Joined: 14 October 2006
Just as Geet opened the door, Sameera came barging in. Holding Geet by her arms she twirled her around and gleefully congratulated her on her wedding. Still holding Geet, she turned to Maan who was mutely standing nearby.
"Congratulations, Maan. You have landed yourself every Indian man's fantasy- a beautiful, docile, undemanding and dumb wife," she said jocularly and received a punch from Geet who had broken free from her hold.
"Why did you not attend our wedding?", asked Geet with a sullen face. Before she could respond, Maan looked agitatedly at his watch and said that he really needed to get going as he was running late for work.
"Let me not hold you back, Maan. We can always catch up some time later," said Sameera nonchalantly. As Maan hurried out, Sameera winked at Geet and asked her, "So madam, how's married life with our chawl's hottest dude?"
Geet blushed a deep red but persisted, "Sameera, don't sidetrack me. I asked you why you did not turn up for our wedding. I was eagerly waiting for you."
"Well, the last time I tried helping you with your wedding plans, the wedding did not happen. So I thought that you stood a better chance of getting married in my absence," Sameera said with mock sorrow.
"Come on Sameera, get serious and answer my question," Geet was getting impatient with her by now.
right, I did want to attend your wedding but I guess fate had other plans. My
mother took seriously ill the day before the wedding. I had to take her to the
National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore
as advised by my doctor here. They ran some tests on her for which I had to
stay back. As the doctors wanted to start the treatment immediately, I admitted
her there. I just arrived this morning. "
is Amrita Aunty now?" asked Geet with concern.
"She has stabilised but nothing can be said for the moment. I had to come back because I had to resume duty. I'll visit her over the week-ends."
"Why did you not tell me anything, Sameera?" Geet looked hurt that her best friend had not confided her problems in her.
"And let you worry your head over it? What purpose would it serve? As it is you had enough and more things to worry about. I did not want to burden you unnecessarily with my problems. Anyway facing such problems has become part and parcel of my life," she said ruefully. Geet was still upset with her. Sameera tried to cheer her up.
what I got you as your wedding present!" she said, taking out a small
packet from her hand bag and handing it over to Geet. Geet opened it to reveal
a beautiful intricately carved porcelain figurine of a couple. The man was
kneeling before the lady with his hand crossed over his heart. The lady was
looking at him with eyes filled with love. Below the figurine were these words
carved in gold.
To the world you may
be one person,
but to one person you are the world.
"That is beautiful Sameera!" exclaimed Geet, examining it more closely, "Must have cost you a fortune!"
is expensive for my darling friend," Sameera hugged Geet.
Geet looked around for a place to keep it and found space in the small showcase which hung on one side of the wall of the front room. It held a few cups and trophies which she presumed Maan must have won. She made a mental note to ask him about when and where he won them later. She placed the figurine carefully beside the trophies.
The two friends then spent the whole morning chatting and making fun of each other. Noticing Geet's bandaged hand, Sameera volunteered to cook. After lunch, Sameera took leave of her as she had to report to her company for the afternoon shift.
Maan returned home that evening on time. Geet did not know what to wear for the dinner at the Iyers'. She had left behind all her expensive dresses at the Shah House and bought herself a dozen simple salwar kameezes since she did not want to look conspicuous in her attire in the humble surroundings she would be living in, post marriage. Not being able to decide on a suitable dress, she went up to Maan and showed him her clothes, asking him which one of them she should be wearing for the dinner. Maan looked at her in irritation.
"For God's sake, you are not going to attend a fashion show, just a dinner at a friend's house. Wear whatever you are comfortable in. As long as you are not in your birth suit, I have no problems taking you with me."
Geet turned red with shame hearing this and made a hasty exit. Ten minutes later the newly-weds were at the doorstep of their neighbours, Maan in his khakhi shirt and faded denims and Geet in a baby pink salwar suit. They received a warm welcome from the Iyers. After Geet handed Manju the small box of sweets that Maan had bought for them, she followed the host into the kitchen, volunteering to help. Manju shooed her away assuring her that everything was ready to be served and she was merely giving the final touch. Maan and Venkat caught up with the latest political scenario. Not interested in politics, Geet looked around for the kids. Abhishek and Anurag just walked in at that moment after play. Seeing Maan, they shouted out in glee and jumped onto his lap in unison. Maan enveloped them in his arms, gave them bars of chocolates and continued his conversation with Venkat. Geet tried to lure them to her. Although they flashed their sweet smiles at her, they refused to get off Maan's lap. Unrapping the chocolate in a hurry, Anurag had already started munching on it when Manju came in and snatched the chocolates from their hands.
"Maan, you are spoiling them rotten. Look, they will eat only chocolate and skip the dinner," she complained.
"Now Abhi, Anu, is that true? Will you guys make a fuss having your dinner?" asked Maan, in mock admonishment.
The two boys shook their heads vigorously in the negative.
"See Manju, you are unduely harsh with them. They are good boys who will listen to their Maan uncle, won't you, boys?"
This time they nodded their heads in agreement.
"Let's see," said Manju and served the kids first. Before getting off Maan uncle's lap both the kids kissed him on either cheek. As Anu's mouth was smudged with chocolate, Maan's beard turned brown on one side. Geet couldn't help smiling at her husband's appearance, but seeing Maan glare at her, she quickly suppressed it. Once the kids had their dinner, they brushed their teeth, wished everyone good night and went to bed. Manju then spread out four large banana leaves and laid out a typical South Indian thali for them. It was only when Geet sat down to have the food did Manju notice the wound on Geet's hand and realised that she was not in a position to eat with her hand. As the food was already served on the banana leaf, she could not use the spoon either. As Geet looked around helplessly, Manju came up with a prompt solution. Turning to Maan, she said in a cajoling tone.
"Come on, Maan. Won't you feed your darling wife?"
Having no alternative, he nodded his head in resignation and took the food to Geet's mouth. Geet opened her mouth shyly and took in the food. Maan tried hard to concentrate on the job at hand rather than on those lovely lips which opened and closed as he kept alternatively feeding Geet and himself. Just as he was about to feed her the last mouthful of food, she accidentally bit his fingers. He jerked his hand out and shook it in pain. Startled seeing blood ooze from his finger, Geet snatched his hand instinctively and put his finger in her mouth, sucking the blood. Maan felt a sudden tingling sensation course through his body and his body became warm from head to toe. Geet released his finger when she realised what she had done and bent her head down in shyness, not wanting to meet his gaze. Manju and Venkat who were watching all this with great amusement, teased them both, making them blush.
After dinner, as Geet helped Manju clear the dishes, Manju dragged her aside and said in a hushed voice.
"I know Geet that it is not my business to advise you but being Maan's neighbour and friend I am sharing with you my thoughts. I know that you come from a well-to-do family and are used to certain comforts in life. Life here in the chawl may be filled with hardships but as long as you are with the man you love, any problem is surmountable. Maan is a gem of a human being, a little short-tempered and stubborn but he has a heart of gold. Did you see the way he interacts with my kids? You don't often find men who love others' kids as their own. I think such men are trustworthy and childlike themselves. Hope you give him his own little ones soon."
It was obvious that Manju thought that theirs was a love marriage. Not wanting to dispel her conclusion, Geet nodded her head in silence and returned to Maan's side. Soon they took leave of the Iyers and returned back to their house to spend another night of uneasy togetherness.
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