The invitation that eludes!

Deben wasn’t surprised when his old colleague Bedanta called him in the morning to ask if he could come do something social. Bedanta told him some time ago that the marriage of his only daughter was approaching and that they must be free to attend on that date. Bedanta was not only a colleague, but also a friend thanks to his long association at work. There were also family interactions on several occasions. His daughter, a sweet girl, was known to both Deben and his wife Anjana. You already discussed it with Anjana so as not to miss that occasion and buy a nice gift in advance. Then he said yes immediately and informed his wife that Bedanta would visit them in the afternoon.

His afternoon nap had become mandatory since his retirement a few months ago. For the past month, he had also been sleeping or lying down during the day due to his traffic accident when his right hand was badly fractured. He still had his right hand in a cast and tied around his shoulders. But that day he decided not to take a nap. Instead, she settled comfortably on the couch with the book she began reading in the morning neatly placed on her lap.

The bell rang around six in the afternoon. As he stood up using his left hand carefully for support and walked towards the front door, Anjana also joined him in the living room. Bedanta was introduced. After an exchange of courtesies and the obligatory question about the progress of his broken hand, they all sat down. Bedanta wore a colored sheath which she delicately placed on the table. Now, Deben was a little surprised or rather amused that Bedanta didn’t get to the topic of the upcoming marriage right away, instead starting a discussion about mundane office and pension matters. Anjana interspersed the discussion with a familiar question or two that elicited responses a little too quick. It seemed a little strange to her that he wasn’t telling her almost anything about the occasion so far.

The discussion showed no signs of a conclusion soon. Anjana was always bored when they discussed office matters. Therefore, he excused himself and went to the kitchen. She was not at all irritated or upset, just bored. In fact, her gesture is considered universal in Indian homes: after welcoming guests and interacting with them for some time, the housewife invariably comes in to make tea or prepare a good meal. This ‘retreat’ is well understood by all types of guests, and so well anticipated by some guests that they chime in with, “No, no! No tea needed … sit down … let’s talk a little more!” However, Bedanta did not show any inclination to avoid his departure at that time. They must also not be disturbed at all. Well until now!

As if waiting for such an opportunity, Bedanta immediately got up and picked up the invitation letter from the table. He offered to make a formal introduction now. His amusement quickly gave way to annoyance. They must have stood up too, reluctantly. Bedanta handed him the invitation, muttering: “Please come …”. Formally receiving the letter, Deben wanted to clarify the occasion by saying ‘What a man! No formalities, please, she’s like our daughter … we’ll definitely be there … “But she stopped in her tracks and never uttered anything like that as her eyes roamed the envelope.

Only his name was written on the cover. Nothing else was written, neither the name of his wife nor the complement “and family.” He was not only surprised now, but deeply shocked. How could he? Anjana knew his daughter even more closely than he did. The budget obligation to limit the guests did not fully apply to Bedanta, because she recently won a healthy retirement package and it was her only child, the only wedding party in the family! Or was it because of a smaller wedding hall that was reserved? With these thoughts running through her mind fiercely, Deben tried to maintain her air of nonchalance as she opened the envelope, pulled out the invitation card, and commented on how beautiful she was. In the back of her mind she knew that still wasn’t a good enough reason to boycott the wedding party. Had to attend because of the old days. The image of Anjana began to haunt him like a specter.

They sat down and resumed their talk, They must now with some reserve. Anjana came in with a tray of tea and sandwiches. They must have tried their best not to have eye contact with her. Bedanta smiled at him as if nothing had happened in the meantime.

Immediately after Bedanta left, Anjana snapped, “What is this? That guy never said a word to me! He didn’t ask me to come even once!”

They must drop the bomb now. “I’m just invited! Not you, sweetie! Take a look at the invitation!”

“Oh my God! What a lousy bet! … Even then … how is it possible?” She broke in concerned and expressed dismay. And suddenly she calmed down, resigned. “Okay … no problem! Your friendship … stay with her … wait!”

“Yes, I will still have to go. And you will have to come with me!”

“Are you crazy? You witnessed how that guy insulted me! You have no respect for your wife, for your life partner?”

“I did, my dear! I’m just as angry, shocked, and irritated as you. But you know it’s your democratic right to decide the guest list. And more importantly, you understand the kind of state I’m in right now.” I’m still an invalid. You must help me and accompany me! At least rest assured that he won’t kick you out after finding you by my side! ”

“Your millions of requests will have no impact on me! I will never see his face again!”

The heated debate went on for a long time. They must even mentioned ‘humane consideration’ for a life partner! At last Anjana seemed to feel sorry for him for his “friend” and his fractured self. She agreed subject to conditions. She stated that she would accompany him to the venue, but that she would wait in the parked car with the driver as company until he returned to attend the wedding. They must know it was their best option and accepted it.

The appointed day happened as planned. Anjana left him at the door of the wedding hall, asked the driver to park the car a little further away, and waited.

They must have tried to be his normal self at the party, but he was very hurt. Bedanta never asked about Anjana even once. She got some comfort from seeing several of her male friends lounging around without their better halves.

There was a hiccup at the end. They must have said goodbye and tried to walk away too fast by pulling out his mobile phone with his left hand. But Bedanta insisted on accompanying him to his car. They must have been shocked imagining what would happen when Bedanta found a face in the car window looking at him vindictively! He couldn’t afford to let it happen. “No, you can’t come … I mean you don’t need to come … please attend to your other guests!”

Without giving him a chance to reply, Deben backed away, forcing even his fractured hand to swing freely.