Hello friends, picking up from where we left…You can read Episode 1 here
Vahini’s home got busy with the engagement preparations. Vahini and Varun got engaged in a grand ceremony within a month on an auspicious Muhurat. Vahini was now lost in the dreams of a beautiful future with Varun. And also eagerly knowing every tiny detail about Varun.
Varun and his family hailed from Belgaum and had vast tracts of agricultural land. However, Varun and Vahini were to stay in Bangalore after their wedding as Varun worked for a software company. Varun was a software engineer by profession, but his heart was in automobiles. He was rolling on wheels either practically or through numerous auto magazines he subscribed to. He was one of those guys who splurged on fancy wheels and their upkeep rather than invest in real estate. He proudly talked about the brands and details of the high-end two bikes he owned along with the Maruti Esteem and a Jeep he had just bought. He promised Vahini to show her all the stunts on the bikes. He had reeled out some weird-sounding words like wheelies, back-hops, knee-dragons, cliff-hanger, biscuit-eater, and whatnot. Arre Baap re! Hmmmm…What to do? It was all Greek and Latin to Vahini. She had politely nodded and smiled as he talked about his beloveds.
“We will make Dosa together, Okay!” He joked.
“Oh! Dosa making is when you deliberately skid the bike in a circle to make a round circle on the sand that looks like Dosa.” Varun explained enthusiastically when Vahini made a face to show her ignorance.
She was impressed but definitely not excited. Hmmm…Vahini realized very quickly is, this was one area where there seemed to be no common ground.
Varun had enquired about driving/riding skills during one of their short meetings after engagements. He had also suggested since only two of them will be living in Bangalore, Vahini becomes as independent as possible. She will have to run the house and run little errands as Varun’s job was demanding and kept him really busy with frequent abroad trips. She needed to learn to ride the two-wheeler. So he said he would immediately book a Scooty. “Arre Deva! I am still struggling with Luna within the compound, and now I have to go shopping on it…Hmmm” This thought started troubling Vahini, and she thought somehow she had to pull it off.
With hectic planning and execution of a lavish engagement ceremony, there was no time and thought left for the Luna ride. Moreover, the wedding date was fixed within a month’s gap. So after the engagement, the days became even more hectic with all the preparations. Elaborate shopping for the wedding trousseau, return gifts, catering… the list was endless. Amidst all this, they planned a trip to Pune – Vahini’s Aajol (Grandparents’ home). Vahini’s Mom was very particular about the ornaments to be bought from Pune’s Jeweler; the same one she had her wedding jewelry made years back.
So, Vahini’s family landed in Aajol to a warm welcome. The first five days were spent in a frenzy of shopping and gorging on the yummylicious dishes cooked by Vahini’s Mami (Maternal uncle’s wife). Vahini loved everything about Mami’s preparations. For the fifth evening, Mami had planned another of Vahini’s favorite, Dabeli and Faluda. Everything was prepped up well in advance by Mami, and the dishes were to be assembled just on time.
Just then, Mama (Maternal uncle) announced that his friend Colonel Kelwani and his family were coming for tea. “Oh! That’s great. But we need to get more paav( Bun) for Dabeli.” Mami blurted out and quickly summoned the eldest Smitu to get some Paav.
Now, Vahini couldn’t just keep quiet and offered to join Smitu for “Operation Paav.” So happily, Smitu and Vahini came out of the house to get on to the Scooty.
“So Varun is a big Auto buff, Han? Then, how are your riding classes coming along?” Smitu enquired enthusiastically as she stirred the Scooty.
“Hmm. Don’t ask. I am all most there. Quite comfortable within our compound. Have to try it out on the road, though. And Varun is so keen that I learn it so that it’s easy for me to move around in Bangalore.”
“Oh, great. Wanna try?” Smitu Offered the Scooty to Vahini. Sensing Vahini’s hesitation, Smitu encouraged her to try.
“Come on. Don’t be so scared. Ride till Bhushan hotel or even a bit further. You are in Pune, you know, Na…Haha. There is hardly any traffic between 1 to 4. All Peshwas enjoying their afternoon siesta. Haha. It’s just 4:30 now. And today is a Sunday. Punekars are still yawing and thinking whether to get up or not. The bakery guy must be still thinking of opening the shutter…Chal ga, give it a try.”
Now, Vahini just couldn’t resist the temptation. She had to at least ride a two-wheeler, if not do acrobatics like her fiance.
“Barr..chal.” Vahini took control of the gleaming silver scooty and hopped onto the rider’s seat with all the confidence and elan and pressed the start button and accelerated…..
“Whoo…whoo!” both shouted in tandem as the bike jerked (Dhuduk…Dhuduk) and hopped and then stopped altogether.
“Agga, Slow, dear, Why are you accelerating so much? Go slow, okay, let’s try again.” Smitu tried to boost Vahini’s confidence.
“Okay. Okay. Deva, let me get it this time, Deva.” Sending prayers a few more times and hopping and stopping a few more times, Vahini started the bike and rode a few feet. So they both started from their home near Rupee Bank in the bylane on JM road, rode slowly, and even took a left turn towards Bhushan Hotel.
Slowly she picked up speed and experienced the high and happiness of movement she had so craved for. The gentle breeze caressing her cheeks and flowing through her hair further doubled her joy.
With empty, deserted road, Vahini was literally flying. She was finally riding a bike without any falls and freaks. Wait, not just riding alone, she also managed to balance a pillion rider easily. “Ahhh! That’s it, it’s all done. Will tell Varun when he calls in the evening.”
“Jamtay…Jamtay…Vahu…Now, We will try to take a U-turn after crossing Bhushan hotel and take some more by lanes.” Smitu guided expertly.
Vahini stopped and slowly stirred the bike to take a U-turn with some help from Smitu.
“Now, we take the road to Kajale Petrol pump. Need to tank up.” Smitu suggested as they mounted the scooty again.
“Oh, Okay.” Turr…Durrr…Turr…Durrrr …Durrrr….they went.
“We are going towards the main road. Okay. It’s a double road without a divider. No need to get scared. Hardly any traffic in the afternoon. Okay.” Smitu was expertly cautioning and encouraging an excited and stone-deaf Vahini.
“Kajale pump is on the left side, okay. So, slow down as you approach the main road and slowly take the bike inside the gas station. Ooo, Hello, are you listening?”
There was no response from Vahini. Durrrr…Durrrrrr and DHHADDDAK. The next moment they find themselves on the footpath of the opposite side of the main road. A fat middle-aged woman wearing a knee-length red and green bordered Kastha (Nine yards Maharashtrian saree) was lying a few feet away from them and shouting. Her rattan basket had flown high and was lying a few feet away. And so were the orange and the dry grass used for cushioning and packaging… All scattered in different directions and crushed due to the impact of the fall.
“Agga Agggaa Aggaaa Bayaa Bayya Bayyyaa…Tumhasni kai dhaad Bharali ga? Mazya Angawar gadi sodaleet. Modali re mazhi haadd. Hya pori ni waat lavali reeeee.”
(“Oh ho…What’s wrong with you girls? Want to break my bones or what?)
Smitu quickly got up and pulled the scooty up so that Vahini, who was stuck below the vehicle, could get up. Luckily Vahini and Smitu seemed okay even after taking such a big hit. Very luckily without being hit by vehicles on either side of the road. But the same thing could not be said about the dear Scooty. Because it had not only crossed the double road but had hit the footpath skirting and jumped onto the footpath. Leaving the damaged brand new bike, both ran to help the wailing lady. The middle-aged lady was still struggling to get up, bouged down by her thundering weight.
“Aahho Kaku! Radu naka, utha.” (Please, Aunty, don’t cry. Please get up’) Smitu tried to help her by extending her hand.
“Atta, Kay uthu mi. Majha dhanda khadyat ghatlay tumhi porini. Aggo bai, Mahji Santre.. geli re…sagali waya geli re.” (How to get up, now? You girls destroyed my business. All my oranges, gone down the drain.) She was crying and howling.
“Aahoo Asa naka karu, Prayatna Kara.”(Please, don’t do this. Please try to getup.”) Smitu and Vahini attempted to pull the fat lady up to make her stand on her two feet. Only to be pulled by the fat lady’s weight.
Then they put all their might to pull her up and make her stand. It was imperative that Kaku Bai not just stand on her two feet but also walk back to the safety of her home. For Vahini and Smitu’s own peace of mind. They wanted to check if all her 206 bones were in place.
The Kaku Bai somehow stood up, squatted down again, and started howling even louder. “Kay viku and kay khau, re deva? Arre deva Haad tar modala nahinamazha? ( Oh, Gawd! What will I sell, and what will I eat today? I hope all my bones are intact)
For their good fortuity, the road was empty, and there were no passer buyers to gather around to create a ruckus.
Taking this as an opportunity, Smitu took out all the money in her purse to give Jaaddi Ammha (fat lady) to compensate for the loss. Looking at all the cash, the Jaaddi Ammha stood up like a spring and grabbed all that cash that was there in smitu’s hand. It was definitely way more than what she could have earned selling the oranges all day. Suddenly all her pain vanished. She picked up the basket that had flown just a few minutes earlier. Salvaged all the oranges that she could and disappeared without a word.
Smitu and Vahini tried to pull up the badly mutilated scooty and start it. But it refused stubbornly. Abandoning it on the footpath, both ran home. A very reluctant and disgruntled Sameer (Smitu’s elder brother and Vahini’s cousin) was immediately summoned to bring back the scooty home.
To their sweet surprise, the family reacted in a very cool way. There were no shoutings, no lectures when Smitu broke the news about their misadventure. They were more worried about their safety and were checking for signs of fracture. Only then, Vahini and Smitu realize that they had a few bruises and were sore all over because of the blunt force trauma.
Both were asked to freshen up and change. Vahini slowly started feeling severe pain in her back and chest.
As soon as Vahini complained of slight pain, both were whisked away into the bedroom and sprayed with two cans of Moov pain relief and covered with reams of thick blankets. Despite the pain, Vahini and Smitu were enjoying their Dabeli and Faluda covered nestled in the cocoon of the heavy blankets when Mami came with the cordless.
Mami whispered…”Varun, Varun ….He is calling for the second time. He knows about the incident.”
Taking the phone from Mami with one hand and balancing her Dabeli in another; still, a bit dazed, “Anha, Hello.” Suddenly Vahini realized that she was engaged, and in a month, she was going to be married.
“Hello. What’s going on? Are you okay?” Varun was really anxious.
“Umm, Varun, hello…uunnn.” Vahini tried to muffle her crying.
“Hello Vahini, you okay?”
“I am okay, just a bit sore. I Tried…I wanted to….” Vahini was mumbling when Varun interrupted.
“What, you made Dosa, already aah.”
“Hahn… What?” Vahini was surprised and relieved to hear this, and both started laughing.
Kalyani Sreedhar Kakade
23, Margashirsha Shukla Paksha, Ashtami 2078 Aananda, Vikrama Samvata Singapore, 11 December 2021