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Ch5: Battle & War
Nakkusha whipped the batter for malpowa in the vessel making it smooth. Kalawati dipped a finger and tasted it. She nodded her approval and lovingly touched Nkkusha's head,"Achcha hai! Sunn debbu ke liye kal ka paatwadi rakhi hai. Usse bahut pasand hai na? tu zara oven mein garam karke lejana. Bulaya tha kal usse par badmash ko khelne se fursat hi nahi."
Nakkusha nodded and lit the oven to heat the oil. She had had misgivings about coming to kaladidi today. It still hurt a little that didi had not thought her suitable for her brother. But then she remembered her Naani's words. 'Paraye ke liye aapno ko chot mat pahucha,Nakku.' And Kaladidi was more hers than anyone else. Nakkusha had been in awe of the tall stately looking woman whom her new neighbor Kishore dada had married. Yes, she used to call kishore Dada, but when she had seen kalawati she had started calling her didi and refused to call her anything else even when her mother had tried to coax her. She still remembered how beautiful kaladidi had looked in her wedding saree, like a sparkling golden maiden. No one had paid much attention that nakkusha was longingly looking at the bouquets kept in the room where bride was to freshen up. Didi had called her over and asked her name. Nakkusha had felt tongue-tied thinking they will probably laugh if she blurted out that Didi looked and smelled like those flowers. Didi had picked out a huge bouquet, almost as large as nakku herself and given it to her. Nakkusha had slept with that bouquet beside her bed that night. She felt that if she tried to stay away from didi after all these years because of what she had heard that day, then she would be cheapening the love didi had given her and her siblings all these years after Maa died.
Kalawati-dekh nakku, final exams paas hai..bas ab tu debbu ko jayada khelne mat diya kar. Do din tu nahi thi bas dono bhai-bahen ko to jaise chot mill gai ho. Yahan main bhi zara busy thi Dutta ke wajah se warna dono bahut daat khatey mujhse. Kya hua? Kya soch rahi hai?
Nakkusha realized she had been quiet for too long. She tested the heat and spooned some into the oil. She smiled and said,"Didi, ek baat batao. Ek taraf aap kahte ho ki debbu-sonu mere bina kuch nahi kar saktey..dusri oor aap chahte ho main aapne bare mein sochu..apne bhavishya ke liye?aap bolo ye dono kaise ho sakta hai? Kissi ek taraf to compromise karma parega..aur main jaanti hoon aap nahi chahengi ki wo debu aur sonal ho,hai na?"
Kalawati came close to her ? nakku, beta main jaanti hoon tu kya keh rahi hai. Par maine dekha hai ki bachpan se apni ichcha ko aapne pariwaar ke liye marte marte tune aapne liye ichchaye paalna hi chod diya hai..meri ankho ke samne tera bachpan chala gaya..agar ab teri jawani bhi yun hi chali gai to main nahi bardasht kar paungi...main?.
Kalwati was stopped from saying anything further by jamima's entry with an empty glass of juice. Jamima-allah baksh de!
Jamima and Abdul Maqsood were married couples from a village in uttar Pradesh. They had worked at Deshmukh household forever..actually it was just around 12 years but for nakkusha it felt forever. And because of being so old trusted servants they sometimes behaved more like masters rather than servants. Threats to leave the employ were issued every week but never acted upon. Nakkusha grinned when she saw the scowl on the vinegar tongued woman's face.
Kalawati rolled her eyes- ab kya hua? Jamima- bibisaheb bol deti hoon. Aisa nahi chalega...arey koi baat hai bhala ab wo ek ghanta baad juice piyenge to juice garam hi millega na..baraf to gal hi jayega..apne daud se deeri se aaye wo ..do baate sunne hum...
Kalawati- chod na, jamima..kuch dinno ke liye aaya hai..umar mein tere bete jaisa hai..Jamima muttered near nakkusha- huhh, mera usmaan itna sirfira hota to pichwara suth deti uska balle se..bigade laatsaheb..
Nakkusha had heard a part of the mutterings and couldn't help laughing out loud. Kalawati frowned- nakku?jamima bas bhi karo. Naashta kiya usne?
Jamima-haan kiya..chai mangai hai..aap banao..aaj aapki baari hai..
Kalwati looked like she had been asked to hold a live lizard-aa..wo..jamima..wo..dekho mujhe tumahare saab ka dabba banana hai..tum?.
Jamima- naa..aap apne laadsaheb ke liye chai banao..main mere babu ke liye dabba baandhti hoon.
Kalawati-jamima, tu bahut sir chard rahi hai..main?
Nakkusha- baap re baap, ek chai banane ke liye itna tarkh?achcha?main bana deti hoon. Teek hai..jamima zara malpoye par nazar rakh.
Jamima-nakkubibi, tu banayegi? Nakkusha- haan kyu? Kalwati and jamima shared a amused look- theek hai,banale.
Half an hour later when jamima returned with the forth cup nakku felt like grabbing jiju's old antique rifle and marching upstairs. Till today nakkusha had always believed that she was the least violent person on earth. Infact, she could have challenged that Gandhiji would want to adopt her for her meek and nonaggressive nature.
"Ab ke, kya kaha us sardu ne ? ab kya jayada daal diya maine?" nakkusha asked looking at the tea intently as if the cup itself would answer her. Jamima-malai thi..
Nakkusha banged the vessel on the gas to start brewing.
Nakkusha handed her the cup and said threateningly- Sunn,jamima iss baar ya to chai usse pilla ke wapas aana ya uske sir par urail kar warna soch lena main kuch kar dungi..samjhi?
Jamima was taken aback at the wild eyed look of anger in nakkusha's face. She had never seen this side of nakkubibi. She looked angry enough to carry out her threat. Jamima scurried away praying for deliverance.
Nakkusha didn't know whether that fifth cup was drunk by the man or was he dunk in it. Only thing she cared about was that it had not come back to her.
Two days after what nakkusha had christened as Chai fiasco in her head, nakkusha got another reason to adhere to her opinion that Tilluji was a numero uno sardu. She had not seen the man till now as he didn't like people barging in his room and he was always holed up in that room. It was fine by nakkusha as she still felt snubbed by his rejection of her tea four times. "Mere malpoye aur baarfi to yun khatam kar di thi. Jiju ko bhi nahi milli. Bhukad manhoos kahin ka!" Kalawati had asked nakkusha to change the bedsheet in his room as he was not at home then. Nakkusha was reluctant to go up but then she thought,"kyu nahi! Ravan to lanka mein hai nahi!"
The first thing she noticed when she entered the room was the not lived in feel in it. She frowned. There was nothing except his laptop and a bag in a corner that attested to the fact that he was even living there. She took another step inside and realized that there was something else that proved his presence- a citrusy smell that had never been in the room before. The smell was so new yet curiously familiar that nakku unknowingly breathed it in deeply. She opened her eyes smiling a little when her eyes fell on the top of the chest, her smile vanished. Her Kanhaji was missing and in His place was a packet of cigarette and lighter. She rushed and picked it up. And just like that without giving any further thought to what she was doing she opened the top drawer of the chest. A curved flask was pushed inside. With hands trembling with anger and resentment she picked it up. The strong pungent odor drove away the memory of the pleasant smell she had revealed in minutes ago.
Without giving it further thought she collected the items on the dust pan and they were carefully sent away to their rightful place ? the garbage can.
Okay! So this was new and would have been intriguing too, if it had not frustrated the hell out of him. It had been 5 days since it had started. The first day he had felt ashamed and worried that maybe Kalatai had found it. He knew that tai was aware of his smoking but he had been careful at keeping away his whiskey decanter. Not that he needed it. In fact he didn't care much for alcohol but that whiskey decanter had been a gift from the Dublin doctors' conference where his paper had won. That baby was exquisite work of art and damn expensive to boot. But considering that kalawati tai would have been wounded if she knew that he had brought alcohol in her home he had kept quiet. He was sure that the servants won't have taken it. No, they were very loyal and honest people and he couldn't blame them. It would be an insult. He had looked every where but couldn't find the thing. He carried it around because it held a memory of victory both of the success at the conference and victory of vicious kind and that victory was far more satisfying to him.
But it was gone now. Not only that, for past 5 days his packs of cigarettes and lighter kept disappearing. He would buy a fresh pack and next day it would just vanish. He had tried different tracks and tact to find out who had been coming in his room in his absence but tai would always look curiously at him and say, "tere kaamre mein kaun aayega Dutta, main bhi nahi jaati wahan bas jamima safai karti hai ya abdul. Kyu?kya hua?"
Dutta- aa..kuch nahi tai. Bas aise hi.
He was now royally angry, seething actually. The packs he could forgive but he wanted his decanter back. The thief would be caught and devils save him from Dutta Patil's wrath when he had him.
Nakkusha hopped up the steps of the stairs to the first floor room. She cautiously peeked in and sighed. The coast was clear. Khadoos was no where to be seen. She would just swoop in grab the pack and leave like always. It was amazing that even after his staying in the room night and day, he left no mark of his presence except those few things and out of those signatures she didn't like this one at all. He would leave soon but her Kanha ji will come back in this room and stay there. She had decided that and told kaladidi.
Kaladidi had said do whatever you want to do in that room. 'Tere Kanha ko wahi rakhna hai to wahi rakhna par abhi Dutta yeh sab nahi manta to thode dinno ke liye kanha ki murat ghar ke mandir mein rahne de, theek hai?' Nakkusha had made a face but had agreed. She might not like it but she would not allow her Kanha's place being tainted by such filth either.
Nakkusha looked at the pack with a frown. Didn't the man get tired of buying it everyday? She reached out to pick it up when her hand was grabbed by a rough callused hand. It was large and fair yet very hard. She was twisted around on her feet making her loose her balance she crashed sideways to the chest. The edge of the chest rammed in the soft spot under her ribs making her gasp in pain. Her eyes stung with tears and she blinked at them to focus on the man breathing down fire on her face.
Thick hair dark as night fell in an unruly manner over his forehead. They were not long enough to fall on his eyes but they reached mid forehead and looked like he had been running his hands through them. His eyes had narrowed to thin slits making her shiver at their heat?so like the eyes in her dream, she thought. He had aquiline nose which flared at his intake of breath and wide lips twisted in distaste. There was a groW*H of beard which had passed beyond the stage of five o'clock shadow which she had seen her favorite movie star Hritik favoured sometimes. Yet the thick groW*H couldn't camouflage the dip of dimple on his chin. He was tall, very tall to her small insignificant self. She had to strain her neck to meet his fuming gaze. She tried to free her wrist but he tightened his hold on her hand a fraction just enough to let her know that he was capable of breaking her fragile bones in a snap.
He tilted his neck to his side; his face expressed distaste as if he smelled a dead rat. He pushed her slightly making her bump into the chest again hurting her. Her eyes stung with fresh tears.
"Tu hai jo mera samaan chori kar rahi hai? Itni himmat?" he growled softly making the tiny hair on her nape stand up.
"Main chor nahi hoon. Aap mera karma gandha kar rahe hai..main safai.."she swallowed a scream as he tightened his hold and came closer making her cower backwards again. She continued despite the pain, grimacing slightly twisting her wrist to free it, "main mere kamare ki safai kar rahi thi."
His eyes narrowed further,"Tera kamara?" Nakkusha looked up to meet his eyes, hers glistening with fire and resentment,"haan mera kamara?ye kamara mera hai,..aur yeh jagah mere Kanha ki..aap yahan yeh sab nahi rakh sakte..isse apavitra nahi kar sakte..aur mera haath chodo.."
He ignored that last part,"tu hai kaun jo yeh tera kamara ho gaya..aur teri itni himmat kaise hui meri cheezo ko haath lagane ki? Bol drawer se wo bottle tune nikali?kahan hai? Bol kahan beechi?"
She gasped at the pain,"Didi ne mujhe ye kamra diya hai?.aur ye mera hai..aapki bottle maine pheek di..kabadi bhi do paise nahi deta uske..mera haath chodo."
His face turned pale and then blood rushed on his face making it turn red. He looked like a fallen angel with bad temper and his voice went chillingly soft, "Pheek di..meri 50 hazar ki bottle phek di? Teri to main.." he moved a little closer and Nakkusha panicked at his fury.
What happened next was not expected on either of their parts? Dutta had never thought that he could ever be taken down by a slip of a girl who looked like a good wind will blow her away and Nakkusha had never believed she could ever go that low. It was so against everything she was, everything she was taught by her parents.
She gripped the packet tightly in her free arm and curved her leg and kicked his shin hard with all her might.
He was probably more shocked than hurt as his eyes went huge in surprise and then his face twisted in pain. The hold on her arm went lax for a split second which was enough for Nakkusha. She pushed him off with all her might and both hands and ran out of the room before he could grab her again.
She didn't even stop to look back or answer kalawati who was fanatically calling out to her. Budhuram loudly flapped around in his cage screaming out. Nakku ran past the cage her dupatta getting caught on the door of the cage as she ran past without caring to free it, it made the cage twirl around in momentum wrapping itself in the sheer material that was flying in breeze.
Budhuram fluttered around in confusion as his world and home was suddenly covered in the pinkish hued light filtering through the sheer material. The gardener and chowkidar who were gossiping at the gate were shocked to silence as nakkubibi flew past them like a ghost was behind her, minus her dupatta. She entered her home and banged the door shut. Once she felt safe behind the doors, she opened her shaky hands and looked with triumph at the squashed pack of cigarettes in them a victorious smile tugging at her trembling lips.
Dutta had tried to catch hold of her hand again but had touched air. He was so shocked at her reaction that he tripped a little while he tried to chase her. As he saw her fleeing away down the stairs he had wondered who was she. And then he had had his answer when kalatai had started calling out to her,"nakku..aye nakku ..ruk arey kya hua..kahan bhagi jaa rahi hai?nakku?" then he was surprised when the house was brought alive with fanatic calling of the stupid bird that was hung at the corridor. He had thought it was mute but the thing was making enough noise to wake the dead. He stood at the top of the stairs for a second and suddenly went back into the room to stand near trhe window that overlooked the road. He saw her running across the road without caring of the vehicles passing by and entering the small unfinished house across the road.
He turned around to see that his pack was missing again. Damnation! Even in all this confusion the minx had not missed her chance to whack his smoke. He felt foolish being brought to heel by that slip of a girl.
As he smoldered in furry at being thwarted, he recalled the look of panic on her face. He had stepped out through the doors which lead to the adjoint terrace, when the sound of tinkling from the room had alerted him. He had looked in to find a small girl stealthily making him suspicious. When she had reached for the packet his suspicion was proved right and he had swooped in to catch her red handed.
He had been so blinded by anger that he had not seen past the red haze. Then he had noticed the defiant tilt of her chin and answering resentment in the impossibly large eyes swimming with water. Her eyes seemed to fill her face. Wispy brunette curls fell on her dusky face. Her forehead was creased in pain and frown. She had a blunt nose that flared with her deep gasping breaths. And full dark lips that were too dark in color and too wide and full for her small face. All the time he had fired questions at her and seethed with anger at her defiant answers he had kept making note of her every damn feature and it kept enraging him even more. By all standards she was not a beauty. He scoffed beauty she was damn plain with those shallow features and pox marks on her cheek and brow she was insignificant. But she breathed fire like a dragon. How dare she had had actually thrown away his decanter. And had guts to say that to his face and then?a helpless smile tugged at his lips ..and then she had given him a shiner. Well the little spitfire had put her whole might in the kick to do maximum damage but unfortunately she lacked the proper knowledge of the technique and he was too large in front of her. Yeah, he was too large. She must have felt like a pesky fly in front of him. Then slowly the smile vanished as he saw the girl come out and climb the stairs to her un guarded terrace. She stood there in front of him with her hands behind her. Her large eyes sparkling in the sun. her house was at lower height then his and she stood at the extreme edge like a daredevil. She broke into a smile and slowly brought out her hands.
He stood immobile for a second before all the pent up anger came roaring back. The little mousy pest was taunting him by breaking all his cigarettes one by one in front of his eyes. 'Ohkay, Miss.Nakku', he thought.,'This is war. And Dr. Dutta Patil always wins.'
....To be continued.
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First meeting of naku-kala tai is so sweet.. here is this lil girl who almost blends into the surroundings as there is nothing striking about her who is in awe of this beautiful new bride..and she is shocked that kala tai actually notices her among all those people..that must have been a first for her! And she also gives her a huge bouquet and I can just picture her asleep with her hand still holding it..and the sensible naku knows kala's importance in her life and is able to put behind her how she was rejected by Kala tai herself..well, nani's words of wisdom were not wasted. BTW, what is paatwadi? What is it made of?!
See, I face the same problem as Naku here..as I am so talkative and effervescent at all times, people notice immediately when I am unusually quiet..same happened to her too na..she talks so much with kala tai and suddenly chup ho jati hain..and then she asks a very valid question..how should she split her life and is that feasible to do that?! She cannot think of her own life when she is still expected to look after her siblings like a mother..kids need a mother 24x7 and in this case naku is needed with them at all times..but kala has seen how naku's childhood was whisked away from her in a second after her mum's death and worries she will again be lost in raising her siblings and will be too late when she pauses to think of her own life..
Hmmm.. first impressions of Dutta seem like he is a fusspot! Fussing for everything to be perfect and as he likes it!juice mein baraf melt ho gaya.. I totally understand how servants who have been with a family for so long start treating it as their own home and drop threats too..but it all adds to the charm of the household..and he made nakku make 5 cups of tea.. I am sure he had the 5th cup as jamima would dare not dunk it on him LOL.. even kala tai is scared to make tea for him LOL.. waise, Naku being a great cook, she must be totally irked ki someone can find so many faults with her tea, but managed to polish off all her sweets! I don't drink tea/coffee but I know how most people have certain preferences on how their tea should taste..thank god mera Dutta jaise kisi se paala nahin pda abh tak!!
I loved the way you described naku's first thoughts on entering the room.gives us readers a great view on how he has been living there! Nothing to show other than laptop/bag.. but that citrusy smell mentioned was great.. almost like she can feel him even when he is not there..But, as expected she is livid that kanhaji ke badle ciggies and whisky mili! Her is terribly upset on losing that decanter.. but what was that victory of another vicious kind?! Professional victory kya? And she confiscates his cig pack every day!! Gosh, she has guts! But dutta ko dekho, he is in such a fix.. he cant complain to anyone as that would be owing upto bringing whisky and ciggies into kala tai's house..so he has tried asking indirectly and failed.. bechara no choice left now! Again you can see he is not a snob as he does not even think any of the servants can be guilty..naku still complains to kala did though.. aur kyun nahi.. she considers this to be her own room na ;-)
Whoa..what a first meeting..i am still reeling in shock, amusement and finally laughter after reading that part! Brought back memories of her other meeting with dutta years ago.. tabh bhi haath maroda tha.. but this time more painfully..well, ek din inhi haathon ko chumega ;-) but he even hurts her by pushing her against the dresser.. agreed he is angry, and so is getting violent, but I don't think he catered for the fact she is so tiny! It must have been only after he pushed her he realised this na..love the way he titlts his head.. this is one aspect of MR I love when he is angry in the show! Thanks for using that here..i LOVED it..it is amazing how she still speaks her mind esp saying this was her room.. heheheprobably irking him even more! Serves him right though..and oh god, finally he knows he will never see that decanter again!and he forgets everything in his rage.. and seeing that rage, Naku acts on pure instinct.. to protect herself..and he to get back at her for throwing away his prized possession.. I am not sure he would have gone that far, but the look on his face and his grip on her was enuf to convince Naku to break free.. all her philosophies in life, what her parents taught her etc went out of the window as it was a case of survival for her and she kicks him out of desperation and fear and manages to free herself in that one second when he loosens his grip out of shock more than pain.. but got to give it to her that rather than running for her life, she still manages to get that cigarette pack.. gosh..absolutely loved the description of her running for her life.. could totally picture budhuram going round and round in his now duppata covered cage.. the mali stopping to look super shocked.. kala's voice in the background..but naku running without even caring for anything else!
I loved reading Dutta's thoughts on how he caught her, him observing all her features and her spirit in spite of the situation they were in and being angry at himself for doing so.. why does he have a problem with beauty? He scoffed beauty..what does this mean? That he scoffed beautiful faces or just scoffing that anyone would even find her beautiful? Maybe the woring here has me confused?!!
Oh my and she breaks every cigarette! And he sees her victorious sparkling eyes! And now it is all out open war..
Amazing episode..it is gonna be a treat to watch these guys fall in love..both trying to deny it and fighting it all the way thru na?!!
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