With droopy eyes and heavy head little Vini came to the living room and sprawled on the sofa. With great enthusiasm she turned her attention to The Newsline, to see the movie listing for the day.
"Vini, milk is here...” Shobha called.
Vini was too immersed in "Today’s special". A minute of enthusiastic page search led her to discover Indiana Jones on HBO. Vini gave a short squeal of joy.
Her reverie was interrupted when she heard her mom shout, "Vini, go down quickly with this pot of rice, Vasudev has come!"
"Really?" Vini let out yet another squeal. She got up at once and ran to the kitchen. Shobha had kept a small pot of rice grains ready on the table.
"Wait, let me put on a decent frock...ah, well, it is ok I guess, it is morning time, so everyone will know I have just gotten up..." muttered Vini and ran downstairs. Heart thumping, leaping 3 steps at a time, that skinny little thing climbed down the three floors in 20 seconds flat.
There he was, dressed in a toga and standing with his mammoth vibrantly decorated bull. Vini walked towards the duo as if possessed by this imagery. Vasudev wore a white toga with a belt like scarf tied tightly around his waist. His head was covered with a hat made of peacock feathers. The hat came well below on his forehead on the brow. He stood poised holding a pair of cymbals, arms wide open. His faithful significant other, the Nandi stood with so much dignity and composure that Vini took an instant awe at this fabulous creature. It was the peacock hat and the Nandi which fascinated Vini to a great extent.
"Come dear..." Vasudev called her in a very affectionate tone and next few minutes Vini tried very hard to make sense of what he was chanting. Once he was done with his prayers, he began the Real Thing.
"You are ten years old; you live with you mother, father and a brother who is elder to you. He is studying in the 16th grade. You are very talented and have a very good family life...” Vasudev began writing Vini’s future.
"How does he know I live with my mom n dad and an Elder brother? How does he know he studies in 1st year of LLB?" Vini tried to suppress the amazement but failed to quite an extent because Vasudev smiled to see her wide open eyes.
"But dear, you have a troubled marriage, mostly because of your in-laws...” Vini was absorbing every word, every comma.
“I wonder what he means by soul mate…” Vini’s face showed a transition from amazement to ignorance to plain confusion.
Vini glanced at the Nandi and couldn’t help but touch his brow. Nandi moved towards her as if wanting that innocent touch. Vasudev finished his recitation and opened a shabnam bag slung on his shoulder.
"Put the rice in the bag." Vasudev pleaded.
Vini emptied the pot in the bag.
"If you wish to get rid of the evils associated with you married life, you will have to fast every Tuesday following your marriage and donate a pot of rice to the nearby temple for 3 months without fail." Vini nodded obediently and receded.
"God bless you!" said Vasudev with a satisfied smile, the Nandi nodding the head fervently in unison.
Vini slowly walked upstairs. She somehow felt special. Vasudev's words were echoing in her head. She felt doubly content to have donated to this noble man.
“You know he also said that brother and I will get along very well...You know he even knew that I am going to get married one day because he said I will have a bad marriage..." Vini was speaking with an urgent tone.
"And you know he also said that...." Vini stopped abruptly. Shobha was looking at this curious little creature with admiration.
"Nothing, it’s just time pass you know…" Vini giggled and moved back to the living room and settled with The Newsline with a coy smile on her face…
…Vini was standing in the balcony of her flat sipping chai. The wind caressed her entangled hair, witness to a night of passion. She liked this moment of solitude. This was the moment for which she woke up every morning.
“Hey, good morning…” Ram came from behind and wrapped her in his long arms. Before she could turn and snuggle up in his embrace, she heard a distinct clanking of cymbals. She leaned forward to find out the source of this sound. Ram smiled at this curious little woman. “Oh, that’s him! I just missed him!” Vini almost shouted her arm stretched in the direction of the bull. The majestic Nandi was taking a turn and moving out of sight.
“That was Vasudev! I missed him by just a few minutes.” Vini said ruefully.
“What’s the big deal about him anyway?” Ram asked baffled. Vini just smiled mysteriously and kissed him gently on his forehead.
“I just DON’T get this woman at times!” Ram thought.
Vini thanked Vasudev for germinating this seed of indomitable hope which showed light at the end of a dark tunnel of her “bad” marriage. She had followed Vasudev’s words unquestioningly; the beggars and the needy had gone back to their shacks with bags full of rice.
Vini held Ram tightly in the circle of her arms unwilling to let go of her soul mate as promised by Vasudev 20 years back. “It’s crazy and kind of stupid. But well, who said life made sense anyway?” Vini mused.