They were eating in silence when suddenly Somesh asked Raavi, “When are your classes starting”?
Raavi was surprised to hear this question from him. She replied, “From next Monday papa”.
“Good, you will be settled by then. Let me know a day before”, he said.
Raavi was happy beyond words after hearing this and Neel couldn’t believe that his father was being so kind to Raavi. Raavi thanked him and he said, “We don’t want to be seen as orthodox that’s why we are allowing you to attend college but take care, household work must remain your priority. We will not tolerate any negligence.”
Neel was outraged with his words and opened his mouth to argue with him but Raavi though stunned, looked at him and pleaded through her eyes to not speak up anything. Infuriated, Neel stood up from the table without finishing his breakfast and turned back to go his room but Somesh stopped him and said, “You have to go with Raavi today to her father’s house. Make sure you come back before 6 pm.”
Neel went to his room seething in anger. He was angry with Raavi too for stopping him. Raavi followed him to their room and after what felt like ages spoke up gently, “I know you are angry with me but I don’t want you to argue with papa or maa for me because it will be wrong. I am your wife but they are your parents. We should respect them naa?”
Neel turned around pinning her to the wall and said, “You know what? You are impossible. The first time in my life, I tried to open my mouth to reason with papa, that also only for you and here you are, lecturing me instead of feeling proud.”
Suddenly both of them realized their proximity and stood rooted in the same position, looking at each other, their breath falling on other’s faces, hearts pounding feverishly. None of them spoke anything. Then Neel came closer, kissed on her forehead and encircled her in his arms. Raavi was speechless; she just melted in his warmth. She wanted to stay forever in his arms, it was their first hug. Raavi’s phone ring brought them out of their trance and they parted abruptly.
Raavi picked her phone, her mother was on the other side asking whether she is coming or not? She told her that she is coming along with Neel. Neel had already left the room; she quickly changed her clothes and went in search of him. He was sitting in a living room ready to go.
Martha came to them and said, “I have put gifts and sweets in the car for your family, enjoy your visit”.
Raavi thanked her and went to the car. Neel was behind the wheels and she sat on the passenger side. They drove silently, both lost in their world. Suddenly both spoke up at the same moment, “are you angry”?
They laughed at this and started talking. Timed passed quickly as they were enjoying each other’s company. Soon they reached Raavi’s home. Her mother was waiting at the door and welcomed them warmly. Rohan had already left for his college so there are only her parents and grandmother.
Raavi’s father took her aside and asked, “You are happy to naa beta”?
Raavi looked at him and replied, “Yes papa, are you happy”?
“Yes, I am very happy seeing you happy”.
Her mother came and said, “And I am also happy as both of you are happy”.
Three of them laughed at this with teary eyes. Neel came at this moment and saw them laughing with tears in their eyes and asked, “What happened, all well”?
“Can’t get any better, “Raavi assured him between tears.
“You bet”, Neel winked.
Raavi blushed at this and Shekhar and Nisha left silently to give them some alone time.
Neel came near her, wiped her tears with his finger and said, “I don’t like you crying”.
Raavi was so touched; she leaned and gave a quick peck on his left cheek. Neel signalled towards his right cheek, she pecked that too and fled from there.
After lunch, they sat together and talked about all the random things. They both came to know so much about each other, especially Nisha told so many tales of Raavi’s childhood and Neel talked about his studies, work, and dreams. Neel felt so good after a long time; he was impressed with Raavi’s parents.
Raavi went to make tea and her mother joined her. After many attempts, she finally asked her directly, how was their personal life. Raavi told her about Neel’s decision to wait until they know each other well. Her mother came to her and said, “I told you, everything will come around, just believe in destiny. I am so happy for you beta but I sense that he is so alone and somehow deprived of love. I want you to give him all the love he needs, be his support system, his strength. Nowadays, the husband and wife are not the only couples but friends and partners too. if you will give him love and respect, he will also give you the same. Another most important thing, we women are so expressive about our emotions. We cry we laugh, we talk to each other and we get relieved of our feelings, but men do not express their feelings sometimes, so try to understand his silence too. Men sometimes mean literally what they said but we always try to analyze the hidden meaning behind their words and it leads to quarrels. So always make sure you understand before reacting.”
“Whoa!! Maa, it looks like you have researched Male psychology”, she tried to joke.
“Its years of experience beta”.
“Ok ok, I will try to keep that in mind and thanks a lot”, she half hugged her mother.
They cried a bit while saying goodbye and Neel promised to visit soon. In the car Raavi was sobbing continuously, Neel holds her hand all the way and Raavi felt something stirring within her.
Little did they know that their good mood was going to evaporate as soon as they will reach “Malhotra Mansion”, as his father named it proudly? There was a huge fight going on between Somesh and Geeta on the issue of Raavi’s resuming college. Geeta didn’t want Raavi to continue studying as she believed that if she was not going to work what was the need to complete the degree. Somesh, on the contrary, wanted her to complete her degree as he thought it will be good for his image.
The moment Raavi and Neel entered; Geeta came bellowing at Raavi that she has done some jaadu-tona on her husband. She started hurling abuses at her and Raavi stayed rooted at her place but Neel couldn’t control himself and started defending Raavi. It enraged Geeta further and she started shouting hysterically, “Wow, great! First my husband and now my son too, how did you trapped both of them in one day? You, middle-class girls, learn all this only. What a sanskari bahu I have got.”
Raavi couldn’t understand what was going on. She just kept looking from Somesh to Geeta to Neel. She finally couldn’t take it anymore and fled to her room shedding silent tears. She just kept crying lying on the bed. Suddenly she felt the bed shift and found someone slowly caressing her head. She sat up with a jolt and saw Neel sitting there, looking at her with tears in his eyes. He silently opened his arms and she just went willingly into them. Neel engulfed her in a tight hug and both of them cried some more. Neel kissed her forehead lovingly and said, “Welcome to my world, please don’t take anything personally. It’s the usual thing here; she can’t stand anything against her wish.”
“But I don’t even know what my fault is. I can’t imagine trapping anyone least to trap,” Raavi said innocently.
Neel laughed aloud, moved her bit away from himself and said, “Whatever you say and do Mrs. Malhotra but you have trapped me completely”, all the while holding his heart dramatically.
Raavi blushed and bowed her head as she couldn’t make herself look in Neel’s eyes. Neel put his hand under her chin and makes her look at him, “I don’t know when and how but I am falling for you badly and madly”.
Raavi blushed some more and Neel seeing her awkwardness told her to go and wash her face. She went to the washroom and looked at herself in the mirror. Her heart was beating frantically, she couldn’t believe whatever Neel told her in the room. She washed her face and tried to control her emotions. When she came back, she found Martha in the room with dinner trolley. She told Raavi, “I thought you would like to have your dinner in your room only, you must be tired with all the travelling”.
Raavi felt relieved but asked after Geeta and Somesh, Martha informed her they went to the club.
Raavi and Neel sat to have dinner though none of them had much appetite. Both kept glancing at others, unable to express their feelings. Finally, dinner was over and Martha went back with trolley.
Neel said, “I have some pending work, hope you won’t mind if I work from here”. Raavi said that she does not have any problem as she also had one book to finish. Soon both were engrossed in their respective work but their mind kept wandering to others. Neel turned to look at her after some time and found her asleep; she had slept off while reading. He came near her, picked the book and switched off the light. He couldn’t help stealing a kiss; Raavi felt it but did not respond. Neel went to his side of the bed and lay down on his side with his head on his hand. He looked at Raavi for a long time. Whatever his mother had said earlier kept playing in his mind. He swore under his breath and decided to talk to her as he felt a strange sense of responsibility and protectiveness towards Raavi. He kept changing his sides as he was restless. When Raavi couldn’t take it anymore, she said, “What happened? Can’t sleep?”
Neel turned around to find her lying on her side with head rested on one of her hands and looking at him with sleepy eyes. He came near her and said, “Someone has stolen my sleep”.
Raavi smiled and said, “My mother says if you are not able to sleep then head massage helps”.
“But who will massage me now”?
“If you don’t mind, I can”.
“Why will I mind”?
Raavi came closer and slowly started massaging his hair. Neel was drowning in lovely sensations, he wanted to hug her tight and kiss her passionately but he did not want to scare her away. So, he closed his eyes and drifted to sleep, feeling loved after a long time. He kept dreaming about Raavi and woke up at midnight to find Raavi sleeping on his chest; he hugged her tightly and went to sleep again. In the morning, he woke up with a lovely grin after ages.
About the author
Sneha Prakash is an Entrepreneur, Teacher, Feminist, Literary Critic, Book reviewer, Writer, Culinarian, Mother, Wife & Daughter. She is Certified in Feminist Studies at IIT Madras and holds Master’s degree in English Literature from IGNOU. She runs her online classes and write columns and reviews for different websites and magazines. She writes stories which are hugely admired. She is an avid reader.