“Haresh, mind your feet! Don’t trample on the leaves!”
Haresh sighed and wiped a rose bud out of his face. He watched as Gita heaved another tall plant, the name of which he didn’t know, into the back of the van. Haresh had been helping to carry the plants, but Gita had soon stopped him after he turned out to have been carrying the wrong ones - not that Haresh could tell the difference. They were all big and green and leafy and were interrupting his peaceful Friday morning. So he was confined to the extremely-important role of supervising the van while Gita loaded it up. He tutted and looked at his watch.
“Gita, we should probably be going now. If we want to make it to that trade fair, we have to go within the next five minutes-”
“Oh, Haresh, you really must stop worrying, my love,” Gita replied, rushing past him with two hydrangeas in her hands. “We have plenty of time. Go get in the van, I’ll just grab the last dahlias.” She patted him on the back and pushed him towards the van. Haresh sighed reluctantly and sat down in the passenger seat. Why, oh why, was his wife dragging him all the way to Lancaster for the weekend? These trade fairs were always a waste of time, Gita spent more on petrol getting to them than she got back from flower sales. And why was Haresh needed?
He turned on the radio to take his mind off things. The classical music wafted through the car, and immediately Haresh felt soothed. He tried to think about what piece this was. Adagio in G Minor? Divenire?
“Right! Oh, Haresh, what are you listening to?”
The piece was cut short before Haresh could work out what it was, as Gita fiddled with the button.
“Gita! I was listening to that,” he complained.
“Now now, Haresh, you don’t want to listen to that nonsense,” Gita dismissed him. “I actually made a CD for us to listen to on the way. I think you’ll love it. Seatbelt, my darling! Come on!”
Gita’s husband clicked his seatbelt into place as Gita fed the disc into the car. As the chords started, Haresh let out a groan of disapproval. Gita started to sing along.
“La, la, la! When you’re feeling sad and low…”
Dear God, Haresh thought to himself. Five-and-a-half hours of the Spice Girls’ greatest hits. This would be torture.
And suddenly, it came to him: the name of the classical piece that had been playing. That famous Bach composition.
Come, Sweet Death.
Gita’s head-bopping was getting frustrating. As was her loud and out-of-tune singing, over the top of the already ear-splittingly loud music blasting from the speakers. Haresh had started giving the cars driving past apologetic looks, but had long since stopped that, since there were far too many on this motorway.
“Sooooooo, here’s a story from A to Z, you wanna get with me you better buy from Bloomin’ Lovely. Oh! Haresh! That should be our catchphrase. Just thought of that on the spot. I should be a songwriter, don’t you think? Anyway, here’s the plan. I’ll stand by the stall, and you can walk round and sing that to everyone. What do you think?”
“I will not be singing the Spice Girls, or anything for that matter,” Haresh replied curtly.
Gita leaned over to him. “You are too boring, my darling. You need to learn to let yourself go every once in awhile, forget the stress and just - IF YOU WANNA BE MY LOVER!”
Gita found herself unable to listen to the chorus without joining in, yelling the words at the top of her lungs. Haresh sighed. What he really wanted, what he really really wanted? To get out of this bloody van.
Gita turned to face him, mouthing the lyrics to him in an over-the-top fashion.
“Eyes on the road Gita!” Haresh yelled, as he clung to the door handle in fear. He’d been a victim of Gita’s careless driving before and didn’t want a repeat of that. Thankfully, that time Gita had been driving on a relatively empty road and had only scared the living daylights out of Haresh as she had drifted onto the wrong side of the road to the tune of Relight My Fire by Take That. This time, they were on a busy motorway, and Gita needed to be paying attention.
“Oh, really Haresh, you do worry too much for your own good. You should quit your job and become a professional worrier.”
“How much longer is this drive?” Haresh moaned.
“Only four and a half hours, my darling,” Gita smiled cheerfully. “Get the map out, Haresh.”
Sighing, Haresh reached into the glove compartment and pulled out a large folded map. “Bloody map, what is this? The 1990s? Nobody uses maps anymore.”
“Now, you know why we use maps, don't you, Haresh?” Gita pointed out.
Haresh silently nodded.
“Because what did you do to the satnav on the way to Plymouth?”
“I had an argument with it.”
“And then I broke it.”
“And then we ended up in Cardiff.”
“Exactly. Map, please, Haresh.”
Haresh tried to pinpoint exactly where they were, and work out the route they needed to take.
“Turn off at the next junction, Gita.”
“Are you sure? We don't want a repeat of last time-”
“Yes I'm sure!” Haresh snapped.
Gita harrumphed. “How very rude. I was only making sure. Fine then.” And she swerved to the left, turning off the motorway. “Junction 12.”
“What?” Haresh looked up from his map. “No, Junction 7.”
“Junction 7 was miles back, my darling. Are you telling me we've got the wrong exit?”
Oops, Haresh thought. It was clear that he had made a slight boo boo.
“Why is that car honking? What good is honking going to do? Oh, we weren't able to move but now you've beeped your horn loudly, the traffic has suddenly cleared and we're free!”
“Stop whinging, Haresh.”
“But what’s the point of-”
“Haresh!” Gita snapped.
Haresh was not expecting this response from Gita. It was clear she had reached the end of her tether, what with being stuck in a traffic jam for the past hour and a half. The two of them sat in silence, sour expressions on their faces, until Gita piped up again.
“This is your fault, you know.”
“How is it my-”
“Who was it who made us miss the turning?”
“Well, in my defence, if you had checked the route beforehand, then-”
“And who was it who then directed me onto the wrong motorway?”
“Yes, okay, I take responsibility for-”
“And who was it who jumped a red light?”
“That one was you, actually, Gita.”
“Yes, but it was your fault.”
“How was that my fault?!”
“Don’t argue with me, Haresh, I’ve had a very stressful day!”
Haresh had to refrain from bashing his head against the window. Being stuck in a hot car in a traffic jam was hell. Being stuck in a hot car in a traffic jam with Gita sat next to you was ten times worse.
“Oh well,” Gita sighed. “I suppose now is as good a time as ever to eat my mid-journey sandwiches. Haresh, where is my lunchbox?”
Haresh looked behind him at the small transparent tub, resting quietly on the back seat. He weighed up his options: he could tell Gita to get it herself, or he could remain alive. He sighed disappointedly. This wasn’t going to do much for his dignity. He unbuckled his seatbelt and twisted his body round, falling out of the seat awkwardly. Now sprawled between the front and the back, he clawed his way over to the backseat.
Suddenly, Gita’s face lit up as she saw a path clear in front of her. She slapped Haresh’s leg (which was frantically kicking in the air) as she lifted the handbrake.
“Haresh! Out of the way! We’re moving my darling!”
But poor Haresh didn’t have time to move before the van jolted off, throwing him around on the backseat. He bit down a yelp as his knee whacked the arm rest.
And then the van stopped again.
“There we are! A solid one-and-a-half metres. We’ll be out of here in no time, my darling!” Gita proclaimed proudly. “Now, what happened to that Spice Girls CD?”
Groaning, Haresh flailed for the lunchbox, which was just too far out of his reach. The only positive thing about Gita eating was that she wasn’t talking.
“When does the trade fair start?” Gita asked.
Haresh looked at his watch sullenly. “Two hours ago.”
Sarah Jane lugged her shopping bags through her front door as she noticed the Bloomin’ Lovely van pull up on the drive opposite. She waved cheerily as two grumpy Chandras stepped out. Haresh’s hair was in a state, and Gita had bags under her eyes. Sarah Jane was surprised; when she’d seen them that morning they’d both been very cheery - well, Gita had been cheery. Haresh had been not-too-intolerant.
“Hello there! Back from the trade fair early?”
Gita rushed over in a panicked state. “We didn’t make it in the end. Oh, Sarah, you will not believe the day we’ve had.”
Sarah Jane, anxious about the possibility of having to endure a Gita monologue, looked desperately to Haresh for assistance, her eyes screaming help-me-please.
But Haresh turned to her with a tired smile, and whispered, “your turn”.
Bloomin' Lovely returns next week with The Husband...