Saturday 5 May 2012

Sunehri's golden moments

Sunehri looked at her husband with considerable pride. It was a great fifty years of wedded life they were celebrating.
And to think she could still blush to her roots when he reminded her of the gaffes she had made the day they got married!
The first time they were together was when she rode pillion on his bicycle. Rajaditya, or Ditta as she began calling him later, was pedalling furiously in the rain to make sure she reached her hostel in time.
She had taken a day off to visit her newly married sister, but had been told strictly to be back before nightfall. Hirman, Sunehri's brother-in-law and Ditta's cousin, was to drop her but his motorbike broke down.
Ditta was providentially at hand, and was promptly commissioned with the task of depositing her safely at the hostel.
Sunehri on her wedding day.

Digital sketch: Harjeet

Sunehri braced herself subconsciously as she relived the moment when she swore and wrapped her arms around him tightly on a particularly bumpy road. He laughed, assuring her she was in good hands. He had hardly spoken before this, but his laughter made her heart pound.
She turned her head at the sound of her husband's laughter. She knew now that he never laughed unless he was truly enjoying himself. And she did not want to miss a moment of that happiness, or what caused it.
This same laughter had given her away at their wedding when she whispered to him she had mistakenly put on sandals belonging to two different pairs. And also when the stone in the cherry on their cake that she had meant to spit out rolled down her chin and into her blouse!
She stole another look at Ditta. Of medium height, he still managed to dominate every gathering because of his impeccable dress sense and pleasant personality, and of course his infectious laughter.
Every person in the hall was there because Ditta insisted it was their right to share this moment of happiness: their own children's extended families, Sunehri's sister, her husband and daughter, the daughter's husband and children, Ditta's first boss and Sunehri's college principal, the close friends who had helped them get married when circumstances were completely against them, and their neighbours of twenty years and their families.
They were lucky to have such loving children. Their son, for instance, was so sensitive to his father's every mood. Mehr was the one who decided to throw this party, who looked into every detail personally to ensure that his parents stood here happily together.
The joy of their lives, though, was their daughter, born ten years after their marriage. Sanaa, they had decided to call her, and today she had truly lived up to her name. On their golden jubilee, she had ordered sprays of tiny golden flowers to light up the occasion.
Sunehri had given up hopes of a second child, and of giving Mehr a companion with whom he could share his parents, his joys and sorrows, and their memories lifelong. She had been so close to her sister, she felt Mehr had equal right to a sibling. It was Mehr's seventh birthday, and very innocently he had asked for a sister as his birthday present. Sunehri nearly broke down, but Ditta steadied her. They had taught their son to be happy with what he had, to thank God for all He gave.
"But I will thank God when I get a sister", he protested when Ditta tried to divert him. "Promise me you will," he nudged Mehr jokingly. When Sanaa was born, Mehr reminded his father they all must go to pray together that day itself. Ditta was beside himself with joy. "I am twice blessed, to have a daughter now, and a son who keeps his promise at this young age."
They absolutely loved their son, of course. Mehr had done them proud in every way. He was handsome like his father, but much taller, the darling of his teachers in school and in college and, she ruefully recalled, of a bevy of girls. Always, there were girls around him. She was quite worried for years that he would get himself an unsuitable wife, and then would follow misery in their happy lives.
She shook her head, as if to disperse those memories.
It turned out she was being the typical insecure mom. Mehr had taken up a job, and was sometimes away for weeks together on tour. One day he walked in with a grave air, asking his parents if they had a minute to spare. Sanaa was a step behind him, very pretty as usual but with a naughty twinkle in her eyes.
Ditta settled into the couch, motioning Sunehri to join him. 
Mehr passed on an envelope and declared dramatically, "My happiness is in your hands."
Ditta drew out a photograph from the envelope, and Sunehri saw the most beautiful girl she had seen, lovelier than her own Sanaa.
"We want to get married," Mehr said. Then he broke into an impish grin. "You know her, but you won't remember her," he told them. "She is Peeha, the little girl next door when we were living on rent. I was ten years old and used to bully her. We ran into each other again at an office do."
Sunehri gave her husband an uncertain look. How should she react? But Ditta was beaming. "She's a professional, just like you?" he asked.
"Yes, Dad," Sanaa piped up. "We get along famously."
"Oh, so you knew all along?" Ditta asked her. "And does she remember us? Will she be happy with us?" he turned to his son.
Clearly, Ditta was fine with it. They arranged to meet Peeha together, and knew they were living their own life all over again. Only, this time there would be no trials and tribulations.
They met Peeha's parents, and a small wedding followed soon.
The day they brought the bride home was Sunehri's golden moment. And more happiness followed a few years later when a bashful Sadaman appeared on their doorstep to ask for Sanaa's hand.
Sunehri gave up her career then, preferring instead to enjoy her family. Ditta was not very comfortable, but let her have her way. She must not meddle with Peeha's lifestyle or expect her to be available just because she was at home now. Parenting the children was Mehr and Peeha's privilege, not the grandparents', he told her gently. "But we will be the best grandparents," he assured her.
Sunehri 's reverie was suddenly interrupted. "Mom, it's time to cut the cake," Sanaa called. Flanked by Peeha, Mehr, Sadaman and their children stood her natty husband, holding out his hand for his wife of fifty years. Their three grandchildren joined them in cutting the cake. Once the clapping and cheering had died down, Ditta asked in his booming voice, "Anyone noticed the cherry on the cake?"
Peeha's son spoke up. "But there is not even one here, Grandpa!"
"There was, but your Grandma hid it in her bosom fifty years ago," he laughed loudly, taking Sunehri into his arms.