It was New Year’s Eve. A party was scheduled to be held at Pradeep Mishra’s office in the evening in view of the occasion. In spite of being a pleasant evening, it took very long for Pradeep to make his wife, Lata come out and accompany him to the party.

 

“You might feel embarrassed” Lata had said.

 

“No, not at all, dear. How can any person be embarrassed when his wife is with him?”

 

“But still, I cannot come. I might be a bother to all others present there.”

 

It was only when Pradeep had threatened her that he would not go, in case Lata did not accompany him, that she relented.  Pradeep was working as a Senior Manager for the past one year in a company of good standing and his absence in the party would be taken as indifference by all his senior officials. As Lata did not want this to happen, she had no other choice, but to give in to Pradeep’s proposal.

 

Pradeep knew that it would be difficult to make Lata to move out and mingle with his office colleagues as she would not venture even to step out of their home and greet her neighbours. He was well aware that Lata, a village girl, was feeling alien and lonesome in the streets of Delhi. They had been married for eighteen months, but his wife had developed no acquaintances nor had she been to any get-togethers. Thus, Pradeep decided to do everything possible to make her shed her inhibitions and her inferiority complex. And this was just the beginning…

 

Lata’s voice came from the dressing room,  “What should I wear for the party? I have no idea what sort of dresses are usually worn for these occasions.” 

 

Pradeep gave a smile and said reassuringly “Wear anything you feel comfortable Lata. Be yourself.”  He added “This party is just like any marriage function or birthday party.”

 

Lata had never shown any interest in ladies tops, ghagra cholis, jeans or any other party wear, in spite of Pradeep’s insistence that she visit some boutique. She was content with her sarees or, at times, salwar kameez.

 

After some amount of debating on the outfit to be worn, Pradeep and Lata set out on their first jaunt to a social function. Lata was wearing a simple yellow sari with an embroidered border. She had no makeup and was wearing only a pair of earrings and a pair of plastic bangles. Despite her worn-out looks, she was graceful and charming.

 

At the function, there were many dignitaries and Pradeep’s colleagues. Many of the ladies present were dressed in splendid party-wear and were sporting a modern outlook with heavy lip-sticks. Even Lata’s simple bun was not a slightest match to some of the ladies’ hair-do. On seeing this, Lata felt tensed and her heart started to beat faster. Pradeep smiled and began introducing his wife to all those present at the party. She greeted each of them with folded hands. She could hear whisperings such as “She is like an old time heroine” and “Wonder how could Pradeep choose an old-timer as his better half”.

 

Lata was relieved on hearing a voice from behind. “Mr Mishra, Your wife looks simply superb in this sari!” She turned and saw her husband with an elderly person.

“Oh! Thankyou, Mr Chaudary” her husband was saying and turning to Lata, introduced his immediate senior “Lata, this is Mr Anil Chaudary.”

 

Lata greeted with a soft “Namaste Sir”.

 

“Namaste Madam.”

 

At this point, Mrs Chaudary also came along and concured with her husband on his opinion. Holding Lata’s hands, she enquired “So, Mrs Mishra, how is your marital life going on?”  Lata blushed and kept quiet. She further questioned “Are you doing any job or anything like that?”

 

Pradeep answered “Oh Behenji, Lata has no time for a job at present. All her time is spent in managing the household.” Lata knew that this was a lie. They have a full-time servant for doing the cleaning work and Lata is yet to start on a Bachelors' course via correspondence.

 

Mr Chaudary suddenly asked “Mr Mishra, When did your marriage take place?” You did not even give us a reception after joining office!”

 

“One-and-a-half years, Sir.  It was a quick affair. At that time, I had not called anybody except close relatives. I will definitely arrange for a grand reception at the earliest.”

 

Pradeep’s mind went back to the time when he had completed studies and even got selected in the campus interviews. He had gone home to Dehra Dun for a week to celebrate the occasion. It was then that his mother showed him a snap of Lata, who was then working as a sales girl in a shop that was run by Pradeep’s father. Her mother had said “Look son, the decision is yours. We are not forcing it on you, because you might be having different ideas. The girl is only a 12th class pass-out. If you have anything else or already engaged with somone, please let us know.” Pradeep’s mind started to drift to the past. Pradeep had had a love affair while at college, but the girl had broken up with him and yielded to her parents’ choice. So, Pradeep was forced to forget her and concentrate on his future.

 

Now, seeing the photo, he felt the girl to be attractive enough and therefore, agreed to his mother’s suggestion that he see the girl in person. He found Lata to be a shy and quiet girl, with practically no urban influence on her. Most of her responses were restricted to either “No” or “Yes”.  When Pradeep had asked her if she had ever been to Delhi, the place she would have to come, in case their marriage took place, she just shook her head in the negative.

 

It had taken nearly a week for Pradeep to accept the proposal. Lata’s mother had said “Whatever Madam says, we will do, though I still do not think that our Lata is the right match for such a well-educated boy.”

 

A thunderous applause following an announcement by the company chairmen that Mrs Lata Mishra is going to sing a song, brought Pradeep’s train of thoughts to a sudden halt. It was Pradeep himself who had suggested that her wife sing at the party. He had heard Lata humming about as she was doing the household chores and found out that she had a a good voice. He decided that this was a suitable occasion to bring it out.

 

Lata, for a moment, was dumbfounded and did not know what to do. She looked at her husband who was urging her in a hushed tone “Go, Lata dear, they are waiting for you. I know you have a beautiful voice. Don’t you want to let the world know about it?” Lata slowly stood up and started walking towards the middle of the room. She looked at her husband who showed her the THUMBS UP sign.

 

She cleared her voice and slowly started singing the song of Dheere Dheere Machal from the film ‘Anupama’. Her rendition was beyond Pradeep’s expectations. As she was nearing the ending of the song, loud cheers accompanied by claps reverberated the room. Lata smiled shyly and hurried to her husband who welcomed her with open hands, praising himself for his achievement.,, and also his wife’s.

 

From behind came a voice “You have a wonderful voice, Mrs Mishra, Why don’t you try your hand in the ‘Idea Super Singer’ show which is going on?”


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