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The Italian Local
by Jasleen Kaur (Contest Entry) | Published On: 11-Aug-2015

Inspired by English Vinglish 

 

The treasured flipped trip was something for which Rashi never enrolled. Everything was working for her since she returned. The new life was accepting her with open arms as she was bewitching everyone by her raised self esteem and boosted confidence. People say that they need to raise their lifestyle to a certain level but we hesitate in accepting that we are trying to hide the flaws which are running in the circumference of our wants. Rashi now understood the cause of all that occurred in her married life and what new she had which brought everything back in her falling life circle.

But today, while standing near the wardrobe, Rashi was in a dilemma. She was happy with the changes in herself but she didn’t realize that the changes would arouse the want of more in the heart of her husband Mukesh. She was devastated with the thought of being transformed so early and roughly. She was a homemaker and the one-piece dress which her husband brought for her was making her loose the strands, which were woven tidily after they returned from overseas.

“Rashi...” Mukesh came into the room, holding his shoes.

Rashi turned to look at him. She was feeling really left out in the race of moving ahead. Her husband was not ready to stop from grooming her more for his self-made upper standards. But changes are perfect if wanted and not imposed, but not everyone understands the same.

“Why are you not ready yet?” Mukesh asked while sitting on the couch to put on his shoes. 

“I have never worn something like that. I am not comfortable,” she said.

“How many times will you narrate the same story?” he said in a clamorous manner, adding “I am not taking you to the party in an ugly sari.”

He left her alone. The raised voice broke the pressure level. Rashi lifted the dress and took another glimpse of it. It wasn’t only about the dress, it was about the mushy and boneless wishes of her husband which made her appear dejected. It’s hard to satisfy some people, she thought.

The loud voices alerted Rashi’s mother-in-law about the happenings. The sudden departure of her son was saying the whole story. She came towards their room but the mother inside her overpowered the woman she was. She didn’t enter to console her, though her eyes welled up seeing Rashi so upset. She just walked away in silence.

Rashi was gathering herself when she heard her phone ring and walked to the balcony for taking the call.

“English queen,” Rucha said flirtingly.

“My saviour,” Rashi wore a genuine smile.

“Rocking at your place?”

“Indeed. Nobody is judgemental.” Rashi said with a satirical smile.

“How’s your sister and her gora husband?” Rashi added.

“They are happy. Well, I called you for a reason.”

“Oh ok,” Rashi became attentive.

“Remember that guy Stephen I saw you with.”

“What’s with him?” Rashi enquired with some hesitation.

“He is in Delhi.”

“WH... what... here.” Rashi fumbled.

“I have suggested him to you on Facebook.”

A smile appeared on Rashi’s face. It felt as if someone played with the silent chords of her heart and created a whimsical lullaby. She got little curious on her way of reacting and the next moment she became a little rugged towards it.

“I will see it. Thank you,” she said plainly.

“Great. Gotta go now.”

And the phone was disconnected.

Rashi went inside, switched on her laptop and typed the essentials.

“Stephen Andrew, suggested by Rucha Verma.” Rashi read loudly.

 

***

“How are you Rashi?”

The message made her skip a heartbeat. She tried to imitate the accent of Stephen while reading the text.

“Can I have your phone number?”

Rashi didn’t wait for a second to type her number. She completely missed the first question which Stephen asked.

“Thanks. Opened restaurant, here in India. Come in opening, next month.” He texted with a lot of hope of hearing an affirmative response.

“I would love to come. Text me the address.”

 

***

Rashi and Mukesh arrived on time. Rashi was wearing a beautiful blue sari with contrasting bangles and earrings. Stephen was concentrating on the perfect eyes she had. She appeared as a deity to him. Stephen entered the restaurant first and everyone followed. He switched on the lights and the banner shimmered bright. It took everyone’s attention.

The Italian Local.” Rashi read loudly.

“What is this name?” Mukesh asked with a sly smile.

“Ladies and gentlemen, there is one person here who made me fall in love with India. Her laddoo has made me come here. I tried to make them but failed to duplicate that immaculate taste. I came here to learn the speciality from the master herself.” Stephen ended reading the paper he held.

When she was hearing Stephen reading his well-rehearsed lines, she felt that tickling in her heart, realizing that her statement was not true, she did need love and attention, because no man had made her feel so special before. The moment made her fall for Stephen, not slowly but rapidly. Everyone turned towards Rashi when Stephen came forward to hand over the first menu card to her.

“Open.” Stephen gestured.

“The Italian Local.” Rashi loudly read the name of the first dish on the menu.

Laddoo. Will you teach?” Stephen explained.

Mukesh held Rashi’s sari from behind, as if stopping her, but Rashi didn’t feel any jerk and there was nothing more than a nod.

 

***

Weeks passed but Stephen couldn't learn the proper way of making the perfect laddoo. He was just enacting that he didn’t understand the art of giving the popular round shape. He liked the way Rashi held his hands while making him understand the way of tossing the mixture between his palms. The red hands of Stephen and Rashi often intermingled. Often a hilarious laugh was seen between the lessons. Stephen didn’t want to end the classes because he didn’t want to end the meeting sessions.

One such day they were busy in helping each other and Rashi reached home late. The past weeks were the most memorable one for Rashi and most dreadful for Mukesh. He knew that something was cooking in between Rashi and Stephen but he didn’t have the courage to talk to her straight because she never gave him any such opportunities. But today was different; she was not picking up Mukesh’s call and thus he found a loophole.

“I don’t know if I can ever learn.” Stephen said and slammed his head on the counter.

“It's okay.” Rashi came and touched his arm.

Stephen raised his head and looked at her. They were closer than usual. Rashi normally maintained a distance from him but that day God had different plans. The look on their face was similar, a motionless smile and an endless series of eye blinks. Rashi raised the loose end of her sari and wiped the sweat from Stephen’s forehead. Stephen gathered all his courage and held Rashi from her waist; she was some inches away from Stephen. It was not a surprising touch for her. It took her to the time when they were alone on the roof, close enough yet far away.

Today she was not trying to free herself from his grip. She was feeling something new this time, she was feeling wanted by someone, something which she never felt with Mukesh. Stephen, on the other hand, had gone numb; he didn’t have any thoughts at that moment. He wasn’t having the urge of kissing Rashi like earlier. He wanted someone to tell him that she was close to him again. He was mesmerized by the way she was allowing him to be near her.

“Can I disturb you?”

Rashi was disturbed to hear the voice. She was not scared with the presence of Mukesh; she was rather shattered on being brought back to the real world. She stood calmly without any hint of nervousness. Mukesh got more irritated over this attitude of his wife. He felt as if Rashi had no impression of being in a guilty zone. He grabbed her arm and pulled her towards himself.

“Wait, stop.” Stephen rushed on seeing the initiation of violence.

“You stay out of this,” Mukesh said after using his free hand to slap Stephen.

In the next few minutes Stephen was standing alone in the room. The staff didn’t dare to enter because there was nothing they could do to help Stephen. There were no words of consolation in anyone’s mind.

“Ask everyone to go home.” Stephen ordered one of the guys.

 

***

“Mom, just ask her what she was doing,” Mukesh said in an anguished cry.

“I was doing nothing, Mom,” Rashi spoke.

“Who told you to speak?” Mukesh came forward and his anger outburst in the form of a slap.

“She was engaged with that foreigner in a closed room,” he added with disgust.

The elderly lady was thinking in silence. The memories of the past came in front of her eyes. The mother was about to overpower the woman inside her but the tears in Rashi’s eyes made her suspect the real want of a woman, a woman who is not just for raising up kids.

“Do you love him?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“I am not happy with Mukesh. His wishes never end. He keeps looking for a point so that he can make me feel inferior to him. I tried so hard to be in his league but he just doesn’t consider my efforts worthy enough. I can’t live with that kind of person,” Rashi added, her eyes filled with tears.

“I know what you are facing in this house. You need to grow up on your own and that needs a better place than this.” A broad smile came on her face after she finished.

With those words she made Rashi fall in love with her. Nobody else understood Rashi with such expertise. She was feeling claustrophobic in that house and the smell of fresh thoughts made her feel relaxed. Mukesh was a silent spectator of all this. He was not able to say anything. She touched her mother-in-law’s feet, picked up the family picture and left.

 

***

As the door opened, a small bell tinkled. She walked slowly, without making any noise. She entered the room and touched his shoulder. Stephen turned and Rashi saw two moistened hazel eyes. It didn’t take more than a second for her to wipe the remains of the fallen tears. She stretched her arms and wrapped him intimately.

Stephen was hurt and Rashi’s touch healed the wounds. He held her tightly, leaving no gap between the tight embrace. He had millions of queries. He wanted to know that was she a temporary visitor or a permanent resident but he framed the old question he had in the lanes of his memory.

“A cup of coffee with me?” Stephen asked.

Nostalgia hit her and with a smile she nodded positively.

“With the Italian Local,” Rashi said and a soft laughter was filled in the room.

Stephen took her close and kissed her forehead gently. The Italian local finally reached the correct yard....

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Author
Jasleen Kaur

Jasleen Kaur

Written: 7 Stories

Member Since: 05-Aug-2015

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