The next morning Sugni woke up feeling disoriented. She wondered how her mother did not come to wake her and then the happenings of the previous day came back to her and she jumped out the bed.
She wondered how her mother was doing. She should go to the hospital to check on her. She hurried to the bathroom and then found clothes
in a wardrobe which she realised was for her to wear after her sardakai. She quickly changed into a blue and gold lehenga and went in search of Vikram.
As she stepped into the living room she saw him asleep on the sofa. His legs were hanging over the handrest and one of his arm rested above his
head while the other was hanging off the sofa. She walked up to him very quietly and stared down at him. This man was going to be her pretend husband for god knew how long. They were supposed to convince Suman that they were happily in love. She supposed that it would not be such a difficult task because he was very handsome and from what she knew so far, he was also a very kind hearted person. She still could not believe that he had actually taken her mother to the hospital. She would forever be thankful to him for that. It all seemed like a dream of some kind, except that he was in front of her so it had to be real. Last night he didn't even attempt to touch her at all like some of the other lecherous thakurs she knew would not have wasted a moment in taking advantage of her. He did say that he was not interested in a bedni and so far, she knocked on the wooden handrest of the sofa, it seemed that he had told the truth. Whoever married him would be a lucky thakurain. His wife would never have to worry about him being with a bedni!!
She wondered what Reva must have been like. He must have really loved her alot if he was so broken up after she died. In fact, he still was because in reality he was not in love with Sugni as Suman believed.
"If I have passed your inspection, then may I get up?"
Sugni nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of his voice. She was lost in her thoughts that she did not realise that Vikram had opened his
eyes and had caught her staring at him. As she tore her eyes from the broad, muscular planes of his chest, she mumbled "Sorry malak, I was just..uh.."
"Checking out the merchandise?"
"What? no no malak!!! I was only.."
"It's okay Sugni, I was only teasing you." he chuckled at her expression, "you seemed to be in a very deep thought. Are you worried about your mother?"
"Actually I am. I was about to go visit her but as we are supposed to be newly weds, I am not sure what I am supposed to do," she admitted. "I want to see my mother but I don't know how soon I can leave?"
"That's no problem Sugni. You can visit your mother right now. In fact, let me freshen up and I will take you to see her."
"No no malak. I could go on my own. You don't need to take me..."
"Sugni, it's not a problem at all. Just give me a couple minutes." He told her and headed to the bathroom.
There was a knock on the door. Sugni opened it to Uma who walked right in. "Oh good you are up. Where is bhaiya?"
"Having a bath..I think."
"No problem. Sugni, the thing is that Suman's parents are still here and they want to take part in the cooking ritual. In a few minutes, Suman will come to take you to the kitchen for the ritual...um can you cook?"
"Yes thakurain ji. I can cook. My mother taught me and her food is very delicious!!"
"Good then. I was worried for nothing... So you will prepare a sweet dish first and then do the rest of the meal okay?"
"Yes I will. But thakurain ji..um..well I was... I was going..."
"Uma? Is Sugni awake?" MaSaheb came barging into the room before Sugni could finish her sentence. "Listen Sugni, Suman's parents are still here and is excited about the cooking ritual. Now I will not eat from a bedni so Ramu will prepare the food while you wait in the kitchen. Then you will say that you have prepared the meal. Ramu will serve us and you will just graciously accept whatever compliments and gifts they give you ok?"
"But ma, Suman bhabhi is..." Uma started to say but was also interrupted.
"Good morning," Suman called out in a sing song voice." What is this? Everyone is excited to greet the new bride! You all beat me to it!"
"No bhabhi, we just wanted to make sure Sugni had slept well last night. This being a strange place and all that.." Uma tried to cover up.
"Uma?? you are joking right? What sleep are you talking off? Are you forgetting it was Sugni's suhaag raat? Your dear brother would not have let.."
"Suman!!" MaSaheb called out as Sugni felt her face grow warm with embarassment.
"Oh!! sorry Ma Saheb...I..I was just joking..um Sugni? shall we go to the kitchen now? I am curious to know if my devrani is a better cook than I am," Suman said with a wink and led Sugni out of the room and into the kitchen.
"I better go and make sure that bedni does not touch my food!!!" Ma Saheb said and also left the room.
"Ok ma." Uma said and sat on the sofa to wait for Vikram. She wanted to talk to Vikram so that he could hopefully make sense out of the craziness that was taking place in the house. Yesterday, she had almost fainted when she saw Suman and her parents. She was sure that Suman had told them about Bhushan and they were there to wring his neck. But thankfully, Suman had not said a word to them about Bhushan and they had in fact come to tell them of the furniture tender.
When Ma Saheb and Bhushan had returned from the sardakai, they were equally troubled to see Suman and her parents. Ma Saheb could not get through to Vikram on his mobile. But she had pretended to be talking to him and said that he had gotten married and was bringing home his new bride. Suman, was of course, very surprised, especially as Reva had been not only Vikram's fiancee but also Suman's best friend. Everyone knew how much Vikram was torn apart over Reva's death. He had cursed love and refused to accept that he would ever get over her.
Suman had pulled her aside to question her about the other woman that she was going to lose Bhushan to. But Uma had laughed it off and said
that she and Bhushan had made that up so that Suman would come back home. And when she had asked about the clothes MaSaheb and
Bhushan were wearing, she had to lie again that they were returning from a prayer in the mandir. Suman had looked at her suspiciously but had accepted the lies for the time being. But Uma was sure that Suman would be watching Vikram and Sugni carefully. Even Bhushan was not
completely forgiven for Uma had seen him creeping down with his pillow from the terrace in the wee hours of the morning.
"Jiji? Where is Sugni?" Vikram asked as he came into the room.
"Suman bhabhi has taken her to the kitchen for the cooking ritual."
"What? But we were supposed to go to the hospital. Her mother is ill."
"I don't think that will be possible with Suman hovering around. You know that she has some doubts still about your marriage to Sugni right?"
"I better call the hospital and enquire about Gulabiya ji. Sugni was really anxious to see her mother. Hold on a minute ok?" Vikram told her and went to call the hospital.
Uma watched him while he talked to the doctor. He seemed really concerned about Sugni's mother and she mentioned it to him once he hung up.
"Well yes. You know she collapsed after the ceremony when she realised that I was not the thakur who was supposed to do the sardakai?" and he proceeded to tell her all that had happened.
"Wow, that must have been something. But I am sure she will be fine soon, you have the best doctors looking after her. So do you think that we can keep all this under wraps until Suman's parents leave?"
"We really don't have a choice right now, Jiji. Let's just be careful okay. Now let me see if I can get a chance to speak to Sugni to let her know about her mother. I know her mind must be troubled right now." Vikram said and left Uma.
"Sugni? May I speak to you for a minute please?" Vikram stood by the kitchen door watching Sugni peel potatoes. On the kitchen counter was a bowl of kheer. He wondered if it tasted as delicious as it looked.
"Ma? Is she ok? What's wrong with her?" Sugni rushed over to Vikram with a frightened look.
"No no she is fine."
"Sugni, I called the hospital to find out how your mother was doing. The doctor said that they wanted to run a few more tests on her to diagnose
the problem but they don't have the necessary equipments available here. They will need to send her to the next village for that. I went ahead and told them to take her there and get whatever tests done,"
he explained to her.
"What? I will have to see her then before she leaves," Sugni said.
"Sugni, I am afraid you won't be able to. They must be on their way as we speak. You won't be able to see her for a few days." he told her.
"Sugni? I am sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. But when the doctor told me of the next step in her treatment I just told them to go ahead. I should have asked you first."
"No no malak. Please don't apologise. It's ok. I want her to get better...It's just that I miss my ma. She wakes me up every morning. We talk about so many things while doing the daily chores. I just miss her. That's all..." she told him. She went back to peeling the potatoes.
"I will call the hospital later today and we will see if you can talk to her. Ok?"
"Thank you malak!!" she told him and flashed him one of her smiles. He smiled back.
"Excuse me thakur saab?" Ramu called out.
"Your mother has asked me to prepare her meals and to throw away whatever the bedn...uh I mean whatever that Sugni ji has prepared."
"Is that so?" Vikram was very angry. He looked at Sugni and saw the smile disappear from her face. "Ramu you will stay here and look on as Sugni cooks. You will not throw away the food she has prepared . If anyone does, then they will have to look for a job elsewhere. Understand?"
"Yes thakur saab."
"Malak there is no need for that. I could let him take over."
"No Sugni. You will continue the ritual. We are already pretending to be married as it is and this is one of the rituals, ok?" he told her
and left the kitchen.
Everyone sat at the table and waited for Ramu to serve the food. Sugni stood to the side wringing her hands and whispering something softly while Vikram was looking at her.
"So devarji, you get to taste the food first since she is your wife," Suman told him.
He picked up a spoonful of the curry she had made and tasted it while everyone waited with bated breath.
"Sugni that was very delicious.Possibly the most delicious curry potatoes I have ever tasted," he told her with a huge smile.
"Come on everyone, let's eat!!" Suman said.
"Wow Godavari ji. Your daughter-in-law is a great cook. This food is very delicious," Suman's mother told MaSaheb.
MaSaheb smiled and took a spoonful of the food. As soon as she tasted it she dropped the spoon and looked very angrily at Ramu.
"What is it Ma? Are you ok?" Jiji asked her.
"Yes I am fine. Please excuse me everyone," MaSaheb said and tried to get up but Shalini stopped her.
"What is wrong? Why are you leaving the table so soon?"
"Oh don't worry Shalini ji. I am fine. I just remembered some important work I had to do."
"Is that all? Godavari ji, it is your daughter-in-law's first meal. Please leave all that aside for now. Surely it can wait until you have finished eating. The food is really good."
MaSaheb had no choice but to sit back down and eat the food she knew that Sugni had prepared. She flashed one of her fake smiles at Shalini and started eating. She could not wait to deal with Ramu. From that first bite, she knew that Ramu had not prepared the food. She was forced to eat the food cooked by a bedni!!! Vikram chuckled to himself because he knew that his mother realised that Sugni had cooked the food.
"So let's give Sugni her gifts." Suman said, "let's start with Sugni's sasu ma.
"Oh I didn't get time to select a gift for her so I will just ask Ramu to get some cash ok?"
"What? No MaSaheb. Cash will not do. Why don't you give her the other side of the gold bangle that you had given to me?" Suman asked her.
"Yes, Godavari ji. That's a wonderful idea. Money is not a good gift from you. But the bangle she will wear all the time and be able to remember this day," Shalini told her.
"Ok then. I will give the bangle to her. Sugni come here," she told Sugni and took the bangle off her hand and slipped it on Sugni's hand.
"Oh I am so excited!! Let me see Sugni. Now we are matching!! I got the other side when I did my cooking ritual too!!"
Sugni smiled at Suman. She was happy to see Suman so excited and happy. She touched the bangle on her hand and looked at MaSaheb, who was looking at her with a blank expression. She knew that MaSaheb was very angry. She wanted to tell her not to worry about the bangle, that she would return it as soon as this act was over. Everyone else gave her their gifts of money and jewellry. Even Vikram gifted her a necklace.
In the midst of it all, Suman asked" So Devar ji and Sugni, won't you show us the certificate?"
Vikram and Sugni looked at each other confused. "What certificate?" he asked her.
"Why, your marriage certificate of course!!"
Edited by JulieD - 03 August 2013 at 9:27pm