Rosie (Chapter 8)

Glory Sasikala

Serialized novel, by Glory Sasikala

CHAPTER-8

all life holds—and more—is yours if by this one rule you abide
said the Moon, learn to gauge the ebb and flow—
synchronize with the tide

After Prateik left, everyone was silent for a while. Then Rosie said, “So... I must be going.”
Chetan, who had been immersed in his own thoughts, looked up and asked, “Going where?”
Rosie raised her brows, “To school dude. I’m on permission.”
She smiled at Priya, who was standing near the doorway to the inner rooms, “Good thing I'm already dressed.”
Priya made a face at her.
Rosie looked at her startled, “Priya, why that face? What have I done?”
“This is not how you dress when a boy comes to see you. You’re in your work clothes.”
“N-no,” Rosie corrected her, “I'm in my ‘good’ work clothes.”
“Bride seeing is a ceremony, a celebration. In our village, girls really dress up. They wear costly sari, jewellery, necklace... And they wear a lot more make up too.”
Grandma laughed, “Yes, even during our times it was like that. But I think what Prateik liked in Rosie is her simplicity. He must have seen so many sophisticated and well-dressed women, but he has liked Rosie, her simplicity. Arrey, this girl doesn’t even know that she’s beautiful.”
Rosie looked round-eyed at her Grandma, “Am I? Really?”
Both Priya and Grandma laughed.
Rosie got up from the divan, but Chetan reached out a hand and took hers, “Rosie.”
Rosie looked at him, “Yes Chetan?”
“You like him.”
It was not a question. It was a statement.
Rosie grew red but she held Chetan’s gaze. They were very close to each other and understood each other the way only siblings can. Grandma and Priya watched on, very interested and alert.
“Yes...I like him.”
Rosie released her hand gently and sat back down on the divan.
“But...I have just met him. The relationship...whatever it is...is new. It isn’t that deep yet. And I have faith in your judgement. I know that whatever decision you take on my behalf, on Rashmi’s and Suman’s behalf, on this family’s behalf, you would have reached that decision after a lot of thought and after strongly weighing the pros and cons. I respect your decision. Whatever you decide, that will prevail.”
“You mustn’t worry about me,” she continued, “Two days back I was a happy-go-lucky girl. I will...I will be happy again. I’m not weak. You know that.”
Chetan nodded.
“Thank you for your faith in me,” he said a little awkwardly.
Rosie nodded, “Can I go now?”
He nodded.
She got up and got ready, bid them all goodbye and left the house. As was her way, she spoke to everyone as she made her way downstairs. Everyone knew all about Prateik, and she laughingly promised them all the details when she came back from school.  When she got down the stairs and made her way through the yard, something made her look up, and she saw Chetan standing there, looking intently at her. He had never done this before.
She stopped and waved at him, “Chetan, go back in! Go do your work. Don’t worry so much!”
He waved back at her, “You too! Take care!”
Priya and Grandma exchanged glances as they watched Chetan standing outside.
“Shall I make tea?” Priya asked.
“Yes, please do. That will be good,” said Grandma.
“Okay. But don’t start without me.”
“We never do,” Grandma replied, smiling at her.
Chetan came and sat down on the chair again.
“Priya has gone in to make tea. Please wait,” Grandma told him.
He nodded.
Priya came in with a tray with three cups of tea. She placed it on the table and picked one cup and gave it to Grandma. Chetan picked up his cup. Priya took the third one and sat down on the chair opposite Chetan.
“So...” said Chetan, “What do you think?”
Priya and Grandma looked at each other.
“Grandma,” said Priya, “you speak first. I too want to hear your opinion.”
Grandma nodded, “Today, I’m very happy. I'm also very proud. I was sitting here hearing everything, seeing everything. And I’m so proud of the way my grandchildren behave. With love. With dignity. With understanding. So proud...”
“Grandma, me too?” asked Priya.
Grandma smiled and reached out to touch her soft cheek, “When have I ever left you out? You’re the one who made sweets and crispies for him. He was our guest, and you took care of him.”
“Grandma, I want your opinion about this. Do you think this is a good match for Rosie?” asked Chetan.
Grandma nodded.  “It is good, Very good. The boy is good. But for now, if we do agree, we must see how his family members will react. They still don’t know that he has liked someone. He hasn’t liked anyone till now. It will be a surprise for them. We don’t know if it will be a pleasant surprise or an unpleasant one.”
“Unpleasant,” said Priya, promptly.
Both Grandma and Chetan looked at her, startled. “Don’t you see?” said Priya, “He’s from a rich family. They would have high expectations for him, right? And then too, he’s not taking home one girl. He’s taking home three girls, and two are children. How can they be happy about it?”
“But he’s an independent man. He can take his own decisions,” Chetan pointed out.
“But family is important na? The family members should be welcoming. If they’re hostile, how will a girl be happy there?”
Grandma and Chetan nodded.
“Rosie likes him. We mustn’t forget that,” said Chetan, “And if she refuses to leave Rashmi and Suman, she might never get married.”
Priya and Grandma nodded. Grandma laid a hand on Chetan’s arm, “Son, you decide. Rosie was right. The relationship is recent. You think out all the pros and cons and decide. Not now. Go to work. Think about it and tell us your decision in the evening. What do you say Priya?”
Priya nodded, “Yes, I think your decision will be correct.”
Chetan nodded.  He got up. “I must go now. We’ll talk in the evening. I’ll think about it. You both think about it too. If you feel there’s something I’m missing out, you can tell me.”
They both nodded. Chetan and Priya left the room.
Rosie made her way hurriedly to school, exchanging a gay word here, a hello there. Nothing in her external demeanour gave away the turmoil in her mind. She entered the class unnoticed by her students who were too busy and occupied to notice her. She went behind her desk and picked up the scale and tapped it smartly on the table several times. The children stopped in their tracks and turned towards her. Some of them hurriedly made their way to their own places. Rosie did not say anything. She stood silently waiting till they were all in their proper places. Then she closed her eyes, folded her hands and led her students in prayer. This was a daily routine to start the first session in the morning and in the afternoon with a prayer. Only, today it went beyond that for Rosie, for whom only that morning, in the few hours just left behind, so much had happened, so much had changed that she seemed to have lost control of her destiny. The very ground was slipping beneath her feet, and it was imperative that she grasp at some hold somewhere, somehow, lest she have a deep damaging fall. So she clasped her hand tightly together, shut her eyes and prayed fervently.
It turned out to be a rather long and tedious day that left very little time to think about anything else.
“Hi Rosie!”
“Hi!” said Rosie, smiling at Shaheena, a young colleague. “All of them have gone home,” she said to her, “Peace finally!”
They both laughed.
“Do we like this peace?”
“Not for long, no?” said Rosie, shaking her head.
“Going home?”
“Well…” said Rosie, uncertainly. “I thought I’d go to the temple first.”
“What’s wrong Rosie? You look very worried.”
“It’s nothing Shaheena,” said Rosie, shaking her head and looking at the ground. Then she looked up and smiled, “Well, actually there is something, but I can’t talk about it right now. I’ll tell you later.”
“Alright, but is there anything I can do to help?”
“No, it’s nothing like that,” Rosie said, smiling again.
“Okay,” said Shaheen, doubtfully, looking rather curiously at Rosie, “I’ll see you tomorrow then. Bye!”
“Bye!” said Rosie.
Rosie went to the temple. After washing her feet at the pool, she entered the premises. She then knelt down in front of the deity, pulled the shawl over her head and grew oblivious to her surroundings and immersed herself in prayer.
"God, I don’t know this new path through which you are leading me, but I know only this much—that you are with me wherever I go. You are my strength. You are my guide. You are my protector. You are my saviour. It is only because of you that all this is happening. Oh God! How can it happen? How can a woman lose her heart in a moment to a man she does not know. What magic is this O God? Today, I’m the same Rosie who came to you yesterday, and yet, I’m not the same. Today, my heart is not with me. Today, I have given my heart to someone else. He has it. Tell me is this possible or am I the only crazy creature in this world? Please be with me God and guide my footsteps. Please my Father, do not desert this fatherless child. Help her Father! Help me!”
She stayed quiet for a while, feeling rested and peaceful now.
That night, Chetan said to Rosie, “Rosie, we need to sit and talk.”
Priya, who was standing near the main doorway said, “Shall we eat first? I've made pulao today.”
Grandma nodded her head in delight, “Wah, wah! Today we’re having pulao! Wah, wah!”
They all laughed.
Chetan looked at Rosie, “We need to talk now, Rosie. Rashmi and Suman are out. We need to talk while they are not here. We can include them in the conversation later. It’s their future too. Food can wait.”
He looked at Priya. She nodded.
“Come in and sit down,” he told her.
She came in and sat down. Rosie sat down next to her grandma.
“Tell me,” she said to Chetan. Her face was impassive but there was a flutter in her heart, a little anxiety about how things would go.
Chetan looked at her. He said, “Rosie, I have decided that this is a good match. The boy is good. He will take care of you. And even if I’m not happy about you taking Suman and Rashmi with you, in my heart of hearts I know it’s good for them, a good atmosphere to grow up in. And they will be close enough. I can drop in. They can spend their holidays here. It will work out well. But...”
“But, there’s one problem, which Priya and Grandma pointed out to me. Their family is big one. They are four brothers. Two are married. They might not have said anything so far about Prateik getting married, but they might have had faith that he will marry from a good family...a rich family. We don’t know. It might be hard for them to accept you. It’s not a very big thing. Rich or poor, there are always people in every family who don’t get along. My worry is not about them, but how Prateik handles it. If he can guarantee that he’ll take care you and shield you and protect you and ensure that you are treated with dignity, then I have no objections. I cannot see my sister unhappy. No one can approach a woman who is protected by her husband. And, within his protection, it is up to you, as the person entering the household, to be patient and loving and gracious...which you are. So....we have to talk to Prateik tomorrow. He has to give us this guarantee. If he does, then I have no other objections.
Rosie had been listening intently. She now nodded.
“I understand. You don’t worry. Whatever you decide, I will abide by your decision. I know that you would have weighed all the pros and cons to arrive at a decision. I respect that.”
Chetan reached out a hand and tousled her hair. “Rosie-Posie!”
They smiled at each other.
“Arrey Grandma! Why are you crying?” Priya asked.
They turned to see tears pouring down Grandma’s face.
“Grandma, why are you crying?”
“My grandchildren are so good! Everybody has grandchildren, but mine are so good!”
“Grandma,” said Rosie, putting her arms around her, “That’s because of you! You taught us to prioritize the right things in life.”
Priya nudged Grandma at her elbow, “Me too?”
Grandma smiled through her tears, “She keeps asking this. Me too, me too, me too!! You mad girl! When have I ever left you out? Go! Go and bring that pulao. It must be eaten when it’s hot.”

[To be continued ...]

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