It was dusk and darkness was spreading fast. Padmini sitting on the bench in the garden was thinking of the sad events in the last year that shattered her life totally. Stricken with grief and with an aching heart she recalled the telephone call one evening when she was getting ready to go with her hubby Kesav to a party about the tragic and fatal accident. Life was no longer the same with Kesav no more.It was a brief romance between the two colleagues in the office that soon blossomed into deep love and a marriage.
She had an aged mother who had passed away just a few months before her wedding.She had no one to turn to.She continued to live with Kesav’s old parents who insisted on her staying with them.She had also no mind to leave them alone when they also at their old age suffered the blow of losing their only son that was no less in intensity than hers.Padmini regarded them like her own parents calling them amma and appa.
They were a decent and gentle souls who studiously avoided encroaching upon the personal space of the young and newly married couple.They had a middle aged lady to look after the kitchen and other houehold chores.They truly loved Padmini for her qualities of head and heart.It was a happy family till the tragedy struck.It pained them much to see the young lady always morose and often in tears.They were aware she was an orphan with none close enough to stand by her in the hour of grief.The old lady would do her best to cheer her up by making her come and sit along with her to watch the soap in TV.She avoided talking about her own grief or about her son and kept the conversations light hearted and general.She would ask Padmini to take her out to mall even when she had no specific need. Despite these understanding gestures life for Padmini was lonely, with days long and nothing cheerful to look forward to.Time passed somewhat easily while in office.The other times and particularly the weekends and nights were unbearable.The TV did not interest her , the company of friends was also not enjoyable and it looked a dreary world without Kesav. She turned and tossed in the bed longing for him.
One Sunday the old lady said” Padmini, an unexpected and urgent work has come up.Appa and me have to go and we will be back only in the evening.We had invited Vasu son of appa’s erstwhile colleague, for lunch. I have asked mami to cook special lunch.I would request you to explain him our predicament and take care.He has come on official work for a fortnight, I think. Don’t worry, mami will be here in the house and serve.Just spend time with him conversing and showing him around.This is the first time he is coming to our house.”
Padmini was really struck with surprise when a very charming young man in an elegant jeans and Tshirt and in his late twenties arrived.He had a beaming smile showing his well aligned glistening teeth when he asked “Is this not Natarjan mama’s house? I am Vasu known to him since a child.Are they not available?”
“Please come in. We are actually awaiting you.Some unforeseen work has taken both mama and mami out. They said they would try to return early.Please be free and feel comfortable”
“It is all right Ms………” he lingered
“Padmini, a nice name.I work for a MNC and am here for a fortnight on official work.My parents are very close to mama and mami.I haven’t met them for long.Though I know Kesav, he was two years senior to me and I haven’t moved much with him.How are you related to them? I haven’t heard of you earlier” he said
Padmini replied without elaborating much”I stay with them”
He didn’t ask further.He was such an extrovert and engaging conversationalist talking non stop and with great wit, time passed by without their noticing till the cook announced the table was set for lunch.This was the fitst day after the tragedy she had giggled, laughed and happily conversed.What magic this youngman had done to lift her from the meloncholy in just one day, she thought to herself..He was discreet, never asked her personal questions but made her feel quite at ease with him even though they met for the first time
It was past 7pm when appa and amma retuned and their first question was about Vasu’s visit.They were happy that Padmini had managed to take care of it well.Padmini did not fail to notice amma conversing with the lady cook in hushed tone.
A week later Vasu was again at their house.They were all sitting in the living room chatting happily for a while when appa and amma left the two young people alone.Vasu then asked her” That day you didn’t tell who you were and I was talking foolishly without knowing the relationship of yours to Kesav.Please excuse me.”
“What is there to excuse? We had a nice chat and good time that day” she replied
“I had also not told you about me.I am a divorcee.My wife left me within six months of marriage on grounds of incompatibilty.She is now married to her old flame” he said.
“I am sorry to hear that.I am however surprised how she found you with your pleasant disposition incompatible’ she said.Having uttered that she bit her lips shy at what she had spoken.
They were talking for a long time when mami brought coffee and snacks.Appa and amma had also joined them.
Appa broke the silence.”Padmini, I had invited Vasu with a specific motive.He was not aware of it initially.But I had subsequently spoken to him on phone.You are like our daughter.We would like to do what we would have done if you were a daughter.Vasu likes you.He is an extremely nice person.We can vouch for that.You are hardly 26 and have a long life before you.We should move away from the past.We believe Vasu would make a good partner for you.You will be making us most happy if you would agree to our suggestion.”
Padmini with her head bent low was silent.Amma then said”Padmini, I know my son Kesav.He would be happiest if such a denouement takes place.Since we know Vasu very well, we would also not feel shy of staying with you off and on.You have our full blessings in this matter.You can take your time for deciding if you wish to.”
Padmini raised her head for a second and looked at Vasu winking at her mischievously with eager expectations.She could not suppress her giggle that made everyone to break into laughter.