Happy New Year!
Can you believe 2019 is gone and we have moved on to a new year. Incredible.
I wish you and your family and loved ones the best for 2020.
I have a lot going on right now and I can’t wait to tell you. I have my planners ready and I am charting my life for the next year. I did so last year, but this year we’re a little better.
You didn’t log on to hear me rant about the 2020, so let’s get to the story.
Over my Christmas holiday I began writing the next two chapters for Loving Autumn. I hope you enjoy it.
“You know, Autumn, when we started dating, I knew we would be happy together. But, I never pictured you, Charlie and me.”
“I know. Me neither; I just thought about that. I hope Charlie remains my best friend when it ends. Of course, not sure if his girlfriend will appreciate the relationship we had. What if we keep the relationship we have?”
“Is that what you really want?”
“I’ve never really thought about it. It never seemed like an option.”
“We wouldn’t be able to live here. Would we even live together? How would it even work?”
“Never thought that far. Are you okay with that? I don’t know how it would work or what to make of it. But no, we couldn’t bring that lifestyle here.”
“I’m not sure. I wouldn’t want to, but I also want to please you. Have you spoken to Charlie since last night?”
“No, he just texted me that he was going for another job.”
“So, I’ve got you to myself this week?”
“Absolutely. Maybe even longer, he’s out of the country on some freelance assignment.”
“I didn’t see an overnight bag.”
“I still have some things here. But I was going home tomorrow. Don’t want to overstay my welcome. You’re father already hates me.”
“He doesn’t hate you; he doesn’t know you and how brilliant you are. Don’t worry; when we have kids, he’ll love you.” Autumn didn’t reply; she just rolled her eyes.
“Raja, dinner is ready, bring Autumn.”
“Gi, Mom, be right down. Let’s go, Autumn. Dad doesn’t like for us to keep him waiting for dinner.”
“Can’t you just bring a plate for me?”
“You know the deal; you’re here; we eat with the family.”
Raj pulled me up off the bed, and we walked to the staircase together. Before we descended, he turned me to him and kissed my lips gently. “Autumn, don’t let my father upset you. I love you, and we are planning a life together.”
I smiled. I knew Raj meant well, but I had watched enough Bollywood movies and talked to enough Indian people to know that if his dad didn’t support us as a couple, it was an uphill battle that is near impossible to climb. I sighed as we descended the stairs and walked to the kitchen.
Mr. Arya addressed Raj first. “Raj, I hope you don’t mind. I invited Rhea to stay for dinner.”
Raj’s response was to pull me from behind him.
“Autumn, I didn’t know you were here.”
I smiled before giving him the evil eye. He knew I was here. The whole house knows when there are visitors, or the family members come in one by one. Mom patted my shoulder as she walked past whispering, ‘don’t let him get to.’ Easier said than done, I thought. Mr. Arya always said things that got under my skin. This wasn’t my first family dinner, and if I want to be with Raj, this won’t be the last.
“Yes, well, you know now.” We walked to the large dining room table. My seat isn’t as stable at this table due to my infrequent visits.
“Autumn sit next to Raj.”
“Thank you, mom,” I reply as I follow Raj’s lead to sit me next to him.
“So you call Riya, mom now. Your getting quite comfortable here, aren’t you?”
“Varun, leave the girl. You pester her enough.”
“Yeah, well, let’s eat.”
Dinner at the Arya’s is always delicious and eventful. I get to hear about Arjun’s day and what’s going on at the office of Mr. Arya. I prefer that then the chiding he seems to enjoy. I’m quiet for most of the banter between the sons and their parents. Even Arjun’s wife has learned to avoid being part of the discussion until she’s asked. The dinner table is Mr. Arya’s forum to keep track of his children’s lives and to instill his opinion. We don’t join in unless asked. Better to avoid arguments than hear what Mr. Arya thinks you should do or where you should work because of your gifts or there lack.
Dinner is going well until Mr. Arya remembers I’m there. “So Rhea, when are you and Raj going to get together? I always thought you made a good couple. Then, of course, Arjun married Anjeli. I thought it would be Raj and Rhea.”
I stare at him in disbelief, but I say nothing. I want to hear how this plays out. I look at Rhea, and she’s beaming. I try not to show how the question upsets me.
“Dad, I will not be going out with Rhea. In fact, we will not go out ever again. Rhea and I aren’t a match at all. I don’t pick my ladies because their name sounds good with mine.”
Mr. Arya looks at Rhea in disbelief. He avoids looking at me, but his face settles into a smirk after he asks, “And why not Raj? I thought you two got along wonderfully.”
“Dad, I’m with Autumn.”
“So, how long can you two possibly last. After all, it’s been a year, and I’ve heard no plans for a future.”
“That’s because we weren’t ready to talk about it.”
I hear a ‘yes’ from Raj’s mom. I smile as I look at Mr. Arya, and the reaction on his face is priceless. I wonder if he’s going to fake a heart attack like when Raj brought me home.
“Do you plan on getting married?” Mr. Arya asks in disbelief.
“Yes, dad. And I would like you and mom’s blessing, of course. We still need to set the engagement date.”
I decide it’s a perfect time to chime in. “I understand that your Pundit needs to set the date after looking at my chart. My mom said that she would make a copy and send it to me.” Mr. Arya just stares at Raj and I. It seems that he is speechless and trying to figure out what to say.
Rhea takes the opportunity of silence to chime in. “Raj, I can’t say I’m happy for you, but good luck. Mr. Arya, please don’t involve me trying to break up Raj and Autumn again. I need to focus on the prospects my parents have selected.” And with that, she nods towards each person and the table and excuses herself to leave. I smile — one win for me.
“So you plan to marry her? And where do you plan on living with your non-Indian girlfriend.”
“What, Riya? Should we take in someone else?”
“Varun, you can’t be serious. You’re going to separate me from my son and future grandchildren.”
“Riya, let’s not jump ahead of ourselves. The Pundit will review her birth chart, and then we will go forward.”
“Fine, your son and his love will stay.”
Oh no, I thought. Is Raj going to ruin the moment? We just gained a stride.
“We’re not sure we want to live here.”
“Oh, really, and where would you go. You complain her apartment is too small and run back home every other day when you’re there.”
I smile. Varun is messing with me. If Raj wants to stay and his mom wants him here, there is nothing he could do. I start to see that Mr. Arya isn’t the man of iron; he wants me to believe. His wife and children control it all. He just talks a good game. I keep watching the silent interaction between Mr. and Mrs. Arya. Then I look at Arjun, and he winks and smiles at me. The family has accepted me. Cool, I mutter out loud as I sit back in my seat and smile.
Now, what am I going to do about Charlie?
Until next week. Peace and Love