Saturday, 19 September 2020

The Girl In The Autorickshaw - Chapter 11/11

It’s Too Late Now

Time flies so fast that sometimes it leaves us breathless. Fourteen months of Karan’s life have passed and he is so much drowned in his work, he doesn’t notice what’s happening around him.
One day he receives Indu’s phone.
Karan says “Hello aunty, how are you and how is my little sister Palak?”
Indu says smiling “I am fine but your “little” sister is not little anymore. She is getting married.”
Karan is delighted to hear this; he says “That’s great news. When is the wedding?”
Indu says “On the 15th of the next month, she is here, talk to her.”
Palak says “Brother, you will have to come to bless me; otherwise I will never talk to you”
Karan says “Don’t be silly Palak. Is it possible that I will not attend the marriage of my only sister? Of course I will come, however busy I may be. I’ll come on the 14th and will leave on the same night by flight.”
On the 14th of November, Karan reaches Indu’s residence late in night as his train is late. The whole building is illuminated with various colours of led bulbs. The house is beautifully decorated. Indu and Palak are delighted to welcome Karan. Ajay also greets him
Karan looks at the decoration and says “Aunty, the decoration is excellent. It seems like all the stars of the heaven have come down to earth to make my sister’s life bright”
Palak says “Brother, the brightest star is only one and that’s you”
All of them laugh. After chatting for a while, Karan says “Aunty, I am very tired, I want to rest.”
Indu says “Ok, Ajay will take you to the community hall, where I’ve made all the necessary arrangements for the guests.”
Ajay says “Come, Karan, let’s go”
They come to the community hall which is near Indu’s place. The ground floor of the community hall is reserved for gents and the first floor is reserved for ladies. Karan keeps his luggage at the ground floor and goes to sleep.
Next morning Ajay comes and takes Karan to Indu’s place with him, where celebrations of Palak’s wedding are in full swing. The DJ sound system is blaring latest film songs. Indu is dancing with other guests. The whole atmosphere is alive with fun and merriment.
Karan asks Indu “Aunty, where is Ramola?”
Indu replies “She is with Palak, come I’ll take you to her.”
Indu and Karan comes to Palak’s room, where she is sitting surrounded by her friends, among them, a pretty girl, Ramola, is also present. After exchanging greetings with Palak, Karan asks Ramola, “Hi Ramola, did you sleep well? I hope my sister has taken good care of you”
Ramola says smiling, “Of course. She is such a sweet girl. We have become fast friends overnight.”
Palak says “Don’t worry brother; Ramola is a special guest for me, that’s why I have paid special attention to her.”
Karan chats with them for a while then leaves.
At 4 Pm all of them leave for the wedding avenue. The marriage ceremony is scheduled to be held in the hall and the reception and dinner at the ground adjacent to it.
At, the melodious sound of a band is heard outside, announcing the arrival of the Groom along with the “Baraat”.
Indu and her relatives welcome the Groom and his friends and relatives. Karan is happy to notice that the Groom is a smart, handsome young man. He also sees Aqeel among the friends of the Groom. He approaches Aqeel and says “Hi, remember me?”
Aqeel says “Of course I remember you Karan; you are a man who cannot be forgotten easily. Have you come to the city in search of a bride?”
Karan says “No, I am fed up of searching. I’ve come to attend my sister’s wedding. Besides I am also here to take the pizza treat from you. You lost the bet remember?”
Aqeel says laughing, “Of course I remember I owe you a pizza treat.” 
Then Karan asks Aqeel “Are you related to the Groom?”
Aqeel replies “No, but he is the younger brother of my best friend”
As they are talking, Ajay comes and joins them and asks Aqeel where his wife is. Aqeel says she will be joining for dinner soon.
As luck would have it, Roma is also present at the wedding, not as a guest but as one of the waiters and waitress, serving snacks and cold drinks to the guests. She is delighted to see Karan initially but soon her happiness turns into dismay as Karan is surrounded by other guests and she feels inferior in her waitress’s uniform and just cannot approach Karan directly.
By now Roma has made up her mind to marry Karan and wants to talk to him desperately about it. She sees Aqeel standing near the stage, helping his friend in ceremonial functions being performed on the stage.
Roma walks to Aqeel and says “Aqeel, I want to talk to Karan”
Aqeel says “Then go and talk to him, he is sitting there, what’s the problem?”
Roma says “The problem is that he is surrounded by guests and I feel ashamed to talk to him in front of so many people, being in the uniform of a waitress. Will you be kind enough to ask him to come aside and talk to me?”
Aqeel says dryly, “Sorry Roma, I don’t have the courage to ask Karan to talk to you. You have been very unfair to him, rejecting him for ridiculous reasons. He is really upset with you, he is sure to refuse talking to you. He may even insult me if I ask him to talk to you. You will have to do it yourself.”
Roma is very dejected to hear this, she thinks hard as to find a solution to this problem. The supervisor of the catering services looks at Roma and comes to her, saying angrily “Roma, what the hell are you doing, standing here idly, go and serve the guests”
Roma says “Sorry sir” she goes back to her job but her eyes are on Karan. She is thinking desperately how to talk to him. She has even tried to call him from her mobile but every time she got the message “The number you have dialled is out of reach”     
Roma thinks Karan must’ve changed his mobile number.
While serving a glass of cold drink to a guest, Roma’s whole attention is on Karan and the glass slips out of her hand. The drink spills on the guest, ruining his expensive clothes. The guest screams “What are you doing, you idiot?”
Roma is in tears, she says “I am sorry sir”
The guest shouts “What sorry, you have spoiled my dress.”
The supervisor hears this, comes running and apologises to the guest. Roma hurriedly cleans his dress with her handkerchief. The supervisor grinds his teeth and says “Roma, I warn you for the last time, pay attention to your work, otherwise I will throw you out”
Wiping her tears, Roma says “Sorry sir, I will be careful next time.”
Unaware of all this, Karan is chatting cheerfully with Ramola, Ajay and other friends. Roma looks at Ramola with sheer envy and thinks “Who is this woman? Never seen her before, how shamelessly she is clinging to Karan?”
Then Roma notices that the supervisor is glaring at her, she hurriedly starts serving the guests.
After sometime, Karan excuses himself to his friends and goes to the washroom. Roma says to herself, “This is my chance” she looks here and there. Supervisor is not to be seen anywhere. Roma walks quickly after Karan but near the door of the washroom, Karan meets another friend and they go inside, talking to each other. Roma is so frustrated she feels like banging her head against the wall. In sheer desperation, she opens the door of the washroom and bumps right into the supervisor who is coming out. Roma is horrified as the supervisor sees her with disbelieving eyes.
The supervisor shouts “Roma! Are you out of your mind? What the hell are you doing, entering the gent’s washroom?”
Roma stammers “S---ssss---sir—I----I---th---th---- the thing is sir--------
The supervisor cuts her short “The thing is that you have gone mad, enough of this nonsense now, I’ll report this matter to the owner of the catering service.”
Roma says with a crying face. “Please don’t do that sir, I beg of you. The thing is that I forgot to read the signboard saying “Gent’s Washroom” I thought it is ladies washroom”
Supervisor says “Get out of my sight” and leaves.
Wiping her tears, Roma comes back and she is disturbed further, seeing Karan holding Ramola’s hand and talking intimately to her.
As Roma is thinking desperately what to do, she sees an old couple entering the ground. As soon as Karan and Ramola see the old couple, they get up and walk up to them and receive them warmly. Roma cannot hear what they are saying but it is obvious from their attitude that Karan and Ramola are very close to this old couple.
Roma is puzzled. She thinks “Who are these old lady and the old man? In what way Karan is related to them? And above all how Karan is related to this beautiful lady?”
By now, all the rituals of the wedding are over. Everyone is giving gifts to the young couple. Karan, along with the old man and old woman and the lady go to the stage. They all talk to Indu, who thanks all of them to come to the reception. Karan says “Aunty I’ll leave immediately after dinner, as I have a late night flight to catch, I have already packed my luggage.”
Indu says “Please inform me when you leave”
“Of course” says Karan and moves to the buffet area along with Ramola and the old couple.
Roma is watching him all the time. She is looking for a chance to talk to Karan but he is surrounded by so many people that it is not possible to talk to him even for a minute She thinks, “Only 18 months back Karan did not know anyone in this city, but in this short span of time, he has made so many friends and these old man and woman along with that lovely lady are sticking to him like glue, what to do?  Even how to find half a minute to talk to him?” Roma keeps asking herself but finds no answer.
On the other side, Aqeel says to Karan “Karan, are you leaving right after dinner?”
Karan says “Yes, I have a flight to catch”
Aqeel says “Why don’t you stay for one day more. I want to give you the pizza treat.”
Karan says “I’ll take that on my next trip. I must leave now.”
Aqeel hesitates a little, then says “Karan-------“
Karan turns and asks “Yes Aqeel, you want to say something?”
Actually Aqeel wants to say that Roma wants to talk to him but he just can’t gather the courage to say so. He just says “Good bye Karan”
“Good bye, Aqeel” Karan says, goes to Ajay and says “Ajay, put my luggage in the auto, by the time I’ll just inform Indu aunty that I am going.”
Aqeel comes to Roma fast and says “Roma, this is your last chance, Karan is leaving. Go and talk to him.”
Roma runs to the gate, not knowing that Karan has gone to say goodbye to Indu. She sees Ramola and the old couple waiting near two autos.
On the other side, Karan says goodbye to Indu, who tells him that she will see off him till the gate. When Karan comes to the gate with Indu he sees Roma. At the same time Aqeel is also about to leave with his wife on his bike. When he sees Roma and Karan face to face, he stops the bike to see what’s happening.
Roma holds Karan’s hand and says “Karan I need to talk to you”
Karan releases his hand from Roma’s grip and holding Ramola’s hand, utters only four words. “It’s too late now”
Karan, Ramola and the old couple get into two autos which turn to the left, Aqeel’s bike turns to the right. In between Roma is standing alone looking extremely aggrieved. She starts weeping bitterly and goes down on her knees. Indu watches her sympathetically. She walks up to Roma and puts her hand on her shoulder. Roma looks up crying and asks Indu “Why was Karan so rude to me? What did he mean when he said it’s too late? Who was that lady?”
Indu says “She was Ramola, my cousin, whom Karan has married recently and the old couple were Karan’s Father-in-law and Mother-in-law.”
Roma is stunned to hear this. She thinks bitterly “I have only myself to blame for my present pathetic condition. From Aqeel to Karan, I’ve been unjust and cruel to both of them and have lost not one, but two golden opportunities. I weaved myself into a web of petty excuses, vegetarian and non-vegetarian, tall and short, fat and slim. I wasted precious moments in my life saying I need time to think, who will look after my parents, who will look after my daughter? What a fool I have been? Now both Aqeel and Karan are happily married and here I am, all alone with no one but bitter memories to keep me company”
Indu says “Roma, it’s late in the night, you must go home.” Indu stops a passing auto and helps Roma to get into it. The auto goes and Indu turns to go in the marriage hall, shaking her head sadly.
Love begins with a smile, grows with a faith, Ends with a tear.
When you were born, you were crying and
Everyone around you was smiling.
Live your life with Love, Truth, and Faith
So that when you die,
You're the one smiling and everyone around you is crying.


The Girl In The Autorickshaw - Chapter 10/11

I Never Said Yes

Now Karan and Roma started talking on phone from 11:00 Pm to 01:00 Am.
 After six days Karan notices that Roma is sounding a little depressed.
He asks the reason. Roma tries to avoid his question but when Karan insists she says “Karan, I am facing a little problem. Tomorrow is the last day for paying Rani’s hostel fees. I have tried my best to arrange for money but failed”.
Karan asks “How much do you need?”
“Twenty-five thousand rupees” Roma replies.
Karan thinks very quickly in his mind. “If I give the money and Roma refuses to marry me after some months, how will I recover my money?” he says in to the phone “Roma give me some time to think”
After a few days of this conversation, Karan decides to help Roma by supplying her some imitation jewellery which she can display at her tailoring shop and earn some extra money. A businessman will always be a businessman. Even while contributing for a charity, he will always keep the safety of his investment in mind.
When Karan told Roma about sending the stock of imitation jewellery for sale, she did not agree initially and informed Aqeel about this matter.
Next day Aqeel calls Karan and asks what the matter is? Karan tells him everything and says “Brother Aqeel, I want to help Roma but at the same time I want to ensure the return of my money. That’s the reason I am offering to give imitation jewellery.”
Aqeel says “That’s fair enough, you can send the jewellery”
Next day Karan goes to the imitation wholesale market and purchases ten thousand Rupees worth of complete range of products suitable to be displayed in Roma’s shop.
When Karan asks where he can send the parcel, Roma tells him to send at Aqeel’s address. Karan feels strange that in every matter why Roma always involves Aqeel, then he thinks that maybe she doesn’t want to disclose the address of the shop. He sends the parcel to Aqeel’s address. After a week Roma receives the parcel.
Roma is delighted to see the products as they are carefully chosen and can be sold easily. She is a bit confused as to how to sell them. She starts by selling to her neighbours and relatives but that is too cumbersome. Then she displayed them at her shop, but that also doesn’t prove the desired result. Finally she decides to sell them on the weekly roadside market which is held every Monday.
Meanwhile, through telephonic conversations, Roma and Karan tell each other the stories of their lives. At this point of time Karan feels sure that Roma will never say no to him, as she keeps saying that when she will come to his home she will take good care of his health and also look after his mother.
Believing in Roma’s words, Karan and his mother start buying gold jewellery for Roma and Rani.
Once, while talking on the phone, Roma asked Karan “Karan suppose I marry you, what will happen to my parents? They will lose the income I earn, besides I have other commitments too like payment of instalments of the plots I have purchased, insurance premiums and other household expenses.”
Karan smiles and says “All this is not a big issue, Roma, after marriage everything will work out fine”
“But Karan how?” Roma asks “Don’t you think we must plan all this in advance”
Karan says “I’ve already planned everything; we will shift your parents to my city and keep them in a rental house. You can give your home on rent which will compensate for the rent here. We can find some good jobs for your parents.”
Roma asks “But if this plan doesn’t work out, then?”
Karan replies “Then, as an alternative, your parents can live there only and I’ll make some arrangements to fulfil their expenses. In an emergency, we can go there and look after them or bring them here until the emergency is over.” 
Roma is still not convinced “I have my doubts Karan” she says “All this will be a burden on you alone, as I will not work after marriage. I’ve struggled a lot, now I want to relax and enjoy my married life.”
Karan says “Stop worrying Roma, everything will be fine, and regarding payment of land instalments and insurance premiums, they will be my responsibility.”
Karan, who had rejected an educated girl because she had set a prenuptial condition, is now, in his innocence, agreeing to not one but several prenuptial conditions.
Roma says “My parents will not be able to adjust in another other city. They will stay here only”
Karan replies “Roma, I have given all the available options, now it up to you.”
After one month of this telephonic discussion, Aqeel calls and says “Karan, I’ve met Roma’s parents. They are very happy with your proposal.”
Karan replies “That’s fine, but what about Roma? She is putting one condition after another. I don’t think she is keen on marrying me.”
Aqeel says “She will call you today and give the good news”
Karan says “Aqeel I bet that she will never say yes to my proposal. Indeed if she says yes, I will give you a pizza party. In case she says no then you will have to give me a pizza party”
Aqeel laughs and says “I accept your bet.”
From the bottom his heart Karan wants to lose the bet. But his conscious mind says he will win it.
Same night Roma calls and talks to Karan as usual. At last she says “Karan, tell your mother I am coming to your city to live forever”
Karan says “Roma, from the tone of your voice, it is quite obvious that someone has forced you to say yes. I request you to say yes only when your own heart says yes. Otherwise you can say no and finish this matter forever.”
Roma yawns and says “Ok. Right now I am feeling sleepy. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
Next morning Roma calls Karan and says “Karan, you were absolutely right. Yesterday Aqeel and my parents forced me to say yes. I need more time to think; in the meantime we can continue to be good friends.”
Karan says “Ok” and disconnects. He immediately calls Aqeel and says “brother Aqeel, I’ve won the bet. Be ready to give me a grand pizza party. I’ve won the bet. Roma just called and said no flatly”
Aqeel is shocked and says “I can’t believe it”
“Then go and ask Roma yourself” Karan says and disconnects.
Aqeel goes to Roma’s place and asks her why she said no to Karan.
Roma takes a deep breath and says “Aqeel I’ve told you a thousand times. I have to look after my parents, if, God forbid, something happens to them I won’t be able to come here in time”.
As I will be 900 Kilometres away and it is 15 hours journey from Karan’s city to our city”
Aqeel says “Roma why do you think so negatively? There is a thing called aeroplane. You can reach here in 2 hours”.
Roma says “I need time to think”
Aqeel says “You are wasting your whole life in thinking. Roma this is a rare opportunity, Karan is a gem of a man. You will repent for the rest of your life if you lose him”
But Roma is adamant. Meanwhile she keeps talking to Karan on phone. Once Karan even offers to sell all his property and come to Roma’s city. He says he will find some job here, but in her usual negative way, Roma keeps objecting to whatever Karan has to propose. At last Karan is fed up and asks for a clear and decisive answer from Roma. She says no flatly.
Now the businessman in Karan awakes and asks for the repayment of imitation jewellery. Roma only sends 50% of the payment after many calls and reminders. Karan is angry. His mother, who has been watching all this, says to Karan “Son I’ve been watching you lately. I suggest you forget all about this girl Roma and make a fresh start.”
Karan replies “Yes mother, I think you are right. Enough is enough. Now I will start a new journey”
After this Roma starts avoiding Karan and he also decides to maintain a distance from her
Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”

The Girl In The Autorickshaw - Chapter - 09/11

Karan Comes To City Again

On 15th June Karan calls up Indu and says in his usual cheerful way “Hello Indu aunty how are you and how is my little sister Palak?”
Indu says “Both of us are fine, Karan, how are you?”
Karan replies “How do I sound aunty?”
“As jolly as ever, Karan” Indu says laughing.
“That’s the secret of life, aunty” Karan says “Be cheerful and make all around you cheerful as well. Now get ready to hear some good news----------
Indu cuts him short and says “You are coming to my city, right?”
Karan laughs and says “Absolutely right. Is Palak around?”
“Yes” Indu says “She is sitting right next to me------I’ll give the phone to her.”
Palak takes the phone from Indu and says “Hello, how are you, brother? When are you coming? Is everything alright? Have you lost some weight?”
Karan says laughing “Palak, you have flooded me with so many questions. I’ll answer all of them when I come there on 20th June.”
Palak says “We will wait for you impatiently”
They talk for some time then disconnects.
Karan is really excited to visit the city. He has also informed of his visit to Ajay whom he had met 3-4 years back when he had come to this city with his mother and Ashok, the owner of another marriage bureau. For some reasons, Ashok had to leave suddenly. At that time Karan was much worried as he did not know anyone in the city, but before going, Ashok had introduced Karan to Ajay. 
Ajay had been very helpful at that time and brought many proposals of marriage to Karan, but Karan did not like any of them. For last 4 years, Karan came to the city every year in the hope of finding a suitable bride but every time his hopes were dashed as sometimes he rejected the girl who liked him and at other times the girl he liked rejected him. It was Ajay who introduced Karan to Indu.
Ajay is happy that Karan is arriving now. He is busy arranging the schedule for Karan. Ajay sincerely hopes that this time Karan will find a suitable bride.
When Karan’s train arrives at the Railway Station, Ajay is already there to receive him. They come to the lodge where Karan always stays when he visits the city. Karan tells Ajay that he has booked return tickets for 22nd and 23rd June and he has only 2 to 3 days at hand. Ajay assures Karan that he has pre-planned everything and this time Karan will not leave the city without finalizing a bride for him.
Ajay says “Today we have a meeting in a nearby village, after that we will meet Mrs. Indu. Tomorrow you are scheduled to meet Roma and one more girl. After that you can stay or leave depending on the situation at that point of time”.
After lunch Ajay takes Karan to a village called Nagar, 60 Kilometres away from the main city. They come to a house which looks old and shabby. It has no plaster or colour on it, but the land is approximately 3000 Sq. ft. A cow is grazing in the corner of the compound and a few hens are strutting here and there.
The father, mother and sister welcome Ajay and Karan. The father asks them to be seated on plastic chairs. A girl, whose face is half hidden behind a veil, enters the room with a tray having tea and snacks on it. Karan is dismayed to see that the girl is too young. The father says “This is my daughter, Tina.”
They talk for a while then Ajay takes the father’s leave saying that he will contact him later and inform him about Karan’s decision.
Ajay and Karan come out of the house and hail an auto. Karan says “Ajay, the girl is ok, but she is too young for me. So much of age difference is not desirable in marriage. Next time keep in mind that the girl should not be more than 2-5 years younger than me.”
Ajay says “Ok brother, I will be careful next time.” Ajay gives the address of Mrs. Indu to the auto driver.
Indu greets them at the door of her house. Karan asks “where is Palak?” Indu says she has gone to her office; she should be here any minute.
Karan comes to the point and asks Indu “Now aunty, tell me about this girl you have seen for me.”
Indu says “Karan she is like you in many ways. She is a strong headed girl. Her name is Roma, she is a self-made lady. She has a tailoring shop at Gobhani, besides she has a nursing job and has been in the catering job too. I am sure she will be suitable to you and your mother. I have fixed a meeting with her tomorrow at 2 Pm. After this meeting I will introduce you to another girl. She lives nearby.”
Karan says “Sounds good. I’ll be here at 2 Pm sharp.”
Then as they are talking about other things like Karan’s accident, Palak comes and is delighted to see Karan. He gives her a garment gift and says “I have brought this especially for you”
Palak looks at the gift and says “Oh! It is really lovely. Thank you so much brother”
Karan says “Now I will leave. I am a bit tired with all the travelling. See you tomorrow.”
When Karan and Ajay come to Indu’s place at the appointed time, they find Lalita and Aqeel already sitting there. Indu greets them and introduces them to each other. Then she goes to the kitchen and comes back with Roma, who is carrying tea and snacks. Introductions are made.
Karan and Roma look at each other curiously. Karan clears his throat and says “Miss Roma, Indu aunty has told me all about you, but I want to hear it from you. What are your present activities?”
Roma replies “Presently I am running a ladies tailor’s shop. In the past I have been a nurse and I have done some property business too. But right now I am concentrating on the shop.”
Karan says “That’s great!”
Roma says “Now Mr. Karan I would also like to know something about you. What do you do?”
Karan says “Right now I am in the real estate business. Prior to this I was in readymade garment business but it did not work out well for me, so I switched to my present occupation”
Roma says “Well, there is one more thing about me that I must tell you before we proceed any further”
Karan asks “Ok, go ahead tell me what it is”
“I have a six year old daughter” says Roma
Karan smiles and says “I knew that too, but it is nice to hear from you. Don’t worry I will try my best to fit in the role of a father of your daughter? Anything else”
Roma takes a deep breath and says “No. I think that’s all.”
Karan smiles and says, pulling out his mobile “That’s good! Now will you be kind enough to pose for a photograph? I will send it to my mother on ChatApp.”
Before Roma can reply, Aqeel intervenes and says dryly “Excuse me Mr. Karan, I don’t think taking a photograph at this stage would be appropriate.”
Karan is little disturbed on hearing this. Indu is sharp enough to notice this and as Karan is about to say to Aqeel, who is he to stop him from taking Roma’s photograph, Indu intervenes and says “Mr. Aqeel I think the best thing to do is to leave the decision to Roma whether she likes to be photographed by Karan or not”
Aqeel says “Yes you are right Mrs. Indu” then he turns to Roma and asks “Tell me Roma, do you like this proposal? Are you ready to marry Karan? Or would you like to have some time and think about it?”
Roma replies immediately “I’ve already thought about it. I like Karan and am ok with this proposal”
Aqeel says “Good.” Then he turns to Karan “Mr. Karan now you can click her photographs. Sorry for the interruption, I just wanted to know Roma’s opinion.”
Karan says “Alright” then he clicks two photographs of Roma and sends them to his aunt’s mobile on ChatApp and asks her to show them to his mother as his mother doesn’t know how to operate ChatApp.
After this they all decide to meet Roma’s father and mother at her residence at 8 Pm same day. After a few minutes of some formal conversation, Lalita, Aqeel and Roma take leave from Indu.
Then Indu takes Karan and Ajay to the house of a common friend of Indu and the prospective bride. The common friend informs them that the girl will be a little late and he will brief them about her background. He says that the girl is in living relationship with a man near the metro city where Karan lives. On hearing this, three of them look at each other. Seeing plain disapproval on Karan’s face, Indu says “Sorry sir, I forgot, I have some work right now. We will come later”
Karan along with Lalita, Ajay and Indu arrive at Roma’s house the same evening. Aqeel is already there he introduces them to Roma’s parents, her aunt and her daughter Rani. They all exchange the usual greetings. Roma serves snacks and tea as they are engaged in formal conversation.
Then coming to the point, Aqeel asks Karan “Now tell us Mr. Karan, when we shall come to meet your parents?”
Karan says “Mr. Aqeel, before that I would like to talk to Roma about my personal details and I request all of you to allow me to have a separate meeting with her.”
Indu looks at Suresh enquiringly. Suresh says “It’s perfectly alright young man.”
Indu guides them to the bedroom. Karan sits on a chair and Roma sits on bed facing him.
Karan hesitates a little then says “Roma I think we should by very frank and honest with each other, in order to avoid any problems in the future. Then you can ask me any questions however childish they may be. Do you wish to tell me anything which you have not said so far?”
Roma says “Yes there are two three things which I would like to tell you but please tell me about yourself first”
Karan takes a deep breath and says “Well, the first thing I want to disclose is that I’ve been married twice and both the marriages resulted in divorce. Three years back I had undergone angioplasty. That’s all”
Roma says “Thank you for being so frank. I will be frank as well. Just like you I’ve also been married twice and both the marriages failed. Now my chances of conceiving are only 50%”
She also narrates the tragic happening of her two marriages. Karan and Roma are so much engrossed in their conversation that they don’t notice the passing time. Indu comes in the bedroom and says “Karan we are getting late. Let’s go”
Karan tells Roma “Roma it has been nice talking to you. Now that we know so much about each other, you take time to think and let me know about your decision”
All the guests leave Roma’s house. Karan requests Ajay to stay with him in the lodge, as he wants to know more about Roma and also see some other girls. Ajay says “No problem” he calls up his wife and tells her that he will not be coming home as is going to stay with a friend for two days.
 At the lodge Karan tells Ajay that he will postpone his departure for two more days. Ajay asks “But Karan, when you have decided to marry Roma why waste seeing other girls?”
Karan replies “Ajay, there is a little chance that my mother will reject Roma due to her short height. For me she is perfect. I see all the qualities of a good life partner in her; he can even help me in my business. I can open a shop for her in the metro city. But just in case my mother rejects her, I want to be ready with an alternate choice.”
Ajay contacts some marriage bureaus and informs Karan that he can see one girl the very next day and the other will confirm when she is available.
Next day Karan and Ajay along with Indu go to the office of the marriage bureau where the meeting is fixed. On the way Indu asks the same question. Why does Karan want to see other girls when he has finalized Roma? Karan says “Aunty, this time I don’t want to return empty handed. If my mother rejects Roma, I want to be ready with an alternative proposal”
When they reach the marriage bureau’s office, they find the girl waiting there already. The bureau’s manager introduces them. The girl whose name is Sundari, is pretty looking, her age is 35 years and is highly educated, holding a degree of MA, B.Ed.
Sundari asks Karan about his educational qualifications. Feeling a little inferior, Karan replies “I hold a diploma in fashion designing”
Sundari says “No problem, I like you but I have a condition”
“Condition?” Karan asks in a shocked tone “What is it, tell me”
Sundari says “You will have to come here and settle down”
Karan says “Madam, is this a marriage proposal or a business proposal? Let me remind you that conditions are set in business and not in marriage. Marriage means love, sacrifice, understanding and caring for each other. Your approach is all wrong, you are putting prenuptial agreement terms, and I don’t like this. If you had made a request instead of a condition and explained why you want me to shift to this city, I would’ve considered it but I am sorry to say this, your “condition” is not acceptable to me and neither are you.” Saying this Karan walks out of the office. Indu and Ajay follow him.
Coming out of the office Karan says angrily “Ajay I am very upset. Let’s go to a cafe and have some tea.”
Indu says “Karan I am really happy that you gave such a befitting reply to that arrogant girl.”
They come to a cafe and Karan says “Ajay, I think I will finalize Roma now. They had asked when they can come to my residence. Please ask them to come tomorrow with me, if it is ok with them.”
Ajay says “That’s a wise decision brother”
Indu says “I will contact them right away”
Indu calls up Mrs. Lalita and says “Lalita, Karan is asking when Roma and her parents would like to visit his residence?”
Lalita’s reply is a rude shock to Indu. Karan, who is watching Indu closely, asks “What’s the matter aunty? Why are you looking so shocked?”
Indu puts her palm on the mouth piece and says “Lalita says Roma has refused to marry you as she doesn’t want to marry a heart patient who has already undergone bypass surgery.”
This unexpected twist by destiny leaves Karan stunned. Ajay is also dismayed to hear this. Removing her palm from the mouth piece, Indu says “Ok Lalita, I’ll call you later.” Then disconnecting the phone, she shouts at Karan “Karan you were really very stupid, why you told Roma about your angioplasty? Too much of honesty is also not good”
Karan says “Calm down aunty. There has been some misunderstanding on Roma’s part. I have undergone angioplasty and not bypass surgery. There is a big difference between the two.” 
Indu says “But why did you mention it at all? Now look at the confusion you have created.”
Karan says “I had to mention it aunty otherwise it would’ve caused problems after marriage, moreover, Roma did not react to it at that time. She told me about her health also and said her chances of conceiving are less than 50%. This gave me the impression that she did not have any objection to my angioplasty. I can’t understand from where she got this idea of bypass surgery.”
Ajay agrees with Karan and says “Mrs. Indu, please call Lalita and explain all this. Indu calls Lalita again and explains the whole thing. Lalita says “Indu, this has become very complicated now Roma’s aunt is objecting to this proposal as Karan lives 900 Kilometres away and it will be difficult for Roma to look after her parents as she is the only child like Karan.”
Indu conveys this message to Karan and says “Karan, you have committed a big blunder by being so honest. Now I suggest you go back. We will find a better proposal in your next visit.”
Karan is dejected and returns to his lodge. Ajay is also with him. They sleep late in the night trying to figure out why Roma has rejected Karan all of a sudden.
Next morning they try to contact Lalita but they learn that she has left the city for 3 days. Lalita informs that Roma is also out of town, visiting her uncle who lives 280 Kilometres away. They ask for Aqeel’s number but Lalita says “His number is at home and I am in the train”. Karan feels this is a false excuse. He feels frustrated as this is his last day in the city.
As Karan and Ajay are trying to find Aqeel, Karan receives a message on his mobile; Karan calls him immediately on his mobile and tells him he wants to meet Aqeel urgently. Aqeel says he can come to his fabrication site. Karan and Ajay leaves for the site, which is at the 10th floor of a multi-storeyed building. 
Karan explains the whole matter to Aqeel and says “Brother Aqeel, you are so close to Roma and her family please, convince her that I am not an ill person. To prove my point I have come here climbing the staircase.”
Aqeel is surprised and says “Good, that is not possible for a heart patient. I’ll tell this to Roma.”
Karan says “I have one more proof” he opens his shirt and says “Look there is no mark on my chest. I had undergone angioplasty and not bypass surgery. Explain the difference between the two to Roma.”
Aqeel says smiling “I’ll tell her to meet you, and then you can explain the whole thing to her”
Aqeel calls up Roma and fixes a meeting at Silent Hotel near Silent Beach.
Aqeel, along with Karan and Ajay, go to the Silent Hotel. Roma comes after some time, they exchange greetings. Then coming to the point, Karan tells her all that he has told Aqeel, who confirms that Karan had climbed by staircase up to the 10th floor. Karan shows his angioplasty reports to Roma, she looks at the report. Then Karan produces his divorce papers too but Roma is not keen to examine them.
Roma says “There is no need to show all these documents, Karan. The actual reason for my refusal is that when I saw you properly that day in my room, I noticed that you are very tall and I am short, I also have the responsibility of my parents on my shoulder”
Karan says “If you are willing to marry me, I can take care of your parents too”
Roma says “But the problem of height still remains, Karan”
Karan says desperately “What can I do about that. I cannot get shorter nor can I stretch you up to my height”
Roma says “We can become good friends.”
Karan says “Ok, you can always call me if you change your mind”
They come out of the restaurant and say goodbye. After this Ajay takes Karan to see one more girl but Karan dis approves her. Now he has no option but to leave the city empty handed.
After reaching home Karan drowns himself in his work. After a few days he is pleasantly surprised to receive Roma’s call who says “Karan, my parents and Aqeel have persuaded me to reconsider my decision. But I am still not saying yes nor am I saying no. Let’s talk on phone every day, and then we will see how things work out.”
Karan replies “Fair enough it’s ok for me; I will also get idea how far we are comfortable with each other.”
Then they decide to talk on phone each night after11 Pm.
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery,
Today is a gift of God,
Which is why we call it the present.

The Girl In The Autorickshaw - Chapter - 08/11

Introduction of Karan

Karan is a self-made man. He is fair, is “5.10” inches tall, age 40 year old, slightly overweight, average looking man. Karan’s family consists of only two people, Karan and his mother. Karan has no brother or sister he is the only child of his parents.
Karan started his career at the age of 15, in garment industries. While all his friends were going to college he was into business.
He was married to Anjali at the age of 23 years. Due to some minor differences they were divorced when Karan was only 26. Karan suffered loss in garment business and shifted into property dealing business.
At the age of 34 years, Karan was married to Kunjika. After six months of marriage, Karan realised Kunjika was a character less girl and had divorced her.
At the age of 36, his father expired and at the age of 37 years Karan had gone through Angioplasty. Now technically Karan is a heart patient without any heart attack.
After his angioplasty Karan realises that there is no one to take care of his mother after him and if he happens to die suddenly, there is no legal heir after his death.
Karan is also an internet expert. He is a very shrewd businessman and is well connected politically. There are many cops, officials, politicians in his client list but he has never taken any unreasonable benefits of his influence. Due to good knowledge of internet Karan has been giving paid public services to help political parties. This was the reason why Karan is a famous personality in his area of residence.
Karan likes to speak in a humours way and talks point to point in such a manner that nobody gets offended and people believed in Karan’s word.
Like Aqeel, Karan also helps people but the difference is Karan never helps anyone with money. He helps with his knowledge, influence, or his physical efforts.
Aqeel never minds anyone taunting him but if anyone is sarcastic with Karan, he replies back strongly. On such occasions, he forgets all his politeness and makes the person feel guilty
When Aqeel helps anyone with money he never expects anything in return. If the person, who he has helped, fails to repay him, he never complains but when Karan helps anyone with money and that person fails to return the money or Karan feels that the person has some hidden agenda, he doesn’t leave him and teaches him such a lesson that the defaulter remembers it all his life.
Karan never received any kind of love from any woman who came into his life that is the reason why he is so shrewd. Karan strongly dislikes anyone playing with his emotions. If anyone does so he pays him or her in the same coin.
There are similarities between Roma and Karan also.  Both have had a very struggling life.
Both are hardliners, but there is a difference. Roma hides the truth and Karan speaks the truth on the spot.
Roma is multi-talented to her extent. Karan is also multi-talented, the difference is Karan is a very influential personality.
A person, who speaks politely, respects everyone, thanks everyone and apologises at appropriate times, is liked and respected by everyone.

The Girl In the Autorickshaw - Chapter - 7/11

A New Twist

Next day morning Roma calls Aqeel and asks him to come and meet her at her shop. Aqeel reaches the shop in the lunch time
Aqeel notices that Roma is in a very angry mood. He asks her why she has called him. Roma screams “Aqeel you should have informed me before coming to my place, what was your real purpose. We are friends. If you wanted to marry me, you should have talked to me first instead of talking directly to my parents.”
Aqeel looks here and there and says “Roma please don’t shout, people are listening. Calm down. Yes it was a mistake on my part not to inform you first and I apologise for that. But when mother came to know that I was interested in you, she suggested talking to your parents, as she took it for granted that you also must be interested in me.”
Roma cools down a little. “Look Aqeel, I like you and look upon you as a friend. But marriage is quite different thing. Right now marriage is the last thing on my priority list. First of all I want to save as much money as possible so that my family doesn’t face any problems later.”
Aqeel says “Ok, I am not stopping you from earning and saving money for your future. I am not suggesting that you should marry tomorrow. Finding a groom will also take time. In the meantime shall I look around for a suitable groom for you?
Roma nods her head saying yes.
After some time, Aqeel leaves and goes to work.
Due to this incident, Aqeel is mentally disturbed. He decides to busy himself in his business to avoid his emotional turmoil. He drowns himself in his work. After one month he manages to bag a very big order at a mall near Roma’s house. He takes loans from various financial institutions. Occasionally he meets Roma and shares his ups and downs with her.
While Aqeel is busy in his work, his mother is busy in looking for a bride for him. After 6 months, she finds a nice girl called Saira. Aqeel meets Saira and immediately gives his approval. An early marriage is arranged. Roma and her family attend the wedding ceremony.
Time passes by. One day Aqeel happens to meet Kashibai in the fruit market. He greets her and says “Sorry aunty, due to heavy workload, I couldn’t come to your place. How is everyone?”
Kashibai replies “Everyone is fine, son. How are your mother and your new bride?”
Aqeel says “They are fine.”
Kashibai says “Son, I am really worried about Roma and her daughter. I think it is high time that Roma must get married but she doesn’t listen to me. You promised that you will look for a groom for her. Have you found one?”
Aqeel says “Don’t worry aunty, I will do the needful at the earliest”
The very next day Aqeel contacts Mrs. Lalita who runs a marriage bureau in the city. Aqeel submits Roma’s bio-data to her. Mrs. Lalita says “Before I start looking for a suitable groom for her, I would like to visit Roma’s house and meet her personally.”
Aqeel fixes her a meeting on a Sunday evening. Lalita comes to Roma’s place at the given time. After talking to Roma’s parents, Lalita is satisfied with the candidate and says “I will start searching for a groom immediately.”
Suresh and Kashibai thank Aqeel for taking this initiative for Roma. As usual Aqeel says in his typically modest way “I have not done anything great, it was my duty”
As promised Lalita starts her job from the very next day. She shows Roma’s bio-data and photograph to several male candidates with her, but none of them show any interest due to Roma’s short height and a 6 year old daughter.
Now Lalita passed the proposal to Mrs. Indu, who is her friend and also runs a marriage bureau. As is the usual practice, Indu also expresses her desire to meet Roma at her place to satisfy herself that Roma is a reliable candidate. Lalita arranges a meeting. Indu tells Roma “I have a perfect gentleman in mind for you. He is a close friend and treats my daughter as his sister. He is a jolly kind of a person who is very outspoken. He has this nice habit of speaking the truth under any circumstances.”
Roma says “Sounds good from your description”
Indu says “His height is 5ft. 10 inches. If you wish I will give you his photograph.”
Roma says “Let’s not waste time in seeing a photograph. I want to meet him personally”
Indu informs Roma “He is not from our city. He lives and works in a Metro, 900 Kilometres away.”
Roma replies “That should not be a problem. Can he come to our city?”
Indu says “I’ll call him right now and let you know” Saying this she pulls her mobile from her handbag and dials a number, she puts it on speaker so that everyone can hear their conversation. After a few moments a bright male voice is heard “Hello Indu aunty, how are you and how is my sister Palak”
Indu replies “Everyone is hale and hearty. Tell me when are you planning to come to our city?”
“Your wish is my command aunty” Says the bright voice from the other side “Am I right in assuming that you have seen a nice girl for me?”
Indu laughs and says “You are absolutely right. She wants to meet you. When can you come?”
The voice on the other side says “In a day or two, I’ll let you know. In the meantime ask Palak to send me the girl’s photograph on Chat App.”
Indu says “The girl doesn’t want to waste time in seeing photographs. She is just like you in nature. She also believes in talking direct and to the point.”
The voice on the other side says laughing “That’s great. I have a feeling in my heart that I am going to like this girl.”
All present in the room smile to hear this.
The voice continues “But aunty right now I am too busy. Besides, your city is too hot in summer. I think it is 45 degree right now; my Metro city never goes beyond 35 degrees. I will come at the end of May”
Strange are the ways of Destiny. No one can imagine what it has in store for them. Who could have thought that two people living 900 Kilometres away from each other, having same kind of nature, same kind of past and same kind of habits, will come together in such a strange way?
When Indu disconnects the phone, Roma says “He seems interesting, what is his name?”
Indu says “Karan. You will find him more interesting when you will meet him personally”
After some more formal chat, Indu leaves.
In the metro city, Karan books his ticket for 2nd June.
But destiny has some different plans for him. On 30th May, as Karan is driving his scooter, he rams it into an oncoming truck and is seriously injured. Doctors advise him to take at least one month’s rest. Strangely enough, here in the city, Roma gets knocked down by a speeding car, while crossing the road and is badly injured. She is advised by the doctors to take 15 day’s rest.
Karan calls Indu and informing about his accident, says he will come as soon as he gets fit and the doctor permits him to travel.
Indu passes the message to Roma. They all are astounded that both Karan and Roma had an accident around approximately the same time and both of them were injured in the right leg. Indu says this may be a blessing in disguise. She has a hunch that Karan and Roma will get married soon.
Destiny is no matter of chance.
It is a matter of choice.
It is not a thing to be waited for,

It is a thing to be achieved.