Annoyed by her mother’s rant, she said, “Mom! Stop it please. I don’t want to meet any potential grooms for myself.”
“So, you want to stay alone all your life?”
“I did not say that mom! I just want some time more.”
“How much time more? You are twenty eight already, and turning twenty nine come December, tell me, how much time more?”
“No, no excuses this time. I had you when I was twenty eight.”
“Yes you did have me, but I never got the love that I deserved from you.” Alisha yelled.
“Don’t change the topic. This is not about us. It’s about you and your future.” Adhira said calmly.
“You guys need not worry about my future. I can take care of myself.”
“I don’t know what your problem is Alisha. But, you will be meeting those families in the next month and that is final.”
“No mom. Nothing is final. I will not be meeting anyone.”
Alisha was thinking hard for some valid reason that would put her parents off her back for a few months.
“Hello? Alisha? Are you even listening?”
“So tell me why?”
Alisha said the first thing that came out from her mouth. “Because I’m seeing someone!”
“What? Oh! That’s great.”
'Shit, what have I done?'Alisha thought.
“Alisha, so we’ll see you the day after tomorrow. I’ll message you the flight details. And we will be looking forward to meeting your boyfriend.”
Alisha sank down on her sofa and took her head in her hands.
'What the hell have I done? I’m seeing someone? Shit. Who? How? What? Stupid, stupid me.' She chided herself.
She was in deep trouble. She knew her parents very well; if they made up their mind about something, they wouldn’t let it go. And they wouldn’t let her rest in peace until they met her so called boyfriend.
Alisha got ready to go to work and after a restless day, came back home. She couldn’t concentrate on absolutely anything. She ran out of reasons to tell her parents about the ‘missing’ boyfriend.
Sighing in exasperation, she finally decided to catch hold of Minnie. She had thought about a possible solution and wanted to run it with her. 'Let's see if she has any other ideas,' she thought.
She rushed to Minnie’s boutique which was located at a few minutes’ distance from her place. As soon as she entered, she saw about a dozen mannequins being draped in bridal wear. 'Ah! Looks like these statues are also mocking me!’ She nodded her head and directly entered Minnie’s office which was located at the back of the boutique.
She barged in and flopped down on the couch. Minnie was busy doing something on the computer, and when she saw Alisha, she smiled, “Hey sis! What a lovely surprise! My day just got better. Dr. Alisha Merchant has made an appearance at my boutique.” She said using air quotes and wiggling her eyebrows.
“Oh stop it Minnie!” She whispered.
Alisha continued further, “My parents are coming on Friday.”
“Whoa! Finally! That’s just the day after tomorrow. Yeah!” She raised her hand for a high five, but Alisha just stared her down.
“What?” Minnie continued. “You should be happy right? Finally, maasa and maasi are coming to meet you.”
Alisha got up and started pacing around the small office.
“Of course, I’m happy. But I’m also doomed!”
“I’m not understanding anything here Alisha. Can you please be a bit more specific?”
Alisha told her about the conversation that she had with her mom. After she was done, Minnie was trying very hard not to laugh. But she ended up doubling in laughter.
“You are laughing at this?” Alisha said exasperatedly.
“Alisha, you have axed your own foot!” Minnie laughed.
“Yes, I know that. Tell me if you can help or no, otherwise I’m leaving from here.”
“Whoa… wait up sweetheart. It’s been really long to see you so worked up. Let me enjoy this moment a bit.”
Alisha swatted her arm and went to sit on Minnie’s chair. Minnie sat across from her and said, “Ask some colleague of yours to be your fake boyfriend for a month.”
“What? Most of my male colleagues are married. Their wives will come running with a rolling pin behind me if I even think of doing that.”
“Don’t exaggerate. You can always rope in the wife too.”
“Yes, as if my parents will believe that I’m dating a forty something man. None of my colleagues are of my age.”
“What about Tarun?”
“He was the first person in my mind. But he’s going for a family vacation tomorrow and he won’t be back for the next ten days!”
“You can tell them, he’s out for some work or something.” Minnie suggested.
“That is what I’m planning to do. I’m going to prime Tarun about all this mess as soon as I’m home.”
“Yes, so problem solved. So, why were you over reacting so much then.” Minnie scoffed.
“I don’t know. I’m just so anxious.”
“Wait, what about Neil? He stays right next to you and that would be a very convenient story.”
“Firstly, Neil is out of town for shooting some banks of episodes as he’s planning to take a long leave for Arjun’s cousin’s destination wedding at the end of next month!” Alisha paused for a breath and continued, “And secondly, even if he were here, he will never agree to this as his career is his sole priority at this stage. Besides, I haven’t spoken to him in the last two days since both of us have been busy.”
“Okay. So Tarun it is then. Your fake boyfriend for a month!” Minnie giggled.
Alisha took a few deep breaths, tied and retied her hair and finally got up to leave.
She hugged Minnie and said, “Thanks for being there always.”
“No problem dear. Let me know what you plan with Tarun, I’ll provide a solid back up vouching for your relationship.”
Alisha laughed at that and then left. She felt relieved to some extent.
She spent a restless night, and the next morning was back to work. Later in the evening, she got a message from her parents that they would be reaching in the morning and to give the spare home keys to Vinay uncle as she would be at work.
Alisha sighed in relief knowing that she wouldn’t have to lie to her parents the first thing in the morning.
Her dooms day finally arrived and she ran off to work half an hour earlier than usual. She had given the keys to Vinay uncle the previous night itself to avoid unnecessary questioning about her leaving so early.
Her day at work passed in a blur and in no time she was back home.
She was happy to see her mom cooking something and her dad reading a book in the balcony. She was seeing them in flesh after ages! Her dad looked smart as usual even in his track pants and t-shirt. Her mom looked graceful as ever in a sari and Alisha was surprised to see her like that. She was used to seeing her in suits. She called out, “Mom, dad!”
They both crushed her in a hug and Alisha had tears in her eyes.
“Hmm… something smells good. What are you cooking mom?”
“One of our all-time favorite’s dear, paneer masala.”
“Wow. I’ll join you guys after freshening up.”
Alisha was back in a jiffy and the three of them sat in the living room talking about their lives.
“I feel really pathetic that we couldn’t make it when you were hospitalized.” Avinash said.
“It’s alright dad, it’s over now. Let’s not talk about it.”
“Come, let’s have dinner.” Adhira said.
While relishing the home cooked meal after a long time, Avinash said, “Vinay has invited us for dinner tomorrow night.”
“Yes, sure we’ll all go. Are you in Alisha?” her mom looked at her.
“Yes, of course.” Alisha replied.
“And when are we meeting your boyfriend?” Avinash asked.
'Here comes the bomb.' Alisha thought.
“It’s good that you finally found someone for yourself.” Adhira added.
“Mom, he’s actually out of town. And he’s directly going to come here as soon as he returns. He’s very excited to meet you as well.” Alisha stated.
With that the topic was diverted. Alisha breathed a sigh of relief. Just as they were having dessert, the doorbell rang.
“I’ll get that.” Avinash said.
But, Alisha got up too and went behind her dad. As he opened the door, she saw that Neil was standing with a bouquet of flowers.
“Hi, umm… you must be Alisha’s dad?” he said.
Alisha put her one hand on her head, and the other on her mouth.
Avinash led him inside and asked him, “So, you are Alisha’s boyfriend young man? What’s your name?”