He was back in my life and as a totally new person. Not the same old guy, who slept at 10 pm and woke up at 5 am. Not the same guy who told me I should manage my life on my own. The SMSes in middle of the day from office, the long mails and calls made me feel as if I was in Eldorado. But, Mom was oblivious of all these developments and kept bringing in proposals. I thought of telling my sister and in a conversation over phone slipped a hint lightly. "What do you mean that moron apologised? Where is your self respect? Are you accepting him?", She was shooting nonstop and before I could reply she told mom. “Listen girl, once a proposal is rejected and especially when the guy leaves insulting you, we don’t reconsider, so forget it”, mom said. I was crestfallen and there were faults on his side too, which I was turning a blind eye to at that moment.
I remembered a friend saying that I should have given him some time, rather than telling my mom that he left me. I remember her saying that this guy might come back. I don’t know what made me tell mom, what he had said in a confused state of his. Deep within, during all those troubles, I knew he would be back, but then why did I go tell mom and mess up the situation? All I could see was the word “FATE” blinking in front of my eyes. It had to happen for bigger reasons.
“Now what”? I asked him. “I messed it and I will sort it”, he said. I prayed no new proposals came up. I asked the Wipro guy to back out because a new proposal was fixed, risking the possibility of my parents calling his family. No proposals that came got materialised and my heart beamed with joy. I felt foolish feeling so much for someone who hurt me badly. But I also believed we both had to go through this painful course to become new individuals. We had suddenly become allies, conversations flew more easily, we became good friends and all that we had in common was pain and rejection and....... love.
Mom gave in after realising I had made up my mind. And arguing with a daughter who was overqualified in the marriage market by being 26 years of age and further, doing a PhD seemed unreasonable to her. She made a smart move by agreeing but reminding me it was my call.
“Don’t get excited”, he said, “You got no clue about my family. And it’s a long battle. Their approval, churches approval, getting the whole affair done peacefully, without annoying anyone”. And we were all alone just because we decided we wanted to be together. What sort of a marriage is this I asked? Love, arranged, love- arranged???
“Hmmm… no it’s a new category”. I raised my eyebrows to understand which category had I not concocted. “It’s Arranged – love marriage” and I smiled. All these conversations happened through chats and phones and it never occurred to me that I had not met him. We had seen snaps but we had not met in real. And meeting with families was quite nervous an affair.
“Listen, there is no way that I am gonna dress up in a saree and hold a tray and stand before your family”, I said.“Ok, madam do as you wish”, he said. We both knew we were nervous but the guys always had the upper hand in such fancy dress programs. “How many of you would be there”?, I asked. “6 or 7”, he said. “6 or 7 ? you want me to parade in front of everyone”, I yelled. “Look dear, I know you are tensed but don’t worry like this, everything will be fine. I told my folks that this is the girl so we just meet the family and fix up things. You don’t have to bother pleasing everyone”.
I reached home to find my family grinning at the door step. I was shy but could not understand why. It was just a family meeting. Without realising I picked up a saree and declared I am wearing it, to the surprise of everyone there. I knew he liked light colours but my aunt interfered saying I should wear bright colours like youngsters. I was in no position to say he likes it because it was too early to say all that considering things were half way.
If I was this nervous I could imagine him also on the verge of edginess. To top it all he rang my mom two nights back and said to her and others that this could be just a proposal but she should know why he returned again. He was in love with her daughter. And I can’t imagine how my mother heard that mushy speech but I could see her smiling weirdly all the time while dressing me up. I was worried they thought it was an old affair. Else it looked crazy marrying a guy from a different community, which no one in my family had dared before.
I sat there dressed for 2 hours when they arrived. I was nervous and impatient. I felt like I was to make a dashing stage entry and they were the audience who would judge my first impression. Maybe every debutant actor felt this pang. I was worried why I was not being called. Everybody except me was out in the drawing room. And my brother came in and said they are discussing roads, trains and weather. He seemed to blush. It was a blushing day. My cousin came in a while and said “why are they not calling you? this whole function is for them to see you, right?” I was getting frustrated because I could not hold the nervousness for long. I paced up and down swearing for wearing a saree. I was called as if the stage manager called the actor for entrance. I walked unsure of how to take my steps. They were all on the dining table having tea. All except him looked up at me, scrutinised me. I knew I looked different. He seemed more interested in the tea and the tea cup. I smiled at that and he looked up. Maybe it frightened him because I said I would not wear a saree.
I settled and there landed the first shell. “In our place the girl carries the tea in a tray”. “In our place we don’t”, mom retaliated. “But still she could have given my son at least a cup of tea”, said the dad- in-law. “I don’t mind giving mine???????? Whats the meaning”, I wanted to say, but he looked into my eyes, asking me to be silent and mom squeezed my hand. My aunt covered up saying we were not aware and will be careful in future. “Yes you should, you have another daughter”, dad-in-law said and laughed. I was happy though I broke one principle and wore a saree, I retained???????? the other by not serving tea.
“Don’t you guys want to talk”, dad-in-law asked. “No”, he said and suddenly all looked at him with admiration wondering how well mannered he was. “Decent guys don’t act like the modern guys of today”, someone remarked.
"So, we liked the girl", came the verdict. "We don’t want any dowry. And if god wills things will happen soon. Since they have chosen each other there is nothing we can do." I was trying to figure if that was a taunt or applaud.
As my relatives were leaving, my uncle asked- “why did he not talk to you, maybe shy huh?”, I smiled.
What would a guy, who spoke to his girl on train the night before, have left to talk, in front of the oldies, I told myself and winked.