"What? Is Ma taking her medicines? How could she even suggest such a thing? And just what was Bhushan thinking? Hey Bhagwan..what is going on in my absence?"
Vikram was alternating between shock and anger at what Uma was telling him over the phone. He just could not fathom why Bhushan would even be looking at another woman when everyone knew how much he loved Suman. But at the mention of Jwala Singh, he didn't need to wonder any more. Jwala Singh just was not the type of man a decent person should keep company with. Jwala was into alcohol, fast money and women. And for Bhushan, who was a recovering alcoholic, Jwala was definitely not the company he should be keeping.
"Please Vikram, you have to do something. Ma is hell-bent on getting Bhushan a bedni if Suman doesn't come back by tomorrow. And Suman refuses to come back unless Bhushan publicly apologises which Ma will never allow...o Vikram I just don't know what to do or say.."
"Shhh Jiji..calm down. I will do something..ok?" Vikram reassured her. He knew how hard this must be for her. Her own husband had had a bedni and had spent his last moments with her, causing Uma to be deeply hurt and devastated .This was one of the reasons that Vikram hated love...it was just too painful.!!!
He just could not believe that his mother could be so insensitive to Uma's feelings. But what was he thinking? He laughed at himself for belately realising that they were talking about his mother, Godavari Thakurain, who was a stickler for traditions and reputation and her family's feelings be damned!!!
"Ok Vikram, I will wait for you to come...take care," Uma hung up the phone and felt relieved. She knew she could depend on Vikram to keep his word.
Vikram rubbed his forehead wondering what he would do. He cancelled all his meetings and made arrangements to leave for Mahuari. He didn't bother sleeping that night because he knew he wouldn't be able to anyway. Instead, he packed his bags so that Dhanumaa wouldn't have to.
"I don't want just any bedni Bamsukhiya. She must be of good quality, after all it is the question of my son's reputation," Ma Saheb was talking to Bamsukhiya, the man who was in charge of arranging bednis for functions held by thakurs.
"Yes, thakurain ma'am. I promise you will get a very special bedni for Thakur Bhushan," Bamsukhiya was eager to assure MaSaheb.
"You have until morning to find the bedni Bamsukhiya and make the arrangements for the sardakai for tomorrow itself once I give my approval ...and yes...I do have a condition that must be followed at any cost."
"Of course Thakurain ji. What is your condition?"
"The bedni will be living in my guest house after the sardakai. "
"What? live in your guest house? But thakurain ma'am no bedni has ever done that before. Are you sure?" Bamsukhiya was surprised at MaSaheb's condition. This was unheard of in the history of bednis.
"You heard me correct Bamsukhiya. She has to live in the guest house... Inform me as soon as you find the bedni. Goodbye," MaSaheb left him to go and make arrangements for the bedni to stay in the guest house.
Bamsukhiya left MaSaheb's haveli scratching his head. He was surprised at the condition but these thakurs were so weird that nothing they did or requested, fazed him anymore. He wondered for a bit on who would be the best bedni for Thakur Bhushan. Since she would be living at the mansion, she would have to be extra special. Bamsukhiya wanted to make sure he chose the best bedni as he knew that he could profit financially from this deal in a huge way. The best dancer in the whole of Mahuari was Gulabiya but she was sick right now. She wouldn't get better for quite sometime to come...but... her daughter, Sugni. Yes!! Sugni would be the perfect choice. And he knew for a fact that with her mother sick and her family in a financial strait, she had finally agreed to do rai and get her sardakai done. This was a perfect opportunity and would be beneficial to all. With his mind made up,he headed to Gulabiya's house to make the proposal.
"Yes Gulabiya, it is all true. Godavari thakurain wants a bedni for her son. I have decided on Sugni."
"But Bums, how can Sugni live there? No, I won't allow it," Gulabiya was unsure of MaSaheb's condition.
"Gulabiya, trust me Sugni will not get a better offer. Godavari's family is one of the wealthiest. Sugni will not get a better offer. There is nothing to think about. Just accept the offer,"
"Bums, I don't think it is a good idea. And Sugni when did you decide to do Rai and sardakai? What happened to your dreams of moving to the city?
" Gulabiya was feeling overwhelmed with all these news. She felt like she had been sick forever. When did her daughter who had so much hopes and dreams decide to give it up and become a bedni? And now Godavari Thakurain wanted Sugni to be her son's bedni and live in her guest house? No, this was not happening. Her daughter was not giving up on her dreams...
"Bums, I accept the offer. Please go and tell thakurain ma'am and I will talk to Mai," Sugni quickly ushered Bamsukhiya out the house before Gulabiya could say another word..She took
a deep breath and turned to face her mother.
"Mai please don't get upset. I have taken this decision for practical reasons. We need to eat, you need medicines and Aunt Laxmi needs money to pay for her hospital bills and buy things for the baby..."Sugni wanted to convince her mother.
"No Sugni, I can't let you do that. I am fine now. I will go to work. I will do Rai and everything will be fine..you will not give up your dreams for me.." Gulabiya told her and tried to get up. But she had to lay back as she felt dizzy.
"No Mai, you are not well. And I am doing this for everyone's sake. .."
"Sugni if we need money for food and hospital bills then use the money I had set aside for our move to the city. Once I start dancing again I will replace the money..but you won't become a bedni..."
"Mai...oh,,Mai," Sugni hugged her mother and tried to swallow back her tears, " Mai..I already used that money to buy food and medicines...we have absolutely nothing left...we are barely scraping by. This offer is our only option for survival right now..."
"Sugni!! Things are so bad?..oh sita maiya... Sugni why didn't you say something earlier, I could have still tried to dance..." Gulabiya was appalled.
"Mai, you will not even think like that ok? The only reason I am telling you all this is because I want you to understand the situation. I am not sad that my dreams are shattered. In fact, I am happy to be able to do something for my familywhen they need me and that you don't have to worry yourself. We are bednis from the Bedia tribe. This is what we were born for. All that other foolish dreams were just that mai...foolish. What could be better than the feeling of satisfaction you can get from taking care of your family? Huh mai? How can I dream of moving to the city when my family may not be able to maintain their house here? How can I dream of working in the city when my family will soon have no food to eat? How can I dream of marrying a handsome guy who will love and take care of me when my family has no support? ... No ma, I am not going to dream about a perfect future because I am needed in the present Ok ma?" Sugni smiled broadly at her mother and wiped away her tears.
"Sugni...I am your mother. You cannot hide the truth from me. I know that you are sad about your shattered dreams and I am sorry. Please forgive me."
"No mai, don't say that. Besides which other bedni has ever lived in a thakur's guest house? huh?" Sugni tried to tease her mother into smiling and was happy when her mother did. She hugged her mother tightly and they both swallowed back their tears and pain so that the other will not see...
Edited by JulieD - 13 June 2013 at 8:34pm