Posted: 08 August 2009 at 2:34pm | IP Logged
Sleep was hard to come by that night. Dev was in two minds about seeing Ritu after all these months. He was not sure how he would react after seeing her.
That last night with her he had dropped in at her tiny studio to have dinner together. He had brought over some Pad Thai and a tofu stir-fry that were Ritu's favorite and she had tossed some salad.
After the meal, they had curled up on the living room futon and chatted about his trip and stuff. He had started to play with her hair and had nuzzled her face to kiss her. Once he got started, he showered her with tiny kisses on every angle of her face and soon both of them were melting into each other. There had been an urgency to want to dissolve, wanting to be one and not two. They had made love for the first time.
It had been the most powerful experience for him. He had never been serious about girls and had kept a safe distance from them. He was too geeky to have interested girls in the first place. As a teen he had had a terrible case of pimples and had been so lean and lanky, growing too tall too fast that he had felt uncomfortable in their presence. He was happier with his books and had hid behind his glasses.
Ritu had changed all that. She was the first one he had gone out with. The first girl he had fallen madly in love with. The first one who filled his dreams as she filled his days. The first one he had made love to. The first one and perhaps the only one who would hold his heart.
Vishaka could not sleep owing to the excitement of being able to go to Mumbai and pursue her dream. She pinched herself hard and gave a small cry. Her parents had made it clear that a poor priest's daughter had no right to have dreams beyond her station.
They had always reminded her about the story of her chacha, Sastriji's brother, who had been a wastrel and who had run away from home one day in the hope of becoming a famous musician. No one knew what had become of him. That was reason enough for them to deny Vishaka her dreams.
No more. Her husband and her in laws were too kind. She had been depressed all these months for nothing. She wondered why she had not told Dev about her aspirations before the wedding. She remembered when he had asked her parents to take her out before the wedding and speak with her.
They had been shocked. "It is not done, sir. We do not allow our daughters to go out with anyone before the wedding."
Dev had insisted. "It is imperative that I speak with her, babuji. I cannot go through this marriage if I do not speak to her."
Vishaka was impressed with his firmness of tone. She had never met anyone who had stood up to her father before. She had gone out with him on a drive. He had pulled up near a grove and asked her to step out for a moment.
"I want you to know that I love a girl called Ritu. Actually, 2 weeks ago, I left her in the US telling her that we would be married when I returned from India. Coming here, all that has changed."
"Father is dying and wishes to see me married before he dies and hand over the entire responsibility of the Prohit Trust and Holdings to me. I pleaded with them that I get Ritu here and we could marry. But they believe that as she is of mixed parentage, the cousins could raise the point in court and break the patrimony. One of the stipulations for the bride of a Prohit is that she be of impeccable birth. Ritu does not know anything about her parents except their names. Neither one of them had a family that they spoke about, and she lost them when she was 12."
"If not for the fact that my cousin is a wastrel and would destroy the patrimony within a decade and bring down all the establishments that have enjoyed the support of the Prohit Trust over centuries, I would not be here, agreeing to this marriage. I want you to know that this will be a marriage of convenience and nothing else. If this sounds fine with you, we can go ahead."
"Please tell me fearlessly what you think. If you do not wish to marry me, I will tell your parents about Ritu and take the entire blame for not being worthy of you."
He had stood still awaiting her reply. She had not known what to think or say. She was overwhelmed by what she had heard. It had sounded like she had stepped into the sets of a movie and did not know the script.
She did not know how but she had said, "Yes, I will marry you."
Dev had asked her then if she had anything to share or say. She had shaken her head and did not say anything.
She could have so easily told him then about wanting to be a singer. She supposed she was so dazed hearing what Dev had to tell her that she had forgotten all about her wishes and aspirations.
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