Sonu aur Titu ki Lovely – III

If you’ve just joined the fun, perhaps you may like to read the previous two chapters first, otherwise feel free to scroll away 🙂

Click here for Chapter 1: A Lovely Noose

Click here for Chapter 2: A Lovely Surprise

Chapter 3: A Lovely Story

Sonu relaxed. He reached out and took a pakora. “So why did you agree to come today?”

“I had no choice.” Lovely shrugged. “When the offer came from your grandfather, everyone was ecstatic,” she paused, “even envious. It was as if I had won the Nobel Prize or something. And of course there was no question of refusing. That’s just the groom’s prerogative.”

Sonu was perplexed. Now that Titu was ‘safe’ from the clutches of yet another unsuitable not to mention unscrupulous manipulative witch, he focused on the girl and the mixed signals he was getting.

“You don’t want to marry Titu?” Sonu asked.

She shook her head.

“But you want us to play along for a while?” He wanted to be sure.

“Yes.”

“For how long?” Sonu’s bored into hers before they dropped.

“Until 15th October.”

The boys looked at each other puzzled. “Okay, look,” Sonu said, “this isn’t fair. You know everything about us while we know next to nothing about you. If you want us to play along, you better come clean and spill the beans. Otherwise…”

“Otherwise what?” Lovely challenged.

“Otherwise I will insist that you two get married next week.”

“Hey!” An alarmed Titu sat up straight. “Why make me the scapegoat?”

“Shush!” Sonu hushed him, “this isn’t about you. It is about her.” He turned to her. “Are you going to tell us or,” he looked suggestively towards the restaurant where the parents were laughing loudly and talking excitedly.

Lovely took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes. “Fair enough.” She nodded. “Here’s the thing. I want to join the civil services. My exams are in October and I don’t want repeated exhibitions for the purposes of finding a suitable groom and neither am I prepared to hear a million taunts for rejecting the best groom ever and far far beyond my station in society.”

“Oh.” They looked blankly at her. “You actually want to study?” Sonu’s voice dropped to a disbelieving whisper.

“Yes!” Her eyes sparkled bringing an attractive glow to her otherwise unremarkable face. “I love academics. I want to work, study, and be independent and answerable to only myself. At least in personal matters.”

“What if you don’t clear the exams?” Sonu drummed his fingers on the table. “They are very tough aren’t they?”

“Yes they are tough, especially so because I am working as a Probationary Officer at a bank. I hardly get any time to study. But I will get into civil services.” She wore a determined look. “If not this year then next year, or the next. No matter how many years it takes.” There was a fanatical gleam in her eye.

“Hey!” An alarmed Titu sat up. “Does that mean…?”

Lovely gave him a pitying look. “Relax. You only need to play along for the next two months or so. I’ll manage after that.”

“Why don’t you talk this out with your parents?” Sonu was curious.

“Don’t you know?”

“What?”

“My parents died in a road accident when I was 14 years old. I was put in the hostel. When I completed schooling I came to Delhi and have been living with my grandparents.” She said in an emotionless monotone. “Now that grandfather has had a stroke and Dadi isn’t keeping well either, they want to marry me off and fulfill that last obligation.”

“That does make sense.” Titu came to life. “You should get married. How will you cope alone when your Dada Dadi…?”

“Why?” objected Sonu, “She has her Uncle and Aunt doesn’t she? She can stay with them.”

“Why do I have to stay with somebody?” Lovely cut in.

They stared at her. “But…”

“Do you stay with anybody?” She asked Sonu.

“No. But…”

“Yeah.” Nodded Lovely. “But you are a MAN right? You can do ANYTHING!” She was seething. “While I have to stay under somebody’s protection.”

“It is for your own safety.” Titu said.

“Yeah right.” Lovely fumed.

“Is that why you are dressed so…so,” he searched for a word which wouldn’t sound offensive, “conservatively? To scare the groom away?”

“Dress?” She looked down upon herself. “What’s wrong with my dress?” She smacked herself on the head. “Oh sorry I forgot! You are broadminded people,” she jeered, “You don’t mind if a barely covered bride-to-be shakes a leg uninhibitedly in front of a crowd which includes her grandfather-in-laws and uncle-in-laws ogling her unabashedly do you?”

“To which era do you belong?” It was Sonu’s turn to sneer. “Eighteenth century? He clicked his fingers. “Snap out of it. This is the twenty-first century and nobody cares about such things. It’s prudish people like you with old-fashioned sensibilities that drag women down.” He shook his head and snorted. “And you want to be an IAS officer. To do what? Put women back into the purdah?”

“Twenty-first century is it?” Lovely refused to back down. “Don’t you want a good sanskari traditional bahu who will serve the family, bind the family, take care of everybody?”

“Of course!” Sonu defended, “Just like you would want a decent guy who would look after you and your family. That won’t change and should not change.”

“Oh please!” Lovely threw up her hands in disgust. “Which Utopian era do you belong? All that is required from the groom is that he be ready to ‘lend’ his name to her. In return, she has to sacrifice everything, if need be, her own life for his family.”

“What rot!” Sonu protested hotly.

“Is it?” Lovely leaned back into her chair. “Over a hundred years ago, Guru Rabindranatha Tagore wrote a story Punishment.”

“Yeah so?”

“You’d be surprised at how little if anything has changed since then.”

“Okay so what’s this story about?” Titu was interested despite himself.

“The story is set in deep rural Bengal and is about two poor brothers who are farmers – Dukhiram and Chidham.” Lovely dove into the story without any further ado. “They are married to Radha and Chandra respectively. Lovely drained her cup. “Chandra is about 17 or 18 years of age, is pretty and willful. Chidham too is handsome and has a roving eye. He often stays out nights without bringing any earnings, which irks his wife. She retaliates by going out often to the riverside and praising another man. Chidham doesn’t like it and abuses her verbally and physically. The next day she disappears to her uncle’s home, few villages away. Chidham could bring her back only after a lot of effort and pleadings.”

Sonu laughed. “Yes! Nothing has changed. She still does that and the poor husband has to dance to her tunes.”

Lovely rebuked him with her eyes and continued. “He has a love-hate relationship with his wife and obsesses about her. Because of her, he is so disturbed and restless that he fantasizes about her death, which could perhaps give him some peace.”

Sonu exchanged a knowing glance with Titu and raised his hand for a high-five. “Poor husband. I do feel for him. You are right! Again nothing has changed.” They laughed.

Lovely ignored them. “Radha and Chandra too don’t get along very well and neighbors are quite inured to their loud arguments and fights.”

The boys chortled and went for another high-five.

Lovely rolled her eyes. “That was the background of the story. The actual incident is about the day, the two brothers return home after a particularly unproductive day hungry and tired. The house is deathly silent. It is evident that things have been pretty bad between the two ladies today. Ignoring them, Dukhiram asks his wife to serve him food. Radha snaps at him and taunts him if she was supposed to go out and earn money for his food as well. Blind with rage, Dukhiram raises his sickle and kills her.”

“Oh!” Sonu sat up. “A sting in the tale!”

“Radha falls down beside Chandra spattering her with blood. Chandra opens her mouth to scream but Chidham claps a hand over her mouth. He doesn’t want anyone to know what has happened. It was dark. Perhaps no one would get to know. Perhaps they could dispose of the body.” Her voice rose and fell with Chidham’s thoughts. “And perhaps that’s what would have happened if a neighbor hadn’t decided to drop in at that moment to collect his dues.”

“What happened then?” Titu too was sucked in.

“The neighbor is naturally shocked to see the bloody scene and demands an explanation. Chidham falls at his feet and confesses, “Chandra killed her. Please save her.”

“What does Chandra say to that?”

“Nothing. She is too shocked to say anything. The neighbor, inured and witness to their daily fights, also a lawyer by profession, accepts it and says, “Tell the police that Dukhiram asked for food and she refused that’s why he got angry and killed her. We can get your brother off the hook. Don’t worry.”

Sonu looked at Titu and whistled.

Lovely raised an eyebrow. “Ironical isn’t it?” she gave a bitter laugh. “The truth shall set you free.”

“That’s it? That’s the story?” Sonu asked. “I don’t see the relevance,” he complained.

“No.” Lovely shook her head. “There’s more. Do you know what Chidham response was to this suggestion?”

“What?” they asked.

“Chidham said,” Lovely paused for dramatic effect, “I can get another wife but how can I get another brother?”

There was silence.

“Lovely!” It was her aunt calling.

“Coming Chachi.” She got up. “Can you see the parallels?”

Sonu exchanged glances with Titu and slowly shook his head.

It’s not about who is right and who is wrong,” Lovely said pointedly looking at Titu who flushed as he recalled his words to Sweety after she had garlanded him. “Isn’t that what you said in the twenty-first century? Clearly nothing has changed in the past one hundred years. What if Sweety was right and Sonu wrong?” She gave a bitter laugh. “But that is not important is it? What matters is that Sonu is your friend and you will support him in whatever he may have done – right or wrong. In all things, she is still comes a distant nobody on his list of priorities.” She walked away.

***

Click here for Chapter 4: An Unfinished Story

 

Sonu Aur Titu ki Lovely – II

Hello just in case you dropped in because of a post notification – Sorry!!! This is the duplicate draft of an old post which got posted – no idea how. But just in case you havent read it before would like to read here’s the link to the first part.

Sonu Aur Titu ki Lovely – I

Chapter 1: A Lovely Noose

And for SS readers – pssst planning on a Season 2

 

Part II – A Lovely Surprise

Sonu flicked another glance at the girl. “But you have to admit there are advantages of having a like this girl as your wife. She would be only too grateful to be marrying anyone, leave aside someone so handsome as you, not to mention well off as well.” He clapped his friend on the back. “And she won’t say much either if you have interests elsewhere.” He winked.

“But what about my reputation? What will everybody say when they see my wife is a behenji?”

“Relax Titu! Why worry when Sonu is here? Let’s play along until it’s time to pull the rug and get rid of the girl.” He grinned. “Sweety was one hell of a teacher – she gave me some pretty neat ideas.”

“What are you two boys doing standing over there in one corner and gossiping like girls?” Dadi called. “Come and meet Lovely.”

At the meeting venue after the initial rounds of niceties, a round of tea and snacks, Mrs. Sharma set the ball rolling. “Let the children get to know each other.” As everyone nodded, she added, “Sonu you also go along.” She smiled. “You don’t mind do you Lovely beta?” she asked the girl who dumbly shook her head.

“So your name is Lovely?” Sonu cursed himself for the inane remark. But he was rather short on inspiration and pressured to break the escalating silence and disdainful disapproval emanating from the girl. What business had she to look down upon them?!

“My name is Jigyasa but I asked too many questions and wasn’t beautiful enough so my granny changed my name to Lovely.” She met Sonu’s look of surprise calmly enough. “Are your names actually Sonu and Titu?”

Sonu coughed, “My name is Sudarshan and his name is Trilokpati.”

Lovely’s eyes gleamed through her thick spectacles, “The Master of the Three Worlds,” it was her turn to cough (or was it to smother a giggle?), “but not mine.”

They stared blankly at her.

“Why are you both so surprised?” She asked aggressively in contrast to her demure cat-got-my-tongue look earlier. “Oh I get it,” she nodded, “I am so plain and ugly that I would be grateful and ready to marry any man. Even if he looks panic stricken at the thought of being tied to me for the rest of his life and his best friend is already plotting ways to get rid of me.”

Sonu opened his mouth but no words came out of it. Titu didn’t even try to speak.

“Why don’t we sit?” She waved to the comfortable lawn chairs under a colorful umbrella. “Should I order something?” She asked as the waiter hovered obsequiously in the background.

They shook their heads.

She raised a hand, “Three cups of tea and one plate pkoras.” She turned to the boys. “Paneer or mixed?” The cat had got their tongues. She sighed and said, “Two plates, one of each.”

She looked at them and burst into laughter.

“What’s so funny?” Huffed Sonu.

“You two,” she giggled, “if only you could see your faces.”

“So you were pulling our legs?” Sonu was on shaky ground. He couldn’t even decide whether that was better or not.

Lovely sobered and shook her head. “No. I am serious.” She paused. “I have no intentions of marrying you or anyone else. But,” she looked at them sternly, not unlike their 4th grade Hindi teacher, Mrs Dandona, “we won’t tell the others just yet.”

“Why not?” Sonu asked suspiciously.

“I have my reasons.” She said shortly.

“And why should we go along with you?” Sneered Sonu.

“Because if you don’t,” her lips thinned and her eyes narrowed (Mrs Dandy for sure!) “I will marry Titu.”

“Not if I can help it,” snapped Sonu immediately on the defensive.

Lovely looked at him pityingly. “You are a glutton for punishment aren’t you?”

He frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Didn’t you learn anything from your run in with Sweety?”

They gaped at each other. “You know?”

“Every sweet little detail, down to the tiny mole near Sweety’s belly button.” Her lips curled.

“Who are you?” An all too familiar sinking feeling enveloped Sonu. It was déjà vu. He stood up with his fists clenched. “Who sent you? Sweety?” He hissed.

“Relax!” Lovely rolled her eyes. She sat back as the waiter returned with their order. “Mmm hot sweet tea and crispy pakoras, what more can one want right? Go on dig in.” she urged before busying herself with the steaming goodies.

“Tell us,” Sonu bit out, “Otherwise…” he put a hand on Titu’s shoulder and stood up.

“So how’s it going?” Sonu and Titu turned around in surprise. Ghastiram stood there with a benign expression on his face. “Ah pakoras!” He reached out and helped himself to one. “Why are you boys standing?” He asked. “Urgent call of nature?” He laughed at his own joke. “Sit down, sit down.” he urged Titu.

“Please sit Dadaji,” Lovely got to her feet. “Please have a cup of tea.”

“No thanks beta.” He put his hand on her head in blessing. “You know Titu, Lovely is a very sweet girl.” He cast her an affectionate glance. “I’ve heard nothing but praises from everyone.” He patted her head “So warm and giving. And very mature and understanding.” He patted Titu. “Since she is my chuddi-buddy’s granddaughter, I didn’t want to keep her in the dark about anything. That’s why I told her all about Sweety and Pihu and,” he shook his finger at him, “you better tell her all about any other girl whom you may have had in your life. Best to start on a clean slate.” He took another pakora. “Carry on.” He said genially and moved away.

“He told you about Sweety?!” Sonu whistled.

“I don’t believe this!” Titu wore a dazed look, “Dadaji told you about the mole near Sweety’s belly button?”

Lovely shook her head. “No. He gave me all the wedding ceremony videos, including the jaymala.” She paused. “He wanted me to take an informed decision.” There was a faint note of incredulity in her voice. And a sneer.

“Oh so that is why you don’t want to marry Titu? Not that he’s desperate to marry you.” He exchanged a glance with Titu. “As if anybody could be.” He completed under his breath.

But she heard.

She stiffened and her lips twisted. “That suits me fine.” She looked at them with defiance. “I have no desire or intention to get married.”

Sonu relaxed. He reached out and took a pakora. “So why did you agree to come today?”

***

SPF: The Christmas Gift

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year!

SPF (2 of 2)
Photo (c) Susan Spaulding

The Christmas Gift

Words 200

“I wonder what Santa will gift me this year.” Rimi mused.

“Lucky you,” Rimi’s grandfather was jealous, “In my time there was no Santa.”

“That’s not possible!” Rimi protested. “Perhaps you were a bad boy.”

“I was always a good boy.” Huffed Dadu. “It’s not fair that I didn’t get any toys. Not even on my birthday.”

“Aww.” Rimi commiserated. “I’ll ask Santa!”

“As if he’ll agree.” Dadu snorted.

The next morning, Rimi ran to Dadu. “Guess what I saw last night?”

“What?”

“A thick blanket of snow covered the garden…”

“But it never snows here!”

She stamped her foot. “It did last night.”

“Fine!”

“Elves sat around the stumps talking when a sleigh drew up in a shower of snow. I jumped out and asked Santa why he didn’t give you gifts.”

“What did he say?”

“He said his GPS wasn’t as advanced then.”

Dadu coughed.

“I said, why not gift him now? But Santa said he brought gifts for only children.”

“I told you so!” Dadu grumbled.

“But I managed to convince him!” Rimi was triumphant.

“How?”

“I said what about those in their second childhood?”

Dadu laughed and enfolded Rimi in his arms. “My best gift ever!”

***

Written (after ages) for the Sunday Photo Fiction – a story in 200 words or less. Thanks to Susan Spaulding for hosting the challenge and for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

 

 

His First Pair

My second submission (first one here) this week after my ‘inspirational’ walk 😀 Would love to know which one you think is better. Thanks!

adamickes-childsboots
Photo (c) Adam Ickes

 

His First Pair

Words 102

“Dadu you came!” Rimi ran to hug her grandfather.

“Soon our village will get electricity…”

“Great! Dad will have no choice but to take me.” Rimi pulled him.

“Wait. Let me wash my feet first.”

“Why are you bare feet?!”

“I couldn’t wear leather on my feet!”

“But Dadu shoes are also made of synthetic material.”

“Really?”

“Yes! Let me buy you a pair of shoes.”

 

“I love my new shoes.” He carefully tucked them into his bag. “Thank you.”

“Aren’t you going to wear them?”

“Oh but I couldn’t!”

“Why not? They aren’t leather…”

“They’ll get dirty and frayed.”

***

Written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and Adam Ickes for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt (and showcase your story) click here.

 

 

 

 

A Shoddy Job

adamickes-childsboots
Photo (c) Adam Ickes

A Shoddy Job

97 Words

 

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn” 

She sighed. Another blank. Why did she even try?

She frowned and stared at the prompt.

A sturdy pair of shoes.

Just like the ones she needed to fulfill her New Year resolution.

Perhaps she could buy one before the year ended. At least it would be a step in the right direction. The shoes looked comfortable, not something that would give shoe bite. But probably beyond her shoestring budget, she sighed.

Perhaps she would dig out an old pair, go for a walk, and find some inspiration on the way.

***

Written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and Adam Ickes for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt (and showcase your story) click here.

Something is better than nothing right? Or not? Go on say it!

Thanks for reading and (hopefully) commenting.

And a second submission here after the ‘inspirational’ walk 😀

Aligned

And here I am with some more photos for another challenge hosted by Debbie at Travel with Intent. The prompt this week is Lines

So let’s see what I can cull from my collection – are you game 😉

IMG_0328Don’t you think it is appropriate to start this journey at the airport with its numerous airlines? 😀 Especially as the possibilities are endless. Care to join me and check out some noteworthy lines? After all someone has to make sure I stay in line 😉

IMG_0135A house arrested in time.

Once upon a time, I lived in one such home, just two doors away…

IMG_0164…where the once irrepressible dancing gushing Ganga now flows dull disapproving and unsmiling.

IMG_0377I am trying to convince myself that these trees were past their safety date…

IMG_0287The world’s largest sundial at Jaipur – the famous Jantar Mantar. I have always wondered about the steps leading to nowhere. Perhaps they were used by the astronomers to touch the sky to set the time. What do you think?

IMG_0206At the Amer Fort, Jaipur, even the mountains are aligned 😀

IMG_0525From the deserts of Rajasthan I now take you to the shore line 😀 I have almost grown up with this textbook image of the Shore Temple in my history books.

IMG_0679Since Indian weddings are quite in the fashion these days, a glimpse into the intricate mehendi lines. The neat orderly lines are in contrast to the…

IMG_0300Bindaas crazy lines 😀

Thanks for visiting and do let me know your favorite snap. Surely you liked one?

Anyone Game?

Recently I came across a really cool photo challenge hosted by Proscenium at Friday Follies. It involves submissions of any kind of sign, flyer, ad etc might or might not, be intentional or unintentionally, a mistake or could be interpreted the wrong way, misspelled, be a double entendre or just outright hilarious.

I have been sitting on just the one for such a challenge and here it is!

20181202_2157181Sometimes it pays to be stuck in a traffic jam!

Umm but technically wouldn’t ‘make up’ be considered adding….?

Oh well. Just in case anyone is interested details are right up there 😀

Enslaved

dales-waterfall
Photo (c) Dale Rogerson

Enslaved

Words 102

“There!” Mohini huffed from the gentle climb on to the dam, “This is where I grew up, beside the mighty Ganga. Beautiful isn’t she?”

Sia blew on the bubble till it popped. “Sure.” She ruminated, busy taking selfies. “The mountains in the distance look better. She’s too dull and bloated, like an over-fed slithering python for my liking.”

“She wasn’t always like this. She was free, fresh and sparkling, singing her song while skipping and dancing her way over boulders and stones.“

“What happened?”

“She was dammed up for the greater good.”

“How much longer Mohini?” Her husband called. “I am hungry.”

***

Written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and Dale for the photo prompt. If you want to read the other stories inspired by this prompt (or add your link) click here.

CFFC: Fun Fotos

Hello people! Cee’s put up a wonderful funny foto challenge this week, one that has dragged me out of my boring uninspiring world. Besides who can resist an opportunity to laugh or smile – well how about baring the teeth then?

At an outdoor event while the participants were readying, thise mom and child duo had a blast. It brought a huge smile to my face as they dashed about frolicking, jumping and generally freaking out without a care in the world. The little one was so quick on its feet that I could only manage a blur. The next one is a bit better.

20181005_175910Cute huh? That reminds me…

20181103_203142

That’s a Minion! No it’s Superman err Superdog Scoobie Dooby Doo 😀 Dont miss the Royal Ignore pose.

20171128_173848What’s so funny you ask? Well how about you tell me the time?

20181031_085037A scarecrow in the garden but the gophers aren’t impressed. After all they aren’t crows 😉

20181118_144240As usual I left my favorite for the last. Take your time and read it carefully. Or at least until you find tomato sauce. And then turn the page

20181118_144301And marvel at the meal that echoes but most of all salute the spirit and the determination to survive despite all odds.

Have a wonderful weekend and do share your favorite foto or menu 😀

A Roast

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

A Roast

Words 100

 

Drip drip drip 

He couldn’t breathe because of the all-pervading stench that seeped into his bones.

To make it worse, it was cold and dark.

He squirmed and shuddered as something brushed his leg.

He wouldn’t scream.

He just wouldn’t.

That would spoil his chances.

A crackle and grunt

He held his breath. Was that…?

The darkness vanished.

“What are you doing here?”

“Mom!” He protested, “I was about the catch the alien.”

“Don’t worry darling, they are waiting for you at the dining table.”

“Yay!” He jumped up. “What did you make? Baked or stew…?”

“Earthlings are best roasted.”

***

A/N Yahoo! Finally managed to contribute to FF after a long time 🙂

Written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by the photo prompt or join in click here.