Part 1 is here
Recap: A bus journey transforms into a storytelling session as a young scriptwriter going through a difficult period meets an old man on the bus who tells him a love story.
“Ah all that lovely food she made”, Narasimhan smiled wistfully, probably remembering how the food tasted.
“Let me tell you, she had no clue how to cook anything until she came to my house. Anyway, I moved to the Railways and got transferred to Hyderabad. My father refused to let her come with me. He said it was bad enough that he had to send away one child, me. He didn’t want to send another child too. His reasoning was that we were too young to be let out alone.”
“He also decided that she had to complete her school education at least. College was out of question, of course. So, she did her +1 and PUC while I slaved away at Hyderabad. I would come to visit once every year – travelling was quite expensive back then, you see. I was amazed to see a sort of transformation in Saro, yes, that’s what we all called her.”
“She had turned from the shy, demure girl to a woman capable of handling herself and the household which as much elan as a king would rule over his subjects. You, know, now when I look back, I think that was the moment I fell in love with her. Of course, I didn’t tell her. We didn’t go about telling these things and all. I was away for five years and she grew up so quickly in that time. I had to move back to Madras. We lived in Mylapore then.”
I then realised that we had gotten off the bus and were wandering aimlessly around Besant Nagar as he kept speaking. I did not know what to do. I tried excusing myself but that didn’t really work. The old man wouldn’t stop ranting.
“We had a child that year. A girl. We named her Vaijayanti. A very nice, quiet girl. She didn’t cry too loudly or anything. Saro always knew when to bathe her, change her and feed her. I never really understood how she just knew. She knew even before Vaijja cried out to her. She just knew.”
“We had twins after that. A boy and a girl. We named them Jagannathan and Lakshmi. God only knows how Saro managed them all. They were quite a handful you see. We didn’t have any more kids. Taking care of them was too much work. And Saro also started sleeping with the children. We had an old house. my father and mother had passed away by then. So all the women and the children would sleep in the open courtyard, while we men would sleep on cots with mattresses.”
“Saro did most of the housework. Whenever I came home there would always be hot coffee ready and she would have made tiffin as well. I liked wheat rava upma a lot and she would make it twice a week. I later learnt that my children never liked it, but they ate it just the same. Jaggu and Lakshmi were a lot like me, but Vaijja was the one who took after her – quiet, sweet and responsible.”
To be continued a.k.a Thodarum…
Part 3 is here.