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Ch16: Happy Everafters
Dutta placed the suitcase in the freshly cleaned room and turned towards the two women who were still chatting about a hundred topics he knew nothing off. He tried to push in his say edgewise in between the hot topic of their Kolhapur's uncle's third son's second baby's health reports,"Tai, TAI! Atta zaala ka tumcha?(are you done?)"
Leelawati looked at her brother with a frown,"Kai Dutta? Hamesha tujhe hi center of attraction banna hai kya?" Dutta looked insulted- Oye! Main sirf itna bol raha tha ki aapka saman rakh diya hai…ab mujh coolie ko izzazat do..dusre kaam bhi hai mujhe! Leela looked at kalawati sideways and raised her eyes-Hmm, dusre kaam? Par tu to yahan bekaar baitha hai,aisa kya kaam hai? Dutta knew that if he said that he wanted to go next door and loiter around nakku as she went about her daily work, he would become entertainment topic of the day for them. He said brusquely, "Wo….mujhe…haan…Sonu ko Trignometry samjhana hai." Kalawati swallowed her amusement and looked seriously at him,"To tu abhi sonu ke school jaa raha hai?" Dutta frowned,"school?" Kalawati nodded,"haan! Abhi to wo school mein hogi na? to tujhe wahan jaake uski class mein trigonometry padhani hogi, hai na?" Dutta saw the amusement dancing in their eyes and hardened his jaws,"Ab pata hai to puch kyun rahe ho? Baccchey ki jaan logey kya?" He turned to leave and stopped to face them again. He gave is most pleasant heart wrenching smile that he had used since the day he was born to make the women of his family do things his way,"Tai..Leela tai…Maazi chaan tai." He hugged Leelatai surprising Kalawati. Laalatai pushed him away and cupped his face,"Maaza chaan baar! Maaza chimana tillu.!Kai ga? Ka pahije tula? Itna makkan kyun laga raha hai? kya kaam hai bol?" Dutta grinned- how smart you are, tai? I have always believed that in wits I definitely take after you. She looked at him with raised eyebrow. He continued giving her a serious stare,"Tai, shaam ko aap jab Nakku ke babuji se millengi…uski aur meri..matlab humari shaadi pakki karne…please, can u try to fix a date close by..I mean a near date say….next month or something?" Leelawati licked her lips,"Dutta, I am just going to go and see the girl you selected. Talk to her father about some matters regarding the wedding..Par sahi mahurat humare haath mein nahi hai, beta. Wo to dono ki kundali aur panjika dekh kar fix hogi..jo sahi waqt hoga wahi."
Dutta- kya bakwaas hai? shaadi mujhe karni hai…matlab humko karni hai. To date humare hisaab se fix hone chahiye..I mean, I should be able to clear my diary for the day and all such. Har baat mein aap log ye bhagawaan etc etc kyun khich laatey ho? Do you even know the logic behind all this kundali and panji-stuff?
Leelawati gave him her best glare and pointed a finger at the door. Dutta glared back and walked out in angry strides towards Shukla house.
Ten minutes later, he was hugging her from behind as she tried to prevent the chapattis from burning like yesterday. She flipped it in time before it turned coal black as dutta continued his frustrated tirade about people being unreasonable and superstitious punctuating each sentence with a kiss under her ears. She tried to shake him off a little but he paid least attention to her weak attempts of escaping him and continued, "You know, ye sab kundali etc etc…ye sab humare old fat priests ke dhakosle hai(kiss). I mean, kissi bhi dharam ko lelo..at some point or the other har religion mein…( kiss) In pujariyon ne logon ko superstition aur omen aur paap-puniya ke zor pe bewakoof banaya hai (kiss) Christianity…check (kiss) Islam…Check..(kiss ) Jews..check..(Kiss)..Ohh..and Hinduism…damn double check…(Kiss kiss). You know the real logic behind this whole panjika and shubh muhurat stuff?" He was about to place a kiss on a tender spot on her neck when she placed a hand on his lips and pushed him a little exasperated ,"Dutta….please. mujhe rotiyan bana lene do..warna phir kal jaise jal jayengi..aur iske baad mujhe bahut kaam hai…raat ka dinner bhi banana hai..Aapki tai aur sab khane par aa rahe hai..aur kuch nahi baana hai. " dutta realeased her and took a step back,"Ok…fine you do your thing. Main yahan chupchap baitha hua hoon,ok?" he hopped on the kitchen sill beside her and picked a carrot and munched it looking at her as she finished making the chapattis without paying him least attention.
After a few minutes, the carrot was gone and she was still not looking at him and chopping the vegetables for diner. He cleared his throat. She looked at him and he gave her a grin.
She pointedly ignored him and went back to her chopping, "Leela tai ko pineapple raita passand hai..ya main wo kakri walla banau..wo jo aap log..wo..hmm..haan…koshimbir boltey ho?"
Dutta waved a vague hand,"wo mujhe nahi pata…but mujhe ye pata hai ki probably ye whole circus of mahurat aur kundali kaise start hua hoga." Nakkusha groaned,"arggh..accha please mujhe aapka logic bataiye aur meri jaan chodiye."
Dutta jumped down and came behind her hugging her again and started his tirade. She smiled inside as he tightened his hold on her waist and she leaned into his solid strength. Heaven, she thought.
Dutta- ok! See wedding, pooja paat aur ye festival and stuff. Ye sab actually social gathering ka bahana hai, right? She nodded. Dutta- toh someone has to make sure ki us din village ya phir jo town ya city hai wahan ke log free ho..you know to actually gather there. Ab soch agar mandir mein jamnashtami ki pooja hai..aur log sab aapne kaam mein, job mein busy hai to mandir kaun aayega..daan kaun dega..ladies log puja ka saman aur prasad etc kaise ready karengi if they have to make their husband's lunch and dinner right? So the priest would go and probably consult the king and tell him that these puja paat will help his kingdom and he and everyone must seek blessing blah blah..So bechaara politics ka maara raja pandit ki sunke..rajya mein chutti declare kar deta tha..log bhi kaam kaaj chod ke chale jaatey the mandir..you know..to gossip and stuff..why not? So pandit log would fix the date basically according themselves and call it moharat or something..dekh, the logic applies to weddings as well…hai na..moharat bolke us din date fix kardo jiss din you can go and do the marriage according to Pandit ka aapna appointment book, you know..iske ghar ka shradh, uske ghar ka wahi,baachon ko bless karne walla pooja etc etc..so ek din time ho to wedding daal lo..aur bol do..Shubh mohurat hai..See simple, hai na?
Nakkusha swallowed her laughter," wah! Aap to bahut hoshiyaar hai!" She felt him shrug and continued," kanha ji ka shukar hai..ki aap jaisa namuna ek hi hai." Dutta- tu mera majaak uda rahi hai. Teri didi ne tujhe sikhaya nahi aapne pati parmeshwar ki respect karni chahiye. Nakkusha made a face at him," Badey aaye…pati parmeshwar banana…ye muh aur masoor ki dal." He tightened his hold on her and said,"Nakku, seriously. Is Friday ko main leelatai ke sath wapas chala jaunga. Phir seedhe shaadi ke waqt. So jitney din baad shaadi hogi utne din hum alag rahenge. Reh payegi? "
Nakkusha felt the prick of tears behind her eyes and looked up at his face. She could see the restlessness in them and the tenderness for her. She shook her head as he pulled her in his arms tucking her head under his chin. She tightened her hold on his waist mindful of the knife which she still had in her hands,"par humein rehna hoga. main aapse kuch maangu dogey?" He nodded as he looked at her sad face. She fidgeted with the button on his collared tee-shirt,"Hum humari shaadi ki tareekh kuch chay mahine baad rakhey?" dutta's face darkened with anger,"Kya? Kya bakwaas kar rahi hai? Of course not." She looked at him pleadingly,"meri baat to suniye. Agaley mahine sonu ki board exams hai. phir uskey baad debu ke. Phir do mahine mein dono ke result aa jayenge. Sonu ke 12th ke admission ke liye babuji ko akele daud bhag karni hogi. Aise mein agar shaadi ki tayyari rahi to kaise hoga? aur phir sonu bhi disturb hogi na exam ke waqt,hmm?" He looked at her, his face dark with an angry frown, as she thought over what she had said. She felt she had overstepped that mark. She was asking for too much after-all why should he worry about Sonu and debu and her father's tensions. In fact, it really was not that serious issue. Her own father had tututted her reasons to push back the wedding dates as rubbish.
"Ye puranpoli lijiye na, leelawati ji." Nishikant extended the casserole forward. Leelawati gave a stiff smile and picked a puran. Nishikant- Nakku ne Kalawati ji se aap logon ke sarey riti-riwaz seekhey hai. sab jaanti hai. waise ye sab ka bahut shauk hai. hai na? He looked uncertainly at kalawati. She jumped in to help him out,"haan tai. Meri Nakku hai na..bahut accha khana banati hai..silai bunai kadai sab bahut sundar kar leti hai."
Leelawati looked at the girl standing behind her father's chair with her bent head as she fidgeted with the cracked wooden curving of the chair. She glanced sideways at her brother who looked more somber than what she had seen in the morning. He had been stiff to nakku since they had arrived this evening. A tiff maybe, she thought.
Leelawati answered kala with her gaze fixed at nakkusha,"Kalawati, main yahan mere bhau ke ghar ki cook dhundne nahi aayi hoon..uski hooney wali patni ko dekhne aayi hoon." Nishikant stiffened in his seat so did kishore nad dutta. Dutta- Tai? Leelawati waved at him- Ek minute,Dutta. Nakkusha beta, yahan aao. Nakkusha approached her while looking nervously at Kalawati. Leelawati- Nakkusha, shaher mein agar logon ko accha khana khilla na ho to hum menu select karte hai aur caterer's ko order detey hai. Agar humein sweater chahiye, curtains chahiye to hum shops mein jaatey hai. Ghar saajane ke liye interior decorators se appointments lete hai. Dutta bhi aaj tak yahi karta hai. Aur ab tak iss se koi problem nahi hui. Mere liye yeh important nahi hai ki tum kitni acchi housekeeper ho. Mary bahut acchi housekeeper hai wahan Mumbai mein. Main tumse bas ye jaanna chahti hoon ki Dr. Dutta Patil ki patni hone ka matlab kya tum samajhti ho? Nakkusha looked in astute eyes of the old woman and knew she could see the panic that had settled in her eyes since the day this very realization had struck her. Leelawati watched the dilating of the brown eyes and knew her answer.
Dutta- tai, maine..actually humne faisla kiya hai ki hum log at least 5-6 months ke baad ka date fix karenge. Everyone looked at him surprised. Dutta looked at Nakkusha's startled face and continued,"Sonu ki next month exams hai and then results. Abhi shaadi aur uske ceremonies se usse disturbance nahi hona chahiye. Ek baar dono baccho ki exam ho jaye phir new term shuru ho jaye toh they will be able to participate in their didi's wedding, hai na, nakku?" Nakkusha bit her lips as she felt hot flush of pleasure and gratitude towards him. He turned back to leelawati,"Tai, phir nakkusha uske bhai-behen ke liye sab kuch hai. I think, unhe bhi kuch waqt chahiye hoga aapni didi ke bina jeena shikhne ke liye. I mean, nakkusha ab itne dur chali jayegi..even with phone-calls and everything she can't be a part of their lives anymore. Nakkusha ko bhi thoda waqt chahiye." Leelawati smiled at her brother and nodded, "Six months?" Dutta looked in nakkusha's eyes and moved his head sideways in acceptance, "Six months."
Dutta heard a slight knock at his door that night as he was about to go to bed. The door was pushed open and leelawati stepped in. She stood at the threshold of the room and looked around. Her gaze fell on the Lord's figurine on the chest and stopped there. "She has rock solid faith in her Kanhaji", Dutta answered as he noted tai's gaze on the object. Leelawati smiled,"So she ordered and you obeyed." Duttta scowled at her,"Tai?" Leelawati looked at him and walked towards the two chairs at the side of the room, taking a seat she pointed dutta to sit beside him. Dutta walked towards her and took the other chair looking intently towards her. Leelawati,"dutta tu ha kai kartoos? Tu kar kya raha hai? listen to me first, Ok?" she stopped him with a raised hand and continued,"I know you are in love with her. Main dekh sakti hoon kit u usse kitna pyar karta hai aur wo tujhse kitna pyar karti hai. jab aaj maine wo sawal pucha ki kya wo samjhati hai tere patni hone ka matlab tab maine uske aankhon mein jo nervousness aur sheer panic dekha, naa. Wo uskey liye nahi tha.wo is baat ka darr tha ki she might let you down. Mujhe ye bhi pata hai ki shayad subha tum dono ke beech is baat se garma garmi huyi ho ki wo shaadi se pahele kuch samay lena chahti hai aur tu jald se jald…" Dutta- aapko pata tha? Leelawati gave him a chiding smile- tum dono ko dekhte hi smajh gayi thi ki tune subha bechaari ko apna rudra roop dikhaya hai. phir jab tune six months baad ki date kaha tab samajh gai ki kya hua hoga. And I am proud of you for that and this. She pointed at the figurine. Leelawati- I still have my doubts about the prudence of this alliance though. Dutta- aapko nakku se kya problem hai. us mein kya kami hai? Leelawati shook her head-koi kami nahi hai. agar tujhe lagta hai shadi sirf kissi ke kamiyon ke wajah se tootti hai to galat soch ta hai. aur nahi shaadi mein sirf pyaar ka hona koi guarantee hai usse successful banana ke liye. Happy everafters unhi nahi banjatey, dutta. ab nakkusha miraculously wahan jaake to adjust nahi ho jayegi. Tu uski in sab ichcayon ko pura kar raha hai. par ek baar shaadi ho gayi tab sirf in sab cheezo mein nakku ko indulge karke tu usse help nahi kar sakta. There are going to be things nad challenges jo usse akele face karni hogi. Dutta- she is very intelligent,tai. Aap nahi jaantey. She is very bright and quick to land on her feet.
Leelawati- I know that. She is smart but she is also far too timid and unconfident. Dutta- tai, main uska saath dunga. I'll always support her and I'll be with her. We'll manage. Leelatai made a irritated sound,"You don't try to cross the English channel with a person tied to your back, Dutta. at some point you are bound to get tired of the burden aur tab dono dub jaogey. She has to swim on her own. Ussey apni jagah khud banana hogi. Sirf adjustment aur pyar se safal shaadi nahi banti. " She looked away and continued ina wobbly voice which became strong with each word,"tere jamaidada aur main bhi ek dusre se pyaar kartey the. Arranged marriage thi par phir bhi shaadi ke kuch hi mahino mein hum dono ko ek dusre se pyar ho gaya. But we were very different people. Tere jamaidada ne achanak apni job chod di. He wanted to become published author. Pahele pahele maine bahut saath diya..socha unka sapna mera sapna. He was not totally unpractical. Unhone itna arrangement kiya tha ki mujhe takleef na ho. But we were like poles apart. He wanted me to sit there and try and understand his writings and listen to his thoughts and I wanted to talk of our future, our babies. Mujhe unki philosophy aur poetry mein koi dilchaspi nahi thi…bahut baar koshish ki ki main bhi thoda interest dikhaun par…unhe bhi mere baton se koi lena dena nahi tha..i mean, doodhwalla kitna pani milla raha hai..isse unhe kya lena dena..par unhone bhi koshish ki..adjustments kiye..par phir jaise jaise waqt beeta wahi adjustments boj ban gaye..unki asafalta unhe kaatne lagi..aur mera disinterest unhe unki failure par ek taunt lagne laga…dheere dheere adjustments impossible ho gaye aur pyaar kahin unki manuscripts aur meri job aur gahrelu janjhat mein kho gaya. Phir ek din subha call aya shirdi ke hospital se…aai-baba ka accident..unhone kaha kal sham hi message diya tha mere pati ko… maine pucha mere pati se, he was busy in his next book…usne kaha..haan call aya tha..he thought he would give me the message but it escaped him..kyun was it serious…he thought ki bas chota mota accident hai…" Dutta got down to sit near her feet as she looked at him and caressed his face,"unhone aapne guilt-conscience se mujhe sahara dene ki bahut koshish ki tujhe ghar lane ka decision bhi unka tha. Par tab tak I was so far gone ki mujhe unki koi bhi koshish bas useless lagti thi…meaningless…hopeless. Hum log andar se hi itne alag insaan the, bhau, ki hum kitni bhi koshish karte adjustments karte, pyar kartey…phir bhi…bas shaadi ko kamyab nahi kar paye." She sighed,"tu bol..how can you be sure that this relation will work?"
Dutta- Sure…how can I be sure? He looked up at his sister and thought how many times he had seen her fight with her husband and thought with disgust how they were at each other's throats on the silliest matters. Dutta held her hand and caressed it as he spoke- main kissi bhi baat par sure nahi hoon, tai. I have done enough things in life of which I was sure you wouldn't approve. I still did it anyway. Even after all these years and so many surgeries, when I walk into the OT I am not sure what will happen by the end of it. But I am sure of one thing..no, I make sure of one thing that whatever happens I take the decision which be right for my patient. Aur waise bhi sure ho kar bhi kabhi kabhi hum kahan kuch baton ko rokh paatey hai. Aai-baba bhi to sure hongey ki wo log sahi salamat wapas laut ayengey. Hai na! par aisa nahi hua. I can't guarantee how this marriage will work. I can't be sure of how we will work things out. But I can assure you of one thing. Whatever happens I will make my happy ever after with her. I know there will be tough times and many times we might make blunders. Jhagadey hongey,narazgi hogi…aanshoo hongey….par un sabke par phir bhi ussey pyar karunga. Tai, I don't know what I am getting into. But whatever it is, I know I will do everything to make it work. Not only because I am too stubborn to give up…but also because she is too much of a wildcat to give up on me. She will do fine. We will live happily everafter.
As he packed his clothes which she had ironed and folded, he noticed the huge wet patch on his shirt. He looked up to find her swiping at her tears as she tried to iron his pinkish shirt which when he had come here had been white but due to her tussle to get even the poor fabric had been dunked with Kalatai's saree resulting in a nauseating permanent pink hue. He knew he respected himself too much to ever wear it again but he still wanted to keep it near him as a reminder of her temper. Dutta- ab kyun mere kapron ko nehla rahi hai. Tune kaha tujhe abhi shadi nahi karni to maine bhi date push kar di ab kya? Nakkusha threw the shirt angrily at his face and turned away. He caught the shirt and placed it on his bag. Switching off the iron he walked towards her and drew her stiff body to face him. He wiped her tears.
Nakkusha- aapko kya lagta hai mujhe bahut maaza ayega aapse durr reh ke. Aap hamesha sardu the aur rahenge. Mere bare mein sochtey hi nahi. Main kaise rahungi? Dutta nodded- to madam aap kya chahti hai. ab khaaja khana bhi hai rakhana bhi hai. Aisa thodi na hota hai. Nakku, meethu…ab jab faisla kiya hai to nibhana to hoga na? Nakkusha nodded as she leaned her head on his chest- do kasam chahiye. Kanhaji ki kasam kha ke kaho. Cigarrete peena shaadi honey tak chodd dogey aur wahan kissi rakhshanda ya meghna jaisi churail ko nahi dekhogey.
Dutta swallowed his laughter-promise. She looked up at him suspiciously- nai aap kanhaji ke kasam khane wale nahi ho..meri kasam kha ke kaho..pakka pakka. Dutta threw back his head and laughed out as she punched him lightly to get her promise.
………….to be continued.
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