We didn’t want to elope.
So we tried convincing our parents. But the questions were too many, and the answers, too few. Rohit’s monthly take home was a few figures less than mine. And in a society that visualises men as its pilots, it was difficult for my abiding family to imagine a co-pilot existing in peace. I didn’t see their point, but surrendered in view of their ‘experience’.
A few weeks later, I was offering tea to a California-based software engineer who wore a very amused expression on his face.
Personally, I was never in favour of settling in another country. But Arvind Mehta was an interesting guy. In these few meetings we had come to realise that we have a lot in common, including our love for adventure.
It was time to finalise the wedding date and so, my parents met his, at our place again.
“We were thinking of the second Saturday of the next month.” My to-be father-in-law suggested.
“Oh, yes of course. But we’ll have to consult Pandit ji, to confirm if it is an auspicious day for our children.” My Mom declined, politely.
“Pandit ji is on his way.” Dad assured.
“Ok, but I hope we can suggest a date that’s close?" Arvind’s mother insisted, but the priest crushed her hope. The dates got auspicious only after three and a half months, on a Tuesday.
“But my friends won’t be able to make it. And I'm sure even our relatives…” Arvind started to object, but was quietened by firm stares from his parents.
Now that the dates were decided, other things had to be finalized.
“We have a beautiful, ancestral bungalow in Kaliwadi. It’s just an hour from here. We can have the reception there.” Dad announced.
“Oh no, no! The reception will have to be in California. We have so many relatives there, who may not attend the wedding.” Arvind’s Dad proposed, carefully.
“So, we can fly back on Wednesday, and have the reception on Thursday.” His Mom completed the idea.
“But Behenji, how is that possible? So many ceremonies follow the wedding, which have to take place at the Bride’s house.” My Mom reasoned.
The smiles were getting strained and both Arvind and I were having a difficult time dealing with it. As the to-be weds, we hardly had a say in the planning of our big day. The meeting concluded abruptly, understandably, to avoid any further tension.
A few days later, I heard my mother babbling to herself in the balcony. “I don’t understand why they’re behaving as if… uh... just because they’re the Groom’s family?”
“Ma, what happened?” I asked, sensing the tension again. Arvind had been complaining to me that his parents were complaining about my parents, and that he didn’t understand. Well, nor did I.
“Now they're saying he won’t ride a Ghodi, because his uncle is phobic to four-legged beasts! Beasts? Ghodi is sacred!” She spited out.
“But Ma, how does it matter, as long as he’s coming?” Really, I failed to understand.
“Of course it does. Already, we are agreeing to the him wearing black at the reception. BLACK, imagine!”
“Er, what’s the connection?” I wondered, but Ma ignored my question.
“Beta, you go inside and send your father here!”
I obeyed her. Then, called Arvind from my room.
“Hey, how are you?” He asked.
“Confused.” I replied, “and irritated.”
“So am I. What difference does it make whether your parents give you diamond sets or kundan? What’s kundan? Why is it more important than us?”
“It’s just a form of stonework. But... where did you hear that?” I was baffled.
“Mom was telling Dad. I overheard. They're being ridiculous."
“My parents are no less! Listen, I need to see you. Now."
“Yeah me too. Barista, in half an hour?”
“Done, just get your residence proof and two passport-size photos.”
“Mom, Dad look who’s here.” I called out as I entered the house with Arvind. Ma came running from the kitchen, while Dad looked up from his newspaper. It had been a month since I had met Arvind at the coffee shop. Two days later, we had called off the wedding stating 'compatibility issues' and our parents had happily agreed.
“Hello Uncle, hello Aunty.”
“A-r-v-i-n-d? How come…” My parents exclaimed in unison.
“We, er… got married.” I announced.
“You what?” Dad screamed. Mom was too shocked to say anything.
“Yeah, don’t be so shocked. We always wanted to marry, but without the great wedding drama.” I didn’t quite know how to reason it out.
“So Aunty, now you don’t have to worry about the colour of my suit.” Arvind tried to lighten the air.
“Hmmm, I think you can call me Ma now.” She said, not knowing whether to smile or not.
“Hello, Mr. Mehta, I think both of you need to come here.” Dad spoke into his cellphone, as we approached to touch his feet.