Emily: Chapter Seven

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MEMORIES

The ladies from the older generation of the Vaz family were singing wowieos. Emily had seldom paid much attention to the meaningful lyrics before. However, as her family came forward to douse her with, what is traditionally believed to be purifying, coconut milk, she felt her eyes become wet. The conversation she had had with her mother kept playing over in her head. She tried her best to keep the tears from falling, but they still came. Since the guests were pouring copious amounts of the sweet smelling liquid on her head, they were none the wiser and Emily could cry in peace. Lost in her thoughts, her eyes had glazed over and a fixed smile had appeared on her face. A young man with horn rimmed glasses and a shock of curly hair came to apply the milk on her and said in a thick, recently acquired American accent, “Imli! Can’t believe you’re walking down the aisle tomorrow!”

Emily blinked a couple of times. Hearing her old nickname had broken her reverie. As she registered his sudden appearance, she laughed. “Arun Shetty! I…” she began to say before she was interrupted by a cousin trying to drown her in coconut milk. “We’ll talk later Imli. Got the whole night!” and Arun disappeared into the crowd.

Imli.

It had been years since anyone had called her that. Indians, who do not have an Indian name, sometimes suffer greatly when their names are mangled by those who are not exposed to those with Western roots. When Ramu, the keeper of the keys at the school that Arun and Emily attended, told him that Rajesh Sir, their sports coach, was looking for ‘Imli’, poor Emily was never able to lose the nickname. It followed her wherever she went for, unfortunately, not only was Arun her schoolmate, he was also her neighbour. She had spent many evenings in tears wishing that she had the power to force Arun Shetty to swallow his own tongue so as never to be able to talk again. Abbey had told her to ignore it because it was a silly nickname. She looked nothing like the tamarind to which Imli referred. Of course, Emily didn’t. She simply wouldn’t. In all honesty, she just couldn’t. Until a fateful basket ball match during a tournament in which Emily was suffering from streak of terrible luck.

Arun had shouted, “Go Imli!” very loudly from the stands and even though Arun argued later that he was only trying to encourage and not mock, his endorsement had sent the children from both schools into gales of laughter at her expense. Emily, already upset because the coach had threatened to bench her on account of her poor performance, stormed towards Arun seething and punched him in the nose. The two of them had been sent to Principal Varkey’s office and suffered punishment together. But, that punch gave rise to great change for both of them. For Emily, it broke her streak of bad luck and she was finally able to laugh off that wretched nickname. By the end of the year, her basket ball jersey read Imli instead of her christened name. As for Arun, the shape of his nose was never quite the same and he became prone to rubbing his now crooked nose very often.

When Arun went to America to study engineering, her nickname resounded less and less in the school halls and the lanes in their neighbourhood with each passing day and she was surprised by how much she missed it.

She had no idea that he was back in town, although she had met Madhu Aunty and Shetty Uncle only a few days earlier. She looked forward to catching up with him during the real party, once the formal Roce ceremony was over.

Bathed and changed into a gold ghagra choli, Emily had her long hair down literally and was dancing to the baila when Arun tapped her on the shoulder. She turned around and broke into a wide grin. “So, Mr. USA, home on a holiday?”

Arun nodded his head and looked at Emily. “You’ve become sort of pretty Imli. That Ethan fellow is a lucky guy.”

Emily laughed. “Compliments, Arun? Are you sure it’s still you behind those glasses?” She grinned. “It’s so good to see you! Aunty and Uncle didn’t tell me you would be in town for the wedding. Am so glad you’ll be here. None of the others from the old gang could come.”

“Ma and Papa didn’t know either. I had a holiday due so booked my tickets and flew in two days ago. I go back next week.”

Emily was forced to cut short her conversation thanks to her cousins who physically dragged her back to the thick of things, “I’m looking forward to seeing you at the wedding and reception tomorrow Arun. Maybe you can tell Ethan he’s a lucky guy too?” she managed to call out laughing. She waved goodbye and danced her way back to where her family was heating up the dance floor, remaining there till the party ended, well after midnight and it was time to go back home.

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  1. Wowieos: Traditionally sung only at the Roce ceremony, it is a mournful sounding song in Konkani where the first few verses loosely translate into blessings on the bride given by her family. They later devolve into thinly veiled dirty limericks which usually leave everyone listening giggling.
  2. Baila: A typical form of music in the Konkan region in India. The songs are usually fast numbers with heavy Portuguese influence. Most often they have the ability to send invisible lassos over the heads of middle aged men, causing them to take to the dance floor with moves that, if nothing else, are very contagious. It takes only minutes before the floor is covered with dancers of all ages, following the steps and rhythm and dancing along.

Come back tomorrow to see what happens next! To catch up, click here

Post 9!!! Am hoping to complete the challenge this month. Fingers crossed for me!!

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Emily: Chapter Three

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A SUITABLE BOY

Mrs. Marlene Vaz clutched the large gold crucifix that dangled from the end of the rosary she was seldom seen without, said a silent prayer for her daughter, and went to answer the door. Emily was absentmindedly tracing the tiny multicoloured flowers on the course, beige sofa with her recently painted index finger. She was thinking about how one way or another, that evening would be the end of the quest for a suitable boy and was caught off guard when Mrs. Doris Mendonca bounded into the living room.

“Hello Dear!” she said in a shrill voice, pulling Emily into a hug. Now, Mrs. Mendonca was a stocky, heavy-set woman whose head barely reached Emily’s shoulders and so, it was a wonder that she was able to pin Emily’s lissome arms so tight with her own chubby ones. Emily returned the hug best she could, waited to be released and put on a smile. “Hello, Aunty. Hope you didn’t have trouble finding our place? It’s a little out-of-the-way.”

“Nonsense, Emily! With Ethan at the helm, nothing’s too difficult.” she said gesturing proudly at her son who was clearly the apple of her eye. Emily shot him a look and thought thankfully that he appeared a little embarrassed. He was almost blushing and Emily, not used to seeing boys blush, found this intriguing.

The families sat down around the old teak wood dining table where most of the important Vaz family discussions took place. Emily, who was now quite used to the drill, got up after a few minutes to ask if anyone would like something to drink or eat. Following the customary “no, thank you” from everyone and subsequent to some cajoling from her parents, it was settled that she would have to make four teas, and pour out two fruit juices. Emily made her way to the kitchen as her mother was saying, “Emily has a real passion for cooking. She’s our very own master chef at home.” Emily shook her head imperceptibly and smiled.

She emerged from the kitchen with her tray laden with goodies as Mrs. Mendonca was saying, “…natural flare for most things – including cooking! Plus, unlike most boys of his generation, he has always been very neat. I don’t remember ever having to pick up after him. He’s a good boy.”

Emily could barely suppress a wide grin. However, she wiped it clean off her face as she caught Ethan looking at her, blushed a little herself, and set down the tray that she had been carrying.

“Why don’t the two of you head over to the balcony and have a little chat?” Mrs. Vaz suggested, looking pointedly at Emily.

Emily looked at Ethan, turned her head in the direction of the balcony, sighed and rose, holding her half-finished fruit juice in her hand. She could have sworn her mother gave her a small frown as she walked past. Emily assumed it was because that sigh was audible but no doubt she would find out exactly why later. Ethan followed her outside. The two of them stood gazing at the passing traffic in silence for a few minutes before Ethan, now studying the tea dredges in his cup asked, “So, you come here often?”

Emily shook her head slightly and smiled quizzically, unsure if there was some sort of joke she was missing.

Ethan hastily ran his fingers through his hair and said, “Well…erm…we have drinks in our hands. We’re…well…it’s a pickup line men use. Not that I’ve used it before. But, well, we weren’t talking and I thought someone should. And now you’re laughing….” at that juncture Ethan stopped saying anything and smiled. That was the first time she got a glimpse of his two deep dimples. Emily, whose first crush had been on Dino Morea thanks to his dimpled smile, found that she was instantly attracted to Ethan.

Conversation flowed easily after the initial hiccup and for Emily that was a first. Out of all the boys that she had met over the years her parents had been trying to get her married, Ethan was the only one with whom she could carry on a conversation for more than three minutes, without that awful, awkward silence creeping up like an uninvited guest.

When the Mendoncas were about to leave, Emily snuck her cell phone number into Ethan’s hand. “Call me, so we can talk a little more.” she whispered. “Only if you want to that is…” she added slightly panic-stricken when Ethan looked a little blank. Right then, as if on cue, a smile along with those delicious dimples appeared on his face and all was well with the world once more.

It took only a few short phone conversations before the couple decided that they could make a match of it.

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Please come back tomorrow to find out what happens next! You can read the previous chapter here.

Am posting everyday in an attempt to complete the Ultimate Blog Challenge this month.

Magic

Norwegian wood“, said the man with a grizzled beard and thick eye-glasses as he ran his hand across the polished surface of the dining table lovingly. “It’s a bit worn and some of the woodwork seems to have lost its original luster, but it’s been in my family for ages. I hate to part with it…but such are the times. Between you and me young lady, I’ve always felt there was a bit of magic in this wood…”

She didn’t really believe in things magical and mystical but she was drawn to the sincerity in the mans voice and without really thinking about it, it found its way into her home.

That was over five decades ago. Over time, that table had grown into a favourite destination in her home. It was where family and friends sat down to enjoy hearty meals together. It was where silent tears had fallen and hours had been spent laughing. It was where counsel was given, comfort received and prayers whispered.

Perhaps that old man had been right. Perhaps the table was magic. For it was around that table that she had been made privy to the secret of a happy life – Eat, Pray, Love.

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The books:
-Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
-Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda and it got featured this week!

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Ready

She looked into the room where a woman was lying on the bed she’d shared with her husband for decades. He was next to her, holdingthe-reaper-296535_1280 her hand and stroking her now cold cheek. Her children and grandchildren were gathered round at the foot of the bed, seeking comfort and solace in each other. Her best friend, as grey and wrinkled as she’d become, was there; strong; helping hold everyone together. The lady wore a smile.

The one at the door turned to the cloaked figure carrying a scythe next to her and whispered, “Thank you. I am ready now.”

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Pic Credit: Here

Written for Indispire – 64 hosted on Indiblogger.in– If you could plan your death, how would you plan it?