A Yellow Kurta-page2
by Kusum Choppra
(Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India)
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Mimi had made place for herself next to Padu. Putting an arm around her shoulders, she said “Padu, it wasn’t my intention to outdo you – just that I was itching to wear the new kurta. That’s all! I rang the backdoor bell thrice, hoping to get in unseen. Finally, I entered from the front. I could never figure out then why you were so mad at me. Would I have spoilt your life deliberately? Look! Tell me you have had an awful life here because of that yellow kurta?” she challenged, waving her hands deliberately at the happy family surrounding them.
“Nothing happens without purpose. I didn’t steal your Gibraltar fate ... It was just not meant.
Remember that song?” she broke out in a favorite Sindhi number:
“Alay chhe chha mein raazi aaye, alay jey kaisan raazi aaye,...”
(No-one knows His will or who will please Him)
Everyone joined in merrily, adding forgotten stanzas, clapping, noise and shush too! Swinging happily Mimi turned to pull Padu up.
Everyone held breath; then Padu hugged her:
“Pure luck I wore blue and you yellow. No way would I give up my Dilli durbar for Gibraltar.” Then she sat down, clapping to the beat. Mimi sat next to her; the young people demanded:
“We’ve heard about your life adventures. Tell us.”
“Hal chariya, those will be in private. Here we’ll have fun.”
“What happened after the yellow kurta?” A giggle escaped Mimi at recalled embroidered with nostalgia four odd decades old, ending with “you guys should have seen Maami seething at defeat by a kundli. She ignored me for a whole month after that! Slowly ... you know she was always soft inside.”
“Masi, what do you do?”
“Now? Arrey baba, haven’t I had enough? Now it’s your turns to do family proud. Go on, make a difference somewhere, let us clap with pride.”
A voice spoke behind her back. ”Didi,
always stoking rebellion?”
Back stiff, she turned around to a smiling face. “Arjun, where did you spring from?” and was swept into a bear hug.
“It’s a family tradition, you too, didn’t you?” another figure caught her eye “And so did brother dear. Bhai..” another bear hug ending with leaning her head to rest on the barrel chest, took a deep breath and let it out slowly – to look into quizzical eyes.
She held out both hands to the bhabhis “You know the comfort of resting your head on a supporting chest. Bless both of you for making my brothers’ lives,” hugging them both, whispering “I never had that comfort.”
Bhai spoke “Why don’t you settle down?”
“With whom? Who will let me be myself – this cheery laughing dancing me? Bhai, husbands never appreciate that, only friends can. Then trouble starts, pampering ego or gulping it ..better stay clear. Friends come and go. Some last.”
“Yes friends. Men always in search of fresher pastures, so remain just friends. No commitment, no hard feelings. Singles are best, single women, widows, divorcees: we can feel and buoy each other up through pain and loneliness. That’s ok. Natural. No man can do that coz they get stuck with their one-point agenda.
“Once in a long while, a rare friend or bhai like you, on whose shoulder I can rest my head to take a deep breath and let it out peacefully. Where to find such at this age? Better learn to live with myself and with laughing friends. It eases the ache.”
Tears came into her eyes. A quick about turn, slight stumble then she steadied herself to take a couple of quick steps. The waiting friends held on to her, Rajan with his arm around her waist and Aruna taking her hand in both hers, to lead her away.
Bhai and Bhabhi looked at each other, wondering “How much did they hear?”*****