Sometimes if choosing something makes you something else, that doesn’t necessarily mean that if you will choose something else, that will also make you something. Like, if choosing gold over silver makes you smart. That doesn’t necessarily mean that if you are smart, you will choose gold each time. I mean, maybe you would be needing silver for some other purpose. Other purpose like, saving the world, perhaps. Or for something else. I know, it’s complicated. Still!
We both were in our city for Diwali vacations. Rishi was smart enough to talk to his mom-dad and convince them to meet me. And, I was sweet enough to impress them. Everything went insanely well, except for the fact that I used the name ‘Rishi’ way too much that day. And, the second in the list of most used words that day by yours truly, were ‘amazing, Mummy’. How is everyone at home- Amazing, Mummy. How are you doing- Amazing, Mummy. Did you like the samosa- Amazing, Mummy. What are your future plans- Amazing, Mummy. What are your hobbies – Amazing, Mummy. How is politics, how do you find daily soaps, Salman Khan movies, sarees, Rishi’s house, beggar sitting outside, his little daughter, dog sitting beside them. Blah. Blah. Blah- All. Amazing. Mummy. Ji.
As the topic came of convincing my mom and dad, I was not the smarter girlfriend which I always thought I was. I was afraid and nervous and feeling dreadful, wanting to scoot inside my room like a rat in a hole and sleep there for a thousand years. My hands and legs and eye lashes and the nails of my fingers started to shiver thinking about making them meet.
Choosing a smart boyfriend made me smarter, but that same smart boyfriend was not smarter-smarter by choosing a smarter girlfriend like me. See, here’s that something, something-else analogy. Sometimes, I am so impressed by myself, you see. Hope you get it this time. If you still don’t get it. Don’t worry. I like to blabber stupidly sometimes. Whatever!
I somehow managed to pull it off and set up a meeting between my parents and Rishi. Now, it was Rishi’s turn to bring the rabbit out of his hat.
That day, he was about to visit my place in Manali. It was a day right before Diwali that we chose to make him visit my place. I had shared least possible information about him with my parents. They both anyway knew that there was someone special in my life. After all, you have an ultra-happy face only when either you are in love or.. I don’t know.
It was eleven in the morning, when I saw someone in a suited booted avatar with green shades on his eyes riding on a black Yamaha bike, moving towards our mansion’s entrance. It was him. When did he buy that suit- grey, sleek, sexy, I wondered. Maybe, that was his going-to-meet-my-girl’s-parents attire. I must say, he looked dapper. I was impressed. It’s not that easy to impress me though.
Guard bhaiya, who had just arrived, sat right beside the gate in his grey sweater to beat the negligible winter breeze that had begun to flow at early mornings and late evenings. He stopped Rishi. I shouted from my room’s window to let him in. As expected, my twittering like voice didn’t reach him. I ran downstairs hastily. My jaw dropped as I saw him closely parking his bike. He looked dashing. I threw a bravo-expression at him, patting his back. Bravo-expression: Raise your left eyebrow, fold your lips, move your head to-and-fro several times with hand raising from below in appreciation, as if you are Salim and the other person (in this case- Rishi) is Anarkali.
“C’mon, Mishi!” He was fidgeting. He seemed nervous.
“What were you talking to the guard bhaiya at the gate?” I asked.
“I was wondering, is this really your house?”
“Then? What did he say?”
“He said- kya saab aap bhi na?” replied Rishi, trying to set his already set hairs.
“Hope, he didn’t touch you,”
“He is a gold digger. I mean, nose digger. Kids nearby tease him by that name- gold digger,” I said.
“Yukk!” Rishi screamed.
“Yaar, Rishiiiii!” I kept my hand on his shoulder, looking at the glass of his bike.
“What happened now?”
“I had a haircut yesterday with bangs. I loved them then, but since today as I got out of the shower, I’m not loving it,” I said making a puppy face.
“Aww. My baby, but that is making you look even younger. Don’t worry. You look, amazing, as always. By the way, when did you guys shift to this place?” he asked.
“Two years back. Actually, my forefathers are from Manali and we owned some properties here. After mom passed away and Dad chose to marry Rashmi aunty, he thought it was a wise idea to move to our bungalow, which we were supposed to shift in when my mother was alive. She liked it there. She was a lady content in little things and little happiness of the world, just like me. My father always tried to convince her to move to this very place. And, I was anyway in Mumbai when Dad decided to shift. So!” I replied.
“Hmm. I didn’t know, he owned such a big property in Manali,” he said, ready to march in.
We three- He, me and the bouquet that he had carried successfully with a good balancing act on his bike, stepped inside the living room. Needless to say, my heart was pumping in more blood than the usual. Our mali bhaiya- Arun (the gardener) came running, sensing that something was brewing inside our house.
“Hello, Uncle! So glad to finally meet you,” Rishi said throwing his hand towards Arun. Arun’s yellow teeth opened to flaunt his Patanjali smile. Rishi assumed him to be my dad. He knew that my father’s hobby was gardening.
“Rishi!” I said gritting my teeth, “He is our gardener bhaiya- Arun.”
“Oh! I am sorry,” he said pulling back his hand. Arun’s hand was now stretched. Rishi again took his hand towards him and greeted. Nervousness dripped through his finely-facialled face, his ever nervous smile complimented it. He smelled good as usual wearing his Calvin Klein perfume. I was addicted to its sweet fragrance.
“So, young man!” A loud voice filled the hall. My Dad in his cool, grey denim pants and a crisply ironed white shirt marched towards Rishi and continued, “It seems, you have met our whole staff well.” The bouquet fumbled from Rishi’s hands before he managed to hold it back.
“Hello, Sir!” Rishi shook hands with Dad flashing him a warm smile. Dad asked him to make himself comfortable on the couch. He then instructed me to go and call my mother. My step-mother, I mean. I winked looking at Rishi with a thumbs up, my lips formed the word- enjoy. When I was at Rishi’s place, he was acting smart and was teasing me continuously. It was now my turn, I thought and giggled.
Rashmi aunty- my mom now, was as usual taking time for dressing up. She was a die-hard fan of the foundation and the eyeliners and the blush and the highlighter and the Mascara. She is one of those ladies because of whom guys always have an opinion that girls take a decade to get dolled up.
Asking her to come out soon, I came back to witness the two gentlemen talking. I stood far away hiding myself, savoring the fun of watching the two men having, what seemed to be a happy-go-lucky conversation. Although, they had talked to each other once over phone, but that was under a whole different set of circumstances. Rishi, just like Rashmi aunty, was applying all the essential make-up ingredients to make our relationship glow like a beautiful bride. May he apply the best quality concealer to hide the dark circles of doubts my parents might be having, bestow on them the white intense foundation of trust, use with finesse the mascara of letting them know about the happiness he is going to apply on the eye lashes of our everyday lives. May my parents be able to see the perfect, sparkling smile we both would be wearing on our faces each and every day as we look in the clear mirror of the bond that soon we will be in- marriage. I wished all goes well.
The bouquet was now resting on the table towards Rishi. He seemed to be a bit at ease. I walked towards them.
“Rashmi aunty would be here soon,” I said sitting near Dad on the sofa keeping my one leg over the other and hand over my chin, looking straight into Rishi’s eyes. I don’t know why I was in a fun mood rather than sweating my guts out. My Dad got a phone call and got busy.
“Kya hai? On whose side are you? Why are you making me even more nervous?” Rishi asked, looking at me with an angry face. I smiled, blinked my eyes in an animated fashion tilting my head from left to right, my finger pointing towards Dad.
“Yours!” I chuckled saying.
Looking at my amusement-tantrums, Rishi took my name aloud. I grinned from ear to ear.
“Mishi! Bring something for the young man here,” Dad said as he hung up the phone. As soon as he said it, Pallu aunty brought a tray filled with water. Rishi got up and touched her feet thinking her to be Rashmi aunty. Awestruck with Rishi’s innocence, I took lead this time.
“This is Pallu aunty, Rishi. She is like my second mother. She took care of me since my childhood along with my mother. You remember her? Don’t you?” I said.
“Oh! Yes, Pallu aunty. How can I forget her. I have met her.. once,” he said. Aunty kept her hand on Rishi’s head, blessing him after she kept the tray on the table. There was a warm smile on her face as she looked at me. It was like an approval that she liked Rishi. She had a knack for recognizing and knowing about people what they truly were- good, bad, whatever. Basically, locals of Manali are very pure by heart. They are very simple with their values intact. Pallu aunty, right since my childhood was good at knowing a lot about the real self of people just by observing them. On the same hand, she had immense confidence on me. After my mother passed away, she had tried to fill the void that my mother’s departure had created. And to an extent, she was successful at doing so. I smiled back at her, happy that she liked Rishi.
Finally, Rashmi aunty entered the room. Rishi’s jaw dropped looking at his beautiful-gonna-be-mother-in-law. This time Rishi didn’t stand, instead greeted her with folded hands. I looked at him with eyes as big as footballs. He immediately got up to touch her feet. I and Dad laughed. Rishi’s face turned from white to red within seconds.
“Beta! One must hug his mother and not only touch her feet,” she said pulling Rishi towards her. It felt like an aww moment. Things were turning out to be the exact opposite of what I had thought previously.
Did they already like Rishi and his profile, or they want me to get out of this house asap. What is it? Anyway, Rishi would have been thinking, what an amazing family is ours. Where the father laughs when his would-be-son-in-law does something funny, while the mother hugs him. If there was an award for an awkwardly amazing family, we would have been under the top ten for sure.
After some random what do you do, what are you future plans, which vegetables you like the most and some more questions like that, Rishi became comfortable with both of them. Meanwhile, Arun kept my father on his toes. My father loved his plants more than anything. He was possessive about them so much that, he couldn’t see any action taken on them without his knowledge. Although, the gardener bhaiya was coming once a week since the past few years now, still Dad didn’t trust him completely.
Rashmi aunty asked Rishi about his parents, what were their expectations from their daughter-in-law. Rishi expounded politely. As I was beginning to think that everything was going on well, Dad threw a question bomb on Rishi as soon as he returned from the garden with mud in his hands. Walking towards the wash basin, which was at the corner of the dining room connecting to our living room, Dad shouted. “How much dowry are you going to give us, Rishi beta?”
Rishi snapped his eyes towards me, confused. I looked back at him, then towards Dad who was washing his hands, then again towards Rishi with an even more confused expression.
“Dowry?” Rishi asked, “By the way, boys take dowry in our country, uncle. Isn’t it?”
Dad wiped his hands with towel. “Means, you will take dowry from us?”
“My parents have made a long list, actually,” Rishi said looking towards Dad, then towards Rashmi aunty. They both looked at me.
“You joke well, Rishi,” my dad said trying to smile. Rishi looked at him with straight face. Silence for a while. Pallu aunty standing far away with the breakfast tray in her hand gave me a what-was-that look.
“Who started it, Uncle?” Rishi said, laughing this time. Everyone laughed with him. I heaved a sigh of relief. Pallu aunty’s legs which were glued to the ground listening to the conversation, again gained pace.
Snacks were served to everyone.
“Uncle!” Rishi said.
“Beta, have something first. This aloo bada is Pallu’s speciality,” Dad suggested. I took a spoon in my hand and buried it in aloo bada, chutney flowing all over it. I was famished.
Rishi kept the snack’s plate on the table, took the bouquet in his hands and gave it to Rashmi aunty. The sound of polythene wrapped around the bouquet that was now in Rashmi aunty’s hand, along with Rishi’s heart beat was clearly audible to me. Rishi’s body language again suggested that he was nervous than ever.
He started, “Uncle! Aunty!” his eyes had a sparkle in them. He continued.
“Everyone have something in their lives, to which they are afraid of losing. Before I met your daughter, I was completely a careless guy who bothered about nothing.” Words were coming out of his mouth swiftly and softly. Everyone was all ears.
“Seriously, nothing, Sir. I didn’t care much if I lose anything. I took life as a play in which everyone has to depart from your life at some point or the other. But now, Mishi.. I mean, Mishika.. Mishi.. is the most precious thing I have in my life,” he said looking straight into Dad’s eyes. His whole body oozed honesty. Pure honesty. In that air conditioned room, sweat gathered around his forehead. He sat down on his knees, took my dad’s hands in his hand. My eyes began to brim with tears, he continued.
“Uncle!” He then turned his gaze at Rashmi aunty. “Aunty! I will keep your daughter always happy. I will take care of her, no matter what. I will do everything an ideal husband must do for his princess.” The atmosphere that was exploding with laughter and some light moments, suddenly turned serious. As I could see, Rashmi aunty and Dad too were feeling every word that came out of Rishi’s mouth. Dad rose with his hands on Rishi’s shoulder, as if asking him to get up. His eyes seemed moist too. He was an emotional man. Dad then embraced Rishi in a tight grip of gratitude and love. It was a rare moment. I wiped tears from my cheek. I must admit, I haven’t thought of anything like this to happen when Rishi would meet my parents. I was one hundred percent wrong in each and every tiny, little thing that happened that day with me. With us, actually. I was left wonderstruck.
After a sumptuous breakfast, Dad took Rishi to show him our mansion. After a while, Rishi took my parents permission to leave. I accompanied him to the gate.
“Rishi! You know what?” I said, keeping my hand on his, which rested on the handle of his bike.
“What?” he said. I gave a peck on his cheek.
“Nothing!” I said. He smiled.
“But there is something I want to tell you before things proceed further,” I said.
“Haan, batao na. Tell me.”
“It’s.. It’s something serious. And, I think you must know it. But, I am wondering, should I tell it to you now?”
“Tell me na, Mishi. What is it? And, from when have you started to hide things from me?”
“I think, I shouldn’t tell you that today. Not today. Maybe some other day,” I said with a serious baritone in my voice.
“Aree. That’s not fair. You shouldn’t bring up something unless you want to share it. And this seems serious. I want to know it now.” He was reluctant.
“Okay! So, listen. Its like.. How should I say? I mean.. Okay! Listen.. There’s something that my parents think I have already shared with you. Because, I told them that I have.”
“What is it, Mishi?”
“It’s.. Please don’t panic. It’s just that, there’s a little hole in my heart since my childhood, in case I never told you. Did I? Didn’t I? Anyway. And, the last time I was here in Manali, I felt severe pain in my chest. I went for a checkup with my dad. To be precise, as we came back home that day, I overheard Dad telling Rashmi aunty, that I may live only for 5-6 years.”
“What?” he said, his eyes became larger than the usual, “Please don’t joke about such things, Mishi.” Tension was evident on his face.
I made a firm grip on his hand. “I am not, Rishi! I am not joking.”
“What are you saying? It’s not the right time for your.. your stupid pranks. We must be delighted that all went well, and actually, must celebrate… “
I sliced his sentence in between. “If you don’t believe me, come in and ask my dad. The very first question that he asked me when I told him to meet you was, do you know about it all. I obviously said- yes you know. And that’s why they both were so happy today. And.. Rishi! I am sorry. But this is serious.”
My eyes were sad now as was Rishi’s. I continued with pain in my voice. “I know, I should have told this to you earlier. But, I too was not able to get over it. I tried to tell this to you several..” Before I could have uttered another word, Rishi kept his finger on my lips, got down from his bike and gave me a tight hug. His warm arms around me calmed me down.
I knew this prank of mine was going to cost me his volcanic anger afterwards. I just wish that this kaala teeka- black spot that I just applied, doesn’t get spread all over the face of our relationship. But it was important to me. Really important!
I will get back to you on what was Rishi’s reaction when he came to know the reality. Soon. Till then, Sat Sri Akal.
Hi! Hope you liked the third episode as much as you loved the first two. Kindly show some love in the comments section down below.
To be honest, it’s just because of your immense love to Rishi & Mishika’s love story, it is now getting converted to a full-fledged novel. This, probably would be the last episode before the novel is out on 14th Feb’2019. Hope you will shower your love & support as always. Keep reading.