Yet another morning, yet another busy beginning, yet another rush. But even before the city woke up rubbing its sleepy eyes... two individuals were busy in their own worlds... one filling buckets in the line for the tap in his chawl... and the other preparing for the daily kitchen work.
And yet there was something different about this morning... an excited mother who woke up in the best of spirits, for the first time in years, planning for her daughter. An excited family which teased the daughter while she blushed and shied. Later in the day, everyone could see Sulochana Tai, as she was fondly called, distributing sweets to the people in the colony.
"Yes.. just in two weeks the engagement will be done... such sheer luck... and so good people too... her MIL seems like a very kind lady..." she was telling her neighbours..
Manav, who was repairing Vinod's scooty in the garage... looked at Sulochana nervously from the corner of his eyes... that lady scared him... whether angry, nervous, or excited- her face had the expression as if she would get a stroke any minute.
"Arey Vinod" she called out as she crossed the street and entered the garage. "Distribute these sweets to the people in your office and give them the good news."
"Alright Aai.." said Vinod. But Sulochana did not miss Manav who had quite evidently been listening to their conversation. He immediately concentrated on the scooty again as if he were researching Newton's laws. Sulochana smiled and opened the box.
"Here..." she said offering him a sweet... "you were the one who had brought all these sweets a week ago, right? At that time things had gone terribly wrong. But today, everything is fine... my daughter is getting married to a very nice boy... I don't know how to thank god enough... and.."
"Its enough Aai," Vinod laughed putting a hand on her shoulder. "If things were in your control, you would distribute sweets to the whole world today!"
Sulochana smiled sheepishly, wiping a tear from her eye. "Yes, you will probably be considering me as eccentric..." she looked ahead at Manav grinning at her. "And you too.."
Manav straightened up immediately "I understand everything Kaku... a mother's dreams for her daughter are precious... I have a sister who is so much younger to me that I have literally brought her up as a father.. I understand everything."
Sulochana smiled. "... I knew God wouldn't be unfair to my daughter... SUCH A NICE BOY...good looking, well educated, well mannered, with a nice job and a nice background and such a nice family.." she added as an afterthought... "As I said that day when you brought the sweets, it was really a good omen."
Manav smiled again.. "Its nothing Kaku, its just your daughter's destiny. Good things happen to good people.."
"Someone is in a good mood today," said Tarun, as he seated himself in the open dicky of a van and watched Manav whistling at work. "Someone special made your favourite gajar halwa for you?"
Manav scowled. Why the hell did he share everything with this loafer friend of his who had no job except to sit and chat with him all day long. "Go away... you spoiled my good mood yet again..." then added, chuckling, "Actually its good you came. I wanted to see your face when you come to know that you lost your bet.. Archana's wedding got fixed ."
Tarun's jaw dropped.. "What... but when???"
"Yesterday it seems, her Mom distributed sweets to the whole colony today.
Tarun was in a trance. "Compromise marriage!"
"Must have taken dowry."
"Nope. Good educated people with a good background."
"Must be blind."
Manav was annoyed. "What do you mean by the boy must be blind. I think she is quite good looking..."
"Manav slumped... "Okay, so what? Everyone knows she's pretty. And anyway, don't change the topic.. you remember the bet... you'll come with me to the temple tomorrow... and I will offer 11 rupees.. no 101 rupees..."
"Kyun be... teri bahen ki shaadi hai?" retorted Tarun. "The only girl you had eyes for is getting married to someone else and you are celebrating!"
Manav made a bored expression. "I've tried to explain to you time and again.. its not a matter of love.. its a matter of faith.. today Bappa has done justice to that girl by giving her the happiness she deserves. My faith in my God has been strengthened... so I'm celebrating.."
"Aaawwwaawaaa... 'I'm celebrating'... fool the world, you can't fool me.. pah! What a waste of my time, trying to tutor you.. what a love story I'd expected... you poured cold water over it. That girl is your destiny Manav. She's just like you, you and I have seen that over two years... her caring nature, her trips to the temple, her simplicity, her selflessness, everything!!!"
Manav stared at Tarun. "And you think its sufficient?"
"Is it not?"
"No" Manav said quietly. "Try and see the situation Tarun. I'm a simple mechanic who makes just enough to manage my family. I can't offer any girl any security in life."
"Love is important... not money.."
"Its not just about money... its about responsibilities. I'm neck deep with them. The girl who marries me will have to share not only my life, but my responsibilities as well. You know the twins don't get along with Aai, Sachin is careless and lazy, Aai quarrels with everyone in the chawl, Baba is often drunk or ill. The girl who marries me will have to be as much a Mom to the twins as I'm a father to them, will have to scold and control Sachin, manage and control Aai from getting into fights, look after Baba's health and temper all the time. Is this how a girl should start a married life... taking care of teenage kids, managing a house, taking care of a drunk/ill FIL, and all that in so little income and comforts.. no honeymoon,,, no holidays, nothing. Is it fair..??"
Tarun didn't have an answer... "Thats why you never made an attempt.. right? I knew you had something for her!!"
Manav sighed.. "My point is that till the time I don't make my situations better, it is better I do not get married. To anyone. Anyhow, its time to go home now. End of discussion."
Manav's little house seemed lighted up and happy that evening. He and Tarun wondered what the matter was. As they entered.. they immediately figured out.
"My Manav wont marry this girl. I want a Madhubala for him.. a princess of gold.." shrieked his Aai
"What... oh you mean you want the gold.. very well.. in your dreams..." said Baba slopping, dead-drunk.
Atya was trying her best to convince Savita, "Vahini, try and understand, Manav is 31, he keeps working all the time, shudn't we try and settle him down now."
Savita was scanning the photographs. "I like this girl..." She thrust it in Manav's face.. "How do you like her, my Raja beta??"
Manav squirmed.. "She has her head in a ghoonghat, how did you see her face?" Tarun added.."Seems over-traditional to me.."
Savita started her shouting again.. "Todays boys understand nothing.. that is why I say I will choose a girl for Manav.. this girl is submissive, sweet ... and most important point she has golden bangles.. uh.. I mean... she looks like a ghar ki lakshmi... like she has a heart of gold."
Atya said.. "Her husband deserted her."
Manav's face softened. Tarun straightened himself up.. no way would he let Manav succumb to emotions. Savita softened too.. "How did it happen..?"
Atya elaborated... "Her husband and Saas insisted on dowry... when she didn't bring it, they harassed her. But they didn't know that she was a kabaddi champion. One fine day the saas was badmouthing her, she pulled her straight up and threw her out of the house... the saas is paralysed out of shock, her son ran away out of fear... and she is now preparing to join the indian kabaddi team."
Even though it was a sad story, Savita's horrified expressions had such an impact that everyone roared with laughter. Manav choked on his laughter.. '"I am highly impressed Atya, this girl is ideal for me, I am ready to marry her."
"Are you mad!!" shouted Savita.. "I dont' need one more phulan devi in this house. One is enough. No no.. no more girls for Manav, girls these days know only how to make their husbands dance on their fingertips. Manav, I know you like her.. but dont worry, I will get you another... ummm..."
"Princess of gold?" hinted Vedant. Vandita giggled.
"Aur nahin to kya... lakhon ka hai mera Manav..." said Savita as the family broke into fits of laughter. Manav made an innocent face. "As you say Aai.. I wont marry till you say yes.."
"Lakhon ki hai meri Archu," said Sulochana that night, massaging Archu's hair... "and I'm so happy that finally one boy could see your true beauty and accepted you as you are... no demands, no conditions." she made Archu face her.. "You are quiet today.."
"I'm just... well... scared... Satish ji seems a little different from us, today when we went out, I couldn't talk to him about anything..." said Archana dejectedly.
"Everything takes time Archu.." Sulochna said softly... "You will have to adjust a bit.. every girl has to..."
"I will Aai..." Archu said... and thought to herself.. "I just hope I dont end up changing the way I am to become a completely different Archu to fit in with Satishji."
"You are happy na Archu.."
"Are you happy Aai?"
Archana smiled her beatific smile. "Then I'm also very happy."
Sorry guys no ArMan this time... wait till the next part for ArMan scenes. It was a bit long this time, but I'm actually going theme wise.
Edited by nikitagmc - 31 July 2011 at 12:45pm