Wishing all of you a very happy new year!! Its pretty late in the day but I was held up in shifting to a new house and all the packing and unpacking left me with little energy to write. Now all settled in my new house, I intend to keep up my new year resolution of being more regular in writing. God willing.
A small recap of the story so far in My Wedding Story – My Wedding Story , as the title says, is the story of my wedding which was arranged by my parents. This is just a record of what I experienced during the whole process of horoscope matching, picture exchange, email chat and finally one -on-one meeting which is technically called the “Girl-seeing event”. You can read the earlier chapters here,here and here.
The world of arranged marriages(AM) has its own vocabulary. Some new, some derived and some translated , literally. Say, for example, a boy in the normal course of language means a male who is less than 18 years of age. But in the AM jargon, a boy implies an unmarried male looking for a bride , irrespective of the age. This “girl -seeing” event is also one such event which has been literally translated from the tamil “ponnu paarkkal”. Traditionally, this is when a the prospective groom’s friends and relatives land up in the girl’s house to see the girl. ( Remember the initial scenes from the movie “Roja”, where the hero comes to a village to see a girl). They are served with some snacks and coffee. The coffee is served by the girl to the relatives and sometimes she is even asked to sing. Then the boy decides whether he likes the girl or not. The girl’s opinion was usually not taken. Thankfully it is not so these days.
Today was my first “girl-seeing” event. First of many but thankfully not traditonal. The guy’s parents were meeting me at my office lobby and I wont be serving coffee. The pantry boys will take care of that. So, after a surprisingly good night’s sleep (I didnt expect any , after my dad’s call the previous night), I woke up to the sound of my mobile phone ringing. I picked it up and said, “Good morning, Ma”. I knew it would be her call and it was. More of one sided conversation studded with do’s and dont’s. Suddenly she suggested I wear a sari. I threatened to go on sick leave. She left it at that. The call ended with my assurance that I will be at my best behaviour.
I reached my office earlier than usual despite taking more than my usual time to get dressed. I was restless and apprehensive the whole day. Never the one to miss anything even remotely out of ordinary, my immediate boss , G asked ,” Whatsup Gayathri? You look different today and you are restless. All well? “. I just nodded in reply and brought her attention back to the banker about whom we were discussing. Back from G’s cabin, I sat down to draft a reply to the queries raised by the banker about whom we were discussing earlier. This took my mind off from the impending meeting. After going to and fro between me and G, the draft was ready for the final version. It was 4 o’clock and in another half an hour, they would be here. My stomach was doing somersaults inside and it had nothing to do with the fact that I had skipped lunch that day. I went to the washroom, to check my presentability and by the time I came back to my desk, my intercom rang. I answered it only to find G aking me to come to her cabin. She asked me to take the final copy of the letter to our boss J and get it signed for release. I took a printout and after giving it a once over took it to J’s cabin and just as I was entering it, my mobile rang and it was from reception. The receptionist told that I had visitors. I asked her to tell them that I will be down in about 5 minutes. I entered J’s cabin and gave him the letter. He asked for the initial letter from the bank , which I luckily had with me. He read the bank’s letter and our reply in detail. I was checking my watch. A couple of questions followed and then he signed the letter. I heaved a sigh of relief and rushed back to give instructions to my team mate to deliver the letter to the bank after taking copies for our record. I then rushed down to the reception lobby.
I slowly opened the door and saw 2 ladies sitting in the sofa and talking to each other in low voices. As soon as they saw me, they quit talking. I approached them with a smile ( I think) and introduced myself. The conversation went something like this:
I :” Hello, I am Gayathri. I am extremely sorry for making you wait. Something came up which had to be attended to immediately.”
Aunty 1: “Thats ok. We understand. I am Jai’s mother and she is my sister ( I smiled at her sweetly ( I hope)). Jai’s dad was held up too. Since we had already scheduled to meet today, I came along with her.”
I asked if they would have something to drink and they said they will have coffee. I excused myself for a moment and called the pantry to get a couple of cup of coffees.
When I came back Aunty 1 asked me, ” So, where did you do your schooling?” I replied about my schooling in Trichy, Chennai and Delhi.
Aunty 2: ” What do you do in your spare time? Have you learnt music?” I told them about my reading, writing and travelling stuff and the music classes I attended for 2 years, a long time back.
Aunty 1, ” Jai loves watching cricket. He doesnt like to read novels and all. He loves listening to music expecially, Illaya raja songs. He likes to spend his holidays at home rather than going out.”
Aunty 2: ” You stay alone? Do you cook for yourself?”
Aunty 1: ” Yes, I wanted to ask the same thing. Jai is a complete foodie. He always prefers home cooked food to eating out. Whenever he comes home, he always has this list of dishes he wants me to prepare. ”
I : ” Depends on the time, Aunty. If its late , I prefer ordering from my nearby restaurant and if I get home early I cook and on sundays I do some elaborate cooking.”
Aunty 2, ” How late you get back from work?”
I : ” Again depends , Aunty. Usually I am back by 7 but if there is something urgent to attend to,it takes 9 sometimes even 10.”.
They both exchange looks.
Aunty 1, “Jai is always back by 6:30″.
I smiled in reply.
Aunty no: 2 ” Will you like to work after getting married?”
I : ” I would like to but again it depends”.
Again, another exchange of looks between the sisters.
The coffee comes now and they both take their cups.
Aunty 1 : ” Wont you drink?”
I: ” No aunty , thanks . I dont drink coffee.”
Some 5 minutes later, when they are done with the coffee, Aunty 1 says, ” Nice coffee. You want to know anything about Jai?”.
I: ” Yeah. Will he be in Andamans only or will he be posted around the country?” . ( He was working in a bank)
Aunty 1:” Andamans is a very lovely place. Jai likes it so much. He is there for 2 years now. Given a chance, he will like to stay there only. So, lets see..”.
My mobile rings and its G calling. ” Where are you, Gayathri? Can you meet me ASAP?”. I replied, ” Yes, G. Give me a couple of minutes”.
The sisters take the cue and Aunty 1 said,” Ok ,dear. We will leave now. We will talk to your parents.” I accompanied them till the main entrance and saw them off with a smile . I never knew I was capable of smiling so much .
One tension over and I was now worried about G’s call. Somehow the tone of her voice didnt sound good.
By the time, I reached home – I had repeated the evening conversation a number of times to my mum and dad, got an earful from G for a typo error in the letter ( thankfully, it wasnt delivered to the bank) and another earful from J from whom I had to get the letter signed all over again.
I took a take -away for my dinner and when I hit the bed, I had a feeling that Jai was not the one. But I had to wait for the call from the aunties to be sure. With enough excitement for one day, I slept thorougly exhausted.
My mum called me while I was on my way to work and she confirmed my feelings. With great disappointment, she told me that Jai’s parents do not want to proceed further. I was like, ” Thats goo…bad, ma. Its ok, ma. Maybe somebody else.”. She didnt reply and asked me to take care and disconnected the phone.
Though I felt sad for my mum, I felt happy that I still had time. I silently sent up a prayer thanking God.I entered my workplace with a song on my lips and looked forward to another day.
To be continued….