Hira Patel almost jumped out of his large wooden chair as the phone rang.
“Hello” he reached over and answered in his pronounced Indian accent. The warm air from the small electric heater had made him sleepy; he did not realize he was dozing off.
“Hello Patel Ji, This is Rajiv;.. Rajiv Desai!”
“Oh, hi!” Hira said, trying to control a yawn.
“I was going to stop by this morning….if that’s okay with you.”
“Are you going to bring the girl with you?” He asked right away.
There was some silence at the other end, “ I was not planning on it!”
“Okay, come on over, we can talk!”
He got out of the chair, almost dragging himself out slowly. His dark brown shirt was tucked into khaki rumpled pants over his protruding belly. The receding hairline made him look much older than his age.
He looked out of the window into the deserted parking lot. Then, checked the coffee level in the coffee pot and walked back to the chair and yawned. Slowly leaning back, he slumped back into the chair.
“It is so chilly outside, and it is not even December yet!” Rajiv said as he pushed open the door and walked in.
“Yes, the winter is coming! How are you, Desai Sahib?”
“I am good, not bad. How is the business?”
“Slow, very slow! Nobody is spending like good old days!”
Hira pointed his hand to the empty wooden chair that Rajiv was already walking towards.
“Do you want some coffee? It is freshly made.”
“No, no!” Rajiv looked at the big coffee pot in the corner, with white plastic cups and a sugar jar sitting next to it.
“My wife said she saw you this week-end!” Rajiv asked, while rubbing his cold hands.
“Yes, I ran into her at the temple!”
“So, you already have met Henna then!”
“Yes, she was there with your wife, on Sunday!”
“yes, she is slowly adapting to this country.”
“Your wife said that she wanted pursue studies!”
“You mean Henna? Yes, she does; but who can afford the tuition in this economy!”
“A lovely young woman. There is something about Gujrati girls, natural beauty!” Hira said admiringly.
“No doubt! Natural beauty!” Rajiv agreed after a very brief pause.
Then, there was an awkward silence for a few seconds. Rajiv tried to drag his chair towards Hira, making a screeching sound in the process! The heavy chair moved only by a few inches.
“So what do you think? Did you give any thought to our discussion from last week?”
“Yes, I have!” Hira replied in a firm tone.
Rajiv waited for Hira to continue, but there was a long pause.
Hira spoke,finally, “Well, she can come over this week-end and I can train her! She needs to learn the American ways, you know! I think she has not left your house since she came from India, so this is going to be a big change!”
“I know, this is not easy for me either. My wife does not even know about it!” Continue reading