Prashant Dutta

Romance


4.7  

Prashant Dutta

Romance


Red Rose For You

Red Rose For You

5 mins 263 5 mins 263

Sharmaji had a large, protruding and rotund belly. Many people teased him “Aur Sharmaji, tond kaisa hain”. He always reciprocated cheerfully with laughter and his belly jiggled, causing much amusement to the watchers. But, Lajwanti, his wife of 30 years always looked at Sharmaji’s construct with admiration and sense of achievement. The inconsiderate remarks of the village women when Sharmaji, then barely out of his teens, had gone to marry her, still rang in her ears. “The boy is a dry stem”. Another added “A real matchstick man” and finally the enlightening advice by a wrinkled and toothless old woman “Always keep him tied with your pallu or else even a slight breeze may flow him away”. That night, Lajwanti, only in her teens, and have had not even seen her bridegroom yet, tearfully vowed to fatten her future husband amid the laughter and merriment around.

Lajwanti drowned herself into always cooking food for Sharmaji, feeding him cartload of food, sometimes with forceful pleas and at times with threat of going back to ‘Maika’. Sharmaji had to relent; he gobbled more and more food. Her relentless and incessant toil started to yield results. Now, she looked back with immense satisfaction, the result was a befitting reply to those silly women’s gag. While the mission was being accomplished, she herself had bulge, thrice, she gave Sharmaji three healthy children, two girls and one boy.

Sharmaji had been a romantic person, always. When his marriage was fixed he had cycled 24 miles with a bunch of flowers and with a faint hope of meeting his future better half. As the custom was then, marriage decisions were taken by parents; the bride and groom could see each other only after the seemingly never-ending rituals were fulfilled. His skinny legs paddled energetically while he sang in a slush voice “aaj unse pahli mulaqat hogi”. The ‘Mulaqat’ did not happen as he knew nothing about the bride’s family except for the village name. The thin frame now cycled back reluctantly singing “Patthar ke sanam” accusing the poor future wife. The flowers lay in a puddle in the bride’s village symbolizing ‘broken-heart’. This daredevilry however did not go unnoticed, the village priest and also the match-maker recognized him and promptly informed the senior Sharma. The furious father yelled “Ulooka putta, haramzada, phool dene chale gaya mehararu ko” and bullwhipped him on his frail arms and backside with a thick walking stick. The lovelorn young Sharmaji endured the torment silently, after all he knew; the path of love is full of fire and thorn!

As days progressed, Sharmaji would often return home and start singing some romantic number for his wife, he at times even swayed his waist and shook his legs keeping in with the rhythm of the song. Lajwanti would pull the end of her sari to her face and blush while saying “Aap bhi naa…”. The girls, Achala and Chanchala, would stand in the corner and giggle while the little boy ‘Babloo’ jumped and clapped in glee. Babloo would hit, jump, stamp and punch on Sharmaji’s belly for it was his only playground during the growing up years. Life went on happily.

Years went by; Achala grew up and got married. During the parting ritual everyone wailed and Lajwanti became senseless out of grief. Sharmaji unable to bear such sorrow ran to another room, away from anyone’s notice, and wept like a child. Again, Sharmaji’s weaker moment didn’t go unnoticed; Babloo followed his father and later spilled the beans to his mother. Lajwanti again tearfully vowed amid the background band playing ‘babul ki duayen leti ja’, never to cry again.

Days passed and Sharmaji started to lose shine, no more singing and dancing. He had become humorless except for the customary smile and fake laughter. Few years later Chanchala got married, Lajwanti did not shed even a drop of tear. Soon after, Babloo went to college and then to abroad for job. Again, Lajwanti remained stuck to her vow. Sadly, despite her self-inflicted pain she could not get back her old jovial Sharmaji.

With the house empty now, Sharmaji often went for long strolls. And then one day, while walking through the narrow crowded road with vendors selling their stuff on both sides, he noticed many selling flowers, especially red roses. Flowers reminded him of his long-ago heroic adventure and he realized that he hadn’t gifted flowers to his wife ever after that failed mission. His heart churned and again felt like a teenage lover. He grabbed few flowers and walked homewards in feverish haste. No sooner Lajwanti opened the door, Sharmaji sang in a coarse voice “Humein Tumse Pyaar Kitna Yeh Hum Nahi Jaante, Magar jee nahin sakte tumhare binaa…” He even went ahead to sway his waist and his huge tummy gave a rippling effect.

Lajwanti pulled the end of her sari to her face and said with a lump in her throat “Aap bhi naa…” And then she broke her vow, she wept. She wept for Achala, for Chanchala and for the boy Babloo who was ‘Seven seas’ across. She also cried out of joy for she had found her original Sharmaji. Love got rekindled in Sharmaji’s heart and house again, but they remained oblivious of the fact that red roses were being sold on the occasion of Valentine’s Day; the festival of love. But it didn’t matter!


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