Chapter 1

              Pallavi cast an eye on the mirror before she took off for work. She was already pretty late. She could have used a little make-up to enhance her features, but it didn’t matter where she worked. The hospital where she worked as a pediatrician, was more concerned about her working skills than her looks. It was a relief not having to dress up to please anyone.

 

            She picked up the dry toast that she had made earlier in the morning and sighed. It would have to do this morning. There was no time for anything else. Damn it! Why did Ma always have to be so particular about attending every Tom, Dick and Harry’s wedding in her family? This time Ma had gone to Jabalpur and was slated to stay there for fifteen days. Rolling her eyes for the umpteenth time at her mother’s “what will people say?” attitude, she picked up the keys and locked the door behind her.

 

            She smiled as she reached the pediatric ward of her hospital. Her whole life was this place. A lot of friends in her batch had preferred to opt for radiology and ophthalmology as the next in-thing. But for Pallavi, being around kids was a release of its own kind. Maybe the kids sensed this in her, for they almost immediately warmed up to her than to any other doctor or nurse in her ward. She remembered the lofty little kid who had given everyone a hard time a year ago. Little Ishan was admitted for a bout of stomach flu, and it pretty much took an entire battalion to keep him pinned to his cot while a harrowed resident took an IV. No one could settle him, except Pallavi. She could remember the names of most kids who had ever been under her care and the faces of all of them. Once in a while she would meet their grateful parents while out shopping for groceries. How different they would look without the worry and anxiety in their eyes.

 

            The phone rang just as she was about to start her daily rounds. She saw the name “MA” flash on her cellphone screen and she sighed deeply. She braced herself because it was pretty clear what the conversation was going to be. It had been repeated over and over again for the past five years.

 

            “Please listen to me, before you begin arguing,” her mother implored.

 

            “I know what you are going to say, Ma, and I don’t have the time for this. I was just about to begin my rounds.”

 

            “Listen, I know you are busy, but this will take just five minutes. Remember Alka maasi from Indore?”

 

            “Nope.”

 

            “Well, she is the daughter of my father’s second cousin and…”

 

            “Ma, ma… cut it short!”

            “Well, Alka and I were talking about you, and she said that one of her friends has a son, and that he is in Mumbai as well, and he is also a doctor.”

 

            “So?”

 

            “So, I’d like for you to meet him Pallo!”

 

            “Ma, you know I am not ready for this.”

            “At least meet the boy, Pallo. How long are you going to drag like this? You are already 33, and this is no time to be choosy my dear.”

 

            “Please Ma, can we talk about this later? I really have to begin my rounds now.”

 

            “Okay but will you promise to at least think about it?”

 

            “Yeah, Ma. I will think about it.”

 

Click.

 

Thank God it didn’t end up in a long drawn argument like the last time. Last November, her mother had invited a prospective groom and his family home. She had come home, tired from the night shift, and bleary from being awake after an emergency. The whole kande pohe scene going on at home had just bristled her already tired self. The argument happened in front of the guests before she stormed off into her room. Hours later when she emerged from her bedroom, still in half sleep, she didn’t even remember the argument. But her mother’s eyes told her how hurt she had felt. She made a promise to herself at that point, never to be so callous in her attitude towards her mother again.

 

            But this match-making drive was just ridiculous. It was driving her crazy. After what had happened, she was in no mood to get married to anyone. Not yet anyways.

 

            Casting her thoughts away for another time, she picked up the file and asked the nurse on duty to follow her as she started her day.

 

                                                                            ——————————–

Pallavi looked outside the window at the traffic below. Good thing that the sounds didn’t reach that high, on the floor where she lived with her mother. It was tedious having to cook by herself, when Ma was gone on her shaadi-baraat tour. Mostly she would order a take-out. Like today.

 

            Picking up the wedge of pizza, she opened her laptop to see if there were any mails. There was. It was her mother’s. She had sent the prospective groom’s “details” and his “picture” in the email. This is why she had wanted a smart phone. Ridiculous old woman, she was more active on all social media than her daughter. She smiled at her mother’s proactiveness in learning things that she instead should have been doing. She had no inclination for it though. She still preferred to be curled up with whichever current book she was reading.

 

            She opened the mail because of the promise she had made to her mother earlier in the day. She didn’t want to perfunctorily dismiss without even giving the mail its due acknowledgement.

 

 

            “My dearest Pallo,

 

            Like I was telling you earlier today, and you wouldn’t listen to me, this really seems like the perfect match for you. Varun Shanbag is a orthopedic surgeon practicing in Mumbai and it turns out I personally know his family. He is 34, and lives with his parents in Goregaon West.

 

            Attaching his photograph with the mail. Please, for your mother, at least meet him once. I really think he might be the one.

 

            Love,

             Ma.

 

 

The picture seemed decent enough. He must have been around 5’10” or so it seemed. Average built and slightly pot-bellied. Slightly balding around the corners, but it just added to his personality. His bespectacled eyes bore maturity far beyond his age.

 

            She chomped on the remnants of the pizza before shutting her laptop. Enough was enough. There had to be a way to stop her mother without hurting her feelings.

 

            She would have to think up a plan of some sort. Something that would permanently stop this menace and not hurt her mother’s feelings.

 

 

 

 

 

..to be cntd. 

 

 

 

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