Sunita Marathe had been through a lot and her son was not helping with the situation. At all.
After her husband, Arnav, had passed away, drinking himself to death, she had no idea what to do with life. With a teenage son, no job, no future prospects and no real skills, besides being the wife of a disgraced man, she felt that killing herself would be better.
Her neighbours, Rohini and Prabhu Srikar, had come to her rescue. Prabhu gave her a job in his coaching academy as a receptionist and helped her pay for Raghav’s school and college education. Rohini supported her throughout the ordeal and became her emotional crutch.
Sunita owed them a debt. A debt that had to be paid by Raghav. She watched him devour chapatis and baingan bharta while reading on the side.
‘Raghav, listen. Put the book away for a while and talk to me.’
Raghav sighed, folded the corner of the page he was reading and shut the book. Without looking at her, he continued gulping down his food.
Sunita took his book, opened the page, undid the fold and closed it again. ‘I told you I don’t like you doing that to books. Treat them nicely.’
Raghav rolled his eyes. ‘What will I do in Delhi?’ Sunita brightened up a little. She knew that her son had actually enjoyed working on Prabhu Srikar’s election campaign.
He had helped the RJM draft Srikar’s speeches without getting any real credit for it. But even he knew that their little family owed Srikar everything. ‘See, you are the only person around who can write proper
English. Srikarji will value your skills. He will find some use for you in Delhi,’ she said, scooping some more bharta into his plate.
Raghav chewed slowly, thinking. ‘But I don’t know anything about Parliament. Why would he keep me?’ ‘Do you think even Prabhuji knows anything about Parliament?’ she chuckled.
‘Rohini was telling me how he’s so nervous about the whole job. Both of them have no clue what an MP is supposed to do in that big round building.’ She saw her son’s eyes glow a little. ‘Really?’
‘Really. I feel you can help him understand his work better. I think having a familiar face around would be good for Srikarji.
You know what a gentle soul he is.’ ‘But he doesn’t even know me...’ ‘Wait.’ Sunita got up, walked over to retrieve her mobile phone and made a call.
‘Namaste Rohiniji... I saw you on TV, this is such a proud moment for all of us... Yes, yes ... I wanted to meet you... Raghav is interested in helping Prabhuji with his work in Delhi...’ Raghav got up and rushed to his mother. ‘Maa, what are you doing!? I haven’t said yes!’
She shooed him away. ‘Yes, yes... We’ll both drop by in the evening... Oh, there’s a party? All right ... no, no, we don’t want to intrude...you’re big people now...all right, we’ll come... See you in the evening.’ Sunita disconnected the call and looked at Raghav.
‘Iron your kurta. The one you wore for your graduation. We’ve to go to their house in the evening and you are going to make a good impression on them.’
Raghav just stared at her, confused and secretly, a wee bit excited.
‘...And shave that disgusting beard off. You look like your dad,’ she said, fussing about cleaning the dining table.
‘Everyone hates your dad,’ she mumbled after a short pause.
Excerpted from Parliamental by Meghnad S, with permission from HarperCollins Publishers India