It was past eleven at night, when the Malhotra clan gathered on the terrace, after seeing off the last of their guests. A grand celebration took place earlier in the evening. Mr. Malhotra had turned 50 and his appointment as the Managing Director was announced a few days back.
“A very well-planned event Bhaiyya.”
“Has your Bhabhi ever mis planned anything?”, Mr. Malhotra countered proudly.
“But where is she? Didn’t see her around?”
Mr. Malhotra smiled inwardly. “She will come shortly. Must have gone to change.”
They had been married for twenty-five years and were well acquainted with each other’s habits. Mrs. Malhotra was never comfortable wearing all the fancy clothes and accessories. She changed into comfortable PJs and T-shirt as soon as she could.
Soon enough, Mrs. Malhotra made an appearance and smiled warmly at everyone.
“Look at all of you together. My entire world is here. Hope everyone enjoyed?”
“Yes Bhabhi, what a wonderful celebration. Only you could pull this off so well.”
Mr. Malhotra fondly wrapped his arm around her shoulder. “There would be no celebration without her and if not for her support, there would be no reason for celebration too,” he announced, referring to his promotion.
“You are right, Deepak. You owe your professional success to Charu and her sacrifices.”
Mrs. Malhotra brushed off the praise. Deepak and she had made the most logical choices over all these years. There was no sacrifice, just adjustments and adaptation.
“Look at you all. You have already forgotten about the man of the hour and are rallying behind Charu,” Mr. Malhotra teased.
“Bhaiyya, Bhabhi has always been the rock not just for you, but all of us. So, in a way she has proved how much she loves you and cares for you. But what about you? You too plan something for her birthday or your anniversary and then we will forget about her and praise you for the efforts.” Everyone burst out laughing.
Mrs. Malhotra knew very well that no such thing would happen. She considered herself lucky even if Mr. Malhotra remembered her birthday and their anniversary. She was amused thinking how often, Hariram, Mr. Malhotra’s Man-Friday, had been reprimanded in the past for not reminding Mr. Malhotra about these occasions.
Hariram would often come to her later, to lighten his heart. “Ma’am, I wished you first thing in the morning. Means I knew it was your birthday. How would I know that Sir would not remember?”
But she wasn’t complaining. She knew her place in Mr. Malhotra’s life. She did not need a validation. As she snapped out of her musings and tried to follow the conversations around her, Hariram came with two large bowls placed in a tray. Everyone stopped chatting. All eyes were on him, waiting for explanation.
“Sir had asked to prepare Tadkewali Daal and Chawal for Ma’am. He said she would not enjoy the party food much. Sir, as you had asked to, I have also ordered a tub of chocolate ice-cream. Let Ma’am have food. Then I will get ice-cream.” He placed the tray on a table and left.
Everyone stared at Mr. Malhotra, their mouths agape.
“I haven’t lost my touch Charu, have I?” he quipped.
Kshipra Bakre – Gunjikar