Yuva’s steps slowed down as he reached the doorstep, and when he did reach the doorstep, he froze, and completely stopped. This is not a new routine for him, but something had to be done today, no matter what. He turns 28 in a week’s time and time-wasting will not be a feasible option.
He walked into the house, took off his shoes, and quietly got seated on the sofa in the living hall. His mom passed him by. And again. And one more time. As usual, she ran from this end to that end of the house, doing the house works that she often drowns herself with. After a while, she finally noticed that Yuva is indeed seated on the sofa in the living room, something that he has not done before. “Are,” she called out to him. “What are you doing there?” she asked.
Yuva turned around with a sigh. He expected a better tone at least. He felt this will not be the day afterall. “Go and take a bath, don’t be a lazy bum,” she added, still in an annoying tone, patting his back. “Wait ma,” he felt frustrated.
“What is it?” she asked.
“Nothing ma, I’ll go, a bit later,” he said.
“I’m about to prepare dinner,” she continued in her harrying tone. “I won’t die if I don’t bathe now, give me a few minutes,” he raised his voice. He didn’t like this. He didn’t like the tone he had used on her. “Whatever,” she grumbled and walked back inside.
He didn’t know what he was waiting for now, except that he saw the time and realized he could wait a little longer, and he was vindicated. Geetha appeared at the doorstep, both her hands fully occupied with her laptop bag, and obviously a couple of new shoes. She was wearing all black, and she dropped her Mercedes keys nonchalantly on the couch next to him before proceeding to place her belongings nearby. She had noticed him, and looked at him peculiarly.
“Oh, you are here,” she said.
“Why so different today? Aren’t you supposed to be seated on the dining table, all bathed and fresh like a good little mommy’s boy?” she asked sarcastically.
He starred at her.
“What’s wrong my little baby brother, anything bothering you?” she pouted her lips and squatted right in front him, as if tending to a little boy. Yuva got irritated, but he couldn’t help but let go of a wry smile.
“Why baby?” she pinched his cheeks and chins.
“You need your sister’s help?” she asked cheesily, as he remained mum. He allowed her to do all the talking.
“So? Any progress?” she batted her eyelashes.
“Don’t do faces. Same old story. You think that cranky mother of yours will come and hug her son when he comes back from work?” he said.
“No, baby, don’t get frustrated. Big Sis is here, to take care of you,” she said.
“Yeah, I leave it on your hands, plus, you have done it twice na?” he said.
She pouted her lips again, and made teasing sounds. He had no choice but to keep a wry smile.
“Wait ka, wait. My day will come,” he said.
“Is that a bribe?”
“You calling me akka? You want my favor so you call me akka. But nevermind, being the exemplary sister that I am…,” she finally stood up and started walking to her room.
“You can brag later,” he said a bit louder.
The family- father included- who is an independent businessman, had dinner together later that night. There was an awkward silence. Geetha usually talks, a lot. But today she didn’t.
They sat in the living room later, like one fine family, watching television. The boring part of the serial came. Actually the whole serial was boring- it was just their way of sitting together.
“Ma,” Geetha said. Everyone turned around, except for Yuva, who at that very moment, started biting his nails. The mother slapped Yuva’s hands. “Ma,” Geetha said again, this time, in a very unusual tone. Their father turned around. Geetha looked at him for a split second, and he immediately placed his focus back on the television. “Ma,” she called again before her mom turned to the TV again.
“Fast,” her father said in a loud whisper. He could not contain his anticipation. He immediately came and sat right next to Geetha. The mother looked on, blinking, clueless. “What is going on?” she asked.
“There is something I need to tell you,” she said, slowly clearing her throat. Her father was already having a glowing face and looked at her intently.
“I’m not saying anything until the most important person in question actually turns around and participates in this conversation at least,” Geetha said loudly. Yuva turned in a startle. He was biting his nails again.
“You! It’s you!” her father exclaimed, pointing at Yuva. Yuva looked almost embarrassed. The mother looked at all three of them, and her face reaction slowly changed.
“About time boy,” her father said.
“What, no, not again,” her mother snapped.
“What again?” Geetha asked. Yuva looked baffled. “Well, you had your two,” the mother said.
“Why are you talking about me? We are talking about him,” Geetha was getting enraged. She did not want her mother to do it again, she has already done enough damage to Yuva’s confidence as it is.
“She has to be a Malayali,” her mother said in a definitive manner, and turned back to her TV. Yuva looked bemused.
“Since when you put conditions?” Geetha asked. “What’s with this new habit?” even her father seemed bemused.
It did not make sense. This family of Nairs had grown up speaking Tamil even in their households, and the only thing that is Malayali about them is that that’s their culture. It did not make sense for her mother to put up such conditions when she could not even understand her daughter-in-law speaking Malayalam.
“Nisha Ratnam. 26. She’s purely Tamil. She’s a writer for a local magazine. Has a very stabil life. I’ve been with her for two years,” finally Yuva spoke out. And he gave all the details that needs to be known.
“And you are proud of that?” his mother asked him back.
Geetha looked even more exasperated.
“We will talk about this some other time, just give it some time, it might not last for him,” she said.
“Oh, what, I will break up tomorrow?” he asked furiously.
“Mom, we will speak some other time, don’t say anything else already,” Geetha said. “Stay quiet,” her father echoed her thoughts.
Geetha got down the stairs and peeked at the doorway. She wanted to make sure Yuva is not in the house. “Has he gone for work?” she asked her mother. “Yes,” her mother answered, and entered the kitchen. Without much ado, Geetha stormed to the kitchen.
“Ma,” she called out to her mom. “Yes?” her mom asked back. She was calm again, as if nothing had happened the previous night. “I won’t tolerate this,” Geetha said.
“Won’t tolerate what?” her mom asked. “Don’t you dare ruin his life,” Geetha raised her voice. She could still feel rage in her. Her mom looked baffled. How can she be intending to ruin her own son’s life?
“You allowed me to make my decisions and have a love marriage. Now you are denying him at the first time asking. Just because both of my relationships didn’t last till marriage doesn’t mean his won’t as well,” she said.
“I don’t want to hear any excuses ma, I don’t want to say anything further. I just hope you know that I’m angry at what you are trying to do,” she stormed off. She faked a early-morning flu, and decided to go to work late today, and waited until Yuva had left for work, all so that, she could finally yell at her mom.
She felt like she has just yelled for him. Her younger brother, who has lived in her shadows ever since growing up. And she doesn’t want his love life to be affected by the very same trend that has drained him from becoming the man he had wanted to become. She sighed. Her mom needs to know. And she wouldn’t want to know unless she sees her favorite child, Geetha, being angry at her. Geetha rued that thought- favorite child. The term that has defined not hers, but the whole of Yuva’s life.
To be continued..