Joined: 14 October 2006
The next day was a Sunday. Maan was still fast asleep at 9.00 a.m. Geet had finished her morning routine, prepared the breakfast and waited patiently for her husband to open his eyes. Sitting by his side, she looked at him, playing back in her mind the hug she inadvertently gave him the previous night and blushing at the thought. Finally Maan woke up to greet the new day and seeing the beautiful countenance of his wife watching over him, he flashed her one of the most charming smile she had ever seen. Geet's blush deepened, making her even more attractive in his eyes. Asking him to brush his teeth and come for breakfast, she quickly went to the kitchen area, trying to get a control over her senses which were running riot at the moment.
Just as they were finishing up with the breakfast, they heard the front doorbell ring. Geet opened the door to be greeted by Adi and Romeo, Maan's friends from the chawl. Looking in at Maan who was seated quite coolly on his sofa, they asked him to get ready for the football practice. Maan excused himself, saying that he had sprained his ankle the previous night while staggering home in darkness. After being assured that it was nothing serious that a day's rest would not take care of, his friends left. Geet rushed to his side and knelt before him, lifting his ankles in turn, to examine them.
"Why did you not tell me you have sprained your ankle?" she asked.
"Arey buddhu, did you see me limping either last night or this morning?"
"No," said Geet still confused.
"How could I have sprained my ankle and be able to move around freely?"
"Then why did you say that you did to Adi and Romeo?" persisted Geet.
"Just to get them off my back. I want to spend the rest of the day getting to know my wife," said Maan cheerfully.
Geet's face brightened up hearing this. Although they had been married for a month now, Maan had never spent a single Sunday at home. He spent the only rest day of the week with his friends, catching up on their lives, playing football or cricket with them or going to watch various sports events across the city. As he was away at work the other six days, this meant he hardly spent any time with Geet. Now that he has declared he will be with her for the day, Geet was excited about having her husband all to herself, at least for a day.
Smiling at her excitement, Maan asked her to bring a notebook. Although she did not know what he had in mind, she obediently brought one. He then asked her to sit beside him on the wooden sofa and got busy writing down something in it. Looking over his shoulders she realised he was chalking out the monthly budget.
Provisions - around Rs. 1,700
Fruits and vegetables - around Rs.750
Milk - Rs.500
Rent - Rs.2,500
Electricity - around Rs.150 (paid for the month)
Mobile recharge - Rs.300
EMI for the motor cycle - Rs.2,500
Train pass - Rs.250
Petrol expenses - Rs.200
Newspaper - around Rs.150
Baba's medical expenses- Rs.5,000
Contingency expenses/savings - Rs.1,000
Total : Rs.15,000
Geet learnt that although Rano had volunteered to pay Khuranaji's medical expenses, Maan had accepted her offer only under the condition that he repays the debt and he was setting aside five thousand rupees every month to do so. The knowledge of this only served to enhance Maan's image in her eyes. Here was a man who did not bow to any or accept anything in charity. She was impressed by his belief in himself and his own abilities to take care of his family. After working out the expenses for her, he asked her if she would find it difficult to manage within the tight budget. Geet assured him that she will keep their family ship afloat in the face of all storms. Maan smiled at her confidence and felt happy to have such a co-operative wife.
Maan then insisted in helping her prepare the lunch and dinner and went about expertly cutting the vegetables and peeling the garlic. While indulging in the joint cooking activity, they shared with each other their likes and dislikes, growing experiences, incidents from their childhood which were unforgettable and so on. Suddenly Geet was reminded of something.
"Maan, can I ask you something?" she asked in a serious tone.
"Yes, Geet, what is it?"
"When you came to the Handa House last year and I mistook you for a plumber, you mentioned to Sameera that we had met as kids fifteen years back and that nothing has changed in all these years. What did you mean by that?"
"Oh, that! Do you really want to talk about that?" quizzed back Maan.
"Yes, Maan, I'd like to know what you meant by that statement. What had happened when we had met all those years back?"
Maan hesitatingly revealed the details of their first meeting.
It was Arjun's ninth birthday that day. Mohinder had arranged for a huge party for which a reluctant twelve-year old Maan was dragged by his baba. He wore his only good pair of trousers and a floral shirt which his baba had bought for him for that year's Diwali. As soon as they landed in the Handa house, his five-year old sister Anwesha, was immediately carried into the house by Rano, who was very fond of the girl. His father got busy entertaining Mohinder's business associates. Maan felt very uncomfortable in the alien surroundings. Since he did not know anybody else in the house, he kept standing in a corner, watching the people around him. It is then that he noticed a thin tall boy with a group of his friends. From his expensive dress he could make out that he was the birthday boy. He was loudly bragging to his friends what gifts his father has bought for him and where he was planning to take him for their next family vacation and so on. Suddenly Arjun noticed Maan and called out to him
"Hey, you, who are you? How come you are at my party?"
Maan introduced himself as Khuranaji's son.
"Oh, so you are our naukar's son, are you? Get us some soft drinks," he ordered rudely.
"You go get it yourself," Maan retorted back.
"How dare you speak to me like this? I'll tell your father about your impertinent behaviour."Arjun threatened.
"Go tell him. I don't care," said Maan and turned to leave the place.
Just then he overheard Arjun loudly call him a pansy, pointing to his floral shirt and laughing out loud and his friends joined him. As Maan looked up he saw Geet standing on the top of the stairs with her group of friends and she was smiling at him. Ashamed to be humiliated in this manner by the Handa kids, Maan left the place even before the party began, earning the wrath of his father who realised later that his son had gone home without informing him. Ever since then he had made it a point to avoid the Handa house like the plague until Geet's fateful non-starter engagement the previous year.
End of flashback
Geet was astounded hearing about this incident. She did not remember the day very clearly. After all she was barely six years old then. All she remembered was chatting and laughing with her friends. Could it be possible that Maan mistook her smile for ridicule when in reality she had no intention of doing so in the first place? She asked him aloud. Maan had to admit that it was quite possible that he could have misunderstood her smile, for at that moment he was blinded by fury and was not really thinking straight. Now that he has observed her in closer quarters she did not appear to be a girl who would make fun of people or hurt their feelings. Geet apologised to him nonetheless which Maan waved off saying there was no need for it now.
They later had their lunch, complimenting each other for an excellent meal. That evening they heard a knock at the door. The dhobiwalla was standing there with Maan's white shirt, nicely starched and ironed. He told Maan that he knew memsaab was new to the house and must have mistakenly given him the shirt. He had it washed, starched and pressed. Now it was as good as new. Thanking the dhobiwalla for the trouble, Maan handed him a hundred rupee note. The dhobiwalla protested saying that it did not cost that much but Maan insisted that he keeps the money. Geet heaved a sigh of relief seeing Maan's favourite shirt back.
After Maan had kept the shirt carefully in the cupboard, he turned to his wife and smiled at her, saying, "All's well that ends well". She smiled back in return.
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