‘I am getting married.’
One eyebrow rises.
‘His name is Vaayu.’
The eyebrow lowers into a straight line. Noncommittal.
‘He belongs to a different caste.’
‘A… lower caste.’
Both eyebrows come together. The forehead puckers. Thoughtful? Disapproving?
‘You’ll meet him tomorrow. I’ve told him all about you. He’s great! I’m sure you both will really take to each other.’ My voice rises and sounds defensive now. Desperate, too.
A twitch. We’ll see about that.
‘The wedding’s next month.’
Suddenly both eyebrows shoot up. Accusing. So soon?
‘Right here. I’ve arranged everything. Permissions, times, pandit, the lot.’
Defeat forces the brows down again.
‘Ok, that’ll do for today. He must rest now.’ The nurse bustles in. An arch of eyebrows indicates the exit.
I raise my father’s useless lifeless hand, kiss it and let go. It falls limply back to the bed, bouncing a little. ‘Don’t worry, Papa, I love you and I will always look after you,’ I whisper softly, smiling, tears running down my cheeks.
Anxious eyes follow me as I gently shut the door of Ward 14 Paralysis.