The Arrangement

By: P.G. Van

“Niha… there you are. I was looking for you.” Naani smiled.

“I was…” her words stumbled when she noticed the young woman was looking at her intently.

“Niha, this is Radha. Her grandfather and Mahen’s grandfather grew up together. She’s here to meet Mahen.”

“Hello.” Niha smiled, sitting in the chair next to Naani.

“Hi, Niha. I’m Radha and… why do I feel like we have met before?” The woman’s words sent chills through her, but her jealousy still burned brightly.

“I get that a lot. I have very common features. Big eyes, the nose, and cheekbones.” It was the statement she had been using lately with anyone who seemed to recognize her from her past life.

Naani spoke before Radha could say something. “Niha, I told you not to say that. You’re beautiful, and your features are unique.”

“Thanks, Naani. Radha, would you like something to drink?”

“I’m fine. I already had my black coffee.” The woman widened her lipstick-stained lips into a sweet smile.

The woman was pretty, well dressed, and seemed kind, but Niha could not stand the very sight of her. The idea of her holding Naani’s hand, and the fact that she could be Mahen’s potential bride did not sit well with Niha. The woman was dressed traditionally, making Niha feel like she was dressed shabbily.

“Excuse me,” Niha said, smiling at the two women, and stood up to walk away from there to sort out her thoughts.

“Niha, take Radha to Mahen’s office. She’s here for a meeting with him.” Naani’s words made her stop, and something clenched in her chest. She wanted to scream and say, No, I don’t want to , but she bit her tongue and nodded.

“Mrs. Rayudu, it was a pleasure meeting you in person. Daddy always has such nice things to say about you. I’ll see you on my way out.” Radha smiled, and Niha had the feeling that something was crawling on her skin.

Niha silently led Radha up the stairs to Mahen’s office, and it annoyed her that the woman managed to maintain her elegance even when she took the stairs, wearing a saree, in spite of her city upbringing.

Niha stopped just before the glass doors and looked at Radha. “This is his office.”

“Thank you. I’m sorry I didn’t catch your name.” Radha sounded apologetic, but it only annoyed Niha further.


Radha glanced in Mahen’s direction and looked back at Niha. “Looks like he’s wrapping up his meeting. I can wait here for him.”

“Okay,” Niha said and started walking away. After walking a few feet, she turned to look at the woman and saw the woman adjust her saree so that a part of her waist was visible. The sight in front of her sent her a series of ideas, and every one of them were not rational, but it was too late. She was fixated on executing them.

Ten minutes later, she stepped out of her room wearing the same saree she had worn to dinner with Mahen a few days ago—the one he had complimented her on and stepped back into the kitchen.

“You changed?” Naani raised a curious eyebrow.

“Yes, something fell on that dress and all other clothes need to be laundered.”

“Good. Sarees suit you the best, you look lovely,” Naani said, and Niha sat next to her, putting her arms around the older woman. Niha had unsettled emotions and was feeling anxious about the fact that Radha was in Mahen’s office talking to him.

“Thank you, Naani. I’m starting to enjoy wearing sarees.” The sarees Niha had worn in the past were stitched outfits she wore for movie shoots with no wrapping or pleating of the fabric.

“What do you think of Radha?” Naani asked in a hushed voice.

Niha didn’t like the sound of it at all. “I barely talked to her. I don’t know.”

Naani smiled. “Her father is interested in arranging a marriage between Radha and Mahen and hand over all of his businesses to his future son-in-law to run. She’s here under the cover-up of a meeting so that Mahen can meet her.”

“Oh. Why does she have to pretend?”

Naani shook her head. “I want this boy to be married, and he won’t even let me bring up the topic, so I had to invite her home to meet him.”

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