Uit: A Suitable Boy
‘That Meenakshi’ was Arun’s glamorous wife and her own disrespectful daughter-in-law. In four years of marriage Meenakshi’s only worthwhile act, in Mrs Rupa Mehra’s eyes, had been to give birth to her beloved granddaughter, Aparna, who even now had found her way to her grandmother’s brown silk sari and was tugging at it for attention. Mrs Rupa Mehra was delighted. She gave her a kiss and told her:
‘Aparna, you must stay with your Mummy or with Lata Bua, otherwise you will get lost. And then where would we be?’
‘Can’t I come with you?’ asked Aparna, who, at three, naturally had views and preferences of her own.
‘Sweetheart, I wish you could,’ said Mrs Rupa Mehra, ‘but I have to make sure that your Savita Bua is ready to be married. She is so late already.’ And Mrs Rupa Mehra looked once again at the little gold watch that had been her husband’s first gift to her and which had not missed a beat for two and a half decades.
‘I want to see Savita Bua!’ said Aparna, holding her ground.
Mrs Rupa Mehra looked a little harassed and nodded vaguely at Aparna.
Lata picked Aparna up. ‘When Savita Bua comes out, we’ll go over there together, shall we, and I’ll hold you up like this, and we’ll both get a good view. Meanwhile, should we go and see if we can get some ice-cream? I feel like some too.’
Aparna approved of this, as of most of Lata’s suggestions. It was never too cold for ice-cream. They walked towards the buffet table together, three-year-old and nineteen-year-old hand in hand. A few rose petals wafted down on them from somewhere.
‘What is good enough for your sister is good enough for you,’ said Mrs Rupa Mehra to Lata as a parting shot.
‘We can’t both marry Pran,’ said Lata, laughing.”
Vikram Seth (Kolkata, 20 juni 1952)