Vinny and Shamu had grown up, secure in the cocoon of their parents’ love, reveling in the trust and freedom bestowed upon them. Their parents had never forced their opinions on them, preferring instead to have open discussions on every topic under the sun. Dinnertime was especially fun as all of them sat together. “So Dad, what do you think about the latest price rise?” Vinny would ask. Shamu would snigger, remarking, “Chech, what difference does it make to you? You can still afford to buy your makeup!” And there would be a vociferous argument where Vinny would counter the point, till she realized that all the others were smiling at her. “Don’t you see he’s just doing it to get a rise out of you?” Easwar would smile.
The year Vinny turned eighteen, it was as though a switch had been pressed, as a horde of marriage proposals popped up, out of the blue. Sudha laughed as she said, “Aren’t you lucky that you are not being paraded around on an elephant to show the world that you are of marriageable age? Like my mother and my grandmother?”
Vinny shuddered, as she remarked, “That must have been so embarrassing, right?”
Sudha smiled as she continued, “That reminds me. Mrs. Gopalan had rung up today with a proposal for you. I believe the boy is from a very good family and…!”
Easwar cut in swiftly, “No boy can ever be good enough for my Vinny!” They all laughed as Sudha said, “Vinny, your father will find it impossible to live without you. So when you get married, you will find him part of your trousseau! You might as well warn all your admirers right now!”
Shamu pulled a mock face. “Ma, why is it that no one in the family talks of my getting married? I am an eligible bachelor and there is no way I should delay it any longer because I am getting rather long in the tooth!”
“Oh yes, fifteen is a great age, after all!” said Easwar gravely, with the familiar twinkle in his eye. “Is there any girl brave enough to take you on?” As Shamu smiled mysteriously, he added, “I thought as much… there isn’t!” Vinny couldn’t resist adding on her pennyworth. “I don’t blame the girls. Luckily they seem to know what is best for them!” She ducked as Shamu pretended to throw a plate at her.
Sudha smiled as she watched the banter, which had always been part of their mealtimes. Easwar had insisted on a conversation around the dinner table as he had been brought up in a household where his father believed that there should be total silence when one was eating. “Every scrape of the spoon, every morsel going down could be heard, and it was really uncomfortable!” he had once said. “My father was very particular about chewing every morsel deliberately and finishing everything on the plate!”
Life within the Army was dynamic and as the years went by, Sudha and Easwar began to think of retirement. Sudha would go to Kerala and settle down with the children, while Easwar would complete his mandatory service and take premature retirement. It was time now to live for themselves!
When young Roma had once asked her parents if they were as happy as Sudha and Easwar, Janaki had smiled ruefully and looked at her husband, Shekhar, whose horoscope had matched so beautifully with her own that they should have been the happiest couple alive. Yet was there a seed of discontent, a feeling that maybe horoscopes could be juggled? She recalled the astrologer, plump and insidious, rubbing his moist palms together, meditating on the shells that lay on the cowry board. He had frowned initially as if the match did not quite meet with his approval, but had also added that he could make things come right, as it was only a question of appeasing the right gods! He had glanced meaningfully at her father, a shapely eyebrow raised, and the latter had quickly taken out a large wad of notes and handed it over, as it was an extremely good match which he didn’t want to let go of.
The astrologer’s frown had disappeared, only to be replaced by a sunny smile. He had placed his board in order and quelled his conscience. The marriage had, thus, taken place! Not surprisingly, Roma had received no answer to her query.
Vinny and Shamu were aware of the deep enduring love that their parents shared. They adored each other and Sudha was the mainstay of Easwar’s life, his bundle of energy as he would often describe her, and he could not imagine life without her for she was his very breath himself. Maybe that is why Fate decided to intervene…!
Deepti Menon is the author of two books, ‘Arms and the Woman’ and ‘Deeparadhana’. She has worked as a journalist for several publications, and is now a freelance editor. Short stories with deft twists and tongue-in-cheek articles that tickle the funny bone are her forte. Deepti lives with her family in Chennai.
Availability: The book has been published by Readomania and is available on Amazon.in and in major bookshops, like Starmark and Odyssey.
Genre: Shadow in the Mirror is a psychological thriller.
Editor: Dipankar Mukherjee – [email protected]