“This draft needs to be re-worked. How many times do I need to explain this writ to you, Subha?” Senior Counsel Saroja Devi’s voice boomed across the office corridors for everyone to hear. Subha hung her head in despair and walked out clutching the laptop. “Why the hell did I decide to walk into this office and work here, I wonder every day,” she said aloud to no one in particular. “We atleast get paid, imagine the others who suffer this and have no money at the end of the month either,” said Kavitha, more to herself than Subha. Saroja Devi was one of the most well known Senior Counsel’s in the Madras High Court, and to be working in her chambers was prestigious. It did come with its share of issues, but it wasn’t as bad as the girls were making it out to be.
Just as Subha started to re-work the draft, her phone rang. It was her father calling, she cut the call, but he called again. She picked up sounding irritated, “Ya, Is it urgent? Can I call you back?” she said. “I’m outside your office, ready to leave,” said her dad. It was more of an order than a question. “Nowhere close to finished, I have loads of work to get through, I will find my way home, please go,” Subha said. “No, you need to come home with me now. Someone is coming to see you,” said her dad. “WHAT?” Subha almost yelled.
“I am not having this discussion again with you now appa, I am not coming out and not coming home. Please leave,” she said sternly. “Okay then, I am coming in, Is your senior in, let me just come and ask her directly,” he said. “What the hell is this? You think this is school and I am in nursery? You can’t just walk into my office and talk to my boss,” she said. “I can,” he replied. And she knew he would do it if she didn’t leave office in the next few minutes.
Subha waited till the client who was sitting in the chamber walked out before she could peep into her senior’s room and ask if she could leave for the day. “Have you finished the draft?” asked her senior. “No Ma’am,” Subha said, barely audible. “Then why are you asking me if you can leave,” growled her senior. Subha hated doing this, absolutely detested it but she was left with no choice whatsoever, “Ma’am, my father is waiting outside. Some people are coming to see me today,” she said. Her senior suddenly sat up in her chair. “Oh, okay okay, you go. Send that Kavitha in. I will ask her to finish the draft,” she said. “Sorry Ma’am, Thank you Ma’am,” Subha said as she left the chamber.
Muttering to herself and feeling so utterly slighted by her father, Subha packed up her bag, and left the office. She got into the car and sat in silence. Her father was on a call all through the drive home and she didn’t even get a chance to check on who was coming to see her. A few months ago she had readily agreed to be a part of the arranged marriage set-up and was now regretting it because of the way in which everyone was going about it. What was the meaning of just suddenly asking her to leave office. This had to stop. She was already ready to say no to whoever this person was, who was coming to ‘see’ her today. The second her father finished his call, she almost pounced on him, “Appa, how can you just come to my office and ask me to leave? I had some important work to complete,” she said, almost in tears now. “Come on, Subha. You are behaving like I have committed some crime now,” he said to her. “The boys parents called to check if they could come today and we obviously couldn’t just say no. Also, I am off to London tomorrow for a week, so it had to be today. Please don’t make such a big deal out of it,” he said picking up his phone again. “IT IS A BIG DEAL,” Subha said loud and clear, before turning her head and looking out of the window. ‘I already do not like this boy,’ she thought to herself.
Unlike the last time around when an elaborate ‘tiffin’ menu was prepared for the boy-meet-girl scenario, this time Subha’s mother had resorted to making the kesari (sooji halwa) at home and getting samosas from the shop. Subha walked into the kitchen and was surprised to see her mother in a non-frenzied state. “How come you are not making some eleven things,” she asked. “They called only this afternoon to say they were coming, and insisted on us not making anything elaborate. Infact they mentioned it so many times that I decided to pay heed,” Subha’s mother said, as she gave the kesari one last stir before switching off the stove. “You should go change and wear something nice, they will be here soon,” said Raji, Subha’s mother. “I am fine the way I am, I am not going to change,”Subha said. “Why are you snapping at me?” Raji asked.
Subha sat down on the kitchen platform, took a spoon and heaped it up with the piping hot kesari. She sat there blowing into the spoon,knowing fully well that her mother was waiting for an answer. “What happened, why will you not change?” Raji asked again. “Appa almost barged into my office today because of these people who are coming to see me. It was so embarrassing for me, do you people even realise what you are putting me through?” Subha said in between mouthfuls of kesari. Raji could see the kesari work its magic, Subha’s anger was decreasing and Raji knew that by the time she finished eating she would be fine again. Once Subha had licked the spoon clean,Raji gently asked her again to go get changed. “I really am fine the way I am, I am not going to change,” she said and walked out of the kitchen.
Two minutes later Subha came back asking, “So are either of you going to tell me about this boy who is coming, or is it some NASA high level secret.” Raji smiled and said, “The boys name is Rohan, he has completed is Masters in Economics,” “So he is a Professor?” Subha asked. “Why a professor?” Raji asked. “Masters in Economics,” Subha said emphasising on the Masters. “He is working with an investment fund in Bangalore, Subha. Infact Vasu uncle knows the promoter of the fund and he has only nice things to say about Rohan,” Raji said. “Then why isn’t Vasu uncle getting Vinita married to this Rohan,” Subha asked. “Anyway, is he also coming today?” Subha asked her mother. “No, only his parents are coming today, Rohan is in Bangalore and will come eventually to see you,” Raji said.
Half and hour later the bell rang, Raji and Vineet, Subha’ parents welcomed their guests. Five minutes into conversation Subha also came out of the room to join them. Even though this was a traditional arranged set-up, Subha wasn’t one to conform to any sort of rules. She walked out of the room expecting to see Rohan’s parents but was surprised to see Rohan there as well. It took her a minute to get back her composure. She quickly tried to glance at him and gather as much as she could of him. Did her parents know he was coming as well, did they not tell her deliberately, she wondered. Her father suggested they spoke alone for a while so they went into her room to speak.
“Please sit,” she said to Rohan. Rohan looked around Subha’s room and asked if there was a chair he could pull up. “I am not comfortable sitting on the bed,” he said to her. Subha wasn’t sure what to make of that, was that a good thing or not. She decided it was weird of him to to want to sit on her bed. “Were you scheduled to be here today?” Subha asked the minute he sat on the chair. “No, actually not. Long story short, I lost my driving license and needed to get it renewed before my trip to the US next week. This trip today was absolutely sudden infant,” he said. “Are you always this direct?” he asked. “I don’t see a point in beating around the bush, not my style,” she said. Conversation seemed to flow without trouble between them.
Half an hour later when Subha’s mother came to call them both out for tiffin they were busy discussing books they both enjoyed. Raji left the room smiling and everyone else at the dining table looked at her and nodded in happiness. All they needed now was for Rohan and Subha to come out and say yes. The samosas were eaten, the kesari polished off, cups of filter kaapi had, and still no sign of yes from either the boy or the girl. Rohan’s parents took leave of Subha’s parents and said they would call soon and left. The minute they left Subha’s parents asked her what she thought of Rohan, “So, what did you think? Do you like him?” Vineet asked. “He’s fine,” Subha replied, nonchalantly. “What does that mean?” Vineet asked. “It means, he is fine,” Subha said again. “That doesn’t answer my question or help us in anyway Subha and you know that, he said exasperated. “Would you want us to take things forward?” Vineet asked. “I don’t know, appa, I cannot decide based on one meeting like this. Please don’t ask me so many questions. I am going to my room, Subha said and walked into her room.
Subha spent the night tossing and turning, was Rohan the one she was meant to be with. How would she know, what was she to decide on the basis of. She had worked on so many difficult mergers and acquisitions but this was proving to be the most difficult of them all. The next day began as usual and the work in office kept Subha busy and occupied through the day. At noon her phone beeped and it was a text message from her mother, it read: Lovely bouquet has arrived for you. Come soon. Amma. It only then struck Subha that it was Valentines day that day. She spent another twenty minutes thinking about it and then got pulled into one meeting after the other and completely forgot about the bouquet. By the time Subha got home that evening it was 8.00 p.m. She opened the card on the bouquet which read, “I’m glad I waited to meet you. Hoping to spend the rest of my life with you. Rohan.”
And there in that card was the sign she was looking for…..
Characters in this piece may or may not be fictional 😜 Incidents in this piece may or may not have occurred 😜