The Girl In The Auto Rickshaw - Chapter - 06/11

The Ungrateful Roma

Next day morning Aqeel is waiting at Gobhani bus stand. Roma arrives by bus at 10:30 Am. Aqeel looks at his watch and says “Roma you are half an hour late”
Roma says “I know. What to do? I had to take auto rickshaw till main bazaar and the bus arrived after 30 minutes. I am not a regular visitor. Next time I will leave home 30 minutes earlier.”
Once again, Aqeel failed to notice the taunt in Roma’s remark. Aqeel says “It’s ok”
Then Aqeel calls the property agent, he comes there after some time. The agent takes them along with him and shows several shops, but Roma rejects all of them, due to one reason or the other.
The agent says “Madam, I have one more shop but the owner stays on the 1st floor above the shop. Would you like to see it?”
Aqeel looks at Roma. She says “Alright, let’s have a look at it too”
Property agent takes them to a shop near the bus stop. The shop is around 10 x 11 square feet carpet area. Just in the corner there is a ladder going upstairs to the 1st floor where the owner is residing.
Roma thinks hard and calculates the possibility of business near the bus stand, in bazaar.
Aqeel watches her and asks “What are you thinking?”
Roma replies “I think this place is ok. I may get customers from nearby villages also. Yes let’s take this shop”
Aqeel takes a deep breath and says “Thank God! I was afraid that you might reject this shop also”
Roma says dryly “You have to be very careful Aqeel, choosing a shop is not like buying onion or potatoes. You have to look at it from all the angles”
Aqeel nods his head and says “You are absolutely right. So may I finalize the deal?”
Roma says “Yes”
Aqeel tells the agent to prepare all the necessary documents. From the very next day Aqeel starts   making furniture for the shop. Here Aqeel uses his skills and experience of fabrication work and makes very attractive looking furniture from his dead stock of fabrication material.
On the third day, Aqeel and Roma are in search for a second hand sewing machine. At the end of the day they find a complete set of sewing machine. On the fourth day they set up the shop. The shop is named Rani Ladies Tailors. Before official opening of the shop, Aqeel suggests that Roma should put a board outside her residence. Roma orders for a board. She receives the board in the evening and hangs it outside her residence.
For all this procedure Aqeel spends Rs. 50,000 but Roma doesn’t even bother to ask how he managed to arrange for all this money, neither did she say even as a formality that she will return the money as soon as her business picks up.
On the 7th day Roma’s tailoring shop is officially opened for business. Very 1st day Roma gets an order.
Due to a good location, Roma’s shop takes a good start. There is only one Gents and Ladies shop in Gobhani village. An exclusive shop only for ladies, run by a lady, is a big attraction for the women of the village as they are not comfortable with a man taking their measurements.  The gamble played by Aqeel was successful. Idea of hanging board at Roma’s residence is also worked. Roma is getting customer’s orders at home.
Roma and Aqeel’s friendship grows with Roma’s business. Now they have become good friends, they share their ups and downs with each other whenever they get time to meet. After a few months Roma renovates her house and extends it up to the first floor, which she gives for rent. Her financial condition is much better than it was a few months ago. Soon Roma gets her daughter admitted to a good nursery school.
But after six months the business starts getting slack. Now no new customers are coming to her shop. The reason for this is that this business is seasonal; Roma discovers that the business is good only in festive and marriage season. In the remaining months, business is down and tailors in Gobhani hardly manage to earn money required for rent and other expenses.
Now that Roma has tasted a little success, her needs are increasing and at the same time her hunger for money is also increasing. When the tailoring business becomes slack, Roma contacts her old friend Kiran, who is working in a Catering Service. Roma tells Kiran that she is looking for a part time job. Kiran says “I can fit you in the catering service but the timings are very odd. You have to reach the place at 5 pm sharp but the time of leaving the place is not fixed. It can be anywhere between 11:00 to 02:00 in the night.”
Roma says “Its ok. I will manage somehow”
Kiran says “There is one more disadvantage Roma, this job is seasonal”
With a bitter smile, Roma says “My whole life has become seasonal. Any way I am ready to for any job which helps me make money.
Roma starts working for the catering services as a waitress. She is paid Rupees 500 per day. Now she closes shop at 04:00 Pm and reaches the catering job at 05:00 Pm and works up to 12:30 to 02:00 in the night. She only gets 15 days to work as a waitress. This means that now she is earning Rs. 7,500 extra, as side income, in addition to the income from the tailoring shop. But even this does not satisfy Roma. She is never happy and contended and her greed for money increases with each passing day.     
One day the property agent contacts Roma with an investment proposal in small piece of land near the city. He says she is invited to attend a seminar on purchasing and marketing of land. Roma does not buy the plot at that moment but is very much impressed with the presentation. She becomes interested and offers the company official’s that she would like to market their plot. The company is glad to appoint a lady as their Sales Representative for their plot scheme near the city. The attraction of the scheme was you can buy your own small piece of land at minimal cost. If you don’t have money to pay together you can pay in instalments. For instalments you do not need to contact bank. Company will finance you in 60 easy instalments without any hassles of documentation. The best part of this scheme for Roma was she only has to refer a client to the company and arrange a site visit for prospective client at company’s expense.
Now Roma is earning from tailoring, property and catering services.
Coming late night at home became a regular habit for her. Roma’s father asks “Roma, since last few months, I have noticed that you are coming home late at night. Please tell me truthfully dear, are you involved in some kind of immoral or illegal work?”
Roma says “Father, I assure you that I am not in any illegal or immoral business. I am just working hard to make our lives better.”
Suresh says “That’s good, but please pays attention to your health also. You will only be able to earn when you are healthy, otherwise what’s the use of earning more if you have to give all the money to the doctor?”
Roma says tauntingly “You only know how to talk. Stop worrying about my health. I am quite capable of taking care of my health”. 
Poor Suresh is very much hurt by his daughter’s rude behaviour, her words pierce his heart like an arrow but he is helpless, as Roma and Kashibai are earning and he is sitting at home doing nothing. He decides in his mind that he will have to find a job; otherwise he will have to listen to Roma’s sour comments.
The very next day Suresh starts hunting for a job and soon his efforts are rewarded. He gets a job in a housing society as a night watchman.
 Now everyone at Roma’s house is earning but Roma is still not satisfied and happy. Her hunger for money is always ahead of her present income.
Now one year has passed since the opening of the tailoring shop. Aqeel comes to Roma’s place to congratulate her on the first anniversary of the shop but he is disappointed to notice that Roma is not happy. Very politely Aqeel asks the reason of Roma’s depression.
Roma informs Aqeel about all the happenings of the last one year.
Aqeel is surprised as he says “Roma, I can’t understand why you are not satisfied with your present condition. As far as I can see you much better off than you were one year ago. Now even Suresh uncle is working. You have multiple sources of income. I just can’t understand what else you want”
Roma says worriedly “I want to get Rani to study in a better school, for that I need lots of money. Besides that I have to think of her future as well as mine. The tailoring shop is not doing as well as I had expected. And I am sick of doing all the seasonal work. Aqeel, please help me to have a stable income.”
Aqeel thinks for a while, then says “Me and my family are going to New Delhi. If you want you can come with us. I can help you buy some products from New Delhi which you can sell in your shop.”
Roma is happy and agrees to visit New Delhi with Aqeel.
After seven days Aqeel and his family along with Roma leave for New Delhi. This is a 5 days trip. Roma has purchased some sweater, kids garments worth Rupees 30000/-. All these expenses are made by Aqeel.
After returning from New Delhi Roma displays the products brought from Delhi, for sale at her shop. There was not much response. Aqeel’s mother suggests to Roma to sell the products in city bazaar roadside market.
Roma was feeling shy to sell the products on the street. Aqeel’s mother helped her to sell the products on the streets of the city. Roma again never offered to return the investment back to Aqeel.
While selling the products on street market, many of Roma’s neighbours notice her selling the products. Some of them taunt her mother.
Kashibai tells Roma that all the neighbours are taunting them. Roma decides to stop selling products on roadside market.
Now Roma wants to focus on tailoring and property business and whenever she gets time she goes for catering services.
Within a span of next one year, Roma manages to grow in property business. Now she purchases the plot when the price is low and sells when the rates are increased. She has bought two plots for her daughter. Every monthly instalment for plot is Rs. 2000/-, rent for shop is increased to Rs. 2000/-. Roma has also started some small investments.
Her daughter has completed 5 years and it’s time for her admission in a school. After having a long discussion with family and Aqeel, Roma decides to get her admitted in a local hostel, which is affordable to her. She gets her admission done there and pays the fees in advance for one complete year.
One day Aqeel goes to attend his friend’s marriage. He finds Roma working at the marriage hall as a waitress. Some of Aqeel’s friends are passing some offensive remarks about the waitresses. Aqeel feels bad but keeps quiet and doesn’t reveal to his friends that one of the waitresses is his close friend.
Next day Aqeel meets Roma and says “Roma, last night I was really embarrassed to see you working as a waitress in the marriage hall. I request you to leave this job”
Roma says curtly “I am not going to leave this job at any cost. I want to earn as much money as I can and you don’t have to feel embarrassed, I am not your relative”
Aqeel is dumfounded to hear this blunt reply. He just stares at Roma with grief in eyes and goes away without uttering a word.
After few days Aqeel comes to Roma’s house to invite all the family members for his sister’s wedding. Roma and family go to Aqeel’s sister wedding. All the eyes are on Aqeel, especially of those who are in search for a groom for their daughters as Aqeel is an eligible bachelor.
Now that Aqeel’s sister is married off, Aqeel and his mother are the only two members of the family. One day Aqeel’s mother tells him “Son when you go to work, I feel very lonely. Before your sister’s marriage, I had her company but now that she has gone, I really find it very boring”
Aqeel says “Yes mother, I am aware of your problem, but what can be done?”
Aqeel’s mother smiles and says “Dear son, you have the solution to my problem. If you want you can help me get rid of my loneliness.”
Aqeel is sharp enough to understand what his mother is hinting at. He says “Mother I know what you are suggesting, but this is not the right time for me to get married”
His mother says “Look Aqeel, I am your mother and I have your welfare at heart. If you have any girl in mind, tell me”
Aqeel thinks for a while and then says very shyly “Mother you know her”
Mother smiles and asks “Is it Roma?”
Instead of replying, Aqeel just nods indicating yes.
Mother says laughing “I knew that but I wanted to hear it from you. The day you told me to take Roma to Delhi with us, I had a doubt that you are emotionally attached to her. Now my doubt has been confirmed by you. Tell me son, is Roma also interested in you?”
Aqeel says “Frankly I don’t know mother, please guide me what should I do.”
Mother says “Son I think that Roma also likes you. Let’s go to meet her parents and ask her hand for you. I am sure they will not reject you.”
Aqeel agrees and the next day he and his mother visit Roma’s house.
Suresh and Kashibai welcome them. After the usual formal conversation
Suresh tells Aqeel’s mother “We enjoyed a lot at your daughter’s wedding, everything was well arranged. The best thing was you had arranged separate kitchen for vegetarian people like us.”
Aqeel and mother look each other. Aqeel’s mother requests Kashibai and Roma to sit near Suresh.
Roma and Kashibai sit along with Suresh. Aqeel’s mother comes to the main purpose of their visit. She says “You all know after Aqeel’s sister’s marriage I am alone at home whole day. Aqeel is busy with his work. Many people came with marriage proposal but Aqeel refused all the proposals. Yesterday I asked Aqeel if he has any particular girl in mind. Aqeel said he likes Roma and I also like her nature. She has all the qualities I want to see in my daughter-in-law. What do you say?”
Roma is stunned to hear this. There is no expression on her face.
Kashibai has a light smile on her face; it is obvious that she likes the proposal from the bottom of her heart. She is about to say something when Roma holds her hand tightly as if preventing her from saying anything.
Suresh hesitates a little and says “I respect your feelings, madam. Aqeel is a nice boy. He has done lots of favours to us. We are highly obliged to him but I am very sorry to say that we will not be able to accept your proposal”
Aqeel looks disappointed and asks Suresh “May I know the reason for not accepting me uncle?”
Suresh replies “The reason is quite obvious son; my daughter’s full name is Roma Suresh Pandit, while you’re full name is Aqeel Babban Khan. There are other hurdles too. We are pure vegetarians and Roma is much elder than you. She is a two times divorcee and has an adopted child. These differences just cannot be overlooked. Though I like you as a person but I have to face the society also. Please forgive me for saying this but your marriage with my daughter is not possible.”
Aqeel’s mother says “It’s alright brother, though I am disappointed but I am glad that you spoke so honestly and truthfully. I appreciate your position.”
Suresh says “So very nice of you madam for being so nice to us. Any other woman in your place would have been angry with me for refusing the proposal. But you are so kind. I wish the differences between us had not existed but unfortunately they do exist. However, we will remain friends as before”
Aqeel says “Of course uncle, we understand your difficulties. Your refusal will not affect our friendship. I will help you to find a suitable groom for Roma”
Roma and Kashibai look gratefully at Aqeel. Aqeel and his mother take their leave.
If you want to shine like the Sun, first burn like the Sun.

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