Shyam, Savita Bhabhi And Kajal Part 7
“Didi, mujhe nahi karni shaadi.”
“Didi, I don’t want to get married.” Kajal said.
“Kyon? Kya kunwari baithi rahegi ghar pe?”
“Why? You want to stay a spinster?” Savita asked.
“Didi, aap ko toh pata hai Shyam Bhaiya ke barey mein…”
“Didi, you very well know about Shyam Bhaiya…” Kajal spoke after a long silence. It was a rare reference to her affair with Shyam.
“Haan, Shyam Bhaiya ke barey mein kya? Tujhe pata hai woh shadi shuda hain. Tu kya unki rakhail ban ke rahegi? Kya woh tujhe apnayenge? Mujhe nahi lagta!”
“Yes, what about Shyam Bhaiya? You know very well he’s married. You want to live as his mistress? Will he even be prepared to accept you as such? I don’t think so!” Savita flared up.
Kajal kept quiet, eyes downcast. Then she rushed to Savita and hugged her, sobbing. Savita gentled her for a while.
“Dekh Kajal, pagalpan mat kar. Mujhe pata hai tujhpe kya guzar rahi hai. Mai bhi shaadi ke pehle ek shaadi shuda aadmi ke pyar mein phans gayi thi. Agar Bapu aur Bua meri turant shaadi na karate toh mai shayad barbaad ho jati. Ab dekh, mera apna ghar hai, ek bachha hai. Issi mein aurat ki khushi hai. Meri baat maan aur Shyam Bhai ko bhula kar apni agli zindagi ki ore dekh.”
“Look Kajal, don’t act crazy. I know what you’re going through. I too had fallen for a married man before my marriage. If it weren’t for Dad and Bua’s intervention to get me married quickly, I would’ve been ruined. Look at me now; I’ve my own home, a family, a child. This is what a woman needs, to be happy. Listen to me. Forget Shyam Bhai and look forward to your future.” Savita gently admonished her.
Kajal was a young girl barely in her teens when Savita’s affair had come to light, followed by her quick marriage to Kantibhai. No one had ever told Kajal anything about the whole matter; nobody had in fact even obliquely referred to the incident in Kajal’s presence. Nevertheless, Kajal had always known that something extraordinary had happened. This was however the first time Savita had personally admitted that she had had a pre-marital affair with a married man. Kajal felt closer to Savita than ever before.
It never occurred to Kajal to question Savita Didi’s entanglement with their sexy neighbor Shyam, if she was as happy with her marriage as she professed. Kajal continued to believe that Savita Didi had made a sacrifice of her body at the altar of Shyam Bhaiya’s lust to save her own virginity, even after having repeatedly witnessed how much Savita seemed to enjoy the carnal pleasures so generously offered by Shyam … Although Shyam Bhaiya’s memory loomed at the back of her mind all the time, she finally reconciled herself to an arranged marriage with a groom chosen by her family.
Suresh, the proposed groom was an engineer by profession. He was of medium height, slim, fair and bespectacled. At twenty seven, he was seven years older than Kajal, although his boyish, nerdy good looks made him appear much younger. His family lived in Rajkot, the same place to which Kantibhai’s family belonged. Suresh was the youngest son in a large family of middle class Gujarati Baniya traders. The family was comfortably off but not as wealthy as Kajal’s. Suresh’s elder brothers had all started working in the family’s trading business after graduating from high school, gotten married early and lived together as a large joint family in their ancestral home in Rajkot.
Suresh was bright and academically inclined, even as a young child. His mother doted on him. At her insistence, his father had allowed him to pursue a university education, much against his own better judgment. He believed that Suresh would do much better as a partner in the family business rather than working as a salary man after obtaining a university degree. Scholastically, Suresh had done very well and had eventually obtained a post-graduate degree from a prestigious engineering school in Mumbai. Although Suresh had no interest in joining the family business, he too had inherited the strong entrepreneurial talents his community is so well known for. He wanted to eventually start his own business. He knew very well that his family would not be able to give him the kind of money he would need as seed capital, so he had no choice but to take up a job in order to accumulate the necessary funds. Since well paid jobs were hard to come by in India those days, he had jumped at an opportunity to work for a company in Saudi Arabia.
Suresh had been working in the small town of Al Jubail in Saudi Arabia for the past three years or so. Suresh had spent many years living in hostels away from his family while he was a student. So he was not too perturbed about living on his own for long periods in Saudi Arabia. The working hours were long and living conditions Spartan but reasonably comfortable. His boss was happy with his work. Suresh was frugal in his habits and in any case there were few opportunities to spend money in Saudi Arabia. His savings when converted into Indian Rupees looked pretty impressive. However, he still had a way to go before he had saved enough to start his business. Another couple of years perhaps; he thought…
As the years had passed while Suresh first studied engineering and then took up a job in Saudi Arabia, the family and particularly his mother had become increasingly concerned at the delay in getting him married off. All his brothers had been married before they had turned twenty or twenty two, while Suresh was already twenty seven. Finally, Suresh had succumbed to an ultimatum given by his mother: get married on your next vacation or else you wouldn’t be allowed to return to Saudi Arabia. He had talked the matter over with his boss. He had been sympathetic and had agreed to consider giving him “Family Status” (i.e. obtain permission from the authorities for bringing Suresh’s wife with him to Saudi Arabia) and also perhaps a give him raise. Armed with his boss’s assurance, Suresh had given a carte blanche to his family to not only look for suitable brides but also to finalize a match. Like many Indian men, he had full confidence in his family’s judgment in the matter of selecting his life partner.
Kajal’s father Popatlal had made discreet inquiries about Suresh and his family and had liked what he had learned. He was particularly impressed with Suresh’s academic qualifications and his ambition to start his own business. The family astrologer had also opined that the horoscopes of Suresh and Kajal matched well and the stars portended a long, happy and fruitful marriage. Suresh was soon expected to be in India on a short vacation and Popatlal was keen not only to finalize the match but if possible get her married as well.
Although it was a matter of the greatest importance in her life, Kajal’s attitude to the whole groom hunting business was curiously remote and disinterested. She did make efforts to hide her indifference, though. It was almost as if she was a bystander looking on with mild amusement at the excitement and enthusiasm of her father and sister. On a conscious, rational plane she knew and understood that she had to get married; since all girls were supposed to get married. She also had full confidence in her father and knew that he would pick a good husband for her. She had even liked Suresh’s photograph. He seemed to be a cheerful and nice looking guy. And yet, deep down in her heart, she had a funny, empty, disconnected feeling, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Even so, she decided to play along and visit Suresh’s family in Rajkot along with her father.
Popatlal and Kajal returned to Mumbai after a short visit to Rajkot. The visit had been successful. Suresh’s parents had liked Kajal and approved her as Suresh’s bride and their future daughter-in-law, although there had been some apprehensions on account of her somewhat dark complexion. Indians are very color conscious and a preference for fair skin is deeply ingrained in their culture, cutting across all boundaries of caste, creed, religion, region and language. However, Kajal’s beauty, grace, liveliness and sociable nature coupled with the affluence of her family were sufficient to overcome the handicap of her dark complexion. Suresh’s parents were keen to finalize the match there and then, but Popatlal felt it would be proper to first let Kajal and Suresh meet face to face and give their approval before proceeding further. Since Suresh was expected to arrive in Mumbai from Saudi Arabia in a few days, it was decided to arrange a meeting with him in Mumbai.
Accordingly, Suresh arrived at Savita’s residence one evening. After a rather awkward, formal meeting with all family members present, Savita suggested that in case Suresh and Kajal wanted to talk in private, they might do so in the balcony adjoining the living room. A couple of chairs were arranged in the balcony and the door was discreetly shut behind Kajal and Suresh as they repaired to the balcony. Popatlal and Kantibhai decided to take a walk downstairs while Savita busied herself with her household chores. Old Ba was lost in her own thoughts and the little baby was fast asleep, as usual.
Suresh had liked and approved Kajal at first sight. He hadn’t actually felt a need to talk to her in private but had agreed since he didn’t want to offend Savita by declining her suggestion. As for Kajal, her initial positive impression about Suresh had been confirmed when they had met face to face. Seems like a sweet fellow; she thought just as she would have thought of a puppy being sweet.