Joined: 04 September 2011
Khanak smiled at her phone, "Jaag bhi jao! -.-"
She turned her side in the bed and stared at the screen. Little did she know a smile had slowly found way to her lips as she wrote, "Kya huwa?"
"Puja tonight. Mom insists on making me wear a kurta. Help?"
"Wear a kurta!"
"I have better things to do."
"Of course -.- "
" ;) "
She knew he wouldn't reply so she got out of bed and started getting ready for the day. Such random conversations with Shaantanu were becoming quite frequent after she came back from India. It had been an unexpected relief to sort out issues with him and had been an even greater surprise that they had gotten along so well after it. However, she had not imagined them to become as good friends as they had become. On the pretext of sending her the engagement pictures, Shaantanu had gotten her email address from Chitresh and their online chats had eventually led them to exchanging cell numbers.
Khanak smiled at her reflection in the bathroom mirror which showed the toothpaste foam threatening to drip from her chin.
Shaantanu kept his phone down on his office table and got back to work. He would simply work till late evening and show up before the puja so his mom would be more interested in making him sit for the ritual rather than waste time changing apparel.
At six in the evening a tired-looking Shaantanu walked in the Khandelwal mansion. He knew his plan had worked because Madhavi came rushing to him "Beta itna late ho gae ho! And you haven't been answering my calls…kidher reh gae thay. Your dad and brother have been here since ages!"
"Mom woh- "
"Nevermind. Jaldi kero and join us. The puja has already started and you have to be in it after the second part especially."
Madhavi pulled Shaan by his arm and dragged him to the small mandir besides the living room. That was where the puja was being held. She made him sit right in front of the fire while everyone else was sitting a foot away. It struck Shaantanu as odd but he shrugged it off thinking it might be because he was late in joining.
Once the puja was over, Shaan took the pandit ji's blessings and prasad and then excused himself to go change before dinner.
Shaantanu was typing away on his laptop and sipping coffee around ten that night when Akshay came and sat beside him.
"Sona nai hai chote?"
"Bhai bas ye kuch kaam rehta hai I just want to get done with it before sleeping."
"Tu office mein tha itni late tak, wahan kyun nai kiya?"
"There was some other pending work tou bas wohi kar raha tha,"
"Hmmm…I thought you were avoiding the puja." Akshay said solemnly.
"I don't mind the puja but I was avoiding the kurta part," Shaan gave a short laugh.
After a short pause, Akshay continued, "Chote if you're working this hard are you sure you're ready for this?"
"Ready for what bhaiya?"
"All this Shaan. Tu kaam mein itna busy rehta hai…and generally bhi frankly speaking I don't think you're ready."
"Ready for what bhaiya? Mein pehle hi thakka huwa houn aur puja ki baat se aap kahan paheliyan bhuja rahe hein."
"Mein puja related hi baat kar raha houn chote. I can't imagine how you agreed to sit in such a puja."
"Matlab ek tou you've never been into religious stuff and then all of a sudden you agree to sitting in a puja to take God's blessings for your marriage?"
"Haan mom ne kaha tou I didn't mind sitting in--- WHAT?"
Akshay stared at Shaan, clueless.
"What did you say end mein? Meri shaadi? Where did that come from?!!"
"Chote why are you hyperventilating now. Tujeh mom ne bataya tha na ke she's keeping a puja so that teri shaadi jaldi ho jae? And that achi family ho etc etc."
Shaantanu was stunned.
Shaantanu tossed and turned. He folded the pillow under his head. Unfolded it five minutes later. Hugged it after another ten. Nothing seemed to make him fall asleep. His mind was racing. In fact, it was racing on a heated engine!
Inwardly, he fumed at his mother and her bold step to arrange a puja with regards to his marriage. Even though he didn't believe much in religious rituals but he wasn't completely unreligious either. So although he did not believe the puja would have a significant affect on him but the fact that he had been tricked into taking part in an activity whose main purpose conflicted with his interests angered him to no extent.
He felt like taking out his anger on his mother, but being a respectable son his conscience forbade him to do so. At least until his anger cooled a little. But his agitation was hindering his sleep. He wanted to talk to someone. Someone who would understand him. Someone who knew him personally but not someone who was unaware of his emotional side. The last thing he wanted right now was someone laughing at the thought of Shaantanu Khandelwal thinking about marriage!
Who should he call?
No name popped in his mind. None of his cousins would be of any use. None of his college friends would understand his predicament. They would either tell him it was unusual for Shaantanu to even consider marriage so why was this episode bothering him or would give him a cynical view of marriage. About how marriage is a contract and what harm would come if Shaantanu married to benefit the business or add to his family prestige. Surely someone with his looks and portfolio could get a suitable partner for mutual benefit?
Shaantanu pondered on the thought for a while and then her words came back to him.
"Marriage is one word that binds two souls into one for eternity. One life beats in two hearts. One worry is shared by two minds and a happiness reflected by two smiles. It's a system of ones and twos that no accounting equation can explain Shaananu. There is a reason hum marriage contract sign karney ke saath saath saath pheray bhi letay hein."
Shaantanu's eyes shot open at the memory of what Khanak had said when they first met. Part of him was surprised that he had remembered her words while another part of him nudged him to call and talk to her about what his mother had done. He was just about to dial her number when it struck him how odd it would seem. True, Khanak and him had come a long way since their first meeting. They had even made it clear to their families that marriage was not on the cards for them as a couple together. Recently, they even joked about each other's crushes but it might become awkward if they started discussing their marriage with other people with each other.
He was about to put his phone down when it occurred to him who the best person to call would be- Rahul!
"Tou Shaan masla kya hai. Tu finally bara kab hoga. Je jawani ki batein chor and get married man. You can't run away from this forever," Rahul spoke in irritation after listening to Shaan's narrative.
"Pagal mat ho. It's not some jawani ka josh alright. It's my belief about my fate with women….tu issey iss tarhan soch. Don't think ke mein sab larkiyoun ke barey mein ye sochta houn…sirf un larkiyoun ke barey mein jo meri life mein aati hein." Shaan clarified.
"Jhoot mat bol. Tu chauvinist hai aur sab larkiyoun ke barey mein yahi sochta hai."
"Acha tou bata kon si aysi larki hai jisse tu materialistic aur dhokaybaaz aur….err…everything bad and evil nai samajhta?"
"Aurr…."Shaantanu struggled to come up with another name.
He sifted through various faces in his mind but no other name came to him.
"So poori duniya mein sirf Khanak hi achi hai." Rahul's voice brought him back to the conversation at hand.
"Khanak achi hai…aur bhi larkiyaan houn gi..but Khanak is one of them," Shaan clarified.
"But Khanak bhi tou teri zindagi ka hissa hai. Wo achi kaise ho sakti hai phir?" Rahul cornered Shaan.
"Baqwas na kar Ra--"
"Aur agar Khanak itni achi hai hi tou tu ussey kyun nai shaadi kar leta mere bhai! Confusion end kar," Rahul cut in.
"Don't be an idiot! We don't want to marry each other. Hum ache dost hein."
"That line would only work on us 'We don't want to marry each other. Hum ache dost hein' because hum dono straight hein…..tere aur Khanak ke dynamics farq hein." Rahul spoke in an annoyed manner.
"Ha-ha-ha…tu itna funny kab se ho gaya? Aur wo bhi raat ke teen bajay?"
"Teen tere dimagh ke bajay huwey hein idiot! You can't understand something so simple."
"What's so simple?"
"Bhai mere thori akal tum khud bhi lagao. Mere batane se love story ki spice kam ho jae gi….and I think the romantic soul in Khanak won't like that."
"Kya baqwaas kar raha hai!"
"Byee!" Rahul ended the call.
Our much-distressed hero was exiting the main door of Khandelwal house when he was stopped by his mother. She insisted he have breakfast with the family before departing for work. With all the politeness and patience he could muster, Shaantnau decline and left for the office.
As Madhavi sat down on the breakfast table, Akshay (who had witnessed the moment between mother and son) spoke up.
"Maa aap ne kal acha nai kiya waise."
"Meine kya kiya?"
"Please mom. Being clueless won't help….aap ne Shaan ko puja ki asal waja nai batai thi. You tricked him into sitting for the puja."
Sunil stopped midway in eating the next morsel. Shocked.
Madhavi continued eating with an air of indifference.
"Madhavi hum tum se baat kar rahey hein!" Sunil spoke in a calm yet assertive manner.
"Mujeh laga aap log sirf mujeh ghoor rahe hein…" she replied tersely.
"Kya hum jaan sakte hein why you tricked us all and made Shaan sit for the puja?" Sunil rolled his fist into a ball to control the surge of anger.
"Aap log tou ayse baat kar rahe hein jaise meine koi gunaah kiya ho," Madhavi replied.
"Gunaah hi samjho Madhavi. You know Shaantanu is not thinking about marriage right now and phir bhi you made him sit for a puja which sought God's blessing for a timely wedding for Shaan. Moreover, you told all of us that Shaantanu was aware of this. That's tricking the whole family…and in anyone's dictionary I am sure it's a sin."
"Sunil…meine job hi kiya apne bte ki behtari ke liye kiya. He has to get married sooner or later so why not sooner than later? It's not like meine sab ko in the dark rakh ke uss ki shaadi fix kar di hai."
"Aur aap ne bhi tou yahi kiya hai. Jab Chitresh bhai aur Khanak ki baat thi tou tricking your son was fine? But when I seek God's blessings for my son's marriage tou it's wrong?"
"Maa.." Akshay tried to intervene and control the situation but Sunil held his hand up to refrain him from continuing.
"Taking God's blessing is not wrong but the way you did it was. And I had taken everyone in the family on board when taking Shaan to London."
"But Shaan himself didn't know about the Jadeja's, did he?" Madhavi pointed out.
"I wasn't fixing the marriage, I was merely introducing the two."
"I have also done something similar so I don't see a reason to create such a big issue out of this thing."
"Yes, of course. Just because you—"
"Ah-ahem!" Dadi cleared her throat to announce her presence. The three turned to see her standing at the far end of the table. No one knew when he had arrived as they were clearly too engrossed in their conversation- which is as civil a name that can be given to the talk.
"We can judge how hurt and disappointed Shaantanu felt after both the London incident and yesterday's puja." Dadi spoke slowly so as to let her words sink in.
She now looked directly at Madhavi.
"Where we now see a comfortable equation, albeit a non-romantic one, between Shaantanu and Khanak we also see that the youngest son of the house does not wish to have breakfast with his family."
Dadi then spoke generally, while sitting down.
"If we keep our egos aside we might be able to see through our fogged lenses of how the issue of marriage is something Shaantani is sensitive about. Who sharma nai raha, ussey shaadi se dar bhi nai hai. But the fact is that he does not want to get married. And being his immediate family we should also realize that he is not ready for marriage either. So if all could keep our highly accredited opinions aside and let Shaantanu decide for himself we might just prevent the family disappointing the young boy again."
When Dadi finished speaking, Sunil, Madhavi and Akshay were looking down at their plates. Dadi's words of wisdom had meticulously analyzed the current situation and had brought memories of the past. More importantly, however, she had made an ominous prediction about the future.
Wanted to write a long, special 50th update...dunno if I succeeded in making in special. Tomatoes are welcome!
Joined: 01 November 2012
Congratulations for the 50th update!!! Wishing many more to come!!!
Loved everything.. ShaNak are now close friends.. He is more worried to wear kurta.. Why so??? He definitely must be rocking with it too.. Oh..ho..Madhavi tricked him to sit in puja..He was more keen on not to wear kurta than asking his mom why the puja is being held now..
Poor Shaan.. Rahul always advices him correctly..Only Shaan is always confused.. Liked the breakfast table conversation.Everyone blaming Madhavi..She did it for her son only..
But loved how Dadi spoke perfectly and made everyone understand Shaan's situtaion.
Looking forward and thanks for writing a fantastic update!!!
P.S: Update whenever you can..
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