The Girl In The Auto Rickshaw - 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.

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