Benign Flame: Saga of Love (Enriched Edition) (Part 4, page 1 of 10)

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Part 4

It was a two-storied building in a by-lane of Chikkadapally, a rather congested locality in Hyderabad. Its owner, Padmavathi, was a widow in her early fifties. She let out much of the space to bachelors ‘to augment her pension’ as she was wont to maintain.

“Being elsewhere all the while, bachelors are a better bet for they cause much little wear and tear,” she would aver.

Her tenants, for their part, showed an unmistakable preference for her dwelling. With both her daughters married off, and with no one at home, she rarely left the reclining chair in the portico.

“The rent includes watch and ward for the lady doubles up for a watchdog,” the lodgers joked amongst themselves.

And for her part, Padmavathi made it clear to them all that she would suffer none of any nonsense. Though she used to aver that all boys were equally dear to her, she was partial towards Sathyam, her tenant for well over six years. While believing that Sathyam was sincere by nature she felt that others were only behaving not to risk eviction.

Having been held up at his desk in the Sate Secretariat that evening, Sathyam was late in coming to his lodging. Not finding Padmavathi in the portico, he was a little surprised. As he went up, he found an inland letter in the door latch. Realizing that it was from his father, he hastened into his room, and even as he started reading it again, he heard footsteps on the stairs.

‘Oh, she’s coming up; how she craves for news and gathers it as a rag picker would collect rubbish from all corners!’ he thought indignantly.

“What writes Pathrudugaru?” she said panting slightly.

“Usual stuff; we’re Ok, are you Ok?” he replied dryly.

“It’s time you got married,” she said zeroing on the subject matter of his father’s letter, as if on cue.

“He says there’s a match,” he replied reflexively.

“One should get married when still young,” she said, and added as though to justify her plain features. “But do remember the old adage; a lovely wife brings in anxiety for she attracts all and sundry.”

Having given him a bit of her mind, as she left abruptly, as though she were already late for airing the news, Sathyam read the appetizing portion of his father’s letter once again:

‘We all feel there is a suitable match for you. The girl is Ramaiahgaru’s youngest daughter. He works at the Head Post Office here, and is my friend’s colleague. We are all impressed with their family and our astrologer says both your horoscopes match to the tee. Moreover, the girl is very beautiful. If you like her, I would be done with my duty. After all, it’s time you got married. Take leave for a week and come as early as you can. Your mother wants you to spend some time with us.’

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