Judgement Day – Chapter 6
The elevator arrived. They got in, along with a hoard of other people. Rachana felt frustrated. She so wanted to talk about Karthick to Nandita. Since they had confirmed the proposal, she had been feeling like she would burst if she did not share this news with someone. Since she did not have many friends, she wanted to talk to Nandita, but with so many strangers around them it would now not be possible. Barely keeping her irritation in check, Rachana rode the elevator in silence. Nandita’s floor arrived. Before getting off the elevator, Nandita turned to her and said, “Lunch, together?”
Rachana nodded eagerly.
By the time lunchtime arrived, Rachana was ready to climb the four walls of the office in impatience. Barely had the clock struck the hour when she closed her files and was out of the office like a shot. She went to the canteen and looked for Nandita, but she was not in her usual seat. Rachana was ready to cry when she heard her.
“Rachana. Over here.” Looking around she saw Nandita waving at her from the food counter. Rachana hurried over to her. Nandita handed her one of the trays, laden with food.
“Come on, let’s sit down.”
They found a corner and put down the trays on the table. Then they sat down.
“Today, I treat you to lunch. After all, it is not every day that a girl had her marriage fixed.” Nandita said. Rachana smiled shyly.
“So, tell me about this guy.” Nandita bit into a fry, then took another and dipped it into the ketchup.
“Well, he works in the IT sector. Only son of his parents.”
“IT sector, you say? Which company?”
“Um – I am not sure.”
“You are not? Do you know his designation?”
“But don’t you think that is relevant? What if he is holding a small job in a call centre? That is IT sector too.”
“His name is Karthick.” Rachana blurted out.
Nandita looked up from her fish and chips. “What has that got to do with anything?”
“He is very handsome, and had a beautiful voice and when he talks he cocks his head in an earnest way.” Rachana gushed out in one breath.
“Do you mean to say that you want to marry him because of all this?” Nandita looked nonplussed. “Rachana, you must realize, surely, that his earnings are important too. He has to be able to sustain you and provide you with a decent lifestyle.”
“I know he will. He is a decent person.”
“And you are a romantic.”
“I am not. I waited for my parents to fix me a groom. I knew they would do the best for me. And sure enough, they have found somebody who suits my expectations of a husband. If they know me this well, they must have ascertained his financial position as well, I am sure. That is why I have not bothered to find that out myself.” Rachana stopped to take a swig of her soft drink.
“You are lucky to have such concerned parents.” Nandita said soberly. “What do you think about the guy? Apart from being very handsome, that is.”
“I think he is going to be just what I want.”
“And what do you want?”
Rachana paused and thought for a moment. “Somebody with whom I can share my innermost thoughts. Somebody who will be sensitive to my needs and desires. Somebody whom I can love.”
“How can you have ‘somebody whom you can love’? Love happens. It does not look for worthiness.”
“Love is a habit. You can learn to love somebody.”
Nandita shook her head in disbelief. “That is so – prosaic. What you are saying is you have a list of characteristics, which, if you find in a person , will make you love him? What about a child’s love to her mother? Do you think the child has a choice. Like, ‘if my mother is so and so, only then I will love her?’ No! It is an unconditional love that a child has for the mother, and the same goes for any other love. It should be spontaneous, not conditional.”
Rachana shrugged. “Well, I have not found anything like that yet and I am quite happy to marry Karthick and love him after marriage.”
Nandita put out her hand contritely. “ I am sorry. Do not get me wrong. Of course I am very happy for you. It is just that – I do not think that marriage is followed by love.”
“It is the wife’s duty to love the husband.” Rachana said.
“Oh. What about the husband then?”
“The same applies there too.”
Nandita realized that Rachana was too ingrained in her ideas about love and marriage. She gave up and asked instead, “Tell me your wedding plans. When is the happy event due?”
“In a week from now.”
“So soon?” Nandita was surprised. “How come?”
“They do not want to wait.” Rachana smiled.
But Nandita was frowning. “What is their rush?”
“Well, they said that since there is a date available this month, there was no point in waiting for a later date.”
“Don’t you think it is a bit too rushed? I mean, anybody would want to marry you once they get to know you – and by the way – have you talked to the guy?”
“Well, the day they all came to our place –“
Nandita made a sweep of her hand – an impatient gesture. “That doesn’t count. Have you met him on your own, talked things over, see what your mutual likings and disliking are?”
“I do not think that is necessary.”
“You don’t? Rachana, you are going to spend the rest of your life with this guy. Don’t you think a little pre-wedding research is absolutely important?”
“I trust my parents.” Rachana said placidly and proceeded to finish her meal.
But back home, Rachana went to her mother. “Ma, there was something I was thinking about.”
“What is it dear?”
“Um, I was thinking that maybe I should meet the boy once before marriage, you know, to talk about – well things.”
“What things?” Rachana’s mother asked absently, keeping an eagle’s eye on the boiling milk so that it didn’t spill over.
“You know, general things. What should be our plan for the future, what we should work for, things like that.”
“You can plan for your future together once you are married to the boy. There will be ample time.” Rachana’s mother turned off the oven and took the milk pan over to the counter. Then she turned and smiled at her daughter. “Your father and I never met before our marriage, and look at us.”
“Ma, are you happy?” Rachana suddenly blurted out. Her mother looked back at her, surprised. “I mean, are you happy the way you are? Are you happy with Papa?”
“Of course I am. I am content and happy. I have a nice house, a good husband who does not have any vices, two children who have come up nicely, what more do I need?”
“Revati?” Rachana’s father was home. Her mother became busy. “Coming.” She went out in a hurry to greet him. Rachana got herself a glass of water and went towards her room.