Chandra Meets the Extended Family
The green VW flicked its lights as it approached and Aadi recognized that was the signal for her arrival. He quickly removed the orange traffic restraints and beckoned her to park. She backed in expertly and his heart swelled with pride at her skill. Chandra emerged flushed and clutching her purse. She stood briefly and looked at him. She was dressed in Western casual clothes and looked amazing. He’d only seen her in saris or Panjabi outfits before and noted she made any form of cultural dress look amazing on her. She moved slowly toward him and Aadi sped to her side. He wanted to take her in his arms but remembered that may not be appropriate in this setting. He took her hand instead and led her to his apartment building. It was not fancy on the outside and he noticed her turn and look at him inquiringly. They walked through the unimpressive hallway past doors and upstairs paused at his door as he took out his keys.
Once inside she exhaled in surprise. “Quite different inside to what I saw as we walked in Aadi.” She tried the comfortable lounge and admired the layout walking to the plate glass wall facing the street and moving the sliding door to go outside. “This is a surprise. It’s lovely!”
She turned to examine Aadi who was drinking her in in rapt attention. Then she smiled noting his approval. “What now?”
Her presence was more than he could handle, and restraint left him. He quickly sped to her side and embraced her quietly sobbing. She allowed herself to be embraced. It could never happen in India, but she’d dreamed of this moment for a long time now. She paused to wipe his eyes with her hand, and he looked at her imploringly. “It’s OK Aadi go ahead.” It was the first time he’d kissed her, and they remained stationary locked in embrace. Aadi finally withdrew and sighed.
“What’s the matter Aadi?” Chandra smiled encouragingly.
“I want to marry you and never be apart from you Chandu but how can it happen? Your family may not accept me, and I know it’s important to you they do. Then my father was so adamant I shouldn’t see you again, but I just had to Chandu. I don’t have independent means to pay for my education, I don’t have immigration status for this country to be able to work and support you here. I’m so unhappy about this uncertainty.”
“Aadi let’s get out of here and follow our plan to discuss matters in another place because the longer I stand here in your embrace the more dangerous it will be for the both of us. Besides that, you may empty your bank account on that greedy shopkeeper if we are too long here.”
Aadi laughed ruefully. “I suppose you are right Chandu. I really need to be more restrained. Let’s go!”
Chandra gave his cheek a squeeze and linked arms with him to return to the car. “I like it when you’re not restrained Aadi. We’ve been going together for a few years now and I don’t think kissing is out of place for a couple who plan to get married.”
At the mall they found a nice restaurant and settled in for a good meal and a long conversation. They only had a few hours before Chandra had to make that long journey back to Oxford and planned to enjoy every minute of their time together eventually a restaurant waiter gently asked them to vacate the table having long finished their meal. There were people waiting for a table the waiter informed them. So, they went to the nearest mall seats and continued their conversation.
Finally, Chandra came around to the reason she’d made that quick trip to London to see Aadi. Her father had informed her one of his political well-placed supporters the family had known for life had approached him about a possible match for their son with Chandra. Chandra and this boy had grown up together and she considered him more of a brother than someone to spend a lifetime within marriage. Her father wanted to know Chandra’s thinking and assured her it would be her choice as to who she eventually married though her father would carefully vet any suitor to make sure his precious daughter was well cared for and respected in a marriage arrangement. Chandra had decided to confide in her father and told him of the long period of working together as students in Delhi and how both had grown to love each other over that time. She stressed nothing inappropriate had happened in this relationship. She asked her father if he would be comfortable with this relationship should an approach be made by Aadi’s father.
A week later Chandra learned her father had done a thorough investigation of the Reddy family and was quite happy with what he’d found. Chandra then told her father Hameer Reddy had threatened his son not to see her again, but they were hoping for a change of heart. Her father had replied he respected the Reddy family and would not try to intervene. That would have to be sorted out by Aadi, both Chandra and Aadi should concentrate on their studies and get them out of the way before he’d hear any more about a possible marriage proposal.
Aadi had been alarmed when Chandra reported their relationship to her father but relaxed when he learned her family would be clear on a marriage proposal. He was glad for the reminder that both should concentrate on their studies and successfully complete their respective degrees before any proposal would be considered. That gave time for him to work on his father.
A sudden thought came to him as he saw Chandra glance at her watch and realized it was time for her to make the return trip to Oxford.
“Chandu what do you think about a plan for me to have my cousin Maloti drive me to Oxford sometime. If you can make friends with the London branch of the Reddy family through her perhaps, they may invite you to vacation at their place and it would give me an excuse to see you?”
Chandra leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “Sounds like a great idea to me Aadi. I’ll consult my study program when I return to Oxford and give you some possibilities which you can run by your cousin and see if she could fit it into her program.”
Aadi sometimes spent time with his cousins and was welcomed to stay over with them any time he chose. They had a large home with a guest bedroom and sufficient space for Charles and Maloti to have rooms of their own with ensuites. They were well off from their banking connections. The next weekend armed with a list of times Chandra could be available on a weekend he visited his uncles place and having first greeted everyone he asked if Maloti had time to help him with a special request. Knowing she would keep confidential what he shared he went over the history of his relationship with Chandra and his difficulty in convincing his father of his need to see her. Maloti teased him pretending to be shocked and threatening to tell Hameer Aadi was still seeing Chandra. Then seeing the alarm on his face, she told him she was just fooling, and she was on his side. Maloti asked to see Chandra’s picture and he produced it proudly.
“She’s beautiful Aadi, don’t let this one escape you! What can I do to help you?”
So Aadi asked if Maloti would be prepared to drive him to Oxford at some time convenient to her and Chandra. She took the list and looked up appointments on her iPhone, choosing a Sunday two weeks away.
“Why don’t you message Chandra now and see if we can arrange this. I’ll drive you up and look at her firsthand. Of course, you will need my blessing and I can only give that when I’ve personally checked out the merchandise.”
She laughed happily watching Aadi eagerly message Chandra. She’s always enjoyed Aadi’s company and wished they were not related whenever they visited India and stayed at Hameer’s place. If they were not related, she’d certainly compete with Chandra herself.
Aadi’s phone rang almost immediately after messaging, and he answered noting it was Chandra. She’d read his message and was obviously excited at the prospect of a meeting.
“The first date would suit me fine Aadi, I’m looking forward to meeting your cousin Maloti.”
Maloti took the phone out of Aadi’s hand. “Hi, this is Maloti! I’m looking forward to meeting you Chandra and find out what kind of jaadu (magic) you use. I may need to learn from you because you’ve completely captured my cousin Aadi and I may find a use for that jaadu myself.”
Chandra laughed. “Maloti it will be nice meeting you and you and I can send Aadi on an errand so we can plot together.” After a lengthy conversation between the two women Maloti handed the phone back to Aadi so he could say goodbye and they returned to the family who were beginning to wonder what Aadi and Maloti were up to.
Time passed quickly and Aadi and Maloti carefully followed Chandra’s instructions as they entered the Oxford area. Chandra answered the door excitedly and introduced Aadi and Maloti to those sharing the apartment with her. Corinna was from Romania, Annette from France and Olivia from USA. Olivia borrowed Chandra’s car and the three headed off to meet with some of their classmates at a local pub leaving Chandra to entertain her guests.
Chandra saw Aadi was reticent to greet her with a hug in the presence of his cousin Maloti, so she took the initiative while Maloti chatted animatedly. It was obvious the two young women were going to hit it off. By the end of the day Maloti had invited Chandra for a visit assuring her the Reddy parents would give her a grand welcome as they did to all guests. Chandra accepted excitedly. At least part of the Reddy family seemed to embrace her. She remembered the kindness of Dakshana whenever there was a class study scheduled for the Reddy home and knew she’d be loved by Dakshana as a daughter in law if Hameer would only permit it. She’d not give up hope yet.
There were frequent visits to Maloti’s home over the remaining course of Chandra’s studies. Maloti and she bonded as sisters and the London Reddy family accepted her as an adopted daughter. Chandra’s education master’s degree had a major in career development and counselling she was following and as the two years ended, she realized her father would be pressuring her to declare whether Aadi would be the one to share her future or if he should be looking around for a suitable match for her.
To be continued
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