The Reborn Daughter-continued
by Lakshmi Menon
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He immediately came to his drawing room and dialed his office number. After giving the necessary instructions to Daisy, he hurriedly opened the door and stood like a stone, not daring to breathe.
“Mini…!” he murmured.
She was coming alone to his house. She looked completely shattered and depressed, clad in an old sari, pale as though she had suddenly grown ten years older than she was. Her untidy dress and unruly hair showed that she had travelled far. Her half smile made him even more uneasy. Methaji’s eyes searched for her husband with unanswered questions.
Mini just collapsed into the chair in the sitting room even before Jagadish Mehta could offer her the seat, and began to unwind her overturned mind.
As discussed earlier, the remaining dowry was to be given within two months of the marriage. But suddenly her would-be father-in-law changed his mind and demanded the full dowry within 24 hours before the marriage ceremony, which her poor mother could not make up and hence the boy was not allowed to tie the mangal sutra on Mini. The bridegroom was taken away by force from the marriage hall, cancelling the marriage. Mini’s mother had collapsed on the spot and was rushed to the hospital.
“Now my mother,” said Mini, “is discharged from the hospital.” Concluding her pathetic story, Mini took a deep breath and glanced at her boss, hoping to hear some words of sympathy. Methaji was taken aback, and could not utter a word of consolation.
Silent moments passed. Mini broke off the silence again.
“Sir, I came to find out whether my post has already been filled. If not..” Looking at him expectantly she added, “Would you mind taking me back, sir?
Mehtaji could not sit any longer in front of her. Though the fan on the roof was of high speed, he was sweating. He got up from his seat and said, “Mini, you go inside and take some rest. Don’t worry about your job now. We’ll see what can be done.”
Entrusting her to his aged mother, Jagadish Mehta took his car and went out after making another phone call.
Fifteen minutes later, Mehtaji’s blue car stopped in front of Sankaran Pillais bungalow.
“Hello Mehtaji, Good morning to you,” Sankara Pillai greeted him fondly.
After some formal talk, Jagadish Mehta came to the purpose of
“Last time you brought me a suitable boy for Reena. Now I have come to ask you for another boy for my second daughter.” Methaji took out his towel and wiped the pearls of sweat that had formed on his forehead.
“Do you have another daughter? I never knew it,” Sankaran Pillai looked at his friend in disbelief.
“Yes, I have one more daughter. My wife had given birth 22 years ago to a girl but the child lived only for ten days. She has come back to life now.”
Sankaran Pillai sat astonished as if he were listening to some ghost story. “What do you mean? Your dead daughter has come back to life?”
Mehtaji drew his chair closer to him and said softly, “I’m talking about my secretary Mini, who has now returned from the wedding hall for want of inadequate dowry. I’ll give any amount of dowry for the boy you choose to be her husband. Mini is not a new girl to you. You are quite aware of her pleasing personality and other good qualities. If I had a son old enough o marry her, I would not have hesitated to take her as my daughter-in-law. Today, I see Mini as Reena’s sister. Could you find someone for her?”
Methaji waited for the answer.
After a few moments of thought, Sankaran Pillai put his hairy hand on his friend’s shoulder and said, Don’t worry, my friend. I’m looking for a suitable girl for my son. I don’t think I can find a more suitable girl than Mini to be my bahu”
Mehtaji embraced his friend and asked him to specify his demands.
“As you know, I’m against the dowry system. I’m concerned only about the character of the girl. I’ve earned enough for both my sons to live happily all their lives.”
For the first time, Jagadish Mehta looked at his childhood friend with a tinge of jealousy for possessing such a virtuous mind.
It took some time for Mehtaji to realize that it was his greatest friend, a well-known businessman and owner of two big soap factories, who was speaking to him. His heart gave a jump of relief. He drove his car, mindless of the speedometer, to personally offer the good news to his reborn daughter. ***** Note: This story was originally published in a print magazine.