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Ch19: Sunshine in Vanilla Sky
"Haan! To main kya keh rahi thi? Haan,yaad aaya! Do kilo badey aloo aur ek kilo chotey chandramukhi aloo…teen kilo pyaaz..safed walle! Hari mirchi aur hara dhaniya,fresh,Ok! Aur kaduu, baigan bhartey ke liye…aur…aur…aur kya tha?"
Nakkusha paused at her list and looked questioningly at her husband who was reading his morning paper while eating his breakfast, dressed to go to hospital. Dutta answered without looking up- asprin,maybe? Nakkusha glared at him- kya?
Dutta bent down on his paper without paying her any mind- jis speed se tum shopping list bata rahi ho ussey kissi na kissi ke sir mein dard to hoga hi..tumhare ya radhabai ke…ya mere! To manga hi lo aspirins! Why take chance? Nakkusha pulled the paper off his hands making him look at her in start- Kya kaha aapne? Dutta grinned- kuch nahi meethu? Ahem! Please paper do na..kalke match ka report to padne do,please! Nakkusha narrowed her eyes at him and gave him the paper. Dutta mumbled-Yorker, Dhoni,dho jayega! Beware!
Nakkusha hadn't missed his mumbling and immediately pinched him to get her revenge. Radhabai smiled in her saree pallu watching the exchange between the young newly married couple. She laughed a lot watching these two bicker like kids.
Radhabai was the Konkani woman whom leelawati and Mary had employed just to help out during the wedding. But her work had been pretty impressive and Leela had felt that Mary needed some extra help now that the family had increased. Mary was getting old and her arthritis prevented her from doing the extraneous jobs. It had been two week since Dutta had come home with his young bride and Leela had gladly handed over major share of the home ministry to Nakkusha. Nakkusha still walked on eggshells around Leelawati in fear of dissatisfying her. She never rebuked nakkusha, even then nakkusha had a feeling that leelatai was not a soft nut like Kaladidi. Nakkusha was determined to impress her and prove herself worthy of leelatai's ladla tillu. But the tillu in question made it difficult himself. He would purposely tease her, poke her and drag her in trouble. Like yesterday! She was arranging the beautiful delicate china figurine on the top shelf of the living room rack. They had got it as wedding present from his colleagues and Leelatai had pronounced it exquisite. Tai had said touching the delicate curving,"Dekh nakku, kitna sundar hai! Definitely a keeper! Ek kaam kar isse wahan living room ke display pe rakh ke aa, jaa! " While nakku stood on her tiptoe to place the figurine at its designated place on top, he had stealthily closed up on her after coming from hospital and grabbed her waist from behind and had nipped the sensitive spot on her neck. The sudden coldness of his touch on her waist and fire of his lips at her neck had startled her and she had lost her composure and balance, causing the one piece exquisite figure to disintegrate into not so exquisite countless pieces with resounding crash. Leelatai had rushed into the scene and had taken one look at the pieces and slapped her head in despair making nakkusha go red as her saree.
Even now as she pinched him, she caught leelatai giving them a sideways look from the edge of her spectacles while going through her NGO papers, sitting on the couch facing them. Nakkusha looked guiltily at her toast and fidgeted nervously. Radhabai- aur kya madamji? Nakkusha tucked a curl behind her ears- ek baar list dohra do na?
Radhabai lauched in her recital of the list she had noted down- Doon kilo mothey batatey ani ek kilo lahan batatey, teen kilo pandri kandha,taaza hirwa mirch ani sambar, kadu, bhartacha wangi..ani..
"Ek minute!" nakkusha looked at her confused,"par maine to ye sab batey,kante aur wangey nahi bola tha…maine to kaha tha do kilo badey aloo..aur 1 chotey aloo aur teen kilo pyaaz aur.."
Dutta choked on his tea trying to swallow his laughter and was consumed by sudden coughing and gasping. Nakkusha hurriedly extended a glass of water to him rubbing his back,"kya hua? Chai garam thi kya? Kitne baar kaha hai khatey waqt paper pe dhyan mat do? Aap theek ho na?" Dutta nodded. Radhabai looked at her list confused- madamji, main bhi to wahi keh rahi hoon…do kilo batatey…mothey..ek kilo lahan..teen kilo…kandhey…
Nakkusha- arey par maine ye batey watey kab kahe..main to bas aloo aur pyaz manga rahi hoon. Dutta couldn't help it this time he broke into loud guffaws of laughter tilting his head back. Nakkusha looked at him and the maid in confusion. Leelatai spoke up- Tillu,bas kar ata! Nakku beta, Marathi mein aloo ko batatey aur pyaz ko kandhey boltey hai..baigan ko wangi..sambar ko dhaniya, theek hai! Nakkusha nodded and gave a tentative smile to the maid. Radhabai went to tick her list and leela went back to her papers. Nakkusha saw dutta wriggling his brows at her rakishly, seeing that no one was paying attention; she kicked his shin under the table with no success as he was wearing his boots. Dutta opened his mouth to laugh again when she knocked his tea on his sports page. He saw the damage and glared at her, she smirked.
Radhabai- aur kya madamji? Collecting her thoughts she replied hurriedly- kundru, adha kilo! Radhabai looked at her confused-te kai ahey? Kundu kya hota hai? Nakkusha- wo arey wo chotey chotey, lambey lambey, gol gol, harey harey hotey hai naa! Wahi! Radhabai – hain! Wo kya hota hai..madamji! saaf saaf bol do phir kuch aur le aayegi main to aapki chak chak mereko nahi maangta!Nakkusha looked at her husband pleadingly- aye ji! Bolo naa! Marathi mein kya kehtey hai? Dutta- kissey nakku? Nakusha- kundru ko? Dutta- kissko? Nakkusha- kundru? Dutta leaned towards her- meetha main to bas tumhara adna sa garib paati hoon…tum jo kilaogi chupchaap kha lunga..kidney ho ya kundu! Nakkusha made a face at him and looked away feeling helpless. Leelatai cut in with her dry remark- tillu, tu drama band kar aur nakku ko ched mat. Beta kundru nahi yahan tindey boltey hai. Nakkusha shouted triumphantly-haan tandi…matlab tendey.. wahi! She added in aside-aao tum aaj raat ko, patidev! Karele ko neem na khilaya to mera naam badal dena!
"I'll pick you up at 7.30pm,Ok! Hum log Insomnia jaa rahe hai. Mere dosto ne humari shaadi ki khushi mein party di hai." Dutta told her on the phone. He had gotten into the habit of calling her everyday thrice at least, once he reached the office, once after lunch to let her know that he had eaten and once before leaving for home in the evening. Only snag in the system was that Nakkusha being unused to keeping a mobile kept her new cell in places which were always hidden or far from her reach, like the inner locker of the wardrobe, eggs tray in the fridge, shoe closet or bathroom sink and sometimes even under the fern plant on the balcony but never close to her hand. So he always ended up calling the home number.
Nakkusha had stilled at the name of the party and meeting his friends. She wound the cord of the phone around her finger,"Suniye, wo main..ji..kaun kaun hoga wahan pe? Mera matlab bahut log hongey kya?" Dutta signed the reports his secretary had put infront of him, making a few notes beside the printed lab reports for the patients,"Ahh..jayada nahi ye bas mere purane school friends hai…jaydatar log to abroad settle ho chuke hai..kuch dusre shaher mein hai..bas jo kuch Mumbai mein wahi log unke partners ke sath hai…yahi kuch 10-12 hongey. It's just small get together thing..Very impersonal. Isliye club mein rakhi hai..waise bhi tune kabhi disc nahi dekha na?" Nakkusha shook her head chewing her lip. Dutta read the silence and leaning back on his chair smiled at the ceiling imagining his wife at home with her troubled face,"Nakku, stop biting your delicious lips, wo mera kaam hai." Nakkusha gasped- Aapko kaise pata? Dutta grinned- kyunki jabhi kalatai ke ghar mehmaan chai par aatey the, tu pardey ke pichey chip kar aapne hooth chabati thi. Apne pair ke angutey se jameen khuredti thi. Nakkusha looked down at her big toe and stopped the fidgety action. Dutta- Nakku, main janta hoon kalatai ke mehmaan tere liye anjaan nahi the phir bhi tujhe unke saamne aane mein ghabrahat hoti thi..yahan sab anjaan hai,naye hai…par main to wahi hoon na? mera haath thaam ke chal payegi na? Nakkusha smiled in the phone- sari umar chalungi. Dutta smiled- Sexy! So it's a date. He saw his 60 yrs old secretary frown at him while collecting the signed papers so he added for her benefit with a benign smile- With my beautiful wife! He kept the smile in place till the woman went out still giving him a doubtful look. Nakkusha's next words made his fake smile turn to real one- Sunno naa,mere mobile ko lambi waali ring do naa. Abhi yahi rakhi thi sachi, abhi nahi mill rahi.
Dutta- to ghar ke phone se ring karle. Nakkusha sighed-mujhe number yaad nahi hai,baba. Tum bas ring karo. Dutta shook his head annoyed at her negligence - Nakkusha, tujhe ek phone number yaad nahi rahta? Nakkusha breathed softly- yaad rahta hai na! Dutta heard her recite the number she had by heart- Ye to mera number hai! Nakkusha smiled- haan , to mere liye sabse important yahi to number hai, samjhe mere ariyal! Bye! Dutta sighed- bye! Nakkusha warned as always-cigarette nahi peena warna rajnandgaon chali jaungi. Before he could say a word she had hanged up. Dutta looked at the cell and speed dialed the most important number to him smiling and tracing the name on the screen.
"Arey pagli! Aapne pati ke saath jaane mein kaisi burai hai?"Kaladidi laughed on the phone. Nakkusha scowled,"Par didi, wahan kaise kaise log ayenge. Wo TV mein dekha hai na waise..wo koi disco hai,jahan log sharab peetey hai aur naachtey hai. Main wahan kya karungi? Aur agar kissi ne kuch keh diya aur mujhe nahi samjha to? Aapko to pata hai angrezi thodi paidal hai. Ab ye jo boltey hai samjh leti hoon..par inke dost? Kuch garbard ho gayi to?" Kalawati scratched her eyebrow and said softly- dekh nakku, bhau ke saath uski zindagi mein kadam rakhna hai to iski adat daalini hogi,beta. Main jaanti hoon ki tu asaani se gulmil nahi paati,dost nahi bana pati par tujhe ab apne charo aur dale is sankoch ke ghere se nikalna hoga. Ab chiti ko reeth ke dheer se kabhi to nikalna hoga na! Jayada kuch nahi bas aram se unke puche sawal ka jawab de dena, thoda muskurana. Idhar udhar ki baat karna, bas!
Nakkusha whispered- didi aapki aur sabki bahut yaad aati hai. Sonu debu theek hai na? Debu apna homework karta hai na? Aur babuji ka dama, saas ki takleef? Arey haan, maine na bela kaki ki wall hanging ki embroidery khatam ki thi par shaadi wagrah mein wapas dena bhul gai. Sonu se kehna ki wo hari wali plastic bag mein hai baithak ke cupboard mein. Aur sonu ko bolna ki debu ka school uniform har haaftey dho le…warna prathna sabha ke waqt subha usse punishment millegi. Aur..
Kalawati interrupted her- bas bas, nakku! Kya ye tu duniya ke ek kone se dusre kone ki chinta kar rahi hai. Nakkusha- meri duniya to wahi kona hai na, didi! Kalawati wiped the tears in her eyes- nahi beta, ab ye kona teri duniya ka bas chota sa hissa..aur wo kona jiss mein pao rakhne mein tujhe darr lagta hai, wo tera aasmaan hai. Wahi sab kuch hai. Ek baat sun nakku, Duniya ko insaan ki jarurat nahi hoti, sahuliyat hoti hai. Aaj koi hai kal nahi, isse duniya nahi rukhti. Janewale ke aaspass ke logon ko thodi takleef hoti hai par unki zindagi dheere dheere chalne lagti hai duniya ke saath. Duniya insaan ke raang mein nahi dhalti. Balki insaan aapne aapko aapne aaspaas ki duniya ke hisaab se dhal leta hai. Debu,sonu, tere baba sab tujhe hamesha yaad karenge. Mera ghar aangan tere bina suna hoga, bhuddhuram tere bina khamosh hoga. Par hum jee lenge beta, adat daal lenge. Ek ek din karke humari chotti si duniya aagey bardh jayegi. Waise hi ab tujhe apne nayi duniya mein dhalna hoga, Dutta ki badi aur rafter se bhari duniya ke rang mein dhalna hoga. Nakku, tu in dono gharon ki beti hai..meri aur saroj kaki ki aangan ki beti….tu ab humare aangan se juri to hai, beti,par bandhi nahi hai. Yahi to matlab hai shaadi ke gatbandhan ka. Baaki sarey purane bandhan us gaat ke agey khul se jaatey hai. Ye jhijhak, ye ghabrahat..ye sab kahi is naye rishtey ka graham na bane, samjhi!
Nakkusha- jee didi! Main unhe shikayat ka mauka nahi dungi…main koshish karungi,didi.
Dutta suppressed the yawn as he leaned on the bell of his door. He was tired to his bone. All he wanted to do was have a long hot shower, some good food and his wife. But this party was unavoidable; his old friends would be affronted if they didn't show up. He looked up as the door opened and smiled his lazy smile for her which froze at the sight in front of him, of its own accord his eyebrow raised in query.
"Kya hua? Main acchi nahi lag rahi kya?" Nakkusha asked biting her lips, twisting her bangles on her wrist.
Dutta straightened up and took a step to enter,"Aisi baat nahi hai,nakku. Tu bahut acchi lag rahi hai."
He walked towards their bedroom unbuttoning the top buttons of his shirt. She followed him all tinkling and swishing like a nervous caught bird. She watched him place is bag at side table and sitting on the bed to take off his shoes. She walked towards the bathroom to switch on the geyser and took out his towel in readiness.
As she heard the sound of his shower and the off-tune whistling, she walked with tired steps towards the dresser and watched her image in despair. She had tried. Oh God! How she had tried to look passably nice, to do him credit. She had even attempted make-up on her own, reading it from an old magazine she had unearthed from the newspaper pile in the afternoon. It had taken her an hour to find the appropriate tips and then added hours to get it right. But one look of his face and she had known that she had failed. Miserably! Tears stung her eyes. She had been foolish to think she could pull it off. What did she know about going to party in big cities! She sat down defeated on the edge of the bed looking at her image in the mirror. It didn't look like her. It looked fake, like an interloper. And that's what she was in his world an interloper.
Dutta came out drying his hair and paused when he saw the forlorn look on her face. Pulling on the clothes she had kept out for him he called her,"Nakku?" She turned her face away from him wiping a tear. Dutta walked towards her and pulled her up making her face him. He smiled at the running mascara,"is mein udaas hone ki kya baat hai?" Nakkusha murmured softly- maine sab galat galat kiya hai na? Dutta-kya galat kiya hai? Nakkusha swiped at her runny nose annoyed at her childish habbit- yahi sab! Make-up,kapade, jewelry sab kuch galat hai na? wahan party mein aise kapadey nahi chalengey,hai na! sab hasengey,kahengey Dr.Dutta Patil ki gawar biwi ko tayyar hona bhi nahi aata!"
Dutta wiped her eyes and nodded- haan! Party aur jagah ke hisaab se tera tayyar hona thoda off hai. aur teri mehnat bhi bekaar gayi hai. Par koi baat nai main hoon tujhe tayyar karne ke liye. Koi Dr.Dutta Patil ki biwi ke bare mein kuch ulta seedha nahi bolega.
He looked at her again giving her a detailed look. Her delicately worked sari, bangles, necklace and chandelier earrings, they looked beautiful on her. He didn't care if she looked out of place in a club dressed like this but he knew the people cared and when they talked she will care. He didn't want her first brush with his materialistic, phony world to tarnish her view towards herself and erode her already shaky self esteem. Dutta smiled- ek kaam kar pahele tu thoda fresh ho ke aaja. Wash your face and all that. Ok! She nodded and walked towards the wash room. Dutta walked over to their wardrobe and took a few minutes to note the changes marriage had brought into it. It had been days since he had seen his own wardrobe and clothes. He had always found his clothes out laid down ready for him for office or for home. Something he had come to accept easily,never questioning her selection. Now that he saw her things kept along his, he felt a renewed sense of peace and comfort. A sighed escaped his lips as he touched the soft textures of the fabrics, the silly bells and gems and mirrors stitched on them. Shaking his head he browsed through her collection of dresses and pulled out the one he found suitable. He handed it to her and nodded towards the changing room. A moment later she walked out in her simple churidar kurta in light orange color. It was a demure thing with transparent net sleeve and straight cut that suited her petite curvy form. It was an ethnic outfit but the urbane chick touch on the design was acceptable by any club standard. He removed her jewellery and left only her mangalsutra and the small diamond studs that were gift from Leelatai during their engagement. After brushing her thick mane of hair so that they sizzled down her back, he asked her to redo her make-up.
Nakkusha stared at her image,"Bas?" Dutta grinned,"Bas." Nakkusha turned to him scowling,"Main to hamesha aise hi rahti hoon,is mein naya kya hai?" He said,"tujhe kissne kaha kuch naya chahiye?" Nakkusha blinked at him,"aapne to kaha tha badi jagah mein party hai, tayyar ho jana." Dutta-Toh ab tu tayyar hai na. Bas. Nakkusha shook her head- par ye to kitna simple sa hai. Party jaisa kuch nahi hai. Bilkul..bilkul.Woh..Nakkusha floundered for a word and then hit upon it-ye to bilkul seedha sadha sa hai, vanilla ice-cream ki tarah. Dutta burst out laughing at her scowl as she put kohl in her eyes and glossed her lips with cream.He pulled her around in his arms as she applied her light lavender fragrance," so what if you look like vanilla. For me, tum butterscotch with Belgium dark chocolate ho." He kissed her lips lightly,"tu jaanti hai? Tune dheere dheere se kaise meri adaton mein, meri jaruraton mein aapne raang bhar diye hai. Main khud nahi janta tha ki neela asmaan bhi fheeka ho sakta hai par ab nahi. Kyunki you are the ray of sunshine in my vanilla sky."
Her impossibly large eyes did the implausible and went a notch larger. As he leaned down to kiss her again she pressed the nozzle of the fragrance and sparyed his neck breaking the spell,"Chalo bhi! Deer ho gayi hai na!" Dutta growled rubbing his neck,"damn it, Nakku! now I'll smell like a girl." Nakkusha gave him a cat like pleased smile,"Nahi, ab aap mujhse jaise smell karogey. Samjhe?"
…..To be continued.
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