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 ~~~~~    BREAKING NEWS     ~~~~~

                                    — a short story

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Rajendra Sharma loved Saturdays. It was the day when he had to work only till 2:30 in the afternoon, at the finance company where he was employed. He usually reached home before the clock struck four. And the best part was – he got to use the PC and access the net without anybody else to fight over who gets to use the PC and for how long. He would not be bothered by his children for now, as they would be still at their respective colleges.

On this 2nd Saturday in February too, Sharma was surfing his favourite news websites, including one site particularly for all the local Mumbai news. One of the pages that he visited was a feature called “Snapshots of City Life“. Sharma was looking at the dozen photos showing yesterday’s life in & around Mumbai. On the 4th picture, he smiled and turned around to tell his wife, “Malati, take a look at this photo. This girl looks very much like Priya
Mrs. Sharma, not happy to miss even a single dialogue of the afternoon movie, walked over from the sofa to the PC.  “What do you mean ‘looks like Priya’ ? She is Priya. You can’t even recognise your own daughter now ?” she frowned.

And then, with the kind of unity that is shown only by Chinese sychronised swimmers, the question mark of suspicion came on both their faces at exactly the same moment.

The photo on the monitor showed an almost deserted B.E.S.T bus-stop shelter. The only inhabitants of the bus-stop were a young boy & girl, presumably taking shelter from the sudden off-season rains that had drenched the city on Friday. The two were sitting close to each other, without space for even a malarial mosquito to pass between them. They were holding each others hands, blissfully unaware of the fact that they were posing for a photograph. The caption below the photo said “A couple try to stay dry, as unseasonal rains hit the city yesterday afternoon

This was not something that the highly orthodox Sharma clan could easily digest. The worried parents were now thinking about how many of their relatives and friends might have already seen that photo.

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Her father opened the door when she rang the bell. On Saturdays, Priyanka looked forward to sitting and chatting with her Dad after college. That was the only day when he arrived home earlier than her. Priya asked her father about his day at work. He mumbled something about it being all right.
That was a little strange. Normally he had a lot of things to tell his elder child, his only daughter. But today his smile also seemed to lack the usual ‘Colgate Total’ shine.
A little later, along with the customary tea & biscuits, came the police-style questions.
Priya knew there was something boiling the moment her father took the role of the interrogator.

“Did you leave college early yesterday ?”
“No. In fact, since it was raining outside, for a change I attended all my lectures”
“Was it still raining, when you left college ?”
“Er … mm,  No.   Huh, I mean, Yes,  a little drizzle was there”

It did not even last the whole 20 questions, before the poor girl broke down and confessed.

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Priyanka and Adarsh had been together since three years, and both their households had not been aware – until now. The fact that both of them had their roots at the opposite ends of India did not help at all, in convincing the two families.

But finally, filial feelings overcame everything else. The Sharma & Menon families warmed up to each other. It was decided that once the children got their MBAs and started their jobs, only then they would be allowed to enter into wedlock.

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Its been more than a year since their grand wedding celebrations. In Adu & Priya’s bedroom, on the wall hangs a framed photograph – a picture of ‘an almost deserted B.E.S.T bus-stop’ – the same photo which had appeared on a website exactly two years ago, on this very day. 

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