Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Evening Walks

"I still rememeber the days we would take long evening walks together", blushed Suhani.He always had this effect on her.She would smile for no reason, became a poetic dreamer, and would seep back into nostalgia.It  was with Rajeev when she was truly happy, living a life of a chirpy youngster even when she was forty now.

The couple moved towards a  green coloured ,half-rusted bench .Rajeev said enthusiatically, "Do you remember how we first met ?"

"Yes, I surely do Mr. Sharma.That was how she would address him even twenty years ago.You were doing nothing that morning so you were sent to get Chole-Bhature for your guests i.e us,weren't you? "

"Yes ,I was. I didn't realise that I would not only help you with your Sunday brunch but also with the shifting and would be treated like an errand boy by your mother ,Suhani," he laughed as he remembered how they had met.
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It was a  very cold, chilly January morning in 1997.Suhani and her parents were to shift their new house to North Delhi's rising  and well-planned  Rohini leaving their Government  accomodation in R.K.Puram.Suhani had lived the twenty years of her life in South Delhi .

No matter how small her two bedroom  South Delhi apartment was ,she liked it there.She had a gang of friends who would sit out in the evenings on the terrace and have a blast gossiping, sharing their crushes and  playing various games. Suhani didn't want to be shifted to a better, bigger home but as there was no choice she had risen early that day and she was there with her parents to see the newly constructed society flat .

The only excitement was her own room which she was supposed to get in this flat.
So there she was at the Sharmas,  close friend to her father, his business partner.As they had already been living in the flat ,they would go and check their woodwork so that the work at their own flat could be started.

After the normal Namastes and hello-hi's, Suhani noticed him walking down from the furtherst room of the house.He was wearing a bright yellow hand knitted pullover and looked  dashingly handsome with his flawless clear skin and Greek features."Raje, get some Chole-Bhature for the guests,"Sharma Uncle instructed in a polite tone.

"Who is this ?",mused Suhani who wore a bright  sea -green anarkali suit which had a zipper at the back.She was looking elagantly sexy in her hourglass figure and dusky complexion.

"Abhi le aata hoon Bhaiya".So this is uncle's younger brother, thought the lovestruck Suhani and heaved a sigh of relief that he was not a well -dressed driver.

"Why don't you take Suhani with you and show her the play area  and the Auditorium, suggested Uncle Sharma.

"Great ! "

They walked slowly towards the lift. Suhani ,who was generally a shy and demure girl couldn't hide her excitement ,"So what do you do?"

I 'm doing a course in Electronics Journalism from Bharti Vidya Bhawan . I just completed my B.Com(Hons) from S.R.C.C.What about you ?"

"I'm in my last year of English (Hons)".

So,they came back with the hot Chole-Bhature  after getting to know each other well.This was how they had met.

After many a visits they had opened their hearts to each other.Rajeev was in love with a girl four years older to him and Bhaiya and Bhabhi were against the match altogether.He was threatened to be thrown out of the house. Suhani never shown her deeper emotions to him when he was telling her about Priyanka, his girlfriend. After they had shifted, they would take a walk together  after dinner when her parents  would also do the same.As they were family friends they would generally be seen together in society functions ,holi -diwali celebrations which they both abhorred.

Once ,when Rajeev's relationship had been terminated with his older girlfriend, and he had got over it ,he mustered the courage and asked Suhani out for a drive . Suhani so wanted to go but refused ,"It's ten in the night.I think we ought to sleep on time.Rajeev held her hand in his ,looked into her eyes and said, "Just hope you don't  regret this day in your life because I want to confess that I'm falling in love with you.Take your time and tell me." 

That day Suhani couldn't sleep.She thought that she would tell him that they could go for a drive but he should take permission from her parents.They wouldn't disagree, she was convinced.

The next night she was waiting for all of them to go for the nighly walk ritual. Rajeev came and started walking beside her. The elders were ahead and slowly he took her hands in his and asked,"So,whats the plan?Should we then take a ride in my second-hand white esteem or not?"

Suhani gestured that he needed to ask her parents.Rajeev left her hands suddenly and vanished. He wasn't seen for some days.
She kept on waiting for him .
Days changed into months and months to  years.Two and a half years had passed and she knew that  Rajeev was settled in Bangalore and he would  never come back for her.He was so right.She was regretting her decision. She knew that she had bruised his male ego.

She had joined an MNC in Gurgaon as a communication Manager and there were talks going on about her marriage."Get ready,"one Sunday her mother announced. Someone is coming home to meet you ",her mother declared.

"Mommy,I'm not interested, I'm just 25.I wouldn't marry for another two years.

"But you will , once you see the boy.He's quite fair and handsome,"her mother giggled.

Suhani donned on her typical Indian attire undesiredly.Her mind was traumatised .

Her mother called out to her to come to the drawing room.As slow as sleepy snail she walked into the drawing room .As soon as she lifted her disinterested face to wish Namaste to the elders ,she sprang to her feet to see Rajeev with his brother and bhabhi.

"Will you come for a drive with me in my first hand new Honda city?"

Suhani blushed  with ecstasy and replied ,"Yes,why not?"

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Now that they were forty they would always take a walk with their kids walking behind them.

Rajeev held her not so young hand in his and asked,"Do you want to come for a drive, Mrs.Sharma? Let's grab an ice-cream for us and the kids."Suhani blushed .He always had this effect on her.

Monday, 2 January 2012

The Mission Impossible

She was a perfect cook .Even though people would criticise her as someone who would interfere in people's kitchen,she would go on poking her nose into everyone's affairs,especially telling them how some dishes are made .Never would she realize that she is not wanted , her opinions undesired and her hyperactivity uncallled for.She would go on bragging about the extra expensive cookery classes which she had taken as a young,unmarried Rajput girl whose main motto was to marry someone with a stable backgound and a sound bank balance.

Let me introduce you to her.Her name was Bela Choudhary and her occupation was of a housewife.You must be wondering how being a" housewife "is an occupation ;but let me make it quite clear that housewives work for more than twelve hours a day ,evidently much more than a corporate worker who goes for a nine hour shift on a regular basis.
So here was Bela,a graduate in Hindi  from Delhi University utilising her time in packing lunch boxes,instructing the house-maid and waiting endlessly for her businessman husband.

She was fair,slim and tall.A careful inspector of the kind of things she was buying ,her dealings with the sabziwallas was not at all imposing:"aree bhai yeh matar kya bhav diya ?...Nahin nahin...theek lagao nahin to main kahin aur se le loongi."

This was the usual threat presented to the sabziwallah so he would never fall into the trap.

"Jao bahenji kahin aur se hi lelo."Quite alarmed at the situation and upset with the public humiliation ,she would quietly say,"achcha chalo dedo ek kilo,agali baar dekhoongi" and quietly move to another vendor.
 Today she was in a hurry as her daughter was bringing some friends home for her birthday treat and she had bragged about her mother's culinary skills especially her gajar ka halwa.So she didn't even try to bargain.

Poor Bela was in a mess."Gajar ka halwa in June?"She had cried in disbelief.

"Mom you can arrange this, I know. "Her daughter had shown some extra faith which she never would otherwise(  being a rebellious collegiate, she was never polite with her mother and today she was on the verge of flattering Bela)..How could she disappoint her little angel,"I would surely try doesn't matter if it 'll be made from the exported orange-coloured ,unsweet carrots but I will make the gajar ka halwa and also make sure it has the best taste."

So her search began ..from the mother dairies to the local sabzi mandi to her favourite vendor.But alas,there were no carrots anywhere.What to do now?
The time was ticking . Nicky's friend would be home in about four hours from now,she mused.
Suddenly she had a perfect idea.She quickly paid  the grocer and there she was,at her house ,in the kitchen.

She kept cooking the halwa for about an hour or more .After the completion of the task,she smiled satisfactorily to herself.She went to change and then dressed for the occasion.She wore a lovely pink suit with white flowers embroidered on the neck and sleeves,with a shimmery dupatta to match with it.She wore her small pearl set to finish the decking up.

Ding -Dong.Ding-Dong.The bell rang.

"Sunita,open the door".
The maid opened the door ....Two boys with spiked hair,ear studs and Gucci glasses .Identical faces.Surely they were twins.There was a fat , fair womanly girl whom Bela already knew as Nicky's best friend Savvy;and a squinted boy dressed up as a colorful joker depicting his taste in men rather women:Jyotish was his name.

"Aunty where is our lunch?We are so hungry and we have heard so much about the halwa"

."They are as dumb as my own Nicky.They 'll easily be  befooled,"thought Bela.

"Aunty, I'm sure you haven't been able to make  the gajar ka halwa Nicky was boasting off ,declared the one in courful parroty clothes-Jyotish".

She would have made it"said Jacob."Yes ,I'm sure she has,added the other twin-Judith.

"Okay Okay..see for yourself but first wash your hands and  have the lunch before making your judgements on the halwa."
They all sat down on the dining table and started gulping down the sumptuous meal which she had prepared.The butter drenched alloo paranthas,biryani and raita with paneer chilly masala her speciality.Now was the turn of the  most awaited -gajar ka halwa.

"Sunita.jaldi se woh bada bowl leke aao jisme halwa hai."
Nicky was proudly smiling at Bela".My mom is so great a cook.The halwa is soooo  yummy, isn't it?"
Everyone agreed with a smile because all of them had their mouths stuffed with the orangish red gajar ka halwa.

"But aunty how did you manage to get carrots in this season,asked Jyotish who was sure that it just looked like gajar ka halwa but wasn't that for sure.
Bela shrewdly replied,"Aree dhoodhne se to bhagwan bhi mil jaata hai , yeh to bas gajar thi."

Satisfied that it must be the real carrot halwa , Jyotish also gulped down the last spoon .
"We are going for a movie and I will come back around eight .Savvy will drop me,mamma,don't worry .
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That night at eight when Nicky returned after watching Mission Impossible -The ghost Protocol,she was on cloud nine.Her birthday had gone quite well.She went on in the kitchen to thank her mom for the lovely treat she had put up for her friends ,especially the not so possible : the mission impossible , the gajar ka halwa.Her mother was not to be found .She asked Sunita ,the maid about her whereabouts."Arre madam to bahar aur kaddu lene gayi hain ,halwa itna bhadhia jo bana tha ,ekdum gajar -halwa jaise.Yahi to kamal hai tumhaari ma ka."