If we love the place, city and decide to continue the rest of our life there? Will it be possible to ask my mom to join us? What if we get a kid right the next year? Coming back would be completely impossible. He/she would have joined school in four years. Breaking things and coming will never be possible.” as I spoke in haste, my tone was harsher and my voice louder.
“Harini, why do you have to be so harsh?” Rajiv asked helplessly.
I was not in a mood to listen to him.
“I felt everything fell in place. Why are you trying to meddle with it, Rajiv?” my voice broke.
“No Harini. We will work it out. These are just small hiccups. We should be able to come over it.” He tried to console me.
I did not feel better. I felt lost.
My eyes were moist.
“Harini, please dont cry.”, he tried to reach for my hands. I took my hands back and walked out of the restaurant, even before the food came.
I did not bother to look back at Rajiv.
Rajiv sent me messages twice, that night. I did not respond. I could not tell my mom, though she knew I was upset. I lied to Deepthi and Hema as well.
Rajiv and I started texting couple of days later. Our call and texts usually started well. Every time, either of us brought the topic about Onsite, we argued. Our arguments slowly turned into wrangle and then into squabble.
Rajiv was not ok taking my mom with us. He was also not ok, to take me without being married.
I was neither ok to the former, nor to the latter.
The dispute and fights made me think that, it was going nowhere.
Couple of months rolled by. We met thrice and it began well but ended worse.
Sleepless nights took all the energy out of me.
The tiff between us looked as if it would never end.
I was drained.
The bliss, that I enjoy when I see a text or receive a call from him, was all gone. It was just twitchiness as where and how the conversation would end.
I decided it did not work out. I thought of ending the misery once for all.
We met after one month in a restaurant.
“This is not going to work out”, I let out a sigh, as I rubbed my forehead.
He did not answer.
He sat still, looking at his own reflection in the table glass.
“Rajiv”, I called.
He looked up and quickly turned away to look at the abandoned table to the right of us.
“Law makers should not be law breakers.”, he mumbled, still looking at the table.
“Can you please speak right onto my face?”, I demanded.
“What do you want me to say?”, he looked at me, almost losing his temper.
“Rajiv, there is no use shouting”, I snubbed back.
“What do you really want me to do now?”, he demanded. “I am not ready to accept plan A – taking you with me without getting married; you have ruled out Plan B- marrying you, long back. I don’t have any other option in hand. So now you are ready to break our first condition and relationship as well”, he continued.
“Don’t blame me for breaking it; it is you who are backing out at the last moment.”
“But that is my situation. Why don’t you understand”, Rajiv’s words slowed down.
“But Rajiv, didn’t I explain my situation well, just right at the beginning? You assured you won’t back out, didn’t you? Do you think breaking everything and moving away is a cake walk for me?” I raised questions one on top of the other.
He was just shaking his head. Both of us knew, Rajiv did not have answers for my question. He banged the table. It wobbled for few seconds. I was set off in trepidation that we might be hurled out of the restaurant.
But, neither the restaurant table nor the staffs were of importance, at that point of time. Where is my life going? Rajiv was not giving any concrete answers. I just had one option; to break the relation and part ways. It was not working out.
“Hello!!” Rajiv’s voice brought my mind back to present.
“Rajiv, for one last time, let me ask you. “, I spoke, and asked him the most embarrassing questions I have been asking him in the recent past.
Rajiv was silent; the most discordant answer, he had been giving for my questions in the recent past.
I waited for him to answer. He sat still. I was looking at his face, the angelic face; His broad eyes, perfectly angled nose and his full lips. I bit my lips. I am going to miss him, badly than ever, I thought.
I was not sure what made me say so. But I did. “Rajiv. No use of talking on inconclusive things again and again. It just ends up in heated arguments and frustrations. Let us stop it; once for all.”
My eyes were moist. I looked at Rajiv. I know it was the hardest thing for him. He did not react. He just looked at me.
“I am sorry, for it was me, because of whom; you had taken such a decision. But both of us are helpless here. I am not sure what would I do without you. I am not sure whether to weep badly for missing you or throw something at your face for going away from me, leaving me alone in this world. You are taking everything away from me. You are taking away my happiness, my future, my love, above all my life.”
As he spoke, tears rolled down my cheeks. I fought them back. I did not want to cry. I searched for my handkerchief to at least hide my tears. As I kept digging my bag, he extended his.
“Use this. Let my kerchief at least do, what I am actually supposed to do.”
My tears blurred my vision. I was not able to get it from him. He held my hand and placed it on my palm. His hand trembled. He was not able to take our separation. His hands were warm. With his other hand, he slowly wiped my tears. I was sure, by now, his eyes would have been moist, too. His long fingers, which could actually cover my entire palm, gripped mine firmly. As he placed the hanky, he covered my palm with his fingers. His perfectly trimmed nails were extra pink as he pressed them to tighten the grip.
I was able to listen to his touch, yes exactly, you read it right. I could hear what his touch conveyed. His touch conveyed numerous things. First and foremost being “Do not go”. But unfortunately I did not follow. I dropped the hanky, grabbed my bag and strode away in tears, leaving him behind.
Couple of weeks passed by. I told my friends about the break up. They were shocked. Hema felt sad, while Deepthi was trying various options for working out.
I told her that I had tried it all and tired of all.
Rajiv tried to contact me several times. I neither responded to his texts or calls. A month later, calls started fading away. It was only texts. Another month later, his texts faded too.
It had been a week; Rajiv did not contact me at all.
I extended my work timings, so that I spent less time at home. I did not want my mom to know that we had broken up, that too the reason centring on her. Nothing else would be a huge blow for her. I did not want her to take that up. Whenever she asked about Rajiv, I told her that everything was fine. 14 odd hours work and sleepless nights made me look terrible. Dark circles grew deeper. I broke it easily. I was not out of it at all.
It was one fine evening my head throbbed as if it would burst. I left home early. It was at seven, when I reached home. I called and informed mom that I would be early.
I heard the tempering of mustard seeds. The sound was music to my ears and the aroma was bliss for my nose. My mother’s cooking was rejuvenating all my senses.
I ran to the kitchen. My mom smiled at me. I smiled at her back.
“I am hungry”, I patted my tummy. She plated few paratha and Dhal for me.
I loved North indian foods, while she was comfortable eating south Indian. She made some Dosas for her and we sat for dining.
As I slowly chewed her parathas, I thought, how it was for her to miss her daughter so badly these days. The day since we broke up, I was not the same. I did not spend time with her at all. I came back late and she would be up, just to see my face and hit the bed. It felt bitter. She tried to ask me what was troubling me. I cut her short by bringing up office stories. I lied, but I thought it was for her good.
My thoughts drifted to Rajiv. I had ignored him badly. How many pure hearts I have been hurting in the recent past. The mere thought troubled me. Tears rolled down my cheek.
“What happened , dear?”, my mom asked me. The worry in her tone was evident.
“I missed you these entire days mom”, I cried as, I just lay my head on her lap.
I did not bother about my soiled hands or the filled plate.
My mom wiped my hands and took my plate to tear the parathas to small pieces and started feeding me.
I thought I should tell her about Rajiv someday. Why not now? I thought.
I slowly got up from her lap, so that I could tell her.
I looked at her face. Her eye lashes had started greying too. Her skin, which was once flawless, had a lot of wrinkles now. I took her hands in mine. They were so gentle and warm. And before I could open up, I heard her speak.
“Harini, it is only after Rajiv’s entry into your life, I am able to get some sleep in night. I am now feeling contended that my daughter’s life is secured. Though I did not protest against the conditions you had, I was very much worried about your future, as where it would be destined to. But now I am very much happy that it has got a good direction.”, she smiled as she tore another piece of Paratha.
Oh, my God, I exclaimed in my mind. I chose the most inappropriate moment to reveal about the break up. Do I have to spoil her happiness?, I thought. But I cannot hide it longer too. It was a struggle. I decided not to tell it , at least that night.
“Harini”, my mom’s voice disturbed my train of thoughts. “Is it possible to come home early, this Wednesday”
“It is 8th of July”, my mom smiled. It did not strike me at first. But later I realized it was my Birthday.
“Sure mom”, I managed to smile.
As I was rolling under my quilt, my thoughts drifted away from my present to one beautiful evening I spent with Rajiv.
“It is my angel’s Birthday in another few months. “, he smiled.
“You already knew it?”
“Organization Database”, he winked.
“So tell me, what do you want for your birthday?”, he asked.
I pointed him.
“Come on.” he sighed.
“Of course, Yes, Rajiv. You are the best gift I can ever get.” I blushed.
He came closer to whisper, “I love that blush.” I could not help myself blushing further.
“Now, getting back to our topic; Please tell me what you would love to have.”
I shook my head gesturing, that I would not tell it.
“That is okay, Just tell me”, he insisted.
Upon several insists, I shared with him how my fantasize it.
“I love surprises. Anything that surprises me would make me go crazy. I will love it.” I exclaimed.
“Hmm.. Ok. Let me see if this works. I hold you from behind and close your eyes gently. You do not know what is happening and you try to hold my hand and open your eyes. I am now feeling your lashes fluttering in my palm. I slowly guide you to the gift. I place you exactly opposite and take my hands off. As you try to open your eyes, the surprise initially seems blurry and your eyes get a clearer image of my gift. You are cheered like a small girl. You turn around, hop and clap your hands in sheer bliss.” , he narrated his imagination.
I was able to visualize the cheerful me. I smiled at him, wondering what he would really gift. It did not matter. He was there for me; to love me, to take care of my Mom too. Do I need any gift more, I smiled to myself.
I cried to myself thinking about it. I did not have him anymore. He was gone. To put it more reasonable, I moved away from him. Where was my life going? I was not sure. It was as dark as the night around.
I shut my eyes tight, as I tried to get some sleep, which seemed impossible.
The next day, I was lethargically walking back from a meeting, while Hema and Deepthi, were into a solemn discussion.
“What is going on?”, I asked.
Deepthi shrugged her shoulders.
“You need not. She will understand. “, Hema nudged Deepthi to tell it out.
“What is the matter?”, I asked in confusion.
“Hey, Harini. At last, my parents have accepted Rahul. Rahul and his family came home this weekend. Everything ended up well. Engagement and wedding dates would be decided soon.”, Deepthi spoke, in an attempt to hide her smile and excitement, which was obvious.
“That’s great news”, I smiled.
“Sorry, Harini. We were not sure how to bring it up to you. “, Deepthi fumbled for words.
“That’s too much thinking girls. I know I am upset over what has happened to me. But that does not really mean, I cannot rejoice in my Friend’s happiness”, I spoke and smiled at her.
Deepthi came close to me and held my hand tight. I smiled at her, tears rolling down. I felt so happy for her. We knew how strong they stood against all odds. We were all happy it was happening again. But at the same time, I never failed to wonder where my life was going.
“We are planning to celebrate it. We are planning to go on a vacation to Munaar, together. As of now it is just you, Hema, Rahul, Rahul’s brother, one of his cousin and I. “
“What?”, I exclaimed. “No, No, Deepthi. I don’t think I can do that. I am not sure how well I could participate. I do not want to spoil your fun, by moving around with a gloomy face always.”
“No, Harini. Do not think it that way. It is going to be a big break for you. New place, fresh air, it is going to be refreshing. In fact, we planned it keeping you in mind. We will be completely dropping it off, if not you. ”
“Hey, come on. You can’t do this. You will have to continue with your plan, girls.”, I managed to smile.
I got back to work. I turned towards the desk, where Rajiv used to sit. I missed him, not just at his desk, but in my heart. Life was difficult without him.
To my Mom’s excitement, my Birthday finally arrived. I planned to come home soon. Deepthi and Hema wished me right at 12 in the midnight. There was no text from Rajiv. Few of my school and college friends had wished too. I woke up, replying to the wishes. I was not sure why, I kept checking my mobile constantly. I was disappointing myself, by expecting Rajiv’s wish.
I reached office by 9. Few of my colleagues had decorated my work place. It felt good. I put up a sweet smile on my face. I thought of keeping things aside, at least for that day.
It was around 11.54 AM, my mobile vibrated on the table. As I opened, I saw a text from Rajiv. He had stated that he wanted to wish me exactly at the time of my birth. My eyes were moist. Why was he doing this to me? His meticulous detailing of things was incredible. I typed a Thank you, stared at it for few moments, cleared the text and locked my mobile.
Around 2.30 PM, when I was in the meeting, my mobile rang. It was a call from Rajiv. I did not pick up. In another five minutes, there was a call again. I looked at my mobile and frowned. What was with him, I thought. I ignored and continued with the meeting.
It was around 5.15 PM, when I was about to start, I got a call from my Perima. She had wished me already, why was she calling me now? I wondered.
“Hello”, I answered.
“How many more blunders are you planning to commit? A lie on top of another. How many more such lies are pending? “She was harsh.
I was completely lost. What was she trying to tell?
“Perima, I do not get you”, I answered in an attempt to understand her anger.
“Why have not you told us or at least your mom about your break up with Rajiv?”
Her sharp words came in as a huge blow. I immediately sank into a condition of mental stupor.
I regained myself. I tried to answer and before I could, “Reach home safe, we will talk then”, came in my mom’s words.
As I cut the call I was able to hear my Perima , “This is why she is behaving this…”, I could guess she was blaming my mom for being kind towards me, even after the blunders.
I reached home and to my surprise, My Perima, Mom and my uncle were all dressed well. There were trays loaded with fruits and flowers. Sweet boxes were around too. I looked puzzled.
“Ma, what happened?”, I approached my mom. She stood helpless, tears rolling down.
“What does she has to stay?”, my Perima raised her voice.
“Can someone please tell me what happened?”, I demanded.
“Before that, you tell us what happened between you and Rajiv”, my Uncle demanded.
I had to tell them about why and how we broke up. It was the last thing, I could do to my mom; telling her that her daughter’s life is ruined.
I could not hold back my tears. I also told them why I had to keep it a secret.
There were few minutes of silence. I sat close to my mom, to feel better. Nevertheless to say, she was in terrible tears too. The one that I feared had happened. I wiped my tears and broke the silence.
“How did you come to know about this?”, I asked in general, looking at the carpet in the floor.
“Your mom told you would be leaving office early. It was my idea to plan a surprise for you. We thought of surprising you by visiting Rajiv’s place and conduct a formal ceremony of meeting his Uncle. We thought of deciding the wedding dates too. We called them up and confirmed we are coming. We did not tell them the reason for visit though. When they saw us, they made out why we were there. Rajiv was home too. At first they fumbled, but later, they told us about everything that had happened. “, my Perima completed her long narration.
“Why didn’t you tell me that you were going?” I asked.
“Why didn’t you tell us that you broke up?” came in the response.
I was not sure what to reply. A surprise was planned for me. A Surprise? Yes indeed it was. But was it pleasant? That was the catch and it was not. Else why would tears roll down my eyes?
My Perima and uncle left after an hour.
“Sorry Ma. I did not mean to hide it, but I was not sure how you would have taken it.”
My Mom was upset. “I would have definitely taken it much better than how I had to take it today. It was sick, Harini. We could not hide our disappointment and grief in front of them. At first they did not believe that we did not know anything. It’s natural, right? Mammoth decisions must either involve or be informed to elders. Both did not happen in our case. ”, she replied.
I was not sure how to console her. She was right in her point, but I was right too. According to Rajiv, It was me, who broke everything. According to my parents, it was me who made big blunders. But in both the situations, I had a valid point on my side, which dissolved with no residue.
I repeated the same lines to Deepthi and Hema the next day. I felt I wanted an ear to listen. Things piled up in my head and I felt it would burst.
“Don’t worry dear”, Deepthi squeezed my hand.
“Why don’t you try to come to the trip? I feel it might help you a lot.”, Hema suggested. I shook my head to gesture a No.
A couple of days passed by. It was a Sunday morning.
As I rolled over my bed, to hide my face from the light through the window glass, my sleep was disturbed by the mumbling outside.
As I tried to wake up, I found my Perima there. What was she doing so early? I wondered. I checked my mobile. It was half past nine. It was two days since they had been to Rajiv’s house. None of them spoke to me, except my Mom. She was still upset. But, what she was doing so busily right in the morning, I wondered.
She walked towards me. “Get out of bed soon. Your Athai(that is how we address Father’s sister) is coming home. I am really not sure why, but she called us yesterday. It looks like they are here to discuss something important. She wanted your Perima and Uncle too. She spoke with your Perima yesterday and confirmed her presence.”
I was startled. You hear something like that, right in the morning, when you are still not out of sleep, is really miserable. Why are they coming, what is going to happen?, my mind raced. I did not have any other option other than listening to my mom.
I was up in another few minutes. Twenty minutes later, as I was drying my hair, I peeped through the window, just to find the Red Santro coming to a halt. Yes, they were home. I tied my hair into a pony tail. Few strands of wet hair stuck to my neck, to which I paid no attention.
My Athai and her husband were there. Elders greeted each other and I joined them late.
My Athai flashed a broad smile at me. I smiled back.
“Lakshmi, I spoke to Rama in detail. Hope she had conveyed the same. I do not want to beat around the bush here. I will be very glad to have Harini as my daughter-in-law. “, my Athai smiled at my Mom and Perima.
I was shocked. The world around me froze for a moment. My Athai spoke with a great confidence in her voice. Has this been discussed before? If yes why was it not conveyed to me?
I looked at my mom. She was equally shocked too.
“Excuse me, Athai. Just a moment”, I excused myself and grabbed my mom’s hand in to my room. My Perima followed.
“Ma, May I know what is going on?”, I demanded.
“I don’t know too.” my Mom replied helplessly.
“Listen, Lakshmi. We have given enough chances to your daughter. Remember her conditions? And how she was ok with marrying anybody who is ok with it? Now Vishnu is completely fine, with all her conditions.”, my Uncle spoke to my mom.
“Have you spoken about all these already? And you did not take my concern?”, I interrupted my uncle.
“Yes we did. Your Athai expressed her interest in this proposal to your mom. Your mom had denied the proposal, putting forth your interest at the first place. I thought of giving it a try by speaking to them; about everything and by everything, I mean even about Rajiv.” My perima spoke in single breathe.
Tears rolled down automatically. Where was it all going? What am I being put into? Who was this Vishnu? The last time I saw him was when he was in fifth grade and the most intriguing question, how did they accept for this, even after knowing my conditions and about Rajiv?
“Remember, Pavithra got married recently? “, my Uncle interrupted my chain of thoughts.
“Yes”, I nodded.
“Unfortunately, she is having a very miserable married life. Your auspicious Athai went to consult an astrologer, who confirmed that it was because of an injustice which had happened to a woman in the past. Nevertheless to say, they connected it with the injustice to your mom. So they are here to pay back for it by doing a good deed.”
If they had to do a good deed, why can’t they adopt a child and take care of it. Why do they have to meddle with my life? I thought.
“Lakshmi”, my Perima looked at my mom.
She looked as helpless as I was.
“Lakshmi, You have to start thinking practical now. We are sorry for not letting you know in the beginning, but we felt Harini might not allow this to happen. Just listen, haven’t we given her a chance. We had been listening to her for the past one year. We even accepted her love. What more we could do as elders? She had been given enough chances and time. Now we have to take a decision, before it is too late, so that we do not regret anything in the future.” my Uncle spoke to my mom.
My mom’s expression was changing. Her expressions leapt from me to words my uncle and perima were speaking. She was slowly inclining, which I could sense. Before we could speak or act anything further, my Athai excused herself into the room.
“What happened? Any problem?” she inquired.
“No, No, Sorry. We will join you in a minute”, my Perima assured , as she left the room.
I thought I should speak. I cannot stay stuck in shock. Things were turning awful and before they could go beyond my control, I thought I should speak up.
“She was the one who provoked my father against my Mom. I have heard it from you only. Now what is the assurance she won’t provoke her son against me and ruin my life too?’, I asked my Perima.
“Be practical. Don’t be a pessimist. Everyone is not the same every time.”, my Perima answered me and she left, without waiting for my reply.
“Why are you letting someone else decide my life?”, I asked my Mom miserably.
“Your uncle and Perima had been a guardian for us. Your uncle did not afford to marry just because my life took remorseful turns. It was a fine evening, your father never returned from office. All that I got was a call from him that he is moving away and he will never be back. I felt the world around me spin. I grabbed you and rushed to my brother. He decided to stay as a guardian to you forever. Your perima had been a great source of support for us. They sacrificed their life for you. We ought to listen”, my mom consoled me.
I sank into the couch, my nostrils flaring in anger, and tears rolling down in defeat.
‘It was all because of him. If he had not left us in the first place, we wouldn’t have been this way now. I have missed my father’s love and guidance throughout. But not once I have felt my life would be better if I had my Father with me. My mom had filled the space of a mom and dad in my life. But there are certain things only a Dad can do. I wish I had a father, to throw me up high in air and to catch me, before my excitement could decease; to sit on him and play; to hug him from behind and to struggle to embrace his broad frame with my tiny hands; to share my success; to express my likes and dislikes; to lean on his shoulders, hold his arms and close my eyes, that I have my dad with me whatever odd may come.’
‘ I need him now, to speak for me; to speak up bold that his daughter was not interested, to raise his view, that it was her daughter’s life and her acceptance was necessary.’ I thought as tears rolled down. I gritted my teeth in between my tears. ‘I hate you Dad. I hate you for leaving us. I hate you for leaving behind the responsibilities.’ I spoke aloud. In between my words I could heard my Athai say “I am taking this as a formal acceptance from you. We will meet once Vishnu is back.” As the Red santro’s engine came to life, it was ignited, just to crush my life under its tires.
I was sitting in the cafeteria , cold wind hitting my face. My thoughts wandering just like a crushed paper floating through a strong wind. The coffee I took was still in the cup undisturbed. When I got back to senses, the coffee was cold enough to taste as bitter as my current sitaution. I brushed away the hair strands that fell on my face. I made up my mind finally to go back to work, throwing the coffee cup in the trash. As I headed back, I saw Deepthi walking towards cafeteria.
“Where were you? I tried calling your mobile, desk, but could not reach you.” she looked concerned.
“Is it possible to join you to the trip now?”, I asked her, casually.
“What? Really?”, Deepthi exclaimed. Hema joined us in a few minutes.
“Hey Dee, whats the reason for excitement?”, asked Hema as she neared.
“Harini has finally decided to go on a trip”, Deepti and Hema gave a hi-five.
“Girls, things had messed up badly for me. I need a break, off home, off the situation. I know I cannot run away , but I feel a break would help.” , I managed to keep my face calm and normal.
“That’s great.” both exclaimed together.
“Ok, then. I will inform Rahul about it. Also, as we discussed earlier, You, Hema, Rahul, his brother and one of Rahul’s friend and I would be leaving. 3 girls, 3 guys. Is that fine for you?”, she asked.
“As long as you both are there and we are not here, I am fine”, I managed to smile.
We were leaving to Munnar three weeks later. The weekdays would mostly go on discussions and plan, while the weekends on a shopping spree. My friends kept me engaged most of the time. I told my mom that I would be leaving for the trip. She started helping me in various things.
We sat together and planned my clothes, while I executed it with my girls, in the shopping.
It was a 5 days long trip. We all had applied leave. More than the actual trip, it was the planning which was of great fun and stress buster. There were so many happy moments with the girls. We laughed together. At times we took my mom to shopping. My mom was super close to Hema, since they had known for a longer time. Deepthi and Mom got along well too. They did not mind , my Mom joining for shopping. They loved it, in fact. There began to develop a situation where Deepthi and Hema found my mom’s company more interesting than mine.
We met at my home, most of time for planning or before we left for shopping. We had sumptuous meals together.
It was nice to feel light.
Rajiv’s text had stopped coming. I deactivated my FaceBook and deleted my Whatsapp Account. It was better to stay away. Updates were dangerous. They often reminded of events or people or moments. However good the past reminders were, they just brought sorrow in the present. So I decided to stay dormant, when it came to social apps and sites. Rajiv had messaged me only once after my Birthday and that was the last message till date. He told me that he was sorry for everything and things were completely off his control. I understood, but did not reply. Rajiv and his texts were irresistible. I could not stop it with one or two. I would just crave for more, if I had one. I was greedy when it came to Rajiv’s love. I decided, not to have even one, so that I do not crave for more.
The most expected day was just few hours away. My Uncle came home to stay with Mom. I dressed myself with a light pink top and a blue jean.
I once again checked my baggage and bade a Bye to my mom and Uncle. I had booked a cab to pick me up from home to Airport. We travelled from Chennai to Ernakulum by Air and then we booked a cab to our resort.
Deepthi had booked two cottages, one for the guys and one for girls. I reached the airport by 9 A.M. Deepthi was already there. She seemed unusually tensed.
“Hey, there!”, I called out as I neared her. Rahul came to greet me.
“Congratulations!”, I smiled.
“This is my brother Vinay.” he introduced the guy standing beside him. So it was not his friend, my mind ruled out. I searched around, while Rahul smiled as he caught my expression.
“My friend will be joining us soon. He is returning from Coimbatore after enrolling his cousin to a college.” He cleared. I nodded and smiled.
“So all set?”, I turned towards Deepthi. She avoided my eye contact and started peeping over my shoulders. It was not Deepthi’s usual behaviour. She was never that way before.
“Hey, what happened? And Hema told me that she was already here, where is she?”, I asked.
“Look, Harini, I swear. I do not have any association with what has happened. It was completely out of my knowledge. “she was panting.
“Come on, Deepthi. You do not make any sense to me. May I know what has happened?”
As I spoke, she peeped over my shoulders and this time her expression froze. I turned my head where her gaze froze. I was shocked. I saw Rajiv approaching Rahul.
“So your brother is all set in new place? College and Hostel looks good?”, Rahul interrogated.
I rolled my eyes in exasperation.
“It was only when Rahul showed me the ticket, I saw the name Rajivalochan and confirmed with Rahul, that he was your Rajiv.” I glared at the word ‘your’. He was not mine anymore, I thought.
“Hema had gone to convince him.”, Deepthi told, worried. She was still tottering over.
My head gyrated. What this had to happen to me? I was there for forgetting him. I was there to enjoy a quality time for me. I was not sure whether Deepthi was still talking. I just turned and strode to the waiting area. I sat there, holding back my emotions.
I could not think how the whole trip was going to go. I cannot afford to enjoy when he was around. The most expected day had turned to be a dreaded one. The most memorable trip had become a nightmare.
“I tried to convince him. Looks like he does not have any problem.”, I heard Hema’s voice.
I closed my eyes for few moments, I calmed my mind down. He is yet another passenger, nothing more. Whether he was near or far, we would be living under the same sky. Just like the sky, we would sharing the same flight and bus for few days. I cannot run away from things bothering me. I should stop and look back with courage, I thought. I took a deep breath and then opened my eyes. I turned and saw Deepthi and Hema waiting.
I walked towards them.
“Shouldn’t we be there at departure by this time?” , I asked them.
Hema and Deepthi hugged me tight.
Deepthi had tears. “I was terribly worried. From the bottom of my heart, I just wished something good to happen for you. I thought this tour would help you.”
“It is time. Come.”, I dragged Deepthi and Hema, never missing to notice Rajiv through the corner of my eyes.
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