Read Chapter 6 here
Sunday dawned bright and sunny. After a hectic and an emotionally stressful week, Tara decided to laze around in bed for slightly longer than usual. She looked at her bedside clock and realized she just had an hour before the Marie Claire photographer showed up. Thinking of Jennifer, Tara remembered the tattoo and a feeling of foreboding returned. She forced herself to take her mind of it and realized Shekhar was already up and about, with the sounds coming from the kitchen. She could hear her darling daughter’s squeals as she dropped yet another magnet on the floor.
She got up and went to the kitchen and an adorable mess greeted her sight. Shekhar was on the floor with Roohi on his back, saying, ‘horsey, move’. Hating herself for it, Tara asked both of them firmly to please clean up the mess and to get ready for the photographer. Everything had to be perfect. Shekhar tried imitating a neigh which resulted in Roohi dissolving in a fit of giggles.
An hour later the doorbell rang and Tara greeted Jennifer. Jennifer was awed by the meticulous house. She realized that the house was far bigger than she had imagined it to be and to have such an apartment, overlooking the sea has to quite an expenditure. The front door opened to the entry hallway which was decorated with a Venetian mirror and a vintage wooden table underneath it. Beyond the hallway was a huge living room where there was a set of beige leather couches and a glass coffee table and the entrance to the balcony. Next to the area was the TV section where Tara had put up a pair of lazy boys. Ah! What wouldn't Jennifer give to sit on one of them. She saw the eight seater dining table with high backed chairs. To the left of the dining area, Jennifer could see a bit of the guest room which was converted into a study and to the right she could see two bedrooms. Behind it were the kitchen and a small prayer room.
The house was perfect just like the woman standing in front of her with not even a hair strand out of place. Jennifer realized this is what she wanted to achieve in her life and imagined Tara to be her mentor and helping her through the tough times. But little did Jennifer know, Tara had a hard exterior and she had never let anyone come close to her. Except, maybe, Shekhar.
Tara in the meanwhile had followed Jennifer into the living room and could not help but discreetly look at the tattoo trying to confirm that it was the same one. She didn't want to. Tara forced a smile as Jennifer turned to her and asked her if she could please get a glass of water and if it was okay for her to start assembling her equipment. Tara said, ‘Right away’ as she walked towards the kitchen hoping she didn't give away too much by glancing at her wrist again.
Shekhar and Roohi were trying to make a cake amidst laughter and Roohi was content just licking the batter off the spatula. Anger suddenly boiled inside her and Tara surprised herself by snapping at them, ‘Can you guys stop it? There is a guest in this house. I feel I have two children instead of one’. A stunned silence greeted her and she busied herself with water. Jennifer’s voice came floating in saying, ‘It is completely fine ma’am. A little laughter has never hurt anybody and God knows I need it after staying alone.’
The photo session finally began with Tara sitting in the study and in the balcony. Jennifer then instructed her to go change into something a little more casual for the rest of the photographs. Alone, Jennifer started to look at the framed pictures hanging on a wall in an artistic collage. She saw Tara during her graduation ceremony, young and beautiful, sharing a laugh with her friends, saw a picture of her and Shekhar when they had just started dating, saw the wedding and engagement photos. Jenny was brought back from her reverie when she heard a voice behind her. ‘Hi I am Shekhar. Tara’s husband’. Jennifer saw a short balding (premature?) man with the smile as in the photo on the wall. ‘Hi I am Jennifer Joseph. Photographer from Marie Claire. I am here to do get an interview with successful women and your wife is one of them. Sorry to spoil your Sunday. But tell me, how do you live with such a beautiful and a successful lady? The men I know would get intimidated. Don’t you?’ Shekhar smiled and replied, ‘If you were given this project a few years back, then Tara’s name would have not featured in your list.’ ‘Why?’ a perplexed Jennifer asked. Shekhar replied, ‘when we got married, she was just a small medial professional running some errands. Now with her rise to the top, I am extremely proud of her, not that I wasn't back then as well. I hope nothing jinxes her career path’. Even though she knew Shekhar meant it in a good way, Jennifer could not help but feel slightly confused and out of sorts with his statement.
Tara finally returned to the room dressed in skinny jeans and peach coloured top with her daughter in tow who was looking adorable with her hair done up in a ponytail and a sleeveless dress with red strawberries. Jennifer then instructed them for the poses and started taking the family photos.
An hour later, they were finally done and sat down for coffee and Jennifer started asking questions about her background, ‘So your husband tells me that you have risen to the top thanks to your hard work. How does a successful woman like you juggle home and work life?’ Tara replied, ‘When I was lowly media personnel, I used to do a lot of administration and miscellaneous work which the big wigs couldn’t be bothered with. It was then I had decided to work as hard as I possibly could and did not let, and I still don’t, let anything come between me and my career. Yes, handling work and home is difficult at times but I try my best to be successful at both.’ They heard a snort come in from Shekhar’s direction which he immediately turned into a cough. After a couple of more questions, Jennifer got up and thanked the couple. She bid farewell to Roohi clicking a snap of her trying to sit on the lazy boy. As Jennifer turned to shut the door she saw Roohi hanging on to her father’s leg asking for ice cream (‘little brat’, Jennifer smiled to herself) and looked over at Tara who was quiet and staring into space.
Curious about Chapter 8, aren't ya? Read it here!