Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The Necklace - Part 1

Source: www.gleamjewels.com

Hidden away in his favourite spot in the alcove that occupied the right most corner of the sprawling living room, Manav had been watching his family for the past one hour.

Ajeet Chacha had been on the phone all the time, yelling at his assistants who were managing the store. 
"He was always doing that, as if the store would shut down if he wasn't there for a day!" thought Manav, his attention now focused on a plump lady who had just seated herself on the large swing that took up most of the left side of the room, the side that faced the garden. She looked around the room, Ajeet Chacha had already left and walked up to the gate, still yelling at his helps. Thinking nobody was around; she quietly dipped her hand into her bodice and pulled out a packet.

“So Champa Chachi has still not given up on Ghutka” he thought.
“How was she going to hide her red stained teeth from the rest? She sure could be slow at times”

He let out a chuckle, making Champa Chachi nervously look around. Quickly, Manav slunk further, hoping fervently that she had not seen him.
He really didn't like Ajeet Chacha and Champa Chachi. They were the ones in their joint family of eight, whom he tried to avoid as much as possible. His parents, Devendra and Geeta, his twin cousins Gowri and Ekta and their adorable Daadi Durgeshwari made up the rest of his Marwari family.  Suddenly he heard a cough and looked up. Daadi was wobbling into the room, towards her rocking chair where she sat post lunch to read the newspaper. The venomous look Champa Chachi threw her way wasn't missed by him. He almost stepped out of his hiding place to help Daadi when Ekta and Gowri came running in and helped settle her into the chair. They were adorable, his little sisters. Always together, laughing, running, playing. Suddenly he saw them look towards where he was hiding, even before he could put his fingers to his lips and beg them to remain silent, his eight year old cousins winked and ran off, almost bumping into his Ma who had just entered the room.

“Maaji, will you have some lime water now?” She asked through the ghunghat that hid her beautiful face.

“Before that, get me a glass of orange juice, don’t you see me sweating away! This summer has been esp. cruel to me and you don’t even notice!” yelled Champa Chachi as she always did. Poor Ma, everyone took their frustrations out on her.

“It’s already Tuesday! Don’t forget, the function preparations need to be completed by tomorrow. The guests will be coming in early on Thursday. You are so lazy! I wonder why we got you into this house”

Daadi looked on silently. With age, she had lost the vigour to reason out with her elder daughter-in-law. Champa Chachi wanted her sister Bela to be married to her brother-in-law, his father. But Daadi had liked his mother’s alliance and the marriage had been fixed. Despite it being years since then, Champa Chachi had not forgotten and never missed a chance to throw jibes at his mother on the topic. That his Ma took care of her children, born after years and years of prayer and penance was little appreciated. After all they were just girls! Through his fifteen year old memory, he failed to recollect a single time when Chachi would have drawn her children close, no. As far as the twins were concerned Ma was their mother.

Manav was disgusted. His family was not at all what it seemed like. It definitely was not spiritual, generous and peace loving, the image they tried to portray in front of their relatives and friends, and the world in general. In fact each of them had their own secrets which nobody knew about, but him. Sitting in his hiding place, he had watched many of those secrets unravel. He had seen the true side of each of his relatives, even his Papa's.

They loved to have the world believe that they were helpful and generous. But they were anything but that. He had seen his Ma literally beg his Papa to help her cousin brother out. She being the only child, Anand had been the elder brother she always wanted. Her brother, his mama Anand Bakshi led a simple life and did not have too many means to earn a living. There was a time when he had been a famous detective, hired even by the police to help solve their cases. But then he had met with an accident that had resulted in a permanent limp. He couldn't take on as many cases any more; especially not those that required outdoor presence. Slowly clients had stopped engaging him and his life had come to a standstill.

Anand Mama was goodhearted and nice but proud. He would never let anyone know how dire his condition had become. There were days when his family did not get two meals a day. His daughter Jyoti was appearing for medical entrance tests but there was no way he would be able to help her complete her education. Ma had got to know about their condition from his wife, Rajni Mami. Wanting to do her bit, she had asked Papa to help them out. After all, ours was a roaring apparels business; we supplied saris and dress material to all stores in the city. She knew we could easily help Anand Mama. But Papa had not budged; he had little regard for Ma’s family. Manav had watched the fight that had ensued between his parents that night from behind the curtain. He had seen his Ma cry all night.

Thinking of his family angered him. But then, the thought of Anand Mama cheered him up. He would be coming that evening. There was a huge celebration planned for the opening of their Mall in town, his father and Chacha had ensured that everyone was invited, however big or small the connection was. This was a moment to show off all their wealth and riches.

Yes, Anand Mama would be coming. His Detective Mama would be coming.

Continue to Part 2


Correction: Ajeet and Champa have been referred to as Manav's Chacha and Chachi when in essence they should be referred to as his Tau and Tayi resp.. Despite the realization I have decided to leave the addressal as it was to ensure consistency and not confuse the reader. 

21 comments:

  1. Now I want to know what happens and how Anand Mama plays a part in it... :)Waiting for the next part !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We will soon get to know I hope... :)

      Delete
  2. loved the start.. cant wait to see what happens next.
    you have painted a beautiful picture with your words Seeta

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope I can carry it through Pixie, should have the next one out tomorrow :)

      Delete
  3. Nicely done Seeta. Even though I know where is going (only because we discussed), that extra "meat" you've added has made a world of difference. And I'll tell you what I said the last time too - this story has the simple elegance of a Roald Dahl meets RK Narayan feel :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was hoping adding would help.. glad it did :)... you know I wouldn't have put this up had it not been for the push from you right?

      Delete
  4. Loved it Seeta. Interesting start. Waiting to know what happens next :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. The entry of Detective Mama promises excitement.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope so Alka..this story will be rather simple...

      Delete
  6. wow..the premise is interesting. Waiting for the next part(s)..Anand Bakshi..is the name inspired by Byomkesh Bakshi? ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Is he coming to solve the mystery of necklace? Is there a mystery??

    ReplyDelete
  8. Now I need to know where this MAMA leads us. There was a certain simplicity and elegance to your narration. Wasn't forceful and that is why I loooooooooved it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am worried that this one will turn out to be too simple... hope you continue to enjoy it Red :)

      Delete
  9. Do I sense the influence of a certain book you recently read, especially considering that the plot deals with a large-ish family with lots of members?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha Ha.. actually no... I had written this a little earlier but it was languishing away in one of my folders waiting to be concluded :) This one will be simple Jairam, warning in advance :P

      Delete
  10. I like detectives in stories. They bring so much excitement. This seems like a usual joint family in India. The characters were etched nicely.

    ReplyDelete
  11. On my way to read the next parts now, Seeta! I'm so glad that I waited till all the parts came up to read it :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Very nice. I like the character building. And from a purely writing point of view - nice details in the prose but probably some more editing required over all.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...