Read the prologue and rest of the chapters here: https://kavyajanani.wordpress.com/debut-novel/
The door creaks open slowly. It’s a small child who lives in my neighbourhood. I move forward to pick her up. Just then, I hear my mom calling out to me.
“Ma, please wait. Riya has come to our house. I will play with her for some time and leave her back at her house.”
I pick Riya up and buy her a chocolate from the nearby candy shop. Her cute little face beams with happiness. I feel happy to see her smile and forget about my temporary moment of sadness which I had experienced when my mom had mentioned Madhu Textiles & Readymades. But soon I realize that the happiness is also temporary. As soon as I leave Riya at her house, my mom calls me once again and says, “Come soon, Bhavana. We have to go to the shop.” I am engulfed by sadness again, but I cannot figure out why I feel sad when I am already mourning over Yuvan’s separation.
It is 8 p.m. It was during one such night that I had visited Madhu Textiles & Readymades for the first time. My heart prickles to walk on the same brightly lit up main road of Shanthinagar. Though I had walked through that shop for the past six years, never once I have failed to turn and look inside with the hopes of finding something positive. But there was no use in it. Images of good old days flash through my mind.
My mom enters first. I follow her and keep my eyes down. I don’t dare to look up at those shopkeepers. I am fighting back tears. I cannot understand what is happening to me. Though I had forgotten all those long back, I am still feeling sad.
“We need some good designer sarees.” My mom asks the shopkeeper who is attending to her.
“Wait a minute, madam,” the shopkeeper replies. I recognize that voice and bend my face further down. I don’t want that particular shopkeeper to identify me, for I would be in great trouble.
The sarees are unfolded before us. I am not even remotely interested to look at them. I just look around to find the changes that had taken place in that shop. They had made it air- conditioned and there is a glass door at the entrance. The interiors are re-decorated and there is a full length mirror which was absent six years ago. As I am noticing all these, my eyes fall upon a guy at the other end of the shop. I stare at him, trying to recollect my memory. And then it strikes me.
‘Pradhyuman!’ My mind exclaims.
I am dumbstruck. I just stand still. My mom is requesting me to look at the sarees.
“I am not interested, Ma. You select. I will look for some lehengas.” I say all these with my head slightly bent down so that the shopkeeper who is attending my mom cannot notice me.
He reacts quickly, “Arey Pradhyuman! Madam is asking for lehengas.”
I feel elated. I know Pradhyuman well. I have to speak to him. I wish he could answer my questions which are probing me a lot, because he is the only person in that shop who knows about me well.
“Lehengas from Jaipur. Nice quality,” he tells as he keeps showing me some brightly coloured lehengas.
I am deeply thinking. This is a golden opportunity which is not to be missed, but I don’t know where to start. As luck could have it, I notice a piece of paper amidst those salwars. Picking it up, I ask Pradhyuman to lend me a pen. I almost whisper to him lest my mom would come to know that something is fishy.
Understanding my situation, Pradhyuman whispers back, “Why do you need a pen?”
“It’s important. Please.”
Then he brings out a pen from his pocket. I scribble the name “Jairam” on that piece of paper and push it towards Pradhyuman.
He is initially surprised. He receives the paper and intently reads what is written on it. Then he looks up and his eyes freeze on me. He is quick to understand who I am. Snatching the pen from me, he scribbles something on the other side of the paper. Then, he passes it to me and moves away.
“Tomorrow evening 5 p.m at Durga Devi temple” It reads. It’s my turn to freeze.
Well, this is a mid-logue (a word invented by me). A cut to the present. The cliffhanger of the previous chapter will be solved in the next one. 🙂