Suparna was so happy today. She could not entrust her cook today, she had to make the dinner herself and make it really good. Someone special was coming for dinner today, that’s what Akshay had said casually over breakfast. There was still so much work to be done, only Kadhai Paneer was partially ready, the whole menu was there in front of her.
Akshay, her son was now thirty-two and still unmarried. Relatives were already asking and so were the neighbors but more than that she and her husband Amit were getting really old. She desperately wanted to play with her grandchildren till she is too old to do that. But Akshay had always been denying any offers that came for him.
A year back they had to suffer so much of embarrassment when they had a meeting scheduled with Mrs. Sharma’s neice. Akshay refused to show up for the meeting, he switched off his phone. Suparna had no idea what to tell the guests even after multiple rounds of tea. It was utterly embarrassing. Akshay did not come back home till past mid-night, much after the guests had left.
“I do not want to get married. Why can’t both of you just leave me alone?” That’s all he had said before banging the door in anger.
Next day morning, Akshay came to his mom with a remorseful face, “Sorry Ma, I shouldn’t have shouted on you. But seriously, if you force me into this marriage thing, it will not work for me at all.”
“But beta, your age..”
“Mom, what age? I have to feel comfortable to get married. It is the most important relationship of anybody’s life. I cannot just spend my life with anybody. I want my wife to be special and I want to choose her myself. I believe in God, Ma. When time comes, I will meet her and you will be the first person to know about it. That is my promise; now please promise me that you will stop looking for a partner for me.”
Suparna trusted her son. With tears in her eyes, she hugged her son and promised him never initiate this talk about marriage till he himself is interested. Since then Suparna and Amit never persuaded him to get married. But that did not mean that they stopped getting worried about it. In her everyday prayers, she would just ask for one thing – a daughter-in-law. Amit had totally withdrawn himself from all family matters after that day. Apart from his prayers, walk, pranayama, regular tea and three meals of a day, there was nothing else in his life. Though Suparna knew that Amit was also very worried about his son, but he hardly ever shared his emotions with her.
She was now sweating with the heat in the kitchen. Everything had to be perfect today. She took out her latest dinner set and laid it on the table and again went running to the kitchen to have a look at suji ka halwa. Finally, he has decided to get married. He has everything – good height, education with great grades, a stable job and thanks Lord for all that. The only part missing in her life would also get filled in now. Today was finally the end of all their worries. But she really had to hurry up. Akshay had said that they would be home after 7 from work. Only 2 hours were left and so much to be done.
“Oh, what should I wear? I should have applied henna today only if Akshay had told her earlier. My grays would show, but how does it matter. I am going to be a Mother-in -law, I should look like one.” Thought Suparna. She couldn’t help wondering what the girl would be like. Well, it was only a matter of couple of hours.
It was 7 pm, they would be at the door anytime now. Suparna made sure that everything was perfectly ready and Amit was dressed up too. She quickly wore her latest pink colored saree with golder border matched with her gold jhumkis and pink bangles. She wondered if she was over-doing her dress-up, after all she is supposed to look a mother-in-law now. Well, it was a special evening and she wanted to dress up nicely and so she did.
7:40 pm and the door-bell rang; Suparna rushed to the door and noticed for the first time that it was raining heavily. As soon as she opened the door, she saw Akshay with a doll like pretty girl dressed in a blue jeans and red flary top. She was wearing black boots and some trinkets on the wrist. Suparna was a bit surprised, she wasn’t expecting this but she greeted both of them inside. She saw Akshay signal her and she bent down to touch her and Amit’s feet. Her black colored hair with highlights of brown was accentuating her pretty face cut. Her long earrings seem to get mixed up in her hair. Suparna couldn’t help but notice the innocence in her eyes. Inspite of a butterfly tattoo on her arm, she looked very pure.
“Ma, this is my friend Tina. Tina, meet my Mom and Dad” Akshay broke the silence and Tina folded her hands to greet both the elders.
“Come beta, please come and have a seat. I didn’t realize it is cold outside, shall I make some tea or coffee now or would you like it later?” offered Suparna
“Aunty, it is fine. Please sit, we can have tea later.” Said Tina
Suparna liked her voice too. It is a very melodious, child-like voice. She sat down next to Tina and realized that the girl was wearing a floral mist fragrance.
“Aunty, I am really sorry to have come in this dress up. Akshay invited me only today morning, by then I was already at work. Because of rain and traffic, it was impossible for me to go and change. Please don’t mind it, Aunty. I definitely would have taken care of it, if I could.” Said Tina and she really looked worried and sorry.
Suparna and Amit couldn’t help but smile at her innocence. The more she talked, the more Suparna liked her. Akshay was smiling too, that radiant smile of his that Suparna was dying to see since a long time.
“It is fine, beta. There is no problem at all. You look lovely.”
“Mom, she was planning to go home at 6 and dress up in a saree and come here. She wouldn’t have reached before 9. It took me some time to convince her to just come over. She was too worried about what kind of perception will it give. I told her that my Ma and Paa are not from 18th century” said Akshay.
Suparna was surprised to see him talk so much. He usually is very quiet at home and would mind his own business most of the times. Today, he looked different – dynamic and energetic. She could see how desperately he wanted us to like and approve of Tina.
Evening went on and they came to know more and more about Tina. She likes to go to gym regularly and that is where Akshay met her 6 months ago. She likes to dance and play Tennis. She lives with her sister here in Bangalore and works for an MNC as a Manager. She is 4 years younger than Akshay, but she definitely looked like 20. She is outgoing and likes to make friends, which she has a lot.
Suparna realized that Tina talked so much but she never once mentioned her family except for her sister. Over the dinner table, Amit asked, “Beta, what about your parents? Where do they stay?”
Tina’s smile suddenly disappeared and Akshay put up a tensed expression too, which scared Suparna. She wondered if everything would be ok with the family.
“Uncle Aunty, I know this is my first meeting with both of you and I know that questions about my family will be asked. Though, I want to tell you every bit of truth I really don’t want you to judge me or my background without knowing me completely.”
Suddenly, the environment of house turned from happy to tense. Suparna and Amit looked at each other and then at Akshay. He had reassuring look in his eyes.
“I was born in Mumbai in one of the famous red-alert areas of the city. My mother was a prostitute and she had a very close affair with my father. My father was so much in love with her that he wanted to marry her, but did not have guts to stand up against his family and take a stand to marry a prostitute.”
Suparna’s feet just froze to the ground as she heard the story. She couldn’t move a muscle and did not know what she felt. A thousand thoughts ran in her mind “What will the people say? Is this girl really decent? What will I say during the marriage about this girl’s background?”
“Before my father got married to another woman, I was born. He decided to adopt me but he had to convince his would-be wife first. This was a difficult situation for him because the woman he got married did not accept the situation nicely. My mother, on the other hand, did not want me to grow up in that environment, so she asked my father to take me away with him at any cost. He did so, but his wife did not agree to keep me in the same home as her own daughter. I studied in a boarding school and my father did as much as he could to give me a quality education. I used to visit them and my half-sister during my vacations and otherwise. I got really close to my sister Ananya, though my step-mother did not like it. We have been best of friends since ever and that is the reason why my step-mother has softened towards me now. I have visited my mother in Mumbai only a few times before she died couple of years back.” Said Tina with strong determination in her eyes, which were full of tears!
Suparna couldn’t control her tears as well and she noticed Amit’s look get really soft listening to all this. Akshay was continuously looking at Tina holding her hand to give her all the moral support that he could.
“You might feel that I was born to a less person, a person who doesn’t deserve to be respected. All I can say about my mother is she kept me away from her because she did not want me to even slightly get affected by her life. She loved me, she wrote letters to me, she craved to see me, to touch me and to hug me, but she sacrificed her motherhood only for the sake of me. And today I have a Master’s degree and I work for the World’s best Company as a Manager. I know where ever she is, she would be proud of me and that is all that matters to me.”
“My father did all that he could for me, but he could not stand up to his family for me or my mother, yet he provided for all my financial needs if not love. The only love that I have received in my life is from my sister Ananya and then from your son. He means the world to me, he accepted me knowing all about me and he told me to tell you all the truth the first time I meet you.”
She was crying like a child now. Her pure innocent eyes were filled with tears but strength in them still showed.
“Aunty, it is up to you to accept me or not, but as far as I have heard of this family, I know that this family can give me all the love I have missed in my life. And that is all that means to me.”
Suparna couldn’t take it anymore, she just got up from her chair and hugged this little girl. She had never seen such a strong, brave and truthful girl. No matter what her family background is, she knew that this girl will make the perfect daughter-in-law to them and a perfect wife to her son. And before she knew Akshay and Amit were also wiping their eyes and she knew that this was an instant family connection.