part 1A -WISHES AND DEMANDS
New York City, 2 months ago
RishabKundra was a confirmed bachelor, at least he had been determined to be one. Until now.
He had several reasons why"the most significant being his independence. To not have a girl nagging him day and night asking about his whereabouts or harrying him to present himself at home at 6p.m. sharp was a convenience he treasured. He pitied his dad who was probably so accustomed to being henpecked, he wouldn't know what to do if he was left alone for a day.Rishab enjoyed the freedom to do what he wanted when he wanted to.
He wasalso urged toward bachelorhood because he'd never really appreciated an inclination toward the fairer sex. No girl had ever been able to bowl him over with her charms, though not for the lack of trying; many had. He just hadn't been adequately stimulated by what he called superficial accoutrements. Nor had he felt the need for feminine company, except on rare occasions when he'd been obligated to have a date on his arm. His work provided him with all the company he desired and he couldn't be happier; he loved what he did.
Six months ago, after graduating summa cum laude from the very demanding and rigorous neurosurgical residency program at Mass General/Harvard Medical School, Rishab had joined as the youngest associate at one of the busiest neurosurgical practices in New York City. And he had distinguished himself so well that today his chief had offered to make him partner. Partner?He was delighted and would have been flying on cloud nine, ten, or maybe even eleven, if it hadn't been for the untimely demands of his mother.
His parents, Shashank and Shobha Kundra of the famed' Kundra clan of New Delhi, along with their two children Rima and Rishab had immigrated to the United States more than twenty years ago, defying the expectations of the elders. His father was ambitious. He had undertaken to spread the Kundra business beyond the desi shores by establishing one of the biggest and finest jewelry chains abroad. And where best to commence such a venture but the Big Apple? Shashank had kept his word, accomplishing what he said he would, thus making the entire family proud.
But Rishab, instead of joining his father and continuing with the family business tradition, had opted for medical school to become a dimaag ka doctor. No, not a doctor who deals with mad people, but one who wields a chaku and a churi to fix them. Everyone, including his favorite uncle, Rajbir,had shook their heads in disapproval.
"We don't care for such mumbo jumbo," Uncle Rajbir had said. "Business mein kya kharaabi hai?"
But on a bitter cold day when Mama and Papa Kundra saw their defiant son felicitated as one of the best to have passed through the hallowed grounds of the famed Harvard university, they couldn't check the flood of joyous tears from flowing down their ruddy cheeks.
From then on, Rishab had been given free rein. When he chose to relocate to a tiny rental in the city and give up the luxurious trappings of the family's huge suburban villa, pleading inconvenience, his father gave his grudging assent. Then, when he opted to stay away from the many communal pujas and parties his mother threw (mostly in the hope of finding a suitable daughter-in-lawfor herself) PapaKundra looked the other way. And when Rishab pruned his visitshome to one weekend every other month, often less, his parents could only hope he perceived their distress. Rishab thus succeeded in slowly, but surely distancing himself from the crazy chaos of his massive family, except for those occasions he was required, such as his sister, Rima's wedding and then later, the naamkaran of her child.
Finally he was at peace.
But this state of affairs was intolerable for Shobha. He knew his mother felt cheated. She had voiced her opinion often enough. How many years had she spent yearning for someone she could order around the house, and who would wait upon her hand and foot. How long had she hankered to be the Saas to beat all Saases.
But Rishab wouldn't oblige her. Despite her lining up hundreds upon hundreds of suitable girls (handpicked by her of course) he wouldn't bow his hard head down and give in to her wishes, causing her to mutter often in his presence, What a waste of a handsome face and six figure income to boot!'
One day during his last visit, she threw in her final salvo and served him the ultimatum in typical Bollywood style."Shaadi ke liye tayyaar ho jao nahin toh tum mera mara muh dekhoge." (Get ready to marry or you'll see me on my death bed.)
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