Though Malavika was against this custom of Pennukaanal Chadangu (the prospective groom coming along with an army of family and friends to see and assess the prospective bride), she gave in to her parents wishes and agreed to it. So there she was dressed in a peacock blue saree, draped perfectly over her curvaceous body. Dressed to kill as they say. She went by slowly offering tea to the elders of the boy’s family before she reached him. As she stood there offering the cup of tea to Ramesh, she chanced upon the unusual tattoo on his neck. She had seen that tattoo before! If only she could remember where.
It’s been hours after they left and Malavika was still desperately trying to remember when and where had she seen the tattoo.
As she tossed and turned sleeplessly on the bed, the tattoo became clearer and clearer in her mind. She tried hard to remember but to no avail and it was hours before she finally fell asleep.
It was almost a fortnight and there were talks going on between the two families. In between Ramesh had started talking to Malavika for hours everyday. She found him absolutely fitting into her concept of a life partner.
It was almost a month and Acha finally asked her to give her opinion about the alliance.
“What’s your take Maalloo? Are you okay with this alliance? How do you find Ramesh? Think about it carefully and let me know in a day or two as they are waiting for our revert.”
They had the most beautiful relationship that a father and daughter could have. Yet something stopped Maalloo from sharing her concern about the tattoo with Acha. She could have asked Ramesh directly but didn’t want to embarrass him. She finally decides to let go and showed the green signal to Acha.
The preparation for the engagement was in full swing. Just two days were left for the big day and Maalloo along with her best friend Priya went to the boutique to try the dress she had given for stitching. In the bus, as she stood behind Priya and was engrossed in her chit-chat, she felt something around her hips and as she turned around, she saw a shabby young man smiling wickedly. The second time it happened, she turned around and slapped him as hard as she could and that alerted the crowd in the bus. The man quickly jumped out of the running bus. She was clearly upset at what happened when Ramesh’s number flashed on her phone screen.
She told him about the incident and was agitated at his casual response to it.
“It happens to almost every girl travelling in a public transport in our country. You girls must be used to such incidents. Why do you take it to your heart? It’s just another one to add to the many you would have already experienced.“
And he started laughing hard. She never expected such a response from Ramesh and was fuming with anger.
That night as she lay half asleep, she was reminded of an episode that happened years back while she was in school. Along with two boys, she was the only girl selected from her school for the Inter-School Science Fair exhibition and competition. It was the finals and it was on a Saturday, and an off for the school where the exhibition was held. There were only the participants, a few teachers and the principal in the compound waiting for the judges to arrive anytime now. She had gone to the washroom and was on her way back when suddenly she was pulled into a classroom and a masked boy in school uniform had poured ink all over her face and her white uniform. He then tied her hands to a bench and declared, “I and only I must win this competition. How dare you even dream of it, you crazy girl!”
She woke up panting for breath. Yes. That tattoo on the neck, it was him. She replayed the scenes in her mind again and again to ensure it was the same tattoo. With trembling hands she opened the briefcase that had all her school certificates, report cards, photographs and amidst all lay the newspaper. She was praying hard, as she took out the newspaper and opened it. And there she saw the name in bold black letters, RAMESH NAMBIAR beneath the photograph of the boy with the tattoo on his neck.
This time your entry must contain, ‘He/She had seen that tattoo before! If only he/she could remember where.’
This is a fictional story and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.