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The temperature that evening had cooled down considerably, in a way reflecting the atmosphere in the house. They sat eating their dinner in silence. Pinky had prepared a feast to welcome Geet back and was glad that everyone was at the dinner table; however the atmosphere wasn't what she had expected. Adi and she had thought that since Geet was returning after so many years there would be plenty of noise and celebration, however there was complete silence. When the four of them had arrived from the airport Geeta had walked in glaring, she looked extremely angry and Maan and Geet had followed her quietly. Pinky had been tempted to ask Radha what had happened but thought it was best to stay quiet as she was sure whatever was going on would come out eventually. She was however amused that Maan Singh Khurana-the person whose mere name made people shake in their boots looked guilty as he followed his daughter.
Adi and Pinky had decided as they had set the table for dinner that it was best to ask the questions once everyone was eating dinner. It was rude to get up half way during dinner and everyone was well aware of Pinky's rules at the table. There were very few rules when it came to Pinky but if anyone dare ruin a meal for her there would be no reckoning. The plan was to confront the guilty parties during dinner was perfect. They both knew how stubborn Maan and Geet were and considering that Geeta was their daughter they were sure the apple hadn't fallen far from the tree.
During dinner Radha looked at Geeta and was glad to see a smile on her friend's face. She was sure Geeta knew that if she needed support she was there to help, she knew that someone needed to intervene in order to get the three of them talking again. However she was not the best candidate to intervene, she secretly hoped Pinky or Adi would step up to the referee's plate.
Geeta looked at Radha with amusement, for someone who noticed everything Radha was surely oblivious to the affections of Sameer towards her. Today she had been made to sit between Pinky and Sameer at the dinner table and as Geeta noticed Sameer was less interested in his food and more interested in Radha.
Maybe Radha didn't notice what was going on because she was more worried about Geeta and her situation. Geeta had seen Radha signal her in the car to talk to her parents. 'Oh! Her parents,' she thought. She was so angry at them. They finally had a chance to be together without hiding and all they could do was bicker. She had desperately wanted them to be a family, she wasn't sure exactly what she had been expecting, she started to wonder if she was letting her imagination and emotions get ahead of herself. She wasn't even sure if her parents wanted to tread the same path, why wouldn't they want to be together. She realized it had to be one step at a time. She first had to find out exactly why they lived away from each other despite being completely in love with each other. She was hoping that they would have a healthy discussion about the past and the future. The present she didn't much care about cause it was perfect. Her parents were sitting on either side of her and they were having dinner- just like a normal family.
She as glad when Pinky Masi finally broke the silence. Pinky seemed to have had enough and in an exasperated tone said, "Will someone tell me why everyone is quite. I was sure that you all would not be able to shut up since Geet returned to India after so many years. I prepared all this food with so much love and yet you all are eating like someone has died."
Adi decided to join his wife, "I have to agree with Pinky, what is going on?"
Geeta, "Well since you both want to know, let me tell you. Since mamma landed, she and papa have done nothing but bicker. Well apparently I was told that they have been in love with each other for 20 years and yet they see each other and nothing. No hug, no how are you, just straight bickering."
Pinky, "Is that all? Geeta baccha, your parents have fought with each other since the first time they laid eyes on each other. It is the basis of their relationship. If they don't fight they can't sleep in peace."
Geeta, "Okay, fine. I get it. They love to fight, but do you know what they were fighting about? Let me tell you, they were fighting about who loved me more. Is this something to fight about? They are both different and they love me in their own ways. I am not a little child anymore that I can't understand that our situation is different, if I am behaving like a grown up, why can't they?"
Adi, "Well since there seems to be an issue that according to me also needs to be addressed by Maan and Geet, I think it would be okay of I just referee this discussion. Someone needs to step in and I am volunteering my services."
Before anything else could be said, Radha interrupted, "Well before you all continue. I think I am going to step out. I just think it will be best of you all discuss it without inhibition as a family."
Geet, "Radha there is no need, I am sure Geeta will appreciate you being here."
Radha, "No, I am also a little tired, I should go to the apartment. Geeta call me if you need anything. I am after all right across the street." She winked at Geeta as she finished her sentence.
Radha however wasn't shy while she filled her plate with more food and made her way to her apartment. Sameer who had noticed a perfect opportunity to spend some time with Radha decided to take his chances.
Sameer, "This is getting to heavy for me. I think I am going to eat at Geeta's apartment." He quickly picked up his plate and called out to Radha to wait for him. He was out the door before anyone could protest.
Now that Radha and Sameer had left Adi took over his duties as a referee and said, "So Maan and Geet, which one of you would like to go first?"
Geet decided to speak, "Well Adi I want to say something first. Geeta meerah baccha, I really didn't mean to hurt you. In fact I can also speak for Maan; we had absolutely no intention of angering you. We have bickered as your Pinky Masi said from the first time we laid eyes on each other. We are different people with different personalities so we are bound to have a difference in opinion."
Maan jumped in, "Your mother speaks the truth. We think differently, we approach most matters differently but the only thing we know for certain that we will never have a difference in opinion about is you. We love you. It is just natural for parents to try to one up each other, especially in a case like ours, where you are got to know us at different stages in your life. We just want to see you happy."
Adi, "Geeta beta, do you want to say something?"
Geeta, "You don't have to prove anything to me. I was raised with lots and lots of love. Yes there are questions I have and I hope you all can answer them, but other than that I know you love me and I am actually happy with the way things turned out."
Maan and Geet looked at each other. Once again words were not needs to communicate what they were thinking. They indeed needed to answer the questions, they knew exactly what those questions were but before they could tell Geeta the truth, they needed to talk amongst themselves and see what the best method of breaking the news to Geeta and the rest of the family would be. If only they were a three person family things would have been easier, but there were other people involved.
Geet, "Geeta we have no intention of hiding anything from you now. I am glad that you turned out to be such a balanced individual who is caring and understanding, but before we tell you everything we need to talk about it amongst ourselves. I do promise you that we will tell you everything soon, real soon."
Pinky, "Well is there anything else that needs to be talked about, if not then let's continue with dinner. Geet where are you going to stay while you are here?"
Before Geet could answer Maan jumped in and said, "Home."
Geet shook her head saying 'No' and continued talking to Pinky, "Actually I was thinking that I would stay with you and Adi. Is that okay?"
Adi, "Geet we wanted you to stay with us but we weren't sure if you had already made arrangements. The room is ready." Adi could see the uneasiness in Maan's eyes and decided to tease him a little, "Maan yeah India hain, yaha bina shadi hua Buddha-Buddhi ko saath nahi rehne dete hain. The girl must stay in her mayka. If you have noble intentions you can come and ask us for her hand in marriage."
Geet had started to giggle and now after hearing the last few words out of Adi's mouth she was all out laughing. Maan realized how he had missed this laughter and decided to go further.
Maan, "Who are you calling a Buddha? I am still young, a sought after bachelor. There are girls who still think I am a catch."
Geeta realized that this is what a family was; this is what she had missed; however the time to dwell in the past was not now so she too decided to join in, "Well papa, I guess those girls don't really have taste. Who would want to marry an old man anyways? Plus Adi Uncle, doesn't papa have to ask my permission to marry mamma?"
'What was going on?' Maan thought to himself. Now he had to ask him daughter for her mother's hand in marriage. The true question was did Geet even want to marry him. So much time had passed by and so much had changed. Geet had her own life and they had never discussed marriage since they had re-entered each other's lives. For the moment he was going to push his doubts and questions to the back of his head and enjoy the time with his friends and family. It had been too long.
Maan, "Young lady I am going to not going to ask anyone's permission. I am just going to elope with your mother and you all will find out after the fact since you all are really having a great time teasing me; that is your punishment."
While the five people talked at Pinky's house. Radha and Sameer had finished dinner and Sameer who seemed to have a bottomless pit for a stomach was looking through Geeta and Radha's refrigerator looking for dessert. Knowing that Sameer's search was going to be futile, Radha recommended they go out for ice-cream. Sameer was more than happy to take the recommendation; it was their unofficial date- first dinner than ice-cream. He smiled at the thought. Now he only had to gather the strength to tell Radha how he felt about her, but knowing Radha, she probably wouldn't take him seriously and treat him as a kid. Something she had been doing since she had landed in India. God damn it! He was only a year younger than her. Actually not even a year.
They walked to the ice-cream parlour and took their seats. After ordering their ice-creams they began to talk, they discussed their families, their hobbies and finally Radha asked him about his plans for the future and was pleasantly surprised when he told her he was interested in becoming a chef. He told her how he had been looking at culinary schools all over the world; however hadn't told his parents yet about his aspirations as he did not want to disappoint them. Radha asked him why he thought he would disappoint them with his dreams, only for Sameer to reply that all the people in his life had taken up conventional professions and he wasn't sure how him wanting to become a chef would be received by Adi and Pinky. He mentioned that if they weren't happy he always had the option of going into the tech field. Radha had no doubts about his tech abilities as he had proven himself; however she was curious about his cooking skills. Not being the shy kind, Radha made her doubts clear. Sameer looked at it as a challenge and offered to cook her dinner. When Radha accepted his offer he was over the moon. He was certain that Geet Masi, whom he had never seen had brought with her some good luck because as soon as she had come into his house, all obstacles dealing with Radha had seemed to disappear and one after the other he was being dealt winning cards in life's game of 'Love Poker.'
The ice-cream had disappeared and they realized that they had been gone for over two hours. It was a nice surprise that they actually had enjoyed each other's company so much that they hadn't realized time fly by. They paid their bill and walked back home. When they got to the front of Radha's apartment she bid Sameer good night and asked him to tell his mom thank you for the food and that she would return the plates tomorrow.
Radha walked into the apartment only to find a worried Geeta waiting for her. From the look on Geeta's face she could deduce that Geeta had been waiting for her for a while.
Geeta, "Where were you? I came home almost an hour ago and you weren't here. I tried calling you but you left your phone on the dining table. How could you be so irresponsible?"
Radha, "Relax, see I am completely fine. I am sorry that I went out without telling you, but I truly hadn't planned to stay out for so long. It was only ice-cream."
Geeta, "You went out for ice-cream? That too without me, did you bring me back some?"
Radha, "I thought there was dessert at Pinky Aunty's house. Anyways enough about dessert, did you and your parents resolve anything after Sameer and I left?"
Geeta, "Yeah! We had a good talk. We even joked around a little. They also told me that they would answer my questions, they just need some time."
Radha, "That is great. So is your mom staying with your dad?"
Geeta, "No, she is going to stay with Pinky Masi and Adi Mausa. I think it is for the best. Anyways did you go alone for ice-cream?"
Radha, "No, I went with Sameer. You know he is actually very interesting. I was late because we kind of got caught up talking. We didn't even realize where two hours went. He is nice."
Geeta could help but let out a short laugh.
Radha, "What was that all about? Did I make a joke?"
Geeta, "Oh! Radha you are so oblivious to what goes on around you. Sameer is totally in love with you and you don't even know it. Didn't you even think once tonight why he chose to come with you instead of just sticking around at his own house? Even if he was uncomfortable with what was being discussed, he has plenty of friends whom he could have gone to."
Radha, "He is not in love with me, he is just a kid."
Geeta, "Radha he is not a kid, he is only a few months younger than you. If you remember you actually started at Harvard really young. I believe you were the youngest person as a freshman last year."
Radha who was still in denial replied, "No, he can't be in love with me. If he were, he would have said something."
Geeta, "Are you kidding me? You are so blunt that he was probably scared to say anything least you take it as a joke. If you still aren't sure, tell me what you both talked about."
Radha, "Well we talked about our likes dislikes and what we wanted to do in life. You know normal stuff."
Geeta, "Normal stuff, sure. What did Sameer tell you?"
Radha, "Sameer told me that he wanted to be a chef."
Geeta, "He wants to be a chef, can that boy even cook. All I have seen him do is fill his bottomless pit of a stomach. How come no one else knows that he wants to be a chef?"
Radha, "He said that he was afraid to disappoint his parents with his wanting to be a chef. And I don't know if he can cook, but he sure did offer to make me dinner."
Geeta, "Did he offer to make us dinner or did he offer to make you dinner?"
Radha, "Oh! I just agreed to our first date." Finally the realization had hit Radha and she looked like she was in pain. How had she not noticed? She was supposed to be the perceptive one.
Geeta, "Come on it is not that bad, he is a nice guy. Give him a chance. Who knows?"
Radha, "It's not that simple. Even if I like him, even if things start looking good; it's not like anything can happen. I live in Germany, I go to school in the US and he lives here. I am only here for a few more months."
Geeta, "Since when did you become such a pessimist, whatever is to be is to be. When tomorrow comes you will cross that bridge too. If nothing else, Sameer will have a good story to tell."
Radha, "You think this is a joke?"
Geeta, "No, I don't think this is a joke. Two people I really care about are involved in this situation. I don't want to see anyone hurt. All I want is for you both to give each other a try. You are always encouraging me to talk to Aakash. I am just returning the favour."
Radha, "Talking about Aakash, how are things looking there?"
Geeta, "He is really nice and sweet. We have only had coffee so far."
Radha, "Only coffee? You need to go out on a date with him."
Geeta, "He asked, I refused. So much has been going-on on the parent front that I haven't really had a chance to focus on anything else."
Radha, "Since you are so eager to see me happy, let's make a deal. The day that you agree to go on a date with Aakash, I will give Sameer a chance. Sounds fair to you?"
Geeta, "It's a deal."
The girls talked for a few more minutes before they decided to call it a night. Although it was great talking to each other about everything, sometimes it was also important to self-reflect.
On the other hand Maan and Geet were sitting in a car stuck in traffic. Geet had decided to spend some time with Maan and had told Adi and Pinky not to wait up that she would come home late. She was finally with him, there was no hiding anything from anyone who truly mattered and they now had the liberty to be with each other without worry. It was night and the streets of Delhi were still packed. Geet remembered the multiple times she had to work late while she was Maan's secretary and how scared she used to be to go home. Twenty years ago at this time of the night the streets would be empty and the only people on the streets were people who were up to no good. Although she had always insisted on going home alone Maan had never let her. She looked at him smiling. Maan had noticed Geet looking at him and on seeing the smile decided to investigate.
Maan, "Geet, what are you smiling about?"
Geet, "Just thinking about the past, when I was your secretary."
Maan, "We had our moments, didn't we?"
Geet, "Those moments were very special, although we didn't realize it then; it was memories of those moments that allowed us to live for the last two decades."
Maan, "Geet, why did you refuse to stay with me?"
Geet, "Maan, I didn't refuse. I just want to spend time with Pinky and Adi, plus also this time when I come home, I want us to do it right. When we are in New York it is different. In India it is different. We have our families to think about. It is not just the three of us."
Maan, "Geet are you telling me that you wouldn't have a problem marrying me?"
Geet, "Yes that is what I am telling you."
Maan, "You don't understand what it means to hear that from your mouth. I have been waiting forever. I was a little worried today when Adi brought up the topic of marriage. I wasn't sure if you felt the same as I did and knowing how you love to run, I didn't want to spook you. There is always a fear that you are going to run."
Geet, "Maan the circumstances were different then. Today we are at a very different juncture in our lives and it is now that we have to decide what we want. I have decided that at 38 years of age, it is time for me to be happy and for me being happy means having you in my life."
They had arrived at the outhouse and Maan stopped the car, he leaned towards Geet and kissed her.
Maan, "Geet you have made me the happiest person today."
They got out the car and walked into the outhouse. The next few hours were spent talking and kissing. They talked about how they were going to progress with telling Geeta the truth. The first decided that it was of utmost importance to talk to Daadima. They didn't want to surprise her with the past, they were certain the others were strong enough to take the news but Daadima was fragile. They needed to sit her down and let her know what had happened.
Where do I start?
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