One Night More

One Night More

By about five in the evening, a strange uneasiness began to seep into the minds of Radha, Gayathri and Kalyani. Radha was at her athai’s, her dad’s sister’s house at Trichy, over a long weekend. Radha and her twin cousins, Gayathri and Kalyani, were having the time of their lives, laughing, playing and sharing things that brought much joy to their teenaged minds and hearts that they didn’t realise how the Saturday and Sunday had flown and it was already time for Radha to leave along with her parents to Madras. The three girls sat quietly on the porch outside staring at the cycles that occasionally passed by their house. “If I had the choice, I would stay back, like forever,” sighed Radha, at which both Gayathri and Kalyani turned to look at their dear cousin’s face with moist eyes. They didn’t want her to go this Sunday night. They didn’t want the fun to end so soon.

“Wish mama and mami would consider changing their minds. Shall I speak to them?” asked Gayathri pensively, starting to get up from her place on the porch, when Kalyani pulled her by the hand and shook her head, “Don’t act too smart. You know they aren’t going to listen.” Radha wished that all three of them could go and convince her parents, somehow. But she also knew that her father was not the kind who changed his mind easily. If anything, she would be met with a stern “No” in his deep, booming voice and an even sterner look that could send her cowering to a corner.

Kalyani had an idea. “Let’s stop sulking, girls, and spend whatever is left of our time together more meaningfully,” she declared. And in a minute, she ran into the house and came back with her grandfather’s Philips portable transistor. “Let’s tune in and listen to some wonderful Illayaraja music,” she suggested. “Before they call us for dinner and it’s time for Radha to leave,” she added in a somewhat subdued tone. “Yes,” chorused Radha and Gayathri. Soon beautiful Tamil songs from the 80s including the latest hits began playing on the radio. The girls, in no time, immersed themselves in the music that flooded their beings, forgetting that they had little or no chance at all in defying their parents’ choices in matters both big and small.

As they laughed and danced around, swaying gently like slender tree branches in the breeze, the sky had turned from a mellow orange to a deep bluish-black. Soon they heard Radha’s mother’s voice in the background. “Gayathri, Kalyani, Radha…” she called out, “come over for dinner.” Gayathri reluctantly turned the radio off and began heading inside. Kalyani and Radha followed her with sullen faces.

“And oh, Radha…”  began Radha’s mother. She paused as the girls looked on expectantly. “Guess what…” she paused again, this time the silence really pushing them to the edge of their patience. “Here’s something for you to rejoice. Appa has sudden plans to meet his school friends tomorrow, so we aren’t leaving tonight. We will take the bus tomorrow night instead,” she announced with a smile playing on her lips. Radha shrieked in delight and Kalyani and Gayathri pounced and wrapped her in their embrace. The change of plan meant a night plus a day more of fun.  “Unbelievable!” cried Radha in joy as her cousins laughed out loud. A small choice that somebody else made had made all the difference to three girls, ushering in a world of unmatched joy.

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