The Vixen - Chapter 2
The Vixen - Chapter 211 mins 1.0K 11 mins 1.0K
Puri uncle looked as nonplussed as she felt. Was this Anupam's idea of a surprise? Bringing back a girlfriend unbeknownst to everyone?
Tanya touched Puri uncle's feet. Uncle seemed to have recovered slightly from the shock, and gave her his blessings, though he kept eyeing Anupam sceptically every now and then.
Completely unaware of the storm he had unleashed in Nandini's mind, Anupam proceeded to introduce her to Tanya.
"This is Nandu...Nandini, the girl I told you about. My best friend forever, since kindergarten. After you, she is my closest friend," he said to Tanya.
After you! That hurt like hell.
Nandini realised she was still frozen and she immediately pulled a plastic smile over her face. Tanya too seemed equally unaware of the turmoil in her head as she stepped forward and hugged her.
Nandini wanted Anupam to hug her. Not his girlfriend!
A few moments of awkward silence followed the one-sided introductions.
"So, is she coming home with us?" Puri uncle finally asked.
Anupam seemed to realise he hadn't clarified anything.
"Oh, yes. Papa, her entire family is in the US. I have brought her to introduce her to everyone at Gargi's wedding. So yes, she's staying with us," he replied, as if inviting a total stranger to stay for a month at home was totally normal, Nandini thought bitterly. But then again, she wasn't a stranger for him!
Crest fallen, with all her dreams and desires burnt to ashes in her mind, Nandini sat in the front seat as they drove back home, trying to tune out the flirty conversation going on between Anupam and Tanya on the back seat.
As she had expected, everyone in the Puri family was astonished to see Tanya. Anupam had never mentioned about having any girlfriend ever, and suddenly he had brought one all the way from the US.
Shalini aunty looked worried, but she gracefully escorted Tanya to the guest room, before pouncing on Anupam to ask him all about her.
Nandini had no interest anymore in staying back and witnessing Anupam and Tanya's love story unfold, but Gargi hadn't returned yet, and she couldn't leave till she had spoken to her.
"What about her family? Do you know them? What's her surname?" Shalini aunty was asking Anupam.
"He has returned from a long travel. At least let him freshen up, have something to eat, and then you can hound him with questions," uncle said.
Nandini watched as Anupam retired to his room, without a second glance at her. He had absolutely, truly no idea how she felt!
Dejected, disappointed, Nandini retired to Gargi’s bedroom.
Half an hour later, Nandini and Gargi sat in the room, trying to make sense of what had happened.
"But this is strange. He never even mentioned her. Why did he suddenly bring her here?" Gargi was saying.
"I have no idea. But I am out of his life now, Gargi, and however much I hate the truth, it's better I stay away. For my own good," Nandini said.
"No! We can't let just any woman come and claim my big brother!" Gargi said, agitated.
"She is not any woman, Gargi. She is the woman your brother loves. And we must respect his decision," Nandini said matter-of-factly.
"What about you?" Gargi asked, sitting next to Nandini, taking her hands in hers.
"I will move on. There is no option," Nandini replied with a resolution she didn't actually feel.
Nandini couldn't sleep that night.
She kept visualising Tanya, with her long, black hair, heavily kohl-laden jet-black eyes, long slender hands, the bright red nail polish against her pale skin. She was beautiful indeed. She could understand why Anupam seemed so smitten by her. But something about her seemed...off. Her eyes seemed cold. Her smile didn't reach her eyes.
Either that, or, Nandini was feeling utterly jealous of Tanya even though nothing was wrong with her.
Either way, she had to forget Anupam now. He belonged to Tanya!
The next morning, the Singh's, Nandini's family, had been invited for breakfast at the Puri house.
Nandini had been counting days till this day arrived, and now, she didn't even feel like getting out of her bed, much less get dressed up and go to the Puri house. To see Anupam having eyes only for Tanya!
"Can I skip this breakfast mom?" She asked her mother as she drank the hot coffee her mom had just brewed for her.
"No beta, it doesn't look good. Puri's are our closest friends and they include us in all of their celebrations. So we must go. And I thought you would be happy catching up with Anupam, won't you?" He mom said, unaware of what was going on in Nandini's mind.
"You bet," Nandini muttered, and returned to her room to get dressed.
She had already planned what dress she would wear today. It was a Pista green churidaar with silver embroidery, the one she had worn for Anupam's elder sister Anupriti's Roka, five years back. Anupam had complimented that she looked beautiful in this dress, and she had thought this to be the perfect occasion to make him feel nostalgic about their friendship.
But of course, these were thoughts she had had before she came to know about Tanya's existence. Now, anything she did, was useless!
Her cell phone rang. It was Gargi.
"I know what you are thinking. But trust me. You have to come," was Gargi's opening statement.
Nandini smiled in spite of herself. How well her friend knew her!
"Forget about Anupam and Tanya. Just come for me. I need moral support," she took a pause. "I don't think I like that girl very much".
"What do you mean? Why?" Nandini asked. "It's not even been even twenty-four hours that she has landed at your house".
"I know. But aside from the fact that she shattered my best friend's dreams, something about her doesn't feel right," Gargi said.
"What exactly do you mean?" Nandini asked, her curiosity piqued. Because this was exactly how she had been feeling about Tanya. And she had brushed it off as her own jealousy.
"That is why you must come. I will talk to you then," Gargi said.
With something to look forward to, Nandini got dressed and accompanied her parents and younger brother Nimish to the Puri house for breakfast.
The breakfast spread had been arranged on the lush green lawn that sprawled behind the Puri house.
Nandini realised how hungry she was as the smell of freshly fried bread rolls and aloo parathas tantalized her olfactory nerves. There was the aroma of freshly cut fruits and delicious dough-nuts.
Pleasantries were exchanged as everyone got seated with their plates overflowing with the different delicacies. Everyone from the Puri family was here, including Anupriti, her husband and daughter - everyone except Anupam. Nandini kept looking at the door to the backyard as Gargi returned with two glasses of orange juice.
"Where is Anupam?" She asked Gargi.
Gargi stared at her orange juice as if it held the secrets of the entire universe.
"Actually, there was a small argument yesterday night," she said finally.
"Argument? What about? Between who?" Nandini asked.
"Between mom, and...well, Tanya and Anupam. Tanya wanted to stay in Anupam’s room. Mom got annoyed. She had given her the guest room to make herself comfortable in. But Tanya insisted that she would stay in Anupam’s room only."
"See, we are a family who is open to new ideas, but we also maintain our cultures and traditions. Mom told her she didn't care what they did in the US. But in the Puri house, sanctity had to be maintained. She couldn't allow Tanya to sleep with Anupam before marriage".
"But I think Shalini aunty is right. And Tanya should have respected her views...it's not like they are going to spend the rest of their lives before marriage here. It's just a matter of a few weeks," Nandini said.
"Exactly. Any girl in her right frame of mind would have respected the desire of the matriarch of her fiancé for maintaining the tradition we have always followed. But not Tanya. She fought and fought till she had her way," Gargi said bitterly.
"What? Really?" Nandini couldn't believe her ears. Was Shalini aunty's demand so unreasonable?
"What about Anupam?" Nandini asked.
"What do you think?" Gargi questioned, meeting her eyes.
"The Anupam I know would have stood up by his mother," Nandini said. She was confident Anupam would never tolerate such idiocy.
"Well then, the Anupam we knew doesn't exist anymore!" Gargi said.
Nandini felt shocked. Anupam had always been close to his mom. So she could not imagine him siding with his crazy girl friend to disappoint his mother.
If Tanya was capable of biasing Anupam against his own mother, she didn't want to think what else she was capable of.
"So finally, they slept together. Guess that's why it's taking them so long to get up," Gargi said, sarcasm dripping every word.
They were almost halfway through the breakfast when Anupam finally appeared at the door.
He was dressed in a casual tee and khaki shorts, his hair rumpled as if he had just gotten out of bed. Nandini felt butterflies in her stomach at just the sight of him, but they vanished the instant Tanya emerged from behind him.
Nandini felt slightly taken aback as she saw Tanya wearing a sleeveless crop top that barely reached her belly button, and a pair of ultrashort shorts, exposing her long slim legs. She walked casually, and Anupam seemed unfazed by her get up.
Everyone watched them, in something akin to shock, as Tanya, unbothered by the fact that there were elders of Anupam's and Nandini's family around, walked with her hand around Anupam's waist.
"Anupam," Shalini aunty thundered. "Don't you both have any shame?"
Anupam stopped in his tracks.
"What now mom?" He asked, irritated.
"Is this how the daughters-in-law of our family dress up in front of elders? Is this the respect you show to us?" She asked.
Tanya just stood there, staring at Shalini aunty, without any remorse. Did Nandini see a hint of a smile on that smug face?
"Why are you being judgemental mom? She is free to wear whatever she is comfortable in. You have the choice of whether or not to look at her!" Anupam said, frustrated. "This is the difference between America and us. They don't give importance to such things. You don't even know what kind of a person she is. All you do is form opinions based on what she wears and where she sleeps.”
"Yes. Because what she wears and where she sleeps shows how much she respects our culture and values the feelings of elders in our family. Don't compare America with India. We may be forward. But we have not left our roots. And our roots teach us to be traditional, and to respect the wishes of the elders in the family," Shalini aunty said.
"And why can't you for once respect our wishes?" Anupam screamed again.
This time, Puri uncle stepped in.
"Beta, we have always respected every wish of yours. You wanted to study abroad, you did. You brought a girlfriend home without even giving us any idea, we trust you. We don't know what caste she is. We don't know her family. Yet we have accepted her because for us, guest is like God. But in return, the minimum we expect from you is to respect our culture while you are here. Is that too much to ask?"
Anupam didn't seem in the mood to listen or process anything.
"Tanya. Let's get the hell out of here," he said, and stormed off, with Tanya in toe.
The breakfast was ruined for everyone. No one spoke about it anymore. But the mood remained sombre and Nandini and her family soon bid them adieu.
Whatever unfolded in the Puri house seemed unnecessary, Nandini wondered, as she sat in the car on her way back home.
Anupam could easily have asked Tanya to comply to his family's norms for a few days. It was not the question of whether those demands were right or wrong. It was the matter of respecting his parents’ wishes.
And what was wrong with Tanya? Couldn’t she stay away from Anupam for even a few nights? Couldn’t she just wear something traditional while she stayed at their house? Was it worth creating a rift between Anupam and his parents?