This post is a part of 24-day Marathon fiction called Yaariyan. To read from the beginning, click here.
Latika gets up early at 5.00 AM and checks on Abhinav. He is sleeping peacefully on the couch in the hall. She drops a message to her boss that she won’t be reporting to work for three days; something important has come up. As she packs her suitcase for their trip to Jaipur and from there to Niket’s engagement in Rajkot, she checks all the outfits she has chosen and wonders if they are proper to meet her in-laws. This is the first time she is meeting them and she doesn’t want to leave any stone unturned.
But at the same time, Abhi hasn’t given her any time for shopping. She has to make do with the only saree she has. She decides to wear it today and pack her heavy Indian ethnic dresses for later days. She isn’t well versed with wearing a saree and requires Abhi’s help with the pin ups.
They reach the airport at 7.00 AM and complete the check in formalities holding each other’s hands. This is the first time Abhinav has seen Latika wear a bindi on her forehead and lots of coloured bangles in her hands. She looks beautiful. They both sleep once their flight takes off; knowing they won’t get much time once they reach home.
The flight lands at Jaipur at 10.30 AM. They catch a local cab to Abhinav’s place. Abhinav is excited to take Latika home. He is sure his mother will approve of his choice. Add to it the fact that she is dressed up in a saree, his father will also like her.
They reach Shanti Villa – Abhinav’s bungalow. It is decorated with marigold flowers and a huge shed has been fixed in the playing area outside the bungalow. Abhinav and Latika exchange glances wondering what is going on. There are a lot of sandals and shoes outside the bungalow’s main entrance – as if there is some festival being celebrated and relatives have been invited from various places.
Abhinav walks into the house with Latika. Everyone rushes towards him, Latika is pushed behind in the flow of moments. Everyone congratulates him for his engagement scheduled tomorrow. It is then that he realises his father has selected a suitable girl for him after the conversation they had when he left for Kashmir. He never expected things to move so fast! They are having a pooja at home so that the engagement gets completed without any obstructions.
As he gets some time to breathe, his parents look towards Latika and wonder who is she. She is clad in Saree and has a pallu over her head. Worried, his mom takes them into another room as his father manages the inquisitiveness of relatives.
‘Did you marry on your way back from Kashmir?’ his mom asks in a disturbed voice. She didn’t expect Abhinav to behave in such a manner. ‘No mom, this is Latika. We were together in college in Mumbai. We both like each other and I asked her to accompany me home today so that you and dad can meet her.’ Latika advances to touch her mother-in-law’s feet, ‘Namaste aunty.’ His mom blesses her but is gripped in confusion.
Abhinav’s dad enters the room and has a word with his wife. He tells Abhinav that they have fixed his marriage and he cannot go back on his word. ‘I had asked you previously if you liked anyone. You never mentioned anything about Latika!’ Abhinav is quiet, he is brainstorming as to find a way out of the situation. Latika silently weighs the impact of the arrangement on their love story.
‘Mom, dad, I love her a lot and would like to marry her. She is the one I’ve always desired and that cannot change.’ ‘I understand but what do we tell Shuklaji? And what about all the relatives. Is Latika of our caste?’ his dad enquires. ‘Yes, she comes from Beawar, Rajasthan and is of the same caste. She is an MBA in finance and works in Pune.’
‘Wait, all that is irrelevant. Beta, do you love Abhinav as much as Abhinav loves you?’ his mother asks Latika as she pays close attention to her eyes. ‘Yes, I do and I’ll do all that is necessary to always keep him happy.’ Her committed eyes and self confidence brings a smile on Abhi’s mom’s face. She is happy with Abhinav’s choice and accepts her as her daughter-in-law. ‘We’ll have to figure out a way and break this news to Shuklaji immediately. His daughter will be devastated on listening to this,’ she reminds her husband.
Abhinav hugs his mom tightly, ‘Thank you mom, you’re the best!’ She goes into the kitchen and brings an aarti thaali to bless the couple for a happy and long married life ahead.
‘Latika, do your parents know about this?’ ‘Not yet, we are planning to go to Beawar to seek their permission too.’ Great, you both take Abhinav’s father’s car and drive to Beawar. We’ll sort things out here by the time you return back after 7-8 hours. We can have a small god-dhana ceremony tomorrow morning here itself to initiate you both officially into a relationship if your parents agree.
Latika is relieved to have such an understanding and loving mother-in-law. She seeks her blessings and later meets her brother-in-law and sister-in-law.
They begin their 3 hour journey to the home town of Beawar. Convincing her parents won’t be difficult as they’re aware of their past history, Latika wonders.
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