IF I HAD LOVED any woman, other than my mother, she was Sarita, the woman who was a deputy director of a big industrial unit of the city. Though I knew that no woman could have a fine reason to come at a young man’s home every Sunday evening and remain with him until midnight, I had never fantasized about her. I knew my limits.
On her insistence I had to go. Her parents knew me. Earlier her father had offered me a job in his factory, too. But Sarita had opposed making me her subordinate. So I had joined elsewhere.
“You know Vishal, she is a little bit immature.” The industrialist father was quite mature—mature enough to teach lessons of economics to a chemistry guy. “She wants to marry you. But she is used to a living that is impossible at your home. You understand what I mean.“ I understood what he meant. The copybook arguments: she was used to spend an amount equal to my salary for her make-up materials; she did not know even how to make tea; and she was used to drive costly cars.
As if it was not enough, he added, “You please talk with her and tell her to accept the proposal from a NRI industrialist. I think you will help us.”
“Yes, uncle. I will.”
I FOLLOWED THE letters written on Sarita’s home-walls. I had nothing to complain against her father. He had just followed the protocol. He was a shred businessman. He even tried to make out an anti-virus system out of a virus itself. I was a virus in his system of comforts.
Days became week, and the weeks rolled out into a couple of months. I tried to forget her face, the hair she kept flying, the lake-deep eyes; I tried to forget her questioning eyebrows and silent lips. I even tried to forget how I liked her knuckles.
The Comforting sun of mid February was yet to come out of clouds. Dawn, perhaps. There I heard a knock. The knock that I would recognize even while sleeping pulled my woollen shawl. My blinking eyes were astonished to see a face, the face that was imprinted onto my conscience.
With a flash the pool of light entered my apartment. Cold was nowhere in the air. Her well-plated hair, traditional dress that was not costly, and a middle class suitcase in hand: these would have been ordinary things. But for the women before my eyes it was something else.
She went straight into kitchen. If disorder of a bachelor’s house were to be ignored, my kitchen was not a complicated place.
“Let me make tea. ” She said.
The deputy director of a company had put on a woman’s cloak. By then I had altered my position and stood as near as chivalry permitted. I moved my head up and down, parallel to the movements of her hands fetching articles lying at shelf.
“You know Vishal, I have stopped doing make-ups. And I… I have learnt some cooking, too. And I think this house is quite big for us. Isn’t it?”
“Sarita, my dear, please don’t... don’t say more.”
“Oh…” and there was embrace, the lifelong union.
It was Valentine’s Day.
And the gift from the God was under my roof.