Alisha Barrow was a nice charming lady. She lived with her Indian mother, Samita who had married Richard Barrow many years back but the marriage had not worked out, things had turned so bad that Richard almost abandoned the mother and daughter. So, Alisha lived alone with her mother in a nice house in London.
She was about thirty three but nothing about her carried the tell-tale signs of aging anxiety. She was a successful architect running around the streets of London, meeting clients and designing houses for families.
Nothing gave her more satisfaction than designing a new home for families. Her clients’ ideas and dreams stirred in her the freshness of the morning coffee.
Often she used to be bent on a design in her room, in London, and her mother used to come in to check on her girl and deliver her goods made up of her hand-made cookies and a cup of strong tea.
On seeing her daughter work her life away, Samita used to at times drop on the bed and watch her laborious daughter toil. In some time, Alisha used to realise her mother hadn't left her room and she used to turn around only to focus on her mother's arched-eyebrows and worried face.
Oh no, she would say getting the hints of a conversation with her mother about her marriage.
"How long? Just how long will you stay like this?" her mother used to ask.
"Your friends have kids now," she would start exasperated.
But Alisha did not listen to her mother. She used to gently put a finger on her mother's lips and hold her up by the shoulders and walk her out of her room.
Taking a deep breathe, she used to resume her work.
To Alisha, marriage was not a qualification to live life through like a graduation certificate. She told herself that if she at all married, it would be for love.
Alisha had met many men, but for some reason she was never able to stick around with them for a long time. She had fancied a boy in her class for two years and when finally he had asked her out, she had refused him. She had regretted her decision so much that if a guy asked her out whether he was blonde or black, she at least went out on a date with him. Everybody around her had started to recognise her as the girl who had commitment issues. Tired of dates and being pursued, she stopped chasing around for her Knight believing if he were to come, he would make it against all odds.
One fine evening, after she returned from work Alisha found in the kitchen a delicious mom-made chocolate cake. A big smile came on her face and she was prepared to hog it up.
When Samita entered the kitchen to meet her daughter, she was wearing one of her manipulative smile on her face.
Samita made a careful cut into the cake and pulled out a portion of it for Alisha. She fed her with her hands and smiled pleasantly asking how it was made.
Alisha eyed her suspiciously and asked, ok what do you want?
Samita first tried to ignore the fact that she was caught but she gave it up and shamelessly confronted Alisha still smiling pleasantly.
"Your Aunt Padma called."
On hearing the name, Alisha rolled her eyes up.
"Oh no, no, not again," Alisha started chanting.
"Just listen for once," said her mother earnestly.
"No ways Mom," Alisha said very firmly.
"You will like it this time," her mother tried to assure her.
"No! How many times do I have to tell you not to do this for me?"
Samita, as against the previous arguments, was not willing to lose it that time. She filled her eyes with moisture and suddenly she appeared a hundred years old.
On seeing her mother on the verge of tears, Alisha too, mellowed down.
"Mom please, don't do this," she almost requested.
"Is it a sin to want to see my child happy?" asked Samita dramatically almost choking with tears.
"No, no," Alisha said and sat by her mother. Holding her hands she told her, "But I am happy Mom. I have you."
"But I am growing old and what if something happens to me today, you will live alone tomorrow," and at that thought she shed some more tears and sobbed endlessly.
Alisha felt she was cornered somehow. There is always one thing that all children no matter of what race or nationality or religion or legitimacy or gender can’t stand; their sobbing mothers.
"Will it hurt you if you just listen or give it a try for me?" Samita asked amidst her tears.
"No of course not," said Alisha and she thought it wiser to give up as she did not want to see her mother more upset.
"Go on tell me," she asked Samita.
The sad and withered face suddenly glowed with joy like she was some 18 years old teenage, sitting to gossip about boys in her school.
"Ok, your Aunt Padma called. She was telling me about her Nephew who lives in London, Jay. That's his name, Jay Kumar."
"How many nephews does Aunt Padma have? The last time she introduced me to two other guys, they were her nephews too."
"What do I care," said Samita and waved away her daughter's sarcasm with a pinch of salt.
"So you want me to go and meet him?" asked Alisha.
"You won't need to; I have invited your Aunt Padma and Jay Kumar to tea tomorrow."
"What! You called them home? Without asking me? Mom I have work," Alisha protested.
"It won't hurt if you come home early for once," Samita replied coldly and she left.
Alisha spent the next working day of her life cursing her Aunt. She hated every man her Aunt introduced her to. They were the sample pieces of a misogynist and patriarchal society.
One of them wanted a wife because he wanted someone to take care of his home and give him kids. The other one had come to meet Alisha without feeling the need of a woman at all. They all just wanted to meet a good lady and just settle down.
Alisha had a horrible feeling that she would vomit if she met Jay. She really tried to think of some excuse to cook up to get home late but her mother kept calling her up and she was reminded for every minute of the day that she had to reach home earlier.
When she reached home, she saw a nice car parked in front of her house. She knew the guests were already there.
She stood at the door unable to open it, holding and releasing the door knob time and again. Suddenly the door was opened from the inside and her mother appeared.
She ushered Alisha into the drawing room excitedly.
On the couch was seated a very handsome gentleman. He stood up when Alisha entered and shook her hands with a delighted smile and twinkling eyes. He was tall and he had dark hair. He was very charming to look at maybe because of those dark bushy eyebrows that complimented the dimpled smile. Alisha sat down among them looking at Jay with some curiosity.
When the guests were leaving, Jay gave Alisha his visiting card and said, "I do hope to meet you again."
That night, Samita worked in the kitchen humming some of her favourite songs to herself. She did not need to ask her daughter, she knew something had clicked between Alisha and Jay.
Inside her room, Alisha was laid out on her bed. She kept looking at the card in her hand curiously as if wondering if Jay was the one. She wanted to meet him and get to know him. He seemed different somehow. He seemed a charming fellow. But she shied away from thinking about calling up Jay first.