5 January 2015

Its all about family or is it?

If you are new to Rukmini, read about her on the right hand menu or if you have the time, try one of her stories by clicking on the label at the end of this post.

Rukmini squinted into the note. Which temple was she supposed to take the left on? There were three gopurams sticking out on the road in front of her and they all seemed to have a left turn possible. 

Vikas had first texted his address to her and asked her to figure out the route from google maps. Rukmini had to show this to one of the bar's client to understand what this meant. She was aware of google maps, but not of its immediate applicability to her life. For her, going to a new place always meant noting down careful directions, mostly centered around clearly visible landmarks, rather than distance or direction. She called Vikas and asked for such directions, and heard him guffaw for a full minute. Rukmini, notepad and pencil in hand, resisted the urge to slam the phone down. With her current smartphone, that bout of ire would cost her an instrument.

On the eve of date, she had left home an hour earlier than required, figuring that she would lose her way. It was not an uncommon experience for her. Many times she was advised - hire a driver, or take a taxi - but on self-driving Rukmini was adamant; the act being synonymous with independence. So, she made allowances for the fact that she had a lousy sense of direction and had no memory for routes.

Vikas was waiting at the gate when she pulled up. He seemed relived that she had arrived. With one raised eyebrow Rukmini cockily asked, "If you are standing outside, who is doing the cooking?" She was alluding to the terms of their date hat he would do the cooking. "Come in and see", he retorted good-naturedly.

Rukmini heard noises from inside the house, and even before she had the chance to take off her slippers, Vikas pushed her forward towards the kitchen. A woman grinning from end to end, was looking at her. "Tell her Lakshmi", urged Vikas, looking at the maid.

"Amma, today I only boiled water and did the dishes. Sir did not allow me to do any cooking." Rukmini was shocked to hear this in English, but thought it wasn't the time to bring it up. She teased that perhaps Sir had set up Lakshmi to say this; however, a look under the lids confirmed that Sir must have been the chef, as all types of continental foods stared back at her. With a triumphant shove, Vikas then moved her into the living room, "Go make a cocktail for us, I have to put some finishing touches to the food. I presume, you can make a good cocktail?" He laughed at his own wit and sauntered back to the kitchen. Rukmini was left to wander his living room and figure out which was the bar.

The decor was simple, and the primary motive behind the furniture and upholstery seemed to be comfort rather than aesthetics. There was order too, of a sort. Books, magazines and newspapers were strewn about casually; it was easy to mistake the room for the reading room of a library. Rukmini opened an wooden cupboard, which she assumed was the bar, and was surprised. She had assumed it to be stocked, but found just two bottles of liquor. Maybe Vikas was testing her creativity in the cocktail department? She was just beginning to set out the glasses, when a loud insistent rattle emanated from the gate.

"Lakshmi, get out of the house now" cried a man's voice, in vernacular. Vikas and Lakshmi rushed out, as did Rukmini. There were three men at the gate. "Don't come inside, I have a dog." Vikas spoke in a calm, but authoritative tone. Dog? Rukmini looked around - she was scared of dogs too. Funny, the house did not smell of a dog.

"Let her come outside then", growled the man. "That girl deserves a thrashing, insulting our family, letting all that education get into her head. I told her mother that sending her to school was a mistake. Now, look. You, Sir, it is your fault too. Why did you interfere in our way of life?"

Lakshmi found a voice, "Anna, go home. I'll come in some time."

The man rattled the gate even more loudly, and stopped only when they heard the bark of a dog. "So there was one in the house?", Rukmini thought.

"Lakshmi you come out right now." and the man bared his teeth this time. Vikas stepped up to the gate and told the man to go away instantly or he will call the police. The man seemed to back off, but didn't leave the gate. Vikas then dialled a number on his phone, and in vernacular asked for the beat van to come to his house, because some people were threatening him. This conversation seemed to have sunk into the man and the three departed. Rukmini would bet that they simply went around the corner and were probably waiting for Lakshmi there.

The trio went into the house and Vikas made Lakshmi sit down. He got her a glass of water and asked her to explain. She promptly dropped the glass of water and followed it to the floor.

to be continued...

1 comment:

  1. No no no. Tell me right now. What happened to Lakshmi? I was wondering if Vikas had disappeared from Rukmini's life. Glad to know that's not the case :)

    Waiting for more,
    S :)