Joined: 04 November 2008
Joined: 04 November 2008
Joined: 04 November 2008
Joined: 04 November 2008
Joined: 15 February 2007
Joined: 09 April 2012
Joined: 04 November 2008
So, after keeping you waiting for almost a week, I've come around to updating this. Apologies for keeping you waiting. The update would've been up on time were it not for something else that I took up ad-hoc and urgent. I've participated in the short story contest held by the Mumbai Literature festival, Literature Live! and need your votes for it. You'll find the story at the below link. It's on Facebook. Do read it and vote for it!
The link doesn't work on mobile, only on PC.
Pankhuri paced restlessly in her room. She didn't know what to do. Her mind was in a complete freeze phase. Avantika's decision that Adi get married in 15 days had come as a total shocker to her. She hadn't expected this even in the wildest of her dreams. She knew that Adi would get married, someday, but not that that day would be so soon. And Adi, how could he do that? She had expected him to speak up, rebel, do anything! But she hadn't expected him to mutely agree to marry Latika. Well, he hadn't mutely agreed, to be honest. He had tried to argue, to speak up, but not wholeheartedly. She knew he hated when his family members made a mountain of a mole of the most trivial issues. And this time again, that was what was happening 'due to him. And he didn't like that. She knew his heart didn't lay in this marriage and he'd agreed only to get done with it. But then, he was Adi. He didn't believe in the institution of marriage. Not after what had happened to his parents. It was only a formality for him. And that is what it would remain given the fact that he was marrying someone who had equally shallow beliefs about marriage. Not that she was anyone to judge Latika or say that Latika would not be a good wife to Adi. But the general vibes that Latika gave out were such that forced Pankhuri to believe so. Well, there wasn't much that she could do to help. But she wanted to! She only wished that she could do something. Her musings were interrupted by the buzzing of her cell phone. It was a text from Shivam.
Had a great time at the party. With you. Thanks.
Damn! Pankhuri cursed. If Adi was making the wrong decision by marrying Latika, she was no better. She was encouraging Shivam to believe that she was interested in him. After knowing the real motive of his visit to Mumbai, she should've corrected him right away. But she still hadn't. She didn't have the courage. But she had to. She couldn't let Shivam believe that she was ready to marry him. She had to clear out the misunderstanding. ASAP. She texted back.
Can we meet at the Beach caf at 11.00 tomorrow?
She hit send. Shivam promptly replied.
She had to get out of this mess.
10.00 am, Diwan Mansion
Pankhuri halted in her tracks as she heard Adi call out her name. She turned around to see a radiant Adi, impeccably dressed in a white turtleneck t-shirt, denims and a black jacket, with a smile dancing on his face.
"Where are you off to, hill bird?" he asked raising his eyebrows. At Pankhuri's hesitance, he said, "Ah, wait! Let me guess. Off to meet Shivam?" he winked for emphasis.
Pankhuri merely smiled and nodded. "See, I was right" he grinned. "Hey, but I need a favor from you. Can you spare 30 minutes of your time for me?"
"Of course, Adi, what do you want."
"I need you to accompany me to the registrar's office," he explained.
"Registrar's office?" Pankhuri asked confused.
"Yup, I'll explain on the way." He said, leading her towards the car.
"You're signing a pre-nuptial contract?" Pankhuri asked, somewhat shocked when Adi explained why they were headed to the registrar's office.
"Yeah, and that's the smartest thing to do to avoid future problems," Adi replied.
11.00 am, Registrar's Office
"I'm sorry, Adi. I can't sign as a witness on your pre-nup agreement," Pankhuri said and stalked out of the registrar's office.
"Pankhuri, Pankhuri ' wait!"
Adi turned to Latika and sighed who merely shrugged. Adi followed Pankhuri out while Latika rolled her eyes muttering, "drama queen".
"Pankhuri," Adi caught her outside trying to hail an auto.
"Pankhuri, listen to me!" Adi caught her arm and swerved her around.
"What?!" Pankhuri snapped.
"Why wouldn't you sign?" Adi asked
"Because I don't agree to the terms and conditions set in the contract," she replied.
"But you don't need to! It's a contract between me and Latika! You need to sign only as a witness." Adi reasoned.
"Yeah, but I can't do that when I don't agree to the terms," she shot back.
"But why not?" Adi queried
"For God's sake, Adi, get real! This is a marriage we're talking about and not some business arrangement! Marriage is a commitment of a lifetime and here you're thinking about divorce even before you've tied the knot? Why are you assuming that the marriage will not work out?"
"I'm not assuming anything Pankhuri! I'm just making provisions for the future in case any such thing was to happen. And what's wrong with the terms?"
"Oh, right. Nothing's wrong with them." Pankhuri shot back sarcastically.
"I'll name them all. Latika doesn't want kids. She'll never wear Indian or traditional wear. She will live her life as she wills. She will not be questioned on how or with whom she spends her time. She will never ever cook. She won't attend to your guests. And you? You don't want any interference in your life. You want it to be the same way as it is now."
"But what's wrong with that?
Pankhuri sighed. "Tell me, Adi, what do the two of you gain from this marriage?"
"She gets my money and I get a wife."
"Does all a wife want from her husband is money? And is that really how a wife should be? Or is it that that was NOT how your mom was when she was married to your dad and that is the reason they divorced?"
With that she walked away, leaving a speechless Adi in her wake.
11.30 am, Beach caf
Shivam kept checking his watch every two minutes as he waited for Pankhuri at the far table in the garden.
She'd promised to be here by 11, and it was 11.30 now. He pulled out his cell phone to give her a call when he saw her walking in, towards the table that was occupied by him.
She gave him a sweet smile that warmed his heart. Taking the chair opposite him, she said, "Sorry, Shivam, I intended to be here sooner but was caught up with something."
"No problem, Pankhuri," he replied. He ordered two cappuccinos and then turned his attention to her. She gave him a brief smile and he said, "You know Pankhuri, Mom's very happy for us. In fact, everyone in Kullu is very excited. They're all eagerly waiting for the good news."
Pankhuri willed herself to speak up since now was the time, but her courage failed her again and she merely nodded.
He took her hand in his, looked into her eyes, and said, "Pankhuri, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"
Pankhuri was shocked. "Uh, Shivam, I.."
Say no, Pankhuri. Say no.
"Thanks, Pankhuri," he replied ecstatically. "You're the best thing that has ever happened to me." He fished a ring out of his pocket and slipped it on her finger.
"Until the official engagement, this will mark you as mine," he smiled. Pankhuri smiled feebly and nodded. "Both our families are gonna be very happy when they hear the news."
4.00pm, Diwan Mansion
When Pankhuri returned from work, taking the rest of the day off due to the throbbing headache that had taken residence in her head since morning, she saw everyone gathered in the living room, checking out jewellery designs.
"Hey, Pankhuri, you're back early today!" said Preeti enthusiastically jumping up from her place beside Adi on the couch.
"Yes, masi, because '"
"Nevermind," Preeti cut her off, "We're all in the process of selecting jewellery designs for Adi's wedding. Come along, do join us."
"No, masi, I '"
"No, Pankhuri, no excuses, you have to join us."
"Hi, Pankhuri," greeted Latika with a smile. Pankhuri noticed that Adi didn't say anything to acknowledge her presence. She knew he was upset from their argument in the morning but she didn't say anything.
"Pankhuri, dear, come, come join us and feel free to pick your choice," said Nanaji.
She led her to the couch and made her sit beside Adi and took up a couple of necklaces and handed them to her to check the design."
"Wow, Pankhuri, your ring's beautiful!" exclaimed Preeti as she spotted the ring on her ring finger. But hey, that's your ring finger! Is it?"
All eyes were on Pankhuri now.
"Pankhuri, dear, is it a moment to celebrate?" asked Nanaji.
"Nanaji, Sihvam proposed this morning. I will be returning to Kullu on Sunday for my engagement."
Cheers and greetings surrounded her as a series of congratulations broke out. However, Pankhuri noticed that Adi didn't congratulate her.
"Pankhuri, that is indeed a reason to celebrate!" said Latika. "Let's go out for dinner tonight. Shivam, you, Adi and I."
"No, Latika, that's okay."
"Oh, come on, Pankhuri, you're Adi's best friend! I'm sure he'll want to celebrate his best friend's engagement. Adi, tell her!"
"Yeah, let's go celebrate," said Adi half heartedly.
"So, it's decided! Dinner at eight, I'll take care of the reservations," Latika chirped and disappeared to make the arrangements.
6.00 pm, Pankhuri's Room
Pankhuri set her clothes on the bed and was about to step into the shower when she heard a knock on the door. It was Adi.
"Hi, Adi. You wanted something?"
"No, just stopped by to tell you that I'll be leaving for the hotel at seven, and will pick you up. So be ready accordingly," Adi replied.
"Thanks, Adi, but Shivam will be picking me up," Pankhuri replied.
"Well, okay. See you at dinner, then. Bye."
However, he still hadn't moved. They looked at each other for a long moment and then Adi suddenly turned and left.
8.00 pm, the Grand Hyatt
Adi and Latika were already present at the restaurant when Shivam and Pankhuri reached. Adi caught Pankhuri's eye and gave her a tentative smile. Pankhuri returned it with one of her own. She was dressed in a mauve and pink anarkali with her hair curled at the ends and left open. While Shivam was dressed in a simple plain white shirt and black trousers.
"Pankhuri, Shivam, congratulations!" said Latika as they took their seats at the table. "You guys are made for each other."
"Thanks, Latika," they said in unison.
"So, what'd we like to have first?" asked Adi.
"I'll have wine," said Latika. "No, wait, let's order champagne. It's a celebration after all."
As the waiter arrived with their champagne, Adi uncorked the bottle amidst cheers from Latika, while Shivam and Pankhuri merely smiled and clapped. He tipped the sparkling liquid into four flutes. Latika picked up two flutes and offered one to Shivam and Pankhuri each. Shivam obliged while Pankhuri politely refused.
"Oh, come on Pankhuri, it's your day today!"
"Hey, Pankhuri, come on!" Adi urged her. The look they shared in that moment made Pankhuri feel like their friendship had been unaffected by what had transpired this morning and she helped herself to the champagne.
They soon settled into amiable conversation and Adi and Pankhuri felt the heaviness of their argument dissolving away. Talk soon drifted to post marriage plans and Latika asked, "Pankhuri, where do you intend to settle after marriage? Mumbai or Kullu?"
Shivam answered for her, "It will be Kullu, for I don't find Mumbai too conducive for us and also because both are families are in Kullu."
Adi raised a brow at that, "But what about Pankhuri's career? She wishes to pursue architecture."
"Of course, she can. There is no restriction on her following her career and dreams," replied Shivam.
"But Mumbai has better opportunities." Adi stated.
"Agreed. But Kullu also has plenty," Shivam argued.
"Adi, Shivam is right. And it's about me proving myself, that I can do in any city as long as I get to do what I want," pitched in Pankhuri.
Shivam shared a smile with her and Adi dropped the topic.
"What about you, Latika? What do you intend to do?" Pankhuri asked her.
"Oh, the first thing I'll do is go on a shopping spree to Paris and Milan! It's been a while since I did that," replied Latika with all the excitement of a six-year old.
"No, I mean, as in work-wise?" explained Pankhuri.
"Work," Latika laughed. "I wouldn't need to do that! Why, the Diwans are rich and I'm sure they wouldn't want their daughter-in-law to go out and work."
Adi gave a Pankhuri a look which clearly said, "Told ya, money is what she wants and money is what she gets."
Pankhuri replied with a pointed look of her own which nearly baffled Adi, because the message that it gave clearly was, "Then she's not worth it. You deserve better."
"Hey, Sunita!" Latika suddenly exclaimed as a group of girls entered the restaurant. The girl waved back and Latika turned to Adi, "I'll be back in a while, Adi.
Adi hardly noticed Latika's disappearance as his attention was fixated on Pankhuri.
"Pankh-" Shivam was suddenly interrupted as his cell phone buzzed. He excused himself, and went to attend the call leaving Adi and Pankhuri to themselves.
"What were you saying?" Adi asked.
"You know what I was saying," Pankshuri shrugged.
"So you seriously believe that Latika is not the girl for me?" Adi queried.
"Ask yourself. Is she?"
When Adi didn't reply but remained unmoved, she went on.
"Seriously, Adi, you can't be so nave. Do you really think Latika is the one who you're destined to spend your life with? Is she the one who makes you laugh? Is she the one who eases your pain and sorrow when you're in grief? Is she the one you see yourself waking up beside every day of your life? Is she the one who you see yourself coming home to after a tiresome and grueling day? Is she the one who you think completes you? Is she the one who you see as the mother of your children?"
"But Latika doesn't want kids!"
"And you, Adi? May be not now, but never? Ever?"
Adi was struck speechless as he didn't have the answer to any of her questions. He opened and closed his mouth a couple of times to speak, but when words evaded him, he shut up.
"No answers, eh? Think about it Adi, because marriage isn't as simple and as calculative as the two of you make it sound. It is a relationship of a lifetime, of joy, of togetherness. Of happiness. Does Latika make you happy? Think on this, Adi, and when you have the answers to these questions, you'll know whether Latika is the girl for you or not. Just because some marriages don't last doesn't mean that none do. It's all about making it work. Great marriages don't just happen, they need to be worked towards right from day one like any other commitments in life," saying so, she stood up and walked away. Adi was frozen in his seat for a moment before he realized that she had walked away. "Pankhuri!" he called out after her but she didn't heed. He got up to go after her but Latika, who'd just returned, grasped his hand and pulled him back.
"Latika, what?" he asked annoyed.
"Adi, don't you think that you're showering a lot of unnecessary attention on Pankhuri these days?" she asked. "She isn't really worth all your time."
"Latika, I think we signed a pre-nup just this morning wherein it was explicitly stated that you shall not interfere in my life and neither concern yourself with my friends or the amount of time I spend with them," Adi snapped.
Latika was taken aback and let go of his hand. Adi turned around to go in search of Pankhuri, however, he saw her walking in with Shivam.
After dinner, which had leaned more towards a formal affair with bits of polite conversation to prevent gaps of awkward silence, they left the hotel in pairs. Adi offered to drop Pankhuri home however, Shivam refused saying that he'd drop her, and so Adi was left with Latika. As he dropped her to the apartment and headed home, he found himself struggling to find answers to the tirade of questions, that Pankhuri had thrown at him at the hotel, with not great results.
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Joined: 29 January 2012