Sharmily Kadambari

A Contemporary Choice of Bride



 
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After he had finished Business studies in Sydney, Samir held a grudge against his father Mr. Hari Acharya, for dragging him back to Nepal, by sending him a return ticket instead of money; the prime reason behind which was his marriage. gGet married to a cultured Nepali girl first, then you can go back and do whatever you please.h his mother, Mrs Parvati Acharya had declared to his protests, while Mr. Acharya had turned a deaf ear to them. All that was however a year back. Currently things have turned quite the opposite.
These days, Samirfs parents have started to pester him to go back to Sydney, while he keeps nodding it aside. He had already met fourteen different eligible girls. Samir had visited each of these girlfs houses, enjoying the tasty treats prepared by them, personally. They were all very pretty, of good cultural background and most importantly of the suitable caste. Two of these girls were even modern, which was the limit his parents were willing to cross, to ensure he does not marry outside the caste. But he rejected them all.
gDonft worry Mua, it will happen if itfs meant to be.h Hefd console his mother, whenever she complained.
Samir was in love. Radhika was his motherfs pedicurist, or enainif as they call them in Nepal. In her late thirties she had an easy going way with people, and appeared to be flirting with most men. He felt drawn to her the first time he saw her. It had been just few weeks since he landed from Sydney, 8:00 am in the morning, when the gate clanked loudly, followed by the incessant barking of their Alsatian. He had thrown his pillow irritably, and rushed to the window, to shout at whoever it was that dared to disturb him, and there she was! wearing a blue tight jeans, with a red figure hugging shirt, clutching a blue bag. She had looked up at him, and smiled brightly showing off her pearly whites.
gJust woken up Samir babu? How can you be so lazy on a day like this?h Shefd teased him flirtatiously as if shefd known him for years; his mother mustfve told her about his visit. Although she addressed him formally by attaching eBabu,f her tone had a certain casualness. Humming and swaying her hips to the rhythm, she had then entered the house. With flawless olive complexion and perfect curves, she reminded him of the statues of those erotic goddesses in Kama sutra poses. Radhika occupied his thoughts most of the time after that day. Whenever he realized her presence in the house, hefd be buzzing nearby, and entered his motherfs room with frivolous excuses. Radhika would be seated on the floor, messaging one of his motherfs foot on her lap, who would be seated comfortably on an easy chair, and made things easy for him by saying drowsily; gCome son, sit beside me. Talk to me.h as a rule.
Samir would watch mesmerized the sensuous movements of her hands, nodding absently to his motherfs words. She would squeeze a soaked towel, and wipe the foot after the message, then clean it, scrubbing, and cutting away untidy bits, filing, applying nail polish and finally applying Alta, a red liquid around her foot. Shefd repeat the same process with the other foot, in an unhurried delicate motion as if she was enjoying every moment.
gRadhika didih Hefd address her as edidif giving her the respect of an elder sister. gDonft you get tiered of a life like this? Going door to door, cleaning and beautifying womenes feet?h He had asked her.
Shefd laugh and her high cheeks would rise and shine, and her eyes would sparkle with mischief. Perhaps she sensed his attraction or perhaps she was accustomed to such unduly attention from most men. gNo. Whatfs there to feel tiered of! All I do is sit, do my work, and talk and talkc I get to pour my heart out. I would not know what to do if I didnft have this workcIfd surely go mad I think.h
gWhy did you choose to be a naini?h
Shefd laugh again. He normally found it irritating when girls laughed for no reason, but Radhikafs laughter was like soothing music in his ears.
gMy grandmother did this, my mother did this, and therefore Ifm doing it! Do you see this pedicure set? Itfs pure silver! I was told that the queen herself presented this to my grandmothercwonft it rot if not put to use?h
gWhofll get the set after you?h
gWhy? Raju of course!h
Hearing a male name had suddenly alarmed him gWhofs Rajuh
gHer eight year old son.h His mother joined in. gPoor Radhika has nobody else. He is her only family after that drunkard husband of hers disappeared without a trace!h She scoffed.
gBut, why would a boy be interested in doing what you do? What if he chooses some other profession?h
gNo! Why would he do such a thing!h She exclaimed incredulously gThis profession is in our blood!h
gWhy donft you open a beauty parlor? Wonet it be nice, if women came to you instead of you going to their houses?.h His mother gave him a disapproving look.
@gWhat would I know of such things Samir Babucg Radhika said blushing slightly and embarrassedly looking at Mrs. Acharya. gthat kind of ambitions are only for educated people, Iem happy the way things are.h And then she laughed some more.
This continued every Fridays when she visited. Samir would be sprawled lazily on his parentfs bed, shooting one question after the other, just to keep listening to her voice, not particularly caring for the answers. During the course, his gaze would occasionally wonder to her cleavage, and get fixated there. Hefd quickly look away when his mother caught him staring or when Radhika looked up.
gDonft just rush off yeth his mother would order her, after each sitting, handing her a hundred rupees note. gIfll send teah and scurry off.
Samirfs mother had a big house to run, with six servants, that needed constant surveillance. Other times, she got chauffeured off to her friends, to the latest restaurants and beauty parlors, wearing bright colored chiffon saris, flaunting her diamonds and emeralds. During her absence his aunt, took over the house-hold duties. She was a much demure and a simpler character whose guidance servants preferred to his motheres.
Compared with his motherfs vibrant and colorful personality, his fatherfs was a dull and subdued one. He was a thin ill looking figure looming around the house, whose presence people seemed to forget most times. Her mother often recalled an incident, when her sister had visited once, and she had endlessly gossiped with her, about her husbandfs lack of interest in her activities, not realizing that he was right beside her, cutting vegetables. In his mid sixties he was balding and what remained of his hair were graying. Samir felt that his mother might be neglecting him, but did not feel it his place to confront her; he felt like an outsider having spent seven years in Australia.
Mr. Acharya woke up early in the morning at 6:00 am and practice yoga. He would then stroll out, returning around 10 am carrying a bag-full of vegetables. After lunch, hefd disappear again and be seen only around dinner time. Nobody had a clue where he went or what he did. None of Samirfs family members had any professional occupation as such, being the landlords for generations, their ancestors thought it beneath themselves to work for money. Although his fatherfs generation values had been greatly modified, the core influence of caste system stayed deeply rooted in their minds.
His questions to Radhika were becoming a little more personal with time, and asked when they were alone. Last Friday, for example, his mother had rushed off to a shareholder meeting. When she arrived, Samir had been surprised that she did not seem upset atall of his motherfs unprofessional behavior.
gI should go then?h She asked for permission, getting ready to leave.
gSince youfve come all this way, why donft you do my nails today?h He had suggested.
She stared at him, ready to laugh, probably assuming that he meant it as a joke.
h Why? Donft you do menfs nails? They need looking after too you know, in fact more soh He said seriously.
gI donft really care men, women, animalscas long as theyfve got nailsh She said and proceeded to his motherfs room.
gLetfs go to my roomh Hefd told her, and when shefd looked at him uncertainly, gThat room is lockedh he lied.
gIn that case, I can do it right hereh she said, sitting down in the hallway, and began preparing her tools. gJust drag a chairh she instructed concentrating on a small knife she had begun to sharpen.
When she touched his feet, he was aroused. He quickly stood up. gIt ticklescIfm not used to people touching my feet.h He said and sat down on the floor close to her. gDo my handh He said extending his right hand to her.
She took his hand and began cleaning it, chattering away about someonefs dog shefd groomed once.
gDid you use the same tool?h was Samirfs only concern, to which she shook her head vigorously gNo! No! they gave me a special dog nail clipper!h She reassured him. gEven if I did, you wouldnft have to worry, their dogfs nail was cleaner than some human nails Ifve cleaned with these toolsh she teased him, and continued updating him on different degrees of cleanliness maintained by her different rich clients.
Samir had not heard or understood what she had been saying. gRadhika, why didnft you get married again?h Heed stopped calling her edidif lately; Samir thought it improper addressing his future wife as elder sister.
The gay atmosphere that was normally created by her laughter at his every question, was missing, gI donft want unnecessary hassle anymore. Samir babuh she said frowning but not taking her eyes off his hand. gIfm happy with my solitary lifec Wouldnet dream about changing it.h
gWhy? Whofll look after you when youfre old?h
gWho else? My son of course!h
Samir shook his head. gThey donft anymorecdonft you know that? Hefll get married to a mean bitch and then hefll kick you out. Then what you will do?h
Her face lighted up and a long overdue laughter erupted. She could not speak until she sobered down. gNot my Raju, Samir Babu, he loves me very much. He will never do such a thingcI know this.h
His uncle, who mightfve been passing by, and who mightfve heard Radhika laugh, peeped inside the room frowning. gSamir, donft you have anything better to do?h It was after that incident that his parents have started to nag him to go back to Sydney - first his mother, and these days, even his father, whofd send for him just this morning in his studies.
gItfs not goodcwhatfs happening son.h As far as Samir could remember, this was the first time hefd heard him speak so may words at the same time.
gWhatfs happening bua?h Samir had innocently enquired.
gYoufre wasting your time herecI made a big mistake by listening to your mother. Go back now. Youfve loitered around enough.h
gBua Ifm not loitering aroundcIfm looking for a decent job.h
gYou wonft find a decent job like this!h his father argued raising his voice gGo to the embassy and start the visa procedure. If you donft by this evening, I will do it for you.h There was a clear warning in his stern expression.
gOk. Bua, just give me one month, if I donft find a job by then, I promise Ifll go back.h
Mr. Acharya looked at his son unconvinced.
gI said, I promise Bua.h
Samir had somehow managed to buy some time this morning, but he realized that he did not have much time left. Hefs got to talk to Radhika, and anxiously waited for the Friday, which was still two days away. Meanwhile he applied for some jobs from the newspaper advertisements, and surfed for some courses he could keep himself occupied with.
On Friday morning, Samirfs eyes opened to the sound of the gate opening. He rushed to the window, anticipating the pleasantries they shared every Friday mornings. Radhika however, rushed inside looking preoccupied. He waited. Little over an hour later, when the gate opened again, Samir darted after her. He followed her to the other house she visited in the proximity, and waited outside, promenading to and fro in a public park, looking frequently at the door. Nearly an hour later, she emerged from the door. He approached her nervously.
gWhat happened Samir Babu? Lost your way?h She asked him coolly.
gI need to talk to youcletfs go and have some teah He suggested.
gI canft. I have three more houses to visith she replied shortly and rushed away. He followed her but could not keep up with her pace as she stopped a bus, climbed in, and vanished.
Samir could not help a frustrated gF@@@!!!h A habit hefd picked up in Australia. Once when it had slipped out accidentally, in his motherfs presence, she had not spoken to him for days. He had since then avoided using the forbidden word, until now.
He waited for another Friday impatiently, and also attended two job interviews for the post of an accountant. When the precious Friday started with a clank, he followed the same routine, but this time he hid behind a tree, when she emerged from the second house, not wanting her to see him just yet. She climbed into the bus, and he took a taxi instructing it to follow the bus, stopped, and waited as the passengers climbed off and on at every stop, and paid it off only when she got off. The dreary day proceeded like this for couple more hours as she made two more visits, and finally led him to what he guessed was her apartment, in a crowded area in Patan.


He knocked after she shut the door. She had a panicky expression when
Radhika saw him at her doorstep.
gSamir Babu, what are you doing here?h
He went inside pushing her gently to the side. gRadhika, I absolutely must talk to you now.h
gBut this is not the right time! You must leave at once!h
Samir ignored her plea and surveyed her apartment. It was a two-roomed, rather small but a tidy apartment. He looked back at her determinately without budging.
gPlease go! I have some guests comingcwefll do this some other time!h there was an urgency in her speech, which only intrigued him. Then there was a soft knock on the door. Radhika dragged him to the other room, and whispered.
gYoufve got to hideh she said.
gBut why?h
gNo time to explaincplease hide behind this door and please Samir Babu, donft come out unless I ask you to.h She instructed him. The knock was getting a little impatient. She looked at him desperately.
gIfll hideh he promised her and went behind the door. She has a lover! of course she hascwho else would knock at her door like that! Samir thought with a tightening in his heart. A familiar voice, that was demanding Radhika an explanation on what took her so long, was unmistakable!
He could not believe his ears, so he peeped from the small opening. It was his mother indeed!
 
After two weeksc
Samir got up at 5:00 am in the morning, not being able to sleep all night, and was packing his bag. He hadnft been able to shake off what he saw. After taking a peek, he had tried to plug his ears with his fingers, and shut his eyes tightly, as if this would stop his mind from imagining what was happening. But the loud giggles and moans coming from the other room, made it impossible. After his mother left Radhikafs apartment, he had slowly walked out from the hiding.
gSo, Samir Babu, what was the urgent matter, that you absolutely must discuss?h She asked him slowly and provocatively buttoning up her shirt, mockery apparent in her voice. She looked up at him half way from the buttoning, and stopped. gI have plenty of time nowcwhy donft you come here?h she said suggestively.
He stomped out banging the door as hard as his strength allowed him.
Samir hadnft spoken to his mother, ever since. She on the other hand, had been trying to break through his impenetrable silence. She finally came to him all panicky with his father.
gIs everything ok son? Your mother has been telling me that youfve been avoiding her?h
gIfve decided to go back. You were right Bua, there is nothing for me over here.h And theyfd left him alone, probably assuming that his unsuccessful job hunt, was causing the weird behavior.
His reporting time was at 10:00 am, but he was going to leave before eight - before the gate clanks, and her motherfs lover entersc The rage is still fresh, and he will never forgive his mother for betraying his father. He had therefore written a letter, which he will hand out to his father at the airport, before catching the flight back to Sydney. He looked down at the white envelope in his hand, then he had a slight change of plan. Holding the envelop, he went outside, quietly climbed the stairs, and walked towardsf his parents room. He slowly turned the door knob and tiptoed inside. Mr and Mrs Acharya were fast asleep in each otherfs embrace. Samir stared at the devoted couple, unable to believe his eyes, and tip toed back outside, still holding the envelop. Samir went back to his room. There he tore the letter to tiny pieces and threw it in the bin, and went back to sleep. Therefs still a long time to my flight. He thought.
  

 

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Published on e-Stories.org on 08.09.2011.

 

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