Diwali. It is a festival marking sweet reunions, gatherings, desserts and the enjoyment of life’s simple pleasures.
At least, it apparently was for the Mahendran family seated on the floor, gathered around the traditional, delectable Diwali spread of chicken masala and papaddum. It was a perfect picture of togetherness; they passed the masala and fish curry around with celebratory, polite smiles.
Dinesh, the indifferent, never-do-well with a voracious appetite, slurped most of the curry, leaving little behind.
“Hey, don’t forget your brothers,” Dahlia seethed with a pout. “I took forever to prepare that.”
“Forever? I’m surprised that an avante garde, non-cook like you wouldn’t have bought this beforehand.” Sanjay, the conservative brother, couldn’t resist butting in.
“Could you explain that? I just spent half a day mixing spices. I think I did a fine job,” Dahlia raised the plate of chicken in mid air.
The tension was palpable.
“See this, Suresh? I did warn you not to marry this woman. She has absolutely no idea how to behave like a proper wife,” Sanjay clicked his tongue rudely.
With all the might she could muster, Dahlia flung the plate of chicken in Sanjay’s direction, missing him by an inch.
Roshan, ever the peacemaking brother, tried to defuse the situation. “Hey, hey, hey………can’t we have a proper meal together without fighting……for today at least? Why must we blast each other over this issue every time we meet? We’re family.” He ended, patting Sanjay’s shoulder soothingly.
“I simply cannot stand this woman’s disrespectful attitude. If all modern women are anything like her, I choose not to get married,” Sanjay stood up.
“And with YOUR attitude, you will NEVER get married,” Dahlia couldn’t resist a little payback.
Suresh, the youngest brother and Dahlia’s husband, grabbed his brother and sat him down. “I’m sorry, It’s my fault. I made her buy all the chicken….” he stammered, averting his eyes from Sanjay’s.
“You’re always defending her. Suresh -” Sanjay shook his head. ”There’s no hope for you.” He turned his back on the rest of the bewildered family and stormed out of the dining room.
All except Dinesh, who continued eating comfortably.
Dessert was a still nightmare. The Mahendran family ate the fruit Kheer that Dahlia had prepared in silence.
Dahlia couldn’t resist speaking after they had finished. “You men, always expecting women to do the cleaning. Why don’t you help out for once?” She gestured to Suresh. She cleared the dishes on the floor with a pout.
Suresh, the obedient husband that he was, took the dishes to the sink and began scraping each off.
Dahlia stole a look at him as she wiped the floor. She sighed. She had married an earnest, hardworking man; it was a real shame that he was so ineffectual.
Dahlia couldn’t have been more relieved to see the rest of the family go to bed. She tossed and turned underneath the sheets, a little flustered by Suresh’s gentle snores.
She swung her feet to the floor and wore her bedroom slippers. Creeping silently to the balcony, she smiled when she saw that the moon was full.
Sitting at the patio table, she relaxed in the dark, her svelte figure covered in nothing but a bathrobe.
A soft rustle came from behind one of the tall, potted plants her husband grew and painstakingly watered every day. Dahlia turned.
“Hey babe, sorry to disturb you,” He wrapped his arms around her fondly. “I knew you would be here, after all the mess at dinner.”
“No, you didn’t disturb me,” Dahlia flashed her sweetest smile at him. “You, of all people, should know my habits. I’d hate you if you don’t know where to find me.”
“Ah, ever the wild, mysterious one,” Roshan enclosed her in his arms and gave her the deepest kiss that he could.
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