Scholarly love blooms

By Andy Paula,
Special to The Post 
 
Mrs. Roy knew at once when she saw Piali and Sathya on their return from Panchgani. 
Mrs. Roy saw the way her daughter looked at the young man and blushed in his presence. Quite a dashing man, this fellow, she thought. As she led them into the drawing room, she observed the chemistry between the two and her heart sank. Piali had introduced her ‘colleague’ as Sathya Nair, the school chairman’s son and her colleague. Mrs. Roy knew about the family. Piali’s father would never agree. She knew her husband. She had been married to him for over twenty-five years; his beliefs were non-negotiable.
Mr. Piyush Roy, a government officer, was a traditional man, very progressive where his children’s education was concerned, very conservative when it came to their marriage. 
“Where’s your dad?” Sathya whispered as soon as Mrs. Roy went inside.
“Sathya, please, not now!”
“Chill, I’m only asking where he is. Stop being so scared.”
“He leaves for office at 10 and returns by 5.30pm.” Piali regained her lost breath, “It takes him around 20mins from here.’’ “Ok, I’ll meet him after that then. Don’t get so hyper.”
“No, please!”
“No please? How else do I ask for your hand in marriage?”
“He will never agree. I know him.”
“He will! I know me!”
Mrs. Roy came back with home-made snacks and juice for the two. Elegant in her starched tant sari and a big sindoor bindi, she filled up the room with her presence.
“So how was Panchgani?”
“The best trip of my life, aunty!” Sathya smiled. Piali tried to put on a nonchalant look.
“We won the Best Team trophy, too! Piali was a great team leader,” Mrs. Roy beamed with pride. 
“And how was Mumbai?”
In Mumbai, where the group halted for a day, the lovers finally found time to talk about themselves, their families, and the future they wanted. Sathya saw in her a young adult who enjoyed the regular things of life; in her denims, check shirt and sneakers, she hardly looked the serious teacher. As for Piali, she had found her life’s hero in Sathya. In that short span, she lived her life to the fullest with him; she had never felt so alive before, so full of mirth and such gay abandon.
“I’ll leave now aunty, amma must be waiting for me.”
When Sathya got up to leave Piali found herself tossed back into the present. After the last week’s togetherness, she couldn’t think of staying away from him but they were back home. How would they meet? Where? In this small town, everybody knew everybody. Being a teacher made her all the more ‘famous’. If she were not bumping into students, she would be meeting their parents; there was no privacy, no secret would remain a secret in this township. God!
How and when could they meet? She left for school at 7 every morning and was back by 2.30. She took the school bus and everybody in it knew her stops; she could neither board nor get off the bus earlier or later without arousing suspicion. If Sathya picked her a little distance from her stop, they could be together for a while but ma would be waiting for lunch and she could not make ‘extra class’ excuses every day. Anyway, ma had the uncanny knack of knowing her innermost thoughts. While it was a commendable trait in a mother, it could become a major impediment in Piali’s love life. She would sense foul play immediately. 
 
Read more from "Love’s Labor" at www.indireads.com.
 
About the Author: 
 
Andy Paula is a corporate trainer, an avid reader, and a writer. When she is not making stories in her head, she does pranayam and tries to meditate to keep a grip on her wandering mind. 
 
This story is a excerpt from Indireads. This fictional series offers a wide wide range of romance novellas written by both men and women, for South Asian readers around the world. Read more at www.indireads.com.
 

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