chapter 9 - superstitions

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Martha new instantly that I was upset, she didn't say anything, she just took the tray from me and gave me a huge hug, holding me tight as the tears that had threatened to fall earlier finally broke free. I was glad to be away from them, especially my mother in law.

She just held me as I sobbed into her shoulder.

They had signed over the hotel, the hotel that was their lifeblood.

Why would they do that?

Even if I could run, find a way to escape, my parents would lose everything.

'shhh Hun, please don't be sad, my my you are the homeliest looking creature when you cry.'

I had to laugh, I am sure that my face was all red and puffy, and I wiped my face with the tissues she handed me.

' Didn't they like the tea?"

' I don't know, they didn't say anything, although Mr Malhotra nearly ate the whole plate of pakoras."

' Then why are you so upset?'

" Its just something to do with my family that I just found out. I'll be ok in a bit, " smiling and putting on my best fake happy face. Mathat wasnt convinced and her faced showed it, but she didnt say anything.

'ok, well guess I better get lunch out, wanna give me a hand?"

Lunch was an a painfully silent affair, we sat there eating, not a word said and I couldn't help but notice how painfully cold their family relationship was, all business.

A pang of pity for Phillip struck me as I remembered my own family, the warmth, the laughter, the banter, how Papa would tease Mumma just to get her annoyed, just so he could coax her into a better mood after.

This felt more like a wake than a family lunch.

True to her word, Martha was an excellent cook, the meal was balanced and tasty - but missing something. Excusing myself I rushed back to the kitchen and grabbed my bottle of chillie flakes, and added a decent sprinkle over my food, the taste lifted instantly.

' Bahuu, pass me some of that." Vimlesh asked as he eyed the bottle of chillie flakes, holding out his hand.

Ignoring his hand, I set the bottle right in front of him, watching as his eyes twinkled and he burst out laughing.

'I didn't think you would be the superstitions type!" he laughed out.

' oh how primitive" Leena exclaimed rolling her eyes.

Phillip looked at all of us with a puzzled look.

' Its considered bad luck to hand someone chilli directly, its supposed to cause the two to fight." I explained to him.

' Oh Phillip, don't forget that the Balaji's are hosting a banquet in two weeks time and since your father and I are not here,I have RSVP's you to go,' she sighed.

" I suppose I will have to add Victoria to that as well. We cannot have you attending a formal function without your wife from now on. What will people think? Please make a good impression on them. Also we have dinner reservations at Logan Browns' tonight."

' Mother, not that place again ! The servings are tiny and each course takes too long!"

'Its a degustation menu and the portions are supposed to be tiny. I've had these reservations booked for months and you promised you would take me!"

' Leena, I agree with Phillip, after all, its Victoria's first official day here and I think I would love to sample more of her cooking, you don't mind cooking do you Victoria? And anyway, isn't that reservation for three people only? I think it would be extremely rude to leave Victoria here by herself."

' Its no trouble at all, I am sure I will be fine." The words flowed out of my mouth easily enough, but inside I was furious.

It was obvious that Leena would not include me in their plans and I was getting very tired of her condescending attitude towards me.

" Vimlesh, this was supposed to be Phillips birthday present for me! You can't not come!"

" I got you that diamond necklace set for your birthday. I've just spent the morning walking around with you for more unnecessary shopping. I've had enough and I am not going anywhere. I resent being towed around like a purse dog while you do your meet and greet thing with the rich and famous. I am tired of all these fancy pants restaurants that you keep dragging me to, I want a home cooked meal! " His voice thundered across the courtyard and everyone sat in silence and shock.

Vimlesh Malhotra was not a man to normally raise his voice but when he did his word was final.

" Phillip, its ok, I don't mind, after all,' I said as sweetly as I possibly could, looking straight at my mother in law, ' my dearest Sasur ( father in law) has asked me so nicely to make him a meal, and isn't it traditional for the new Bahuu to cook something on her first day at her marital house ? It will be an honour to cook for your father, and an honour to our culture."

I couldn't help but feel self satisfied at the dirty look Leena shot me but at least for the now she had nothing more to say.

' Well that settles it then! Victoria will cook me dinner and you two can eat at that fancy pants restaurant." Vimlesh said.

We finished lunch in silence and for a moment I enjoyed my little win.

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