Judgement Day – Chapter 5
A few days later, Rachana’s father came home, excited.
“Where is Rachana?”
“She is not yet back from work.” Said her mother.
“Ahh. What does she do so late in the evening, huh?”
“She is a good girl. She comes back as soon as her work is done.” Rachana’s mother protested. Then, with a lowered voice, as if somebody might hear her, though there was nobody in the room except the two of them, “Any news?”
“Not of that Mukesh. But one of my colleagues had mentioned about a boy who works in the IT sector.”
“Ah, like her.”
“Yes. He happens to be a relative of his neighbour’s. I had written to them, and they have replied. They want to meet and finalize the marriage.”
“But they have not seen the girl yet!”
“Don’t worry. I have replied back that before finalizing, the boy and the girl should meet. After all, both work in the IT industry. They have minds and opinions of their own.” Rachana’s father laughed out loud.
When she came home that evening, it was to the news that a boy named Karthick and his parents were to meet her the next Sunday. She sighed, resigned this time.
“At least I know what to expect.” She thought.
Sunday arrived with anticipation from both her parents. Sunil was his usual sceptic self. Rachana was subdued.
Karthick and his parents arrived early in the afternoon. He was a strikingly handsome man, in his late twenties, tall, with chiselled features and a head of curly hair. His parents were elderly people, the mother a homemaker and father, a retired police officer. When Rachana went into the room, which had been done up with fresh curtains and new cushions on the chairs, she could hardly look up at the handsome man , she was so flustered by his sheer beauty. When Karthick spoke, her confusion grew. He had a deep, melodious voice, and the way he put his head to one side while talking seemed to be very earnest to Rachana.
“What is the matter with me?” She thought to herself. “I have never felt like this before.”
Karthick spoke very little, though. Apart from enquiring about her name and her job, he remained mostly silent, even a little bored perhaps. It was his mother who did most of the talking, asking about Rachana’s skills in cooking, what she liked to do with her spare time, and such things. After some time, Rachana was sent back to her room while the parents of the boy and the girl exchanged pleasantries.
Back in her room, Rachana wished she had been given more time to interact with Karthick. But she also felt oddly relieved that she did not have had to face him for long. She ignored the sounds of small talk drifting from the other room and went straight to her bed, where she lay down, silk saree and all. She closed her eyes and imagined Karthick as her husband. She could see him coming over to her, place his hands over her shoulders, looking deep into her eyes. She wanted to put her head on his strong chest before she drifted off to sleep. She could see herself and Karthick in a small, cosy apartment, where they both came back from work in the evening. She would cook for him and they would have intimate dinners together. She would never allow him to smoke, that was hazardous for his health. On Sundays, they would go exploring the outskirts of the town together, or maybe stay at home and watch a movie and have pizza.
“Rachana? Are you sleeping?”
Rachana was startled out of her daydreams by her mother’s voice. She sat up and looked around. Her mother was standing at the door, peering anxiously at her. The house seemed quiet; they must have left without her noticing.
“Where is Papa, Ma?”
“He has gone to see them off. You should change and please be careful with that saree – it is expensive.”
Rachana went to her closet and took out a kaftan. Then she headed for the bathroom. “I shall have to take a shower as well. It is hot.”
When she came out of the bathroom, her father was home. Rachana wanted to ask him if Karthick’s parents had indicated anything, or even Karthick, but was too shy to ask. She went to her room instead.
“Well? Did they say anything?” Rachana’s mother.
“They will let us know in a couple of days.”
“It is fair, I suppose. They will want to discuss it first, before they commit anything.”
“Yes.” A pause for a minute. Then, “What is there for dinner?”
Rachana sighed. They she began to wait. And hope.
A fortnight later, a blushing Rachana waited for Nandita at the auto stand in front of their office. When she saw Nandita approaching, she eagerly went to meet her.
“Hi. What’s up?” Nandita asked in her usual exuberant manner.
“Well,” Rachana hesitated. She could feel her ears grow warm. Who would have thought that talking about one’s impending wedding was so difficult?
“Well – what?” Nandita was laughing.
“I – um – I am about to marry.”
“Oooh!” Nandita squealed in delight. “Who is the lucky guy. I take it is not Sudesh. I would have known by now.”