Joined: 14 October 2006
It was Raksha Bandhan that day. Maan was getting ready to leave for work when Geet reminded him to come early so that they can go to Handa House to visit Anwesha. Maan nodded his head absent mindedly and uttering a hurried good bye, he left the house. Geet looked at his retreating form from the balcony and wondered about his behaviour in the past one week, since the Independence day. They were getting along pretty well till then and had started bonding as they let down their guards and got to know and understand each other better.
She had entered into this marriage with no great expectation. She knew she was merely a leverage for her husband who wanted to ensure his sister's happiness by marrying her. She had, however, made up her mind to make this marriage work no matter what. His temper had initially scared her but she soon found out that behind the facade of a tough exterior lay a gentle and caring heart. She did not know when she had started falling in love with her husband. She had always found him physically attractive but it was not just good looks that drew her to him. His simplicity, straight forwardness, sense of duty, self belief, care, love for his family, sense of humour, why, even his occasional grumpiness, which made him look cute like a baby, all were very, very, attractive to her. Before she realised it, she was head-over-heels in love with him.
Being shy, she was not able to say it in words and waited for her husband to make the first move, but although she suspected he too felt a strong attraction towards her, he never really opened up. She then decided to convey her feelings to her husband through the song she rendered on the Independence Day, hoping that it will get him to admit his own feelings for her. She had seen the look of admiration and pride in his eyes that day as he heard her sing. She also thought she caught a fleeting glimpse of something more but before she could feel elated, it was gone and was replaced by an enigmatic expression. When he excused himself that night and came in late, she felt there was something amiss but could not put her finger to it.
Things only got more puzzling in the ensuing days. Although Maan treated her well, there was a certain aloofness in his behaviour which was not there in the past two months. It was as if he was holding himself back for some reason. He no longer joked with her. His conversations were reduced to the bare essentials. He was also coming home very late from work and when questioned he did not give her a satisfactory answer. All he said was that work load has increased, not that she suspected him. He did look worn out by the end of the day. She tried to reassure him that if there was anything troubling him he can confide in her but he brushed it away saying that everything was alright. Not knowing what else to do or how to help him, she fervently prayed to God to grant him peace and happiness. She hoped that her husband will soon accept her love and reciprocate it.
That evening Maan came home earlier than usual. Geet was ready in a simple salwar kameez, waiting for him. Maan had a box of sweets to be gifted to Anwesha. Geet handed him a cover. Looking at his puzzled expression, she explained that she had bought a silk saree for Anwesha the previous day and asked him to gift it to Anwesha along with the sweets. Maan's face clouded with anger.
"Will you never learn to value money? What was the need for such extravagant purchases? How will you run the house this month?"
Geet's eyes started filling up. "I bought this with the money I managed to save in the last two months. I did not touch the budget for this month," she said with trembling lips.
wanted to drag her into his arms and wipe away her tears. He had no intention
of yelling at her like that and would not have minded her spending for his
sister from even this month's budget. He had been harsh with her for a
reason. He was trying to distance himself from her and this gift she bought
came as an excuse to do so. By acting unreasonable he hoped that she will
have a poor opinion of him. He hoped that she will have second thoughts
about him and gradually start disliking him, but it was harder than he thought.
He could not bear to see the pain in her eyes. He quickly turned his face away,
lest she sees his eyes mirroring her pain. Without another word he proceeded to
his bike and Geet silently followed him after locking up the house. On
the way both of them did not utter a word, each lost in his/her own world.
Once they reached the Handa House, they were enthusiastically greeted by a six months pregnant Anwesha and Rano. Arjun had not yet returned from work. Maan was happy to see a radiant and glowing Anwesha. Although he had been regularly calling her up and was being reassured by her that she was doing fine, he was relieved to see her in person and confirm for himself that she was indeed telling him the truth. Anwesha then tied the rakhi around his wrist, applied the tilak on his forehead and fed him the sweet. Maan hugged her and kissed her forehead. He then handed her the gifts he and Geet had bought for her. She was elated to see the saree and complimented her bhabhi on the excellent choice. She quickly went in to change so that her brother can see her in it.
In the meantime Rano assured him that Anwesha was like her daughter and she will ensure that she was well looked after. Maan held her hand and thanked her with tears in his eyes. Rano also expressed her gratitude to him for taking such good care of her daughter as she has never seen Geet so happy in a long, long time. Maan looked away guiltily. He knew that Geet had expressly put on a cheerful face for her family. He wished he could wipe out the pain he had caused her earlier that evening but realised he may end up compounding her pain by doing so, for he wasn't sure he can give her what she really wants - his love.
Arjun came into the house just as Anwesha came out of her room in the saree Geet had bought. It was a beautiful off-white silk saree with maroon pochampalli border. Seeing her in the saree, Arjun whistled loudly and said she looked divine in it. Anwesha excitedly told him that her Geet bhabhi had bought it for her. Arjun looked around for Geet and spotting her, went up and hugged her. Geet hugged him back and tied him the rakhi. She was about to apply the tilak when Arjun stopped her saying he did not believe in all these stupid rituals. He turned around to Maan and slapped his back a little too hard, grinning sardonically.
"So how's life, saala?" he asked.
Before Maan could answer, he turned on his heels and went up to his room. Maan gritted his teeth at the insult. Rano looked flustered and rushed to him, asking him to come for dinner. Geet and Anwesha who were also equally uncomfortable, took the cue and quickly went about serving the food. During dinner, Anwesha caught up with all the events in the chawl. She felt disappointed that she could not attend the Independence Day celebrations because she was feeling uneasy that day and Rano wouldn't take a chance after the scare she gave them three months back. So although both Rano and Anwesha were invited to attend the programme they could not come.
Turning to Geet, Anwesha congratulated her on the excellent singing. On seeing Geet's questioning look, she explained that Sameera had told her how beautifully she had sung that day. While Geet blushed and thanked her for the compliment she couldn't help but notice Maan squirm in his seat at the mention of the song. This only strengthened her doubt that whatever was troubling Maan was related to her song. Just what it was, she could not figure out.
After dinner, Maan and Geet thanked Rano and bid Anwesha good bye. As Arjun had not come down for the rest of the evening, they could not inform him that they were leaving. Anwesha tried to find an excuse for his rude behaviour by saying that he was complaining of headache since morning, so maybe he was tired and was resting. Although Maan knew the truth, he did not say anything. Both Geet and Maan then left for their chawl house.
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Joined: 14 October 2006
The uneasiness between Maan and Geet continued in the following days. Geet tried her level best to break the wall Maan seemed to have erected around himself but was unable to do so. Soon it was Janmashtami. Manju came early in the morning with a tiffin carrier full of 'cheedai''muruku' which are the traditional savoury items made by Tamilians on Krishna Jayanthi or Gokulashtami as they call Janmashtami in south India. Geet and Maan then left for the Handa House for the pooja Rano had invited them over for. As Lord Krishna is their resident deity, the Handas always held a grand pooja every year to celebrate his birth. Initially Maan had hesitated to go but then he went with Geet although he did not know why. Was he not trying to distance himself from her? Was he not allergic to poojas, despite his firm belief in God? Then why was he obliging her by attending this pooja? Maybe in the heart of hearts he really did not want to lose her or maybe he did not want to unnecessarily raise eyebrows if Geet attends the pooja alone, that too in less than a year of marriage. Most of all, he did not want to hurt Rano, whom he respected a lot. So he half-heartedly took part in the pooja and joined his hands with Geet's in holding the jhoola string of baby Krishna's cradle and gently rocking it. Geet kept looking at him but he avoided her eyes lest he betray his emotions. Anwesha and Arjun too repeated the ritual. While Anwesha looked excited, Arjun looked totally disinterested.
Rano blessed both the couples after this and turning to Maan and Geet she said,"I hope that next year by this time you will be rocking the cradle of your own child." Both Geet and Maan blushed at this, one in shyness and the other in embarrassment.
Dahi Handi which is celebrated a day after Janmashtami, is a day the chawl lads eagerly looked forward to every year. A pot decorated with flowers and currency notes and containing dahi poha - a mixture of beaten rice (poha), curd, sugar and pickle is hung at a height and human pyramids are formed to reach and break it. Every year Maan and his friends take part in it and win the prize money. This year too his friends wanted him to participate especially since the stakes were high, not only in terms of the height at which the dahi handi hung but also in terms of the prize money. The local Gujarati Trust had donated Rs.10 lakhs towards the handi which was hung at a height of 35 feet.
Just as Maan got ready to go, it started raining very heavily. Geet feared that he may hurt himself and begged and pleaded with him not to take the risk. Maan, however, insisted in going, saying that he needed the money for Pinky's marriage. Realising that he wasn't going to give up, Geet decided to seek the help of the one person who had never failed her, her resident deity, Lord Krishna. Soon Maan's friends formed a human pyramid of five tiers in the pouring rain. As Maan got ready to climb the pyramid, Geet stood next to it with her hands folded in prayer and her eyes tightly shut. Maan deftly climbed up the pyramid and before he straightened up he looked down at his wife. Even at that height he noticed her hands shivering and her mouth muttering the name 'Govinda' over and over again.
Just as he straightened up, the pyramid started rocking as the men below were finding it difficult to hold on in the heavy downpour. Geet's heart lurched at the sight and screaming out her husband's name, she fainted. People around her were engrossed in watching the pyramid that nobody noticed her. Luckily the pyramid regained control and Maan who had been precariously balanced at the top, strengthened his foothold and, with his head he butted the handi with all the force he could muster. The mud handi shattered into pieces, spilling its contents on him and the people below. A large blob of dahi fell on Geet's unconscious face.
It is only then that Maan noticed Geet's motionless form. Alarmed to see his wife in that state, Maan hurriedly got off the pyramid, nearly twisting his ankle in his haste. He rushed to her side and holding her in his lap, he patted her cheeks, willing her to wake up. By now his friends had gathered around them. After a few minutes of repeated tapping and his frantic cry, Geet opened her eyes and looked at her husband's face. The relief and happiness it evoked in her was indescribable and she gave him a weak smile. Manju rushed in with a glass of water which he gave her to drink. He then carried her to their house and laid her on the bed. Manju who followed them asked him to remove her wet clothes and change her into something dry. Maan froze at that and Geet looked away shyly. Manju who was about to leave was getting irritated with his inaction.
"What's wrong with you Maan? Change her clothes before she falls sick."
Seeing that he had still not moved, Manju hit her forehead.
"Don't tell me you are shy. After all she is your wife and you have seen her in her birth suit before, haven't you?"
Maan still kept standing mutely with his head bent down.
Geet tried to get up saying that she will take care herself. Pushing her back on the bed, Manju said, "Okay, I'll change her myself. I thought it would be better if you did it since not all women feel comfortable displaying themselves to strangers even if they are women like themselves."
She got a set of dry clothes and proceeded to change Geet's clothes, holding a towel to her so that she needn't feel embarrassed to be changed by her. She continued, "I can't understand these men. When you need their help to change, they will not step up. Otherwise they are only too keen to do the deed."
Maan had his back to them, all the while. Manju noticed it once she finished and turned around.
"Aiyo Rama...", she hit her head again and left them alone.
After she left, Maan knelt by the bedside and taking Geet's hand in his, he apologised for not paying heed to her wish and causing her to panic. Just then, Maan's friends knocked at the door saying that the prize money was being given away and they wanted him to join them in receiving it. Geet nodded her head indicating she was alright and asked Maan to go along with them. After he left, she closed her eyes and silently thanked her God for keeping her beloved husband alive and safe.
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Joined: 14 October 2006
Joined: 14 October 2006
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Joined: 14 October 2006
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