This is the seventh part of a long story.
First part of the story: Long Story 1
Second part of the story: Long Story 2
Third part of the story: Long Story 3
Fourth part of the story: Long Story 4
Fifth part of the story: Long Story 5
Sixth part of the story: Long Story 6
“You guys wanna have Lunch?” Alejo asked Max, Vishva, and Mitch. “Sure” Mitch said as he nudged Vishva who was busy gathering up papers and shutting the system down. “Yes! Sure… “ Vishva said with an immediate smile.
“ OK! Then! the sandwich place near Starbucks ok?” Max asked. “Sure!” Alejo said, “See you at 1:00”. “Bye guys” Max said and she and Alejo walked away.
“Dude!” Mitch gave a pat on Vishva’s back, and Vishva stumbled a little, but he gathered his balance and play-punched his friend on his chest. “OK! So, our baby is kick-starting man!” Mitch said in a prideful voice. “Yes!” Smiled Vishva. They have been researching and pitching this solution for the past 1 year. It was finally taking shape and they were going to implement their solution. It was a big moment for them.
“Man! I wanted to celebrate tonight! But I can’t Cathy’s leaving Jane with me.” Mitch said.
“No Problem!” Vishva said easily. He was not in a celebrating mood anyway. “So, Jane is in which grade now?”
“She’s is high school man, Junior year” said Mitch.
“WOW! Time flies. I actually thought she was still in middle school” Vishva said.
“Hahaha! Yeah, sometimes I can’t believe it either,” said Mitch. Mitch and Cathy had been divorced for 5 years now. They shared custody of their daughter.
“OK! Lets document this and update the SharePoint mate!” Mitch said.
“OK Mate!” Vishva said and got a poke on his chest for mocking Mitch’s Aussie lingo.
Vishva sat on his desk and started to update the reports and fill in the notes for the first meeting. He typed Prabha, TL, and Shalini, Project Manager will be coming onsite. He stopped and stared at the name ‘Prabha’.
She sure did sound a lot like his Prabha. He smiled to himself. It is going to be fun calling someone Prabha. He sighed lightly. The developments yesterday wear weighing down on his mind. He still has to talk to Jaya. They have to talk to Rohit. Vishva had to kick Parvy’s ass. Just then his stomach grumbled and made its presence known. He looked at the time. It was 12:30 PM. He pinged Max and Mitch. He needed sandwiches.
“Where’s dad?” Rohit had asked in the morning. And his mom had told him that he worked late yesterday and was asleep. His dad always got up early and went to the gym. There was hardly any day he missed. This was weird. What was weirder? His mom gave him money to buy lunch. She never did that. She was a health freak who obsessed over eating whole foods and unprocessed foods. His friend Sean’s mom was a health freak too. That was one reason their moms got along well! This was good for Sean and him of course.
Something was definitely off today and yesterday, though. What was wrong with mom? She dropped him off in her night pants. She gave him money for lunch. She did not go for her morning swim.
“Rohit!!!” his teacher called.
“Yes! Yes Mrs. Kingmen”
“Rohit! Where is your mind at? I asked you a question. What are the names of these fruits?” Rohit stood up and looked at the fruits. “Cantaloupe, Tangerine, and Water Melon.”
“Good! Sit!” said Mrs. Kingsmen.
Rohit sat down and started to look at the Mango tree in his school garden. I guess I cannot ask mom again for permission to play dragonslayer with Sean this weekend. I hope she remembers that she said yes. God! Please let me clear level 3 and win the king’s trident.
“I’m Gay…. I am Gay Prabha… Prabha… do not be surprised…” Moron… of course she’s going to be surprised, he thought. Arun stood in front of his bathroom mirror and was practising telling Prabha his news. “Daaad….” Charan banged the bathroom door. “Dad! Come out. You’ve been in there for half hour,” Charan whined. Arun looked at himself once more in the mirror and reassured himself that he can do it. Radha was leaving to Canada in two days. Prabha was leaving today. He has to do it today. He has to.
“Daaaaad….” His son banged the door again. “You can use it now son!” Arun said opening the door to the bathroom. Charan walked in half asleep. He took his toothbrush and started to squeeze some paste on it. “You’ll pick me up at 12:00 right?” Charan asked between brushings. “Yes!” Arun said, “Grandma will be coming here after you leave for school.” Charan nodded his head. With ruffled hair and sleepy eyes, his son was very boyishly handsome. Arun hoped his son will forgive him and understand him. “Move!!” Charan said, wanting to reach the wash basin. Arun laughed and went out of the bathroom.
Arun went straight to the kitchen. Prabha was giving instructions to the cook. “Do not make rotis in the dosa tawa and do not make dosa in the roti tawa… ok? You got it, right?”. The cook was smiling and nodding. “Woman! If you don’t remember this, I’ll get nothing for you from USA” Prabha said jovially.
“Prabha!” Arun called her. Prabha’s expression immediately changed to a serious one. “Yes Arun!”.
“We need to talk! Can we have a chat please?” said Arun. Prabha looked at him with puzzled eyes. So, did the cook. In her working in this home for 3 years, she has never seen her madam’s husband talk to madam.
“Why?” asked Prabha reflexively, and immediately regretted, “I mean!! Aaahhh, I have a lot of work.” She gestured towards cooking prep.
“It is important. Please.”
Prabha sensed that something was amiss. She could feel an instinctive churning in her gut. “After Charan goes to school?” she asked.
“Sure” replied Arun and went out of the kitchen. Prabha and the cook kept looking at the space he stood for some time. “See Didi! God has shone his light on you. Your husband talks to you now” said the cook.
Prabha looked at the 20 something girl, still in shock. “Sure Sabia. Sure!”, she said and walked out of the Kitchen.
Prabha and Arun were sitting on their Godrej Interiors sofa. Prabha sat cross-legged and stared at Arun with dread and worry. She has to leave for USA today. Her mom will call in one hour. Her mom-in-law will come in 2 hours. Shalini and her have to have discuss a few matters. She has to pick Charan from the school at 12:00.
“I’ll pick up Charan today” Arun said suddenly.
“Arun! Tell me! We’ve been sitting like this for 10 mins. now”
Arun stood up and paced the hall. He sat down, bending his knee in front of Prabha. Prabha turned to face him. She touched his face lightly and asked, “What is it Arun?”
Tears started to flow. Arun did not want to hurt Prabha. He hated himself for doing this, for being gay. He started to cry, covering his face with his hands. “Arun! Arun! Please look at me” Prabha was saying.
Arun suddenly got up, went near the dining table and took a bottle of water. He drank till he finished the bottle. He then turned and said in an urgent voice “Prabha! There is no easy way to say this…… I am gay.”
They both sat in silence. Prabha could hear the birds. The mynah that came every morning was singing away. Someone was sounding their car horn loudly. The song “Kala chashma” was playing in someone’s home. Charan’s digital watch was sounding an alarm. Sweepers were sweeping the staircase. Pigeons were fighting on the roof of her balcony. Prabha couldn’t take her eyes off Arun. After some minutes, she asked, “What?”.
Arun Sighed and went to sit near Prabha. “I am gay. I guess, I always have been. I am very sorry Prabha. I promise I did not deceive you. I did not know for sure until a few months ago…..” Arun kept talking. All Prabha could hear was a loud ringing noise. The room seemed to spin. He whole life flashed in front of her. Her past. When Arun refused to have a romantic dance during her friend’s wedding. When Arun told her he does not need to have sex unless otherwise required. When Arun never forgot their anniversary but did not seem happy at all during that day. When she’d felt like she was arguing with a woman when she argued with Arun.
“––––and I know I cannot be forgiven–––” Arun kept talking.
“Is that why you like Jason Mamoa?” Prabha asked.
“––––– huh? Ahhmmm yes! That’s why. I like rugged men.” Arun said.
“Me too.” Prabha replied. They both sat there, again in silence.
“Prabha––––“ Arun started.
“Arun!!” Prabha stopped him, “Can we do this after I come back from USA?”
Arun looked at her with guilty eyes. “Sure!” he said, “Sure!”. Prabha got up to leave and stopped after a few steps. “Wait!! Do you want a divorce?” she asked turning half way and facing Arun.
Arun sighed, “Do you want to be married to me after knowing this?” he asked.
“We live in India Arun. How are you going to come out of your closet? This country is not exactly kind to the LGBT community.” Prabha said.
Arun smiled. He had come to love this unselfish, brave, kind, beautiful woman. Even after his big reveal, all she can think about is how it will affect him.
“I’ll take care of that!” Arun said. “How are you going to face people? Tell me what to do! Do you want me to tell people that I am impotent? Anything you want.” Arun said.
“What?? NO! I am going to take a bath.” Prabha said and walked away.
She suddenly stopped and said, “You can start by coming up with a plan on how to break it to your mother. She’s going to be here in sometime.”
Eighth part of the story: Long Story 8