(This is the first part of a new short story series. Hope you guys like it. Do leave your feedback and comments. They really inspire me :) )
Trring.. Tring.. Whose that at this time.. wondered Arul rubbing off his sleepy eyes.
It was from his home. He let it ring. I will call them later.. He pulled the blanket over his head and tried to go back into his beautiful dreams.
The mobile rang for the second time. Oh God! My mom.. She will never let me sleep..
“Hi Amma… Why calling me so early?”
“It already 9 in the morning pa.. Get up..”
“Mom.. you don’t understand.. It’s a Saturday… and Saturdays are only there for us to sleep..”
There was complete silence from the other end. Suddenly his dad spoke, “How are you.. ?”
Arul sat up.. It was unusual for his dad to speak to him.. “Is everything alright pa?”
“No problems here.. Just that..” his voice trailed off
“What appa.. tell me” inquisitively replied Arul
“Can you come home this Diwali? It’s been 6 years since you left for US.. Amma and I want to see you..” his voice choked.
Arul could feel the situation in his home. “I will try pa..”
He could hear his mom say, “Let him not come at all if he is not coming now”. Arul felt suddenly felt a surge of anger creeping into his body and then immediately cooled off. Perhaps I should go to India.. Perhaps I can avoid her.
“I will speak with my boss and get back to you..Is that ok?”
“We are waiting for you..” replied his dad.
Arul tried to get back to his sleep. Something disturbed him about the last call. He could no longer sleep. He dragged himself out of his bed, half awake and headed for the bathroom. A couple of splashes of cold water completely woke him up. He made some omelets and ginger tea. Finishing his breakfast, he put on his track shoes and gathered himself for a short run. He usually ran half a mile to his best friend’s home. It was a weekend ritual for him.
After running hard for 45 minutes, he reached his friend home. His sweat poured from the back of his head and kissed the collar of his shirt. He wiped off the sweat on his forehead with his hand band and rang the doorbell.
“Vaanga sir.. Long time no see..” spoke Anu as she called Arul him.
“Pick up that New York times paper also na?”
Arul bent down to pick up the paper and he could see an article about India on the front page. So many things reminding me about India today..
“Dosas for breakfast.. Ok for you?” spoke Anu as she thrust a towel at Arul and asked him to wipe off the sweat.
“No Anu.. I had breakfast..”
Anu glanced at him angrily “How many times I have asked you not to eat at home.. You will never listen..”
“So what is the problem. He will have a plate of dosas now also..” Anu and Arul turned in the direction the voice came from. Rajesh, Anu’s husband came out to the hall. He continued “Enna sir.. will you eat?”
“Aye Aye hitler..” spoke Arul and they all started laughing
As they started eating, Anu spoke up “Poor Arul.. He gets to eat good food only when he comes here”
Arul winked at her and spoke, “I am going to India soon..”
“Super da.. When are you going?”
“In 1-2 weeks Anu” replied Arul.
“Have you booked your flight tickets?” questioned Rajesh. Arul nodded his head saying no. Anu had been Arul best friend for 15 years. After her marriage, even Anu’s husband Rajesh became Arul’s best friend.
“Ask your amma to search for a good girl for you.. High time you got married” laughed Anu.
“Oh Anu.. not again” sighed Arul.
“What is wrong with that machi? You should get married now..” spoke Rajesh firmly.
Arul just thought about it but didn’t speak anything.
As Arul walked back to his home, he thought about how life around him had changed. All his friends were married. No bachelors party anymore I guess.. Arul was very firm that he would never marry a girl.. in fact never love a girl again.
He searched for iPhone from his pocket and dialed his boss’s number.
“Hey Arul, Wassup man?”
“Sorry to disturb so early in the morning.. I have a small request”
“Could I take a short holiday from next week?”
“And how long would you be away?”
“About a.. a month”
“Take 2 .. my boy.. you have been working quite hard lately. It’s my gift for you” laughed Steve.
“Thanks a lot Steve”
“No mention. Do update Seeni regarding your tasks and project updates”
“Sure Steve. I will”
“Alright.. Have a good day..”
“Thanks and same to you” Arul feel a whole new excitement creeping into him. Lots of shopping to do..
“Seat I-10 is to the left sir..” spoke the air-hostess as she guided him to his seat.
These plane rides take a hell lot of time.
Arul deposited his hand baggage in the space above the passenger seats and sat down in his window seat. He was feeling very cold. He hugged his jacket and looked out of the window. The Newark airport stretched far and wide and he could see 4-5 runways far ahead.
Bored of peeking through the window he turned to his left to see the people boarding and moving in towards their seats. There was an old grandma struggling to place her baggage in the baggage space. Arul quickly got up and helped the grandma. She thanked him. He then turned to take his place and pleasantly surprised a see a cute girl take his place.
“Chinmayi.. Come this side.. that’s uncles’ seat” ordered her mom.
“Amma.. please..” replied the girl. Her mom gave her a stern look.
“It’s ok.. Let her sit in the window seat. I will sit next to her”
The little girl’s mom thanked him and sat on the other side of the aisle.
Arul took his seat and watched the little girl curiously. He could see her fidgeting with all the books and the TV system in her seat. He smiled at her. She smiled back.
“Hi, I am Arul” as reached out his hand.
The little girl shook his hand and spoke “I am Chinmayi..”
“Which grade are you in?”
“3rd.. In Cayle school. You know where my school is?”
“Oh yeah.. It’s up on Campbell street”
“You are right” replied the little girl and she took out a big harry potter book from her bag.
What a cute girl.. A pony tailed hair dressing.. Hmm.. Arul thoughts went to his past.
“Come back Arul.. You have lots to study. You are not a small kid. You study in 7th grade.. remember that” Arul’s mom cried out.
“I will come in 1 hour” spoke Arul as he picked up the cricket bat and climbed up the stairs. Then he saw her.. A cute little girl.. pony tailed hair..
“Stop Arul” his mom’s voice boomed as Arul tried to hurriedly put on his slippers and slip away.
“Your mom is calling you” spoke the little girl.
Arul just smiled at her as he climbed up the stairs of his building. He could see Ajay and Deepak waiting for him at the terrace.
“We have been waiting for 2 hours for you now” spoke Ajay.
“Who is the new girl da?” questioned Arul as he tried to catch his breath.
“Which girl?” spoke Deepak.
“Oh! The new girl. Her name is Meera. She came recently to our building” spoke Ajay.
“Oh ok. Ok guys, time to play”
She has beautiful brown eyes..
Ajay had been waiting n the terrace for a long time. Arul slowly climbed up the stairs and joined him.
“Macha, you are always late..” complained Ajay.
“Sorry macha.. Had some work. This stupid professor gives so much work”
“Stop all this college work. Get a girl friend macha.. You are in 3rd year of college. Remember??”
Meera is all I want. I will tell him when I propose to her.
“Girls will come and go da. Sari, when is the cricket match on Saturday?” Arul tried to divert the topic.
“At 6am. At least come at right time for that”. The two friend chit-chatted throughout the evening.
Arul was busy studying for his exams in the terrace. Suddenly he could hear some footsteps. His heart raced and he waited with bated breath. It’s her.. Meera..
Arul tried to act as if he was studying.
“Don’t you act in front of me” a voice came from the far end of the terrace.
Arul looked up. There she was.. The most beautiful girl he had ever seen. It was like an angel standing in front of him in a white chudidhar. Beauty personified. Arul gazed into deep brown eyes. He sat there speechless.
“Enna boss.. no reply..”
“Aa.. hey.. no buddy.. trying to atleast study now for the exams”
“You will always say like and then get great marks”
Arul just smiled. Meera wondered what Arul would be thinking about her last statement. She knew it was true. He was very brilliant.
“You have to help me with these math problems. Would you have some time?”
Arul immediately kept his books aside and took the Math book from Meera’s hands. Always the first priority..
“Thanks” spoke Meera as she sat near him. Her hand accidently touched his and he shivered like a small kid. His body tightened up.
“Why are so afraid uncle?” spoke the little girl. Arul had clutched his seat belt very tightly.
She continued “Hold my hand if you want to”
Arul felt a little embarrassed. He managed a meek smile.
True to his prediction, the flight was damn long and it seemed to him that he would never reach India. 19 hours direct flight is always tough..
He picked up his baggage at the airport and headed towards the exit. He could see his mom and dad standing at the exit.
As he approached the exit, his dad came forward and hugged him. As he hugged his dad he could see his mom standing about 5 feet away and tears rolling down her cheeks past her spectacled face. Arul slowly moved past his dad and hugged his mom. Amma.. I am sorry.. he spoke inside his heart.
“It’s ok da.. you are back now right” spoke his mom, pretty much amazing him. He hugged his mom even tighter. He could see from the corner of his eyes that his dad had picked up his baggage and was moving towards the exit.
After some really good food and a good day’s sleep, Arul became completely refreshed. In the evening, he climbed the stairs leading to the terrace. He reached a small attic which lead to the terrace. He gently touched a heart shape scribble in the wall. My first kiss..
He could not stop thinking about Meera. It had been about 6 years now. Suddenly the air around him lit up with a Jasmine smell.. It cannot be her.. He turned his head slowly not really wanting to see her. There was no one around.
Arul was a touch disappointed. He quietly walked back home. As he entered his home, he could see his mom and dad whispering something to each other. On seeing him, they stopped their conversation. He felt something mysterious.
“What is it dad?” questioned Arul.
“Nothing.. Just some things”
“What are the things” stressed Arul.
“Tell me him pa..” spoke his mom. “It was a marriage proposal for you”
Before Arul could respond his mom continued “We have kind of rejected the idea. We will not pressurize you and lose you once again”
Arul was stunned by their assumption. The silence in the room settled down.
“I will marry amma..” he spoke finally to satisfy his ego and to prove his parents wrong.
He was amazed to see his mom and dad shaking their hands.
“I told you this plan will work” spoke Arul’s mom excitedly to her husband.
They immediately sat near Arul and spoke about the girl “She is from tirunelveli and her name is Anjali… and.. “ and conversation continued for hours. Finally I have got my son back.. thought Arul’s mom.
Arul had never seen a huge congregation of people. Even though it was a huge ancestral home, 100 people was way too many. People cramped themselves in all sorts of positions and he could feel all 100 pairs of eyes fixed on him. He was growing very uncomfortable.
His mom felt his uneasiness and asked if the girl could be brought to the main hall. Anjali came in a beautiful brown saree and bowed to the whole gathering.
Arul looked at her. She is very beautiful..She looked back at him.
Oh no.. Those beautiful brown eyes again..The girl smiled at him. It instantly made him very conformable. He turned to his mom to ask her if he could speak with the girl alone and was surprised to find his mom conveying the same to one of the relatives even before he spoke anything. She understands me so well..
A couple of relatives led them to a huge verandah. Arul really liked the old home. When they were alone, he opened his mouth to speak..
“Do you drink beer?”
Arul was stunned.. He nodded his head saying no.
He nodded his head again.
“Any girl friends?”
This woman is asking so many questions..
Arul gazed deeply into her brown eyes. They were beautiful. The girl somehow felt she had asked too many questions. She kept staring at him.
“You have beautiful eyes.. You know..” Arul tried to charm the girl. He had immediately decided that she would be his wife.
The girl laughed sheepishly. They both spoke about half an hour and both of them pretty much liked each other.
It was a Diwali morning and Arul had never heard so many crackers burst. Chennai had changed a lot ..
Arul was enjoying his mom’s delicacies. He was literally gulping down all the sweets. His mom and dad watched it with all enthusiasm. They were thrilled as well.
Arul’s mom brought him a green colored and placed it near him “I found this when I was cleaning your cupboard”
Arul nearly dropped the sweets in his hand. He looked angrily at him mom “Who asked you to touch these?”. He grabbed the bag and went inside his room.
He slowly opened the bag. It contained his most precious jewels. He took out the beautiful red colored greeting card which read “Seven reasons why I LOVE YOU”
He hugged it closely to his chest and eyes became moist. He opened it and saw a pair of beautifully drawn eyes.
“What are looking at dude?” Meera waved a hand near his face.
Arul could hardly take his eyes off Meera. He looked absolutely gorgeous in her yellow saree which she had worn for her senior’s farewell.
“Nothing” Arul tried to hide his smile.
“You are laughing at something.. tell me na.. this is the first time I am wearing a saree.. am so nervous..”
Arul looked at her “You are perfectly alright buddy..” he smiled again.
“And I love you a lot..” he uttered those precious words.
Meera was absolutely stunned to hear that. “You are just kidding right?”
“No Meera. I really love you. Perhaps seeing you in the saree, I just.. I just spoke my mind.. please..” his eyes pleaded. He knew Meera liked him a lot.
“No Arul..” Arul heard a deafening sound as if somebody hard slapped him hard. Meera continued “I am your best friend.. but I cannot love you” and she left quite angrily.
Tears started to roll from Arul’s eyes.
“One bad news pa” spoke Arul’s mom as she entered his room.
Arul looked up.
“Anjali has refused to marry you..”
Arul literally dropped to the floor..
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