Rosie (Chapter 7)

Glory Sasikala

Serialized novel, by Glory Sasikala


‘Wish I were yours,’ said the Tide to the Moon 
‘My heart skips a beat, your presence makes me swoon’

The day dawned...and it was a working day. It was Thursday. So, Rosie had called in for half-day permission—the first half. Chetan too had postponed going to work in the morning. Superficially, everything seemed normal. Everyone was about their work, but somehow the atmosphere was different. There was excitement in the air.
But the children had to go to school. They were Rosie’s responsibility. Grandma tried to help but she grew tired easily, and Rosie tried not to tax her too much. Rosie managed the household chores with ease. She got up early, washed the dishes and cleaned the kitchen. She then made potato and pancakes, and she made rice and dal. She packed the girls’ lunch. She then gave Grandma her breakfast and tablets. By this time, the girls had had their bath and had on their uniform. Rosie did their hair and checked their bags. Then, they were off. Chetan always dropped them at school on his bike.
After they had left, Rosie, who had been standing in the balcony and waving, came in.
“Rosie!” Grandma called her.
“Yes Grandma?”
“Get ready child. He will be here soon.”
“Okay Grandma.”
Priya came in. “Grandma, I have made some carrot halwa and some crispies. Can I bring it over when he comes?”
“Why, yes of course child! God Bless you! He is our guest after all.”
Priya smiled at Rosie, and then, very mischievously, winked at her.
“Very important guest,” she said.
“Bhabhi!” Rosie reproached her.
But Priya laughed and left the room.
After that, Rosie cleaned the house a bit, especially the living room. Then she went in to have a bath and get ready.
“What do I wear?” she thought, sitting on her bed.
“Something simple but something nice. Nothing very grand, but rather elegant.”
She chose a plain baby pink salwar kameez and dupatta. She chose not to use too much make up. She never wore make up anyways…but this day, she did choose an eye liner and some lip gloss. She wore a thin gold chain with a lovely cut-glass pendant. She wore a pair of thin gold bangles in each hand. With that, she was ready and comfortable.
She was a very simple girl and her beauty lay in her simplicity. She sat there for a moment, thinking about Prateik.
“That day, I was wearing that old, faded robe, the maroon one! Arrey! What did he see in me? He's not blind is he? He’s rich and looks sociable. Must have seen so many beautiful women, and even then, he’s preferred me!”
She frowned. “Something’s wrong...”
She had never really spent much time before the mirror and she was quite unaware of her own beauty.
“Grandma!” she shouted.
Grandma came hurrying in. “What happened? Why are you shouting?”
“Why is he after me? What did he see in me? He’s not teasing me, is he?”
Grandma listened to her and cackled.
“Grandma, why are you laughing? Tell me!”
Grandma waved her hand.
“Have you ever seen yourself in the mirror? If you had, you would never ask such questions.”
Rosie got up and stood before the mirror. She frowned at her image.
“I look okay. Chalo, enough is enough.”
She turned away from the mirror.
Prateik was no less nervous.
“Say yes Rosie. Please say yes,” he murmured to himself as he adjusted his tie. He was in full suit out of due respect for the occasion. After all, he was the one who had to impress.
He looked at the mirror.
"I look nice. If it was any other girl...”
He sighed.
"Back to the Basti, Jahangir."
Jahangir nodded, his face impassive and respectful, “Yes Sir.”
It was ten minutes past eight when Prateik knocked on the door once again. Grandma was there, seated on the divan. She was reading the holy text. She looked up and smiled, “You have come? Come inside. Don’t take off your shoes.”
Prateik came inside and folded his hands. “Namaste Grandma.”
“Namaste son. Please sit down.”
Prateik sat down.
“Did you have your breakfast?” she asked.
“Yes, I ate in the hotel. Room service.”
“What did you eat?”
"Idli and sambar. It’s a light breakfast.”
“Yes,” agreed Grandma, "It’s steamed rice, right? That’s why. But we prefer wheat in the morning. Rosie made potato and parathas.”
“Wow!” said Prateik, “Sounds tasty.”
Grandma laughed, “She cooks very well.”
Prateik nodded.
Chetan came into the house. He looked at Prateik and smiled. Prateik smiled back and got up to shake hands with him.
“Prateik,” he said, introducing himself.
“Hello. I’m Chetan, Rosie's brother.”
Both men measured one another, and each liked what they saw. They were nearly the same age though Chetan seemed older and more careworn.
“Grandma told me about your proposal,” began Chetan, “It’s a very kind offer, but it is also very sudden,” he smiled. Prateik smiled too. Then he said, “If you want to make your verifications, please take your time.”
“No, no! That’s not the problem!” Chetan laughed, “Grandma has decided you are a very nice and honest man and that certificate is enough for us.” He paused, and then he said, “Though may be later, if things work out, then....”
Prateik nodded, “Of course.”
Chetan pulled a chair to sit in front of Prateik. “Have you spoken to Rosie yet?”
“No,” said Prateik, “I've just arrived.”
“Oh... So, you must speak to her. She wants to tell you something....ask you something.”
Prateik nodded, “Okay.”
Chetan got up and went inside. “Come,” he said to Rosie, and Rosie came into the room.
“Grandma,” said Chetan, beckoning to her. Grandma got up and left the room with Chetan. He gently closed the door to give them some privacy.
Rosie stood near the door, looking uncertain. This was all so new to her.
Prateik got up and turned to her. “Hi,” he said, a little too brightly, “Good Morning.”
“Good Morning,” she said, shyly.
“Please sit down, won’t you?” said Prateik.
She came over and sat on the divan. Prateik took his seat too.
“You want to speak to me?” he asked.
“Yes...” she said, and looked up at him. But she met his eyes and both of them blushed and looked away. It was getting harder to speak. Prateik was the first to recover.
He bent forward and took her hand, “Rosie, what is it?”
She blushed, but she did not object to his holding her hand so…feeling oddly comforted by his touch, "How did all this happen? You came here looking for Sudhir Master, and that too only a couple of days back. I don’t know you at all!”
“True,” said Prateik, “But I liked you. When I saw you the first time, I liked you immediately. My heart told me...”
He blushed and became silent. She was silent too.
“But you had something to tell me. What is it?”
He let go of her hand and sat back, willing to listen.
“'ve told Grandma that you are willing to send money to Chetan to take care of my sisters after...after...” She blushed, but carried on, "That’s really kind and thoughtful of you. But why should you do that? It’s Chetan's responsibility...and mine. Besides, it’s not just a monetary problem. Both my sisters are now quite young. There is no one here to look after them except my grandma and me. My brother has his own family to look after. And, I...I have dreams for my sisters. I want them to get a good education and to grow up to be independent and capable women who stand on their own feet without seeking help from anyone. Not just that, I also want them to learn to be good women...gentle women. And to be able to achieve all that, I feel that it's necessary that I be here with them and take care of them. You see, my parents died when they were very small, and I have taken care of them ever since. I can't be a parent but I can be a good older sister. So, that’s the problem. Please forgive me, but I cannot leave my sisters and come.”
Prateik listened to her intently. And he rejoiced in his heart. He had been expecting the problem to be something worse, from his perspective—that maybe she was already betrothed or given her heart away or something. And he heaved a sigh of relief.
“If that’s the problem, then why don’t you bring your sisters along with you?” he asked. Rosie gave him a startled look. “What?”
“Now please don’t ask why I’m saying this? Why I’m doing this? I am not doing anything. I am a wealthy man and maintaining two young girls will not be such a burden to me. It will be great even if I remember my responsibilities towards them. Not that I don’t mean to,” he added hastily.
Rosie started to laugh. “So desperate in two days’ time?”
Prateik laughed too, “Yes.” He blushed and looked down at his hand, “I was willing to get you to the Moon.”
Rosie became quiet and her face became red, “Oh...” she said, looking down.
An awkward silence prevailed. Then Prateik sighed and looked up, "Rosie, please, don’t say no. Say yes. feel it too, don't you, that...that we’re meant to be together?”
Rosie did not say anything.
“Just say yes. Everything will fall in place. You’ll see.”
Rosie was quiet and Prateik waited. Then she nodded her head, “Okay.”
She smiled, still looking down, “Okay.”
Prateik was so filled with joy, he felt like singing and dancing. But he just stammered, “Th...thank you. May I call Chetan and Grandma in?”
Rosie nodded. Prateik got up and knocked on the door. Chetan opened it on the other side.
Prateik shook hands with him, “Your sister has said yes.”
Chetan looked at Prateik in confusion, but he took the proffered hand.
“Er...congratulations?” he said, looking doubtful. Then curiosity got the better of him. “What did you tell her?”
“Not much.” Now Prateik was worried. How would this guy react? “Just that...I would like her to bring her two sisters with her when we get married.”
Chetan looked confused. “You what?”
“Well...” Prateik repeated, “Just that...”
“I heard you! Are you out of your mind? You want to take Suman and Rashmi with you! Do you think I’m dead or something?”
Rosie got up hurriedly from her seat, “Chetan!”
Grandma on the other side, she too came in, “Chetan, be quiet. Let’s sit down and discuss this.”
“Discuss? What's there to discuss? This man has come to our house to insult us. He thinks we are beggars. And you!” he turned fiercely to Rosie, “He kept saying that and you agreed?”
“No Chetan, no!” Rosie was in tears.
Grandma put a hand on Chetan’s arm, "Chetan,” she said firmly, “If you can't behave, please leave.”
“Yes, of course! Why should I stay here, beggar that I am who cannot take care of his sisters.”
“Chetan, please listen to me,” said Grandma, “Go and sit down in that chair. I want to talk to this gentleman. Go!”
Chetan scowled, but he pulled a chair and sat down. Rosie moved to leave the room but Grandma stopped her.
“Where are you going? This is about you. You have to be here.”
So Rosie quietly sat down on the other side of the divan.
Grandma also sat down next to her.
Then she looked at Prateik and smiled. Prateik smiled back uncertainly. He looked worriedly at the scowling Chetan.
“What a wonderful thing! You came to marry one of my grand-daughters, and now you want to take all of them. Arrey, leave some of them for me too!”
Prateik laughed, “They are all yours Grandma. Always will be.”
“Son, your thinking is good. It is kind and generous. But we may be poor people but we have our pride and dignity. We don’t accept charity.”
“You must listen to me. I have liked you. You’re a good boy. Money will come and money will go, but good people are hard to come by. That’s why I wished...I thought that this will be a good match for Rosie. But now, I feel this cannot be. It will not be fair to you and Rosie will not be happy being so beholden to anybody. Please forgive us.”
Prateik listened to her. Then he said, “Grandma, you too must listen to me. I have accepted all your views. Now it’s my turn.”
“Go ahead,” said Grandma.
“Now...” said Prateik, searching for the right words, “I have proposed to Rosie because I like her...and she has accepted me because she likes me. Yes...your grand-daughter likes me. But she will not marry me. She will not leave her sisters and get married. Not to me, not to anyone else. Once a girl says that she likes someone, how will she say she likes someone else? How many times can a girl say that?”
Chetan and Grandma were silent. Chetan looked with concern at Rosie’s red face. He turned back to Prateik.
Prateik continued, “Today you’re saying that I’m being charitable. But if I marry Rosie, then I will be the other two girls’ brother-in-law. And you know very well that a brother-in-law—and that too one as old as I am—is considered to be like a father in our society. So why I should not help? What’s wrong in that? Even now, both girls go to school. They are out the whole day. They come back in the evening. You see them only then. Let them be with Rosie. Let us get married and let them come with us. My house is not very far from yours. Rosie and her sisters can come to visit you all easily, and you can come visit them too and stay with them. So what’s left is the monetary arrangement. I agree that Chetan has a duty towards them. Let him send them money; or save it in a bank. It will be of use to them. We will take up some expenses and Chetan will take some up. We’ll work it out. The main thing is...”
He turned to Chetan and reached out a hand, “I am not doing you any favor. You’re the one doing me a favor. I have never liked any girl up until now. I don’t know why but I have liked your sister. I liked her the moment I saw her. That’s why...Please understand.”
He was beseeching.
Chetan did not take the outstretched hand. He looked at Rosie, and then at his grandmother. Then his eyes went beyond them to Priya, who was standing by the doorway, listening. She nodded her head ever so slightly.
Chetan sighed and took Prateik’s hand. "Brother, give us some time. We have to sit as a family and discuss. We’ll do so today evening. It’s a working day. I have to go to work and Rosie too. So, we’ll talk it out today evening. If you can come back tomorrow evening....?”
“Yes!” said Prateik, “I'll stay back one more day. I’ll inform my brother.”
“Okay. And you must have dinner with us tomorrow. Whatever our answer, we are very glad to have made your acquaintance. Stay and have dinner with us.”
Prateik shook hands and said, "Yes, of course. And I want to tell you that whatever you decide, I will abide by it and I will not question your decision. It will be final. And whatever the outcome, it's been a pleasure meeting you all. I don't know why, but I feel a connection with this family, a sense of belonging.”
Chetan nodded.
Prateik got up. He touched Grandma’s feet. “We’ll meet tomorrow Grandma.”
She touched his head, “God Bless you son.”
Prateik looked at Rosie. Their eyes held and met. Then Prateik said namaste to Priya and turned to go.
“Bhaiya!” Priya called out to him.
He turned. She came into the room with a small bag. “I made some carrot halwa and crispies for you. Take it with you.”
“That's so nice of you!” said Prateik, smiling at her, “Thank you so much!”
He took the package. He smiled at all of them and left the room.

[To be continued ...]

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