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Friend: Arrey aapne glass tod diya!
K: Who mere jaath se (slowly turns back towards the table)
Jignesh: Rehne do Khanak (waves at the waiter)
Shaan: Khanak! (exasperated)
Lots of Qs flying thru her mind………… first thought ofcourse being……… he didn't go to Delhi, her racing heart was celebrating.
Gopi: Khaana to kha lo
Friend: Arrey aap dhyaan se baitho, (moves her chair closer to HIS) neeche kaanch hai
Khanak can feel daggers piercing her back, ignores it but make sure she moves her chair in the opp direction, closer to Gopi.
Shaan: Khanak! Chalo! (there! He said it)
Gopi: Shantanu Bha aap bhi khayiye na?
Shaan: (mellow) umm nahi…. Thanks Gopi, main subah grilled chicken…. Mera matlab kha chukka hoon
(rubs his belly with his water bottle holding right hand)
The waiter has arrived. The other friends are laughing eating, joking generally having a good time.
Waiter: Arrey glass tod diya? Rs.25 lagenge (rude)
Khanak: Who galti se gir gaya bha.
Jignesh: Khanak tum rehne do main baat karta hoon (showing some sense finally)
Friend: Arrey madam keh rahi hain galti se toot gaya…. Yaar tum, meri baat suno…..
Stands up theatrically
Khanak is aware of Shaan witnessing the whole "nautanki" standing right behind her chair.
She pretends to eat
Shaan: Khaana band karo, aur chalo…….. (firm)
Waiter: Aapke bill mein daal denge
Friend: Yeh saab kaun hain (smiles at Khanak while he enquires mockingly)
Gopi: Yeh Shantanu bha hain.
Khanak: Shantanu mere….. pati hain (swallows over the last part)
Friend is obviously unhappy at the turn of events but tries to make the most of what he can.
Friend: AB AA RAHEY HAIN? Late ho gaye kya? Mandir ke drashan to ho nahi paaya aapka
(smiles at Shaan and tries to befriend him)
Shaan:Haan who…. (I really don't care for it) Khanak…
Friend:Aaap chinta nahi kariye main aur Jigna Bhai glass ka maamla suljha lenge (smiles and almost reaches out to touch Khanak's shoulder)
She cringes and moves back on her chair………
Jignesh argues with the waiter
Orders more food, he hasn't met Shaan as he couldn't make it to the wedding theatrics………
But when Gopi mentions his name, he understands
Jignesh: Sir! Aap baithiye na
Signals the waiter to bring another chair. Shaan wouldn't touch it let alone sit on it!
Takes a gulp of water from his bottle.
Shaan: Khanak lets go", shakes his head at Jignesh tries hard to smile but it just wont show up
Khanak: Shantanu, aap bhi khaayiye na
Shaan: Mujhe bhook nahi hai Khanak! Yaha se chalogi, PLEASE
Jignesh is sad "Sir yahan ka khaana to bahut swadi…"
Shaan: Main Khanak ko lene aaya tha, that's OK, mujhe bhook nahi hai
Khanak: Bha aap mujhe bolney denge? (glorious smile)
Khanak: Who Shantanu bahar aisi jagah kabhi nahi khaate (smug)
Shaan: Arew e done now, AB CHALEN
Khanak: Bhayya paani laana (prolonging the inevitable)
Shaan: Not again! Yeh lo paani (hands her his bottle)
Friend has already proffered another glass, Khanak wants to annoy him by accepting the guy's glass but fears hubby will bury her in the desert sand and decides to take his bottle.
Doesn't drink from it!
Khanak stands up turns around and talks to Shaan softly so the rest are unable to hear
K:Aap to Dilli jaane waale they na, yaha kya kar rahe hain. Main aapke saath nahi chal sakti
S: Tum pehle chalo phir bataoonga kyon nahi gaya
K: Aise kaise chal sakti hoon aapke saath
Friend has gotten up and is approaching them, "arrey sirji aap meri baat suno aap bhi hamare saath ghoom leejiye thodi der,(looks at Khanak)
For some reason that bursts an artery in Shaan's head
S: Thank you, but main inka pati hoon aur inhe lene aaya hoon, hum baat kar rahey hain, do u mind?
That guy obviously doesn't care for that English, looks confused, but retreats goes back to his food and starts being loud and rowdy with his friends
K: Yeh Bha ke dost hain Shantanu…. Aap please inse aise baat nahi Karen
S:Tum chal rahi ho ya…. (warns)
K: Gopi?..... (atleast she wants to go ;- )
S: Ofcourse! Usko lekar chalo. YEH TUMHAARE JIGNESH BHA HAIN? (clenched teeth) This guy has no clue! He hangs out with these guys…….. swears in English
K: Aap itna naraaz kyon ho rahey hain
S stares at her face: You don't get it do you? Ya tum nasamajh ban rahi ho, (turns around calls out for Gopi)
She walks up all smiles
Shaan: Chalo Gopi "Main tumahre BHA ko kehkar aata hoon
Jignesh is enjoying his food and doesn't have a clue ………….
Shaan walks up to him, "Umm main in dono ko apney saath lekar jar aha hoon"
J:Arrey aap khayiye to, pehle. Glass ki chinta mat karo aap, main yahan har saal aata hoon
Shaan signals the waiter, he is obviously quick…… thinking the sheher waala is going to order a coke or pepsi…..
W:Sir …… abhi bill bana…. Yahan to order chal hi raha hai
S: Approx…. mera matlab andaaz se yaar.. (frustrated)
Khanak senses trouble walks up to him, "yeh aap kya kar rahe hain, Bha ko achha nahi lagega"
Friend walks up also "Arrey glass ke paise main doonga" (grins at Khanak and stands real close)Shaan has a "I am going to punch this guy" look on his face. Walks side ways and stands between the guy and his wife………..
Waiter:Sir thaali Rs.60 ki hai aur oopar se do subzi alag, starts counting with his fingers, pulls a pencil from the back of his ear and starts scribbling on his pad. Shaan forces his fist into his pocket and pulls his wallet out, the cell phone slides out also, he grans both hands the cell phone to his wife………..spontaneously……… opens his wallet pulls out a couple of Rs.1000 bills and hands it to the waiter.
Shaan: Ho gaya? Rakho isey (get the hell out of here look)
Friend stares at his wallet and his cell phone and looks at Khanak who is obviously displeased at the blatant display of wealth by hubby
Gopi signals her not to argue
He tucks his wallet back in, doesn't bother to take his cell phone back, doesn't touch her but brings arm around her waist to steer her away from the dumpy rest.
K:Maine abhi haath nahi dhoya!
S: Searches his left pocket fishes out the sanitizer and slaps it on her hand, she grabs it but disapprovingly returns it
K: gopi chalo haath dho lete hain
Shaan (smug) to hum chal rahey hain na? (OFCOURSE! ;- )
Ouch! Khanak……….. she walks over to the make shift kitchen sink and washes her hands with Gopi
Jignesh has now stood up and intros himself, shaan really doesn't care…….. but tries to be polite.
They walk away in silence.
Shaan: Gopi ko pehle ghar chhodenge………. (for her ears only)
Khanak's heart skips a beat.
K: Maine abhi dekha hi nahi mela (angry)
S: Apne 20 saal ki zindagi mein 20 baar aa chuki ho tum (firm)
K: Shanatanu aap….
Gopi stops and turns around
S smiles at her, K "Gopi tumhe kya kya lena tha"
G: kuch bhi nahi (grrrr)
K:Mujhe to dher saara
S: achha? (palying along)
K: Arrey who dakshin ke koney mein jhooley bhi hain na (excited)
G: pehle wahan chaley?
S: Pehle ghar!
G: Bha aap hamare ghar chaliye na (WHAT?)
K: Gopi lekin
Shaan: EK HAFTA AUR HAI KHANAK yeh mela
K: Aapne mujhe khaana bhi nahi khaane diya, abhi yaha ghoomne bhi nahi denge?
S: Nahi, tumne yeh jagah dekhi theek se, its HORRIBLE, kitne makhi, machhar, aur who tumhaare BHA, uske dost……….. What the hell were u thinking Khanak?
Gopi is listening to it all quite uncomfortably.
They've walked up to his Mahindra Scorpio (?). He opens the door, Khanak is sulking so wont get in, he raises his eyebrows ina "so?"
Gopi is already in "Bha hum pehle jhoolon tak jaayen?
S: Gopi, hamari haveli mein hain jhoole, peeche bageeche mein wahan chalet hain
S walks up behind her whispers in her ear, "ya to khud baithogi ya main bithaaon"
She sulks and returns his phone to him, pushes an errant lock behind her ear, and climbs in, her hand smells like his after shave, so does her neck….. she feels his breath long after its gone.
The car temp is 20C below the outside temp…………
He doesn't say a word until they get back the haveli, he's riding in the front…………
The SUV stops under a shady tree………( the sun's beating down hard, Shaan has emptied two bottles of water in the rid e home offers them each a bottle, Gopi is thrilled grabs one and drinks it all
She refuses…….. looks out the window the whole time or so she thinks but has dozed off).
The driver opens Gopi's door, Shaan opens his wife's ……….. is waering his sun glasses now, looks her in the eyes. She looks away. He stands there hoping she will say something
Ofcourse she has to!
Khanak:Main yaha se ghar chali jaaongi. Aap zara Gopi ko…
Shaan: Andar chalo phir lad lena (irritated)
Her feet have been tied to wrecking balls, she wont move fast
Gopi is already inside, Shaan is drinking his third bottle, offers it to her "Tum paani nahi peeti ho kya" (spoiling for a fight)
She looks away and walks thru the courtyard, he quickens his pace to match hers
Gopi is inside in the lounge/living area, the AC is on full blast……….
Gopi:Khanak itna thanda hai dekha? (smiles)
Khanak welcomes it but wont ack.
There is food on the table "kisko khabar thi" wonders Khanak
Shaan: Tum so rahi thi car mein maine phone kiya (whispers in her ear again)
Khanak:Mujhe bhook nahi hai
Shaan:Fine! (waves his hands in the air)
Gopi is eating, and not being shy at all
Khanak is hungry but has too much pride
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K watches what he does with the clip, he tucks it into his pocket.
He meets her eyes and arches his eyebrows "I am waiting Khanak!"
K: (Dormant Jhansi ki Rani resurfaces): Sorry to aapko bolna chahiye!
K: Aapne Jignesh bha se theek se baat nahi ki, phir se paise phenk diye waiter ko….. (angry)
S(serious) Tum waha se nikalne ka naam nahi le rahi thi, to kya karta main
K: Har cheez mein aap paise ke baare mein sochte hain kya? (confident)
S: To tumne books ke liye paise dene ki baat kyon ki?
He has to have the last word (hes my creation! ;- )
K looks down, he brings his left hand out of his pocket, lifts her chin up…………
She refuses to meet his eyes
S: Main to yaha khada reh sakta hoon, soch lo! (gently)
K: Main aapko sorry keh doongi to aap mujhe jaane denge?
His face suddenly becomes morose………..
S: Nahi! (firm, sure, looking at her lips again)
K: (flustered) kkyyon….. umm m… phir bhi nahi?...... matlab?
S: Mmm mera matlab hai tum sorry to kaho (playful)
K: Aapp phir mujhe Jignesh bha ki baat par sorry kahenge? (deal making)
S: Ummm….. haan chalo theek hai
K looks at his eyes……. Not a thing there, very bland
S: Ummm… go on….
K: achha……… main phir….. sor-ry (barely audible……looks to her left at the swaying curtains on her left while a part of her hides behind the right)
S: (turns her face to face him) meri aankhon mein dekhkar kaho!
S (grins) kyon?
K: Maine keh diya ek baar, ab aapki baari hai (ofcourse!)
S: (frustrated) Do you really think I have to apologize? Nahi Khanak!
K(mad) iska matlab aap apni baat manvaate hain hamesha
S: (slow smile) Yaad hai, main Shantanu Khandelwal hoon?
K: Aur main Khanal…..Kh…. (stares at the big U lettering on his tee)
She is almost hidden behind the curtain now, he works his way through its silky folds and gets to her.
Part of her is glad, part is afraid……… of whats coming!
Her hair is all messed up because of her escape route
S: Khanak! (soft)
K: Bus maine sorry keh diya, ab main aur kuch nahi kahoongi
S: Promise? (grins)
Holds her face between his hands, looks into her eyes seriously
"Tum yaha Dhulwadi aayi, mujhse kehkar bhi nahi aayi, na hi phone kiya yahan pahunchkar, yahan tum apni man maani kar rahi ho, tumhaare Aada ne mujhse kaha ki Jignesh ke saath tumhe bhejna mein unka koi man nahi tha kyon ki uske dost usey wahan milney waale they. tum Gopi ko bhi lekar chali gayi (are you insane? Tone). I don't care for his friends Khanak (a muscle clenches in his jaw) uske dost ek dum ghatiya hain………I don't want you to see them again. Nahi milogi unsey……..
tum meri patni ho, mujhse naraaz ho, baat nahi karna chahti, but that does not change anything between us. Main yaha tumhe lene aaya hoon, aur tumhe lekar hi jaaoonga (a little trickle of joy erupts somehwere inside her and gushes like a fountain spreading all over her body, sending a riot of color to her face) she shuts her eyes.
Main teen din se hoon yaha, jis raat tum yaha pahunch uski agli subah main yaha tha. Yaad aayi meri?"
She wiats for him to continue………. Eyes closed
He waits also…….
She opens her eyes to meet his
S: eyebrows arch again …… this time earnestly….
K: (nodding) nahi……. Mera matlab hai haan (shakes sideways)
S: To nahi aayi? (pretends to ease the hold on her face)
K: closes her eyes……… some things are too painful to ack
S lowers his face to hers, she can feel his jaw on his cheek, its not raspy at all…. Brings her hands from hiding and clutches his waist, waiting to drown………
S (whispers) main nahi reh sakta tumhaare bina! Par who to tum jaanti ho………… you love to torment me!
K: (eyes wide open) Tor kya?
S is in no mood for a lesson, just seals her lips with his
Seconds dissolve into minutes………….
There is a soft laughter and quick movement every few seconds from behind the curtain where two people obviously unmindful of the world around them………………the evening sun starts to play hide and seek, just like the woman behind the curtains…
A gentle knock on the door……………….
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S makes an appearance from behind the curtain. Runs his fingers thru his hair. Lets the curtain be, does not push it away to reveal her. Lets her have the few minutes of privacy. Notices from the corner of his eyes, she is giving him a nervous look, pushing her dupatta over her shoulders……… tucking her hair.
Places both of her icy cold hands on her flaming cheeks, hoping to cool it down. He looks down at his shoes and smiles.
S (clears his throat, looks up) Haan Chirag? Bolo
C: Who madam pooch rahi hai kuch.
All naukars have an expressionless face. This one does also. If his maalik was intentionally hiding behind the curtain in his house, he could do it. It was none of his business.
Chirag walks away.
He folds his arms across his chest and turns around slowly. She is out of hiding now. But wont look at him, looks out the window, tries to touch a flying bird out in the sky. Traces its path as it flies across the window…………..
S: Chalkar kuch kha lo.
Turns around and walks away.
The other room……….. Gopi is fidgety……… Shaan walks in
S: Hi! Gopi
G: Khanak kahan chali gayi? (worried)
S: Ummm…. Who yahi hogi……… main to apney kamre mein tha (LIAR!)
K walks in………… into his well laid trap
S:Kahan chali gayi thi Khanak. Gopi pareshaan ho gayi (grins conspiratorily at her)
K (like you don't know) Gopi?
S:Haan Gopi. Bhool gayi (Got to be my kissing! ;- )
K:Gopi chalen (ignores)
G:Khanak kahan thi tum? (walks up to her agitated)
K: yahi hoon
G: Aadha ghanta ho gaya, maine to Madhuri ke saare gaane bhi dekh liye (points at the TV)
K wonders…….. "OMG! Aadha ghanta! Kya kar rahi thi main"
S: Pehle kuch kha lo
G: Bha maine to kha liya
S: Great! Khanak…………tum?
Gopi leaves to freshen up
She still refuses to look at him so he walks over to the couch and sits down, opens the lids on the bowls, all obviously cold………
Chirag walks in on cue. "Sir"
S: Yaar mere liye please ek beer! Thandi hai kya? Subah kitchen mein crate bahar hi padhi thi
C: Sir who shaayad andar rakha hai Biren ne
S: dekho thanda hai kya
S: Khanak tum? Khaane mein kya hai
C:Sir main bana doonga, aap kya lenge.
S:Phir se chicken sandwich bana dogey kya?
K FINALLY LOOK UP from her position, she was drilling holes into her toes.
He meets her eyes, holds it.
K:Aaj to Sankranti hai, aaj chi……….
S smiles. (There!)
S to C : Theek hai kuch aur banaya hai to le aao
C: Sir poha hai, kheer hai, aur pakora bhi…..
S: Chalo mere liye poha, aur ek beer…….. chilled yaar please
He walks away
K: aaj bhi… beer/
S: Khanak please yaar. Tum mat peena OK
K:Main to haath bhi nahi lagoongi (self righteous)
S: Mujhe ya beer ko?
Khanak: BE- (oh great! What an idiot)
Gopi walks in "Bha jhooley kahan hai"
S: ek second, bahar hai, lekar chaloon? (kind, courteous)
Gets up ready to walk over, turns around, asks her if she wants to go, she is flipping thru a GQ, an Esquire lay on her side.
K: Mujhe bhook lagi hai (ofcourse!) Shaan walks out with Gopi.
C is back, wheels in the cart quietly lays everything on the table, clears it first of the food that lay there.
Serves poha and kheer for the "Madam" asks for water
She is afmished so goes for a second helping, asks if she can get chai, Chriag is thrilled pours some for her, makes it………..
S walks in, grabs his beer, "Chalen"
K: Hmmm. ………
C walks away
K: Main aapke saath Mumbai nahi jaaoongi! (bang!)
He lays on the couch far end of hers…. eyes closed, enjoying the beer, the comfyness of the room, admiring his wife from between his eyelashes now and then………… when she says that
S doesn't open his eyes
K:Main aapko keh rahi hoom, aap sun rahey hai na? (agitated)
S:Hmmm (eyes closed)
K : Main nahi jaaoongi, keh diya maine, mujhe nahi jaana
In a split second like a panther he reaches over to the other end and grabs her hand and pulls her to him the glossy GQ and Esquire slide off…………..
The force with which she lands on his chest splatters some beer on his wrist. And off on the couch's armrest.
S: Nahi jaogi to yahi ruk jao… I will love that Khanak!! (laughs huskily) (WORD PLAY! Khanak needs to sharpen her brains to deal with this guy!)
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It had been over a week since Khanak had met Shaan at the haveli. There were no phone calls or "bumping into him" at the street corner.
She had to pass the haveli to go to her ex in-laws'. She tried to see signs of hubby, but did not see any sign of any activity.
They had a showdown at the haveli when he had pulled her like that
Khanak recalled the exchange, while drying clothes on the line in the terrace.
"Shanatanu, main Mumbai ki baat kar rahi hoon" she had said frimly, unemotionally……….. his grip had relaxed, she had straightened and moved away, looked at the magazines on the floor and continued "aapne pehli baar apni zindagi mein kuch karne ka socha, maine saath bhi diya. Lekin aap ne na to meri izzat rakhi na apney Aada aur Bai ki"
She had looked at him then, his jaw was clenching in anger
S: Main is bare mein tumse koi baat nahi karna chahta Khanak! (anger)
K: Lekin mujhe karni hai baat Shantanu (firm)
K: Aapne Rahul ka contract phaad diya. Unhoney aap ko kachehri le jaane ki dhamki di hai
K: Yahan mujhe Suraj ke Aada aur Bai ko kiya hua waada poora karna hai
S: I am going to do it dammit! (angry)
K: Kab Shantanu? Kab? Aap na to Ada ki bizness mein unka saath de rahey hain, na apney sangeet mein
K:Main Aada se aapke kiye hue wade ko poora karne ko kahoon? (mocking)
S: Khanak just stop it! (yelling, getting up from the couch, pacing the room)
K: Mere Aada ki bhi kuch zarooraten hain, meri aapse koi ummeed nahi hai, main apne ghar ki pareshaaniyan khud utha sakti hoon
S: (walks up to the window stares out at the open fields far away) Tum mujhe baton mein ghumakar yahan Dhulwadi mein rehne ki koshish kar rahi ho. I will not allow it (firm and angry)
K's heart skipped a beat when she thought of it…………… heat crawling up her face……. As she bent down to pick out a yellow turban that belong to her Aada from the bucket,…………… untangled it and dusted the water droplets off and hung it on the line…………. Worked on smoothening the edge………… shut her eyes " despite the lack of serious commitment to anything, despite the lack of focus in life, despite the wavering mind he possessed, he was sure of ONE thing, he wanted her"
K had faltered a bit she realized, smiling to herself, bending down ……reaching for her dupatta….
S walked up to her stood in front looked her staright in the eyes "Tum mere saath Mumbai ja rahi ho, whether you like it or not. What I do with my life……. (pauses) transalates……… Meri zindagi meri problem hai! Tum mere saath ghar waapis ja rahi ho" (final)
K: Main nahi jaaongi Shantanu. Mera ek ateet hai (husky) "aur who meri zimmedari hai. Aap apney aaj se bhaagiye lekin main apney ateet se nahi bhaag sakti
To be continued…………
He hadn't said a word after that, just had quietly turned and walked back to the window. She had gotten up, walked out towards the hallway, Chirag was walking up, she had asked him where the back yard was, and he had shown her the sprawling backyard with beautiful swings and hammocks placed every few yards, with more water fountains and umbrellas with seating underneath, a hammock between two trees, the edge was ebing used as a swing by a dozen swallows at this point……. The air smelled like moist earth, by the time she walked over to Gopi's swing, she felt water droplets the size of a coin fall on her face, it was mixed with dirt, smelled heavenly………………..
She had urged Gopi to give up the swing and had walked back to the street from the eastern periphery of the house, unmindful of the rapidly falling rain.
There were two pieces of clothing left in the bucket. Her hands were getting tired……….. she had lost touch washing clothes by hand for a while now……. She had to stick them into a big white metal box with a galss door in front, it spat out half dry clothes, she didn't even have to do that, Hari Lal did it all in Mumbai.
Her clothes mysteriously disappeared from the laundry basket and showed up in neat ironed piles every evening. It was the same story with grocery, veggies etc………. Harilal cooked the meat, she cooked everything else for the meals………… Shaan had slowly started developing a liking for Gujju food. She smiled again as she dried the last of her kurtas on the line…………….
Her thoughts went back to him……….. she wanted to see him again………… she prayed they would bump into each other, but did not happen the whole week…………. She was shocked at herself for being able to go to Suraj's house unemotionally every day but unable to look at her husband's sprawling mansion without her heart racing……………… somewhere something had changed, someone had moved her things around in her heart.
Her heart yearned for Shantanu…………. She thought of Suraj fondly but the thought did not make her weak in her knees. It did not bring a flush on her face……… it did not make her self conscious………… each time the phone rang she wished it was Shantanu.
She was constantly chattering when around him……….. "Kitna bolti ho Khanak" he scolded her fondly
He didn't speak much she thought, just "tuned into her "TALK" radio station when she was around and just listened" (girls this was an actual line by a guy who left for india on wed, theirs is a super cute love story also, she is a tamil mudaliar, he is a kannada Brahmin both fell in love at work, she talks like its nobody's biz, he LISTENS :- ) She had a penchant for getting him into trouble, she argued incessantly, they fought over the silliest of things……. She would sulk and he would placate her with words and action………….
She picked up the bucket, walked downstairs, ………… "agar main wahan jaaoongi aur Shantanu mujhe mil gaye to kya kahoongi unsey" "poochhoongi ek hafte se kahan they aap?" (laughst at herself for being caught red handed)
Lekin hain kahan Shantanu? *(she wondered again) only to be interrupted by her Aada
A: Khanak beta tumne jo kadhai ka kaam shuru kiya hai, suke baarey mein baat karney ke liye do auratein aayi hain
K:jee Aada ek minute, she walks to the courtyard to put the bucket away.
The phone rings
She sprints towards it, her Bai has picked it up, she is disappointed, turns away towards the baithak, to greet the women……….. she can hear Bai talk, its Gopi……….
She tries to make conversation with the ladies, her Bai walks in after 10 or so minutes………… Khanak is curious, for her some how everything seems like a thread of hope…….. thread that will lead to her ball of yarn ;- ) Shantanu………..
The ladies start chatting with her Bai, one of them leaves……….. finally
K turns to her Mom, Gopi kya keh rahi thi Bai"
B: Who Chiman…..??.......... kya naam hai uska Chivan??.....
K: CHIRAG? (heart skips a beat)
B: Haan wohi wohi……….. who mila usko bazaar mein, usne kaha Shantanu beemar hai (casual but guarded, carefully noting down her daughter's reaction)
To be continued……………
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