“Amma! Where are the gobbari kaayalu?”
Vennela asked as she came to the hall with a tray of flowers. Lakshmi came there and placed a plate full of coconuts that were dipped in turmeric.
“They are here now Vennu”
“Good. Where are the Thamboolam plate?”
“That is in Deva Annaiya’s room. He will bring it.”
“Ahh seri.. I will go and see the decor outside.”
Saying Vennela turned fast and felt giddy and stopped on her tracks. Next moment she was held by her mother and from where she did not know, Arjun and Jai were by her side.
“Vennu, you are not supposed to turn suddenly like that nanna.. First 3 months will be giddy, queasy and irritating. Here.. sit down and drink this water.”
Lakshmi said handing her the glass of water Jai brought for her. As Vennela drank from the glass, Lakshmi wiped her forehead with her saree pallu. Vennela looked up at her mother with tears in her eyes.
“Ente.. Kaneerlu enti asaiyanga? Why are you crying?”
“Did you ever do like this to me before?”
Vennela said wiping her tears away. Lakshmi looked at Jai sighing. Jai smiled and signalled her to move out and he will take care.
“Vennu.. Did you take your vitamins?”
“Rei po ra! Go and get ready. I don’t want you coming down with your shorts forgetting your Panche. Got it?”
She said between her cries. Jai chuckled.
“Vella ra! Go and get ready.”
Arjun went from there glaring at his bava but went to his room chuckled as he saw the panche and kurta Vennela got for him. She remembered that he liked to get married in traditional wear than any white pants in modern ways.
Jai called her as she was about to move out wiping her tears. Jai understood that her emotions were bonkers. He moved out along with her to the backyard of the house and saw her standing near the haystack with her back to him.
“Yenduku ippudu aa yedupu? Why crying now?”
“See bava, everyone are at my beck and call now only because I am..”
Jai held her and turned her to face him. He smiled raising her face with his finger under her chin.
“Vennela.. You are the one who was always a part of this family. Not me. So you know them better. You were the string that held this family together Vennela from whatever little I saw. You took care of everyone. When Mavaiyya came home after going to other villages about the inspection, you were there to welcome him and give him food however late he came home. Nana ki choosi choosi mari anni chesav. You took care of him. Your mother could relax only because she knew you were there to take care. But now its the other way round. Its your turn to be pampered by them. Sometimes we don’t even know what responsibility we are shouldering until we fall short. Enjoy this pampering Vennela.”
Vennela looked at him with her eyes wide. And seeing that he has finished she took a deep breath.
“Bava.. has anyone told you that you talk too much?”
Jai looked taken aback.
“Entha pedda monologue! Wasted my time. I should be arranging for Manasa’s arrival.”
“You were crying saying no one loved you before and now..”
“Oh please! Go and do your work I gave. Welcome Manasa’s family. Its their Nishchayam today.”
“Oh yeah.. I thought it was Gandhi jayanti”
Vennela gave him a hard smack on his head.
Laughing Jai went to bring his father down as he saw Naagireddy’s cars coming. Deva happily welcomed them. Jai smiled at Uma who returned the smile. Then Jai saw Shiva Reddy and Shanti, Manasa’s parents.
Shiva reddy smiled at Jai.
“You got him going again Jai..”
Shanti said smiling at him.
“Pedda matalu vaddandi.”
“We wanted a boy like you for Manasa so that she will be away from all the chaos Jai.”
“Arjun is even better than me Pinni garu. Randi”
Jai said and moved inside.
He chuckled looking at the short man standing with all the other henchmen. Poorna chuckled.
“He is not leaving this place Jai.”
“I will if you let me”
“I will also come with you Annaiya garu. So that you can get your Maradalu Moulika engaged to me.”
Pratap gritted his teeth. Jai and Poorna laughed.
“Once Manasa is married. Next we will get you married Poorna. There is no hurry.”
“I know. Padha jai. Lets go inside.”
“Randi Pratap garu.”
Everyone entered the house that was decorated grandly. Jai saw Vennela standing with Manasa smiling and laughing. Jai went to Vennela and stood beside her. Vennela narrowed her eyes.
“NO! GO AWAY”
Vennela said to Jai who chuckled. Manasa laughed.
“Mood swings already?”
“Whatever.. I am going to see if that thindi ramudu is ready?”
“You are going nowhere Vennela. Stay here. I will bring him down”
“Bring his Panche and shirt too.. We have to give them to Manasa parents which they will return to Arjun.”
“You know I understand nothing right?”
“I know. Just keep doing what I say.”
“I am doing that always.”
“Stop irritating me and get Arjun, Panthulu is going to write the Lagna pathrika.”
Pulling her cheeks once, making Manasa laugh, Jai went up to Arjun’s room. There Arjun was being pampered by Lalli.
“Edayina thinu ra. Eat something.”
“ I will eat Athaiyya.. After the Nischayam I will..”
“Pinni! Seriously? This thindi Ramudu is not eating?”
“Shut up ra Bava!”
“Coming ra.. Athaiyya.. Where is mavaiyya?”
“He is down, glamouring himself up.. After all he is going to be in law now.”
Jai and Arjun laughed along with Lalli.
Down, with the acceptance of both families, it was decided that Arjun Manasa wedding will take place in a month time. The plates were exchanged between Deva and Naagireddy.
“Manasa! A MONTH?”
“Stop being a dramaqueen.”
“After his return, Bava got married in a week”
“You are not Jai and I am not vennela either. So wait for a month!”
Manasa said sternly making everyone laugh.
“Arjun! Tough ra!”
Jai said chuckling. Arjun scowled.
“Bava! Don’t irritate my brother.”
“Ala cheppu Vennu.”
“Manasa will take care of that Bava”
Vennela finished making Arjun growl and others laugh. Soon everyone were up for lunch which was a noisy affair with youngsters pulling each others legs and elders enjoying the laughs after years of crying.
“Vennela. Go, change and rest for sometime. Me and Lalli will finish up.”
Vennela was thanks as she moved to her room and pulled down her pallu. At that moment Jai came from the Balcony and stood transfixed looking at the reflection of his wife in the mirror. She was the same. But she looked different. Jai slowly walked to her. Holding her from behind, he looked at the picture they made in the mirror.
“Do you know, after langa oni, Sarees are something that always irritated me”
“Control thapputundi Vennela. Can’t keep my hands to myself you know?”
He said as his hands travelled to her exposed waist. Vennela chuckled.
“I will wear capris and shirts..”
“Still I will be uncontrollable.”
“Then the dress isn’t the problem. You are..”
Jai smiled resting his hands on her tummy.
“No.. YOU are. Because you see.. You make my control go out the window.”
Vennela giggled and pushed him turning.
“I know where you are heading to. But NO SPEAKING.. Sorry bava.”
She laughed at his clueless expression.
“I am going to rest.. I am tired.”
“Wait.. I am coming tooo”
Saying Jai followed Vennela to the bed and both fell on the bed chuckling.
“Tired for engagement. What about wedding.”
“We will see it later. For now.. I am tired. You are tired. So..”
He pulled her on him and she rested her head on his heart smiling as his heartbeat lulled her to slumber. Jai smiled closing his eyes thinking about his wife, who was sleeping with her head on his heart.