Thursday, February 22, 2007

An Arranged Marriage.... (Short Story)

It took time for Mr. Sadarangani to register the message. His son Vishal was telling him that his girl friend Veena was pregnant. Mr. Sadarangani thought he would have a heart attack. “Hey Ram, what is this world coming to?” he asked his wife Gita, “I couldn’t imagine Vishal and Veena would betray our trust so.” The kids had grown up in the same building in Bandra. They had been classmates at the same school and the same college. Vishal was working now and Veena was doing her MBA. Both sets of parents knew that they were very friendly. Deep down in their hearts they also knew that they were madly in love with each other.

But nobody was willing to admit the truth which had been staring them in the face for so many years. The level of denial was so high that when both had turned sixteen Mr and Mrs Sadarangani had even tried to make Veena tie a rakhi on Vishal’s hand on rakshabandhan day. But they had not insisted when they saw the contempt with which both youngsters dismissed the suggestion. Veena’s parents Mr. and Mrs Menon were also told about Veena’s pregnancy. All hell broke loose in the Menon household too.

Mr. and Mrs. Menon were quiet clear that they didn’t want a Sindhi son-in-law. And the Sadaranganis were clear that they didn’t want a Malayali daughter-in-law. Even if she was as fair complexioned as Veena was. As a matter of fact the friendship between both couples was built on a foundation of intolerance. Mr. and Mrs. Menon were born and brought up in Kerala and they wanted Veena to marry a good Menon boy. This development was a shock for them. They felt that they should have acknowledged the relationship when they saw it clearly many years ago. But the parents of both were praying for it to be a passing infatuation. Since the situation had gone out of hand the parents got together over a cup of coffee. Mrs. Menon made her famous filter coffee and Mrs. Sadarangani brought the papads.

The parents were clear on one thing. The youngsters had let them down. They had not expected such a thing from them. They had brought them up with all the right cultural values and beliefs. They had never been allowed to become westernised. They were allowed to read as many books as they wanted, see movies and listen to music. But they were never allowed to go on dates or spend exorbitant amounts on clothes and cosmetics. Both parents tried to get the young couple agree to an early marriage. But they were adamant that they would marry only after Veena completed her semester in college. The parents were shocked. “What will people say, yende devamme!” wailed Mrs. Menon. “Oh shut up mama,” said Veena, irritated with her mother’s habit of wailing in Malayalam. Vishal also told his mother not to start getting hysterical in Sindhi.

After prolonged discussions it was decided that the young couple must get married the next Sunday. With only five days left to go they decided to invite a few close relatives. The other families living in the same building could become guests from both sides. The marriage went off very well. Mrs. Sadarangani coached Veena on the intricacies of becoming a Sindhi wife. The marriage rituals went off smoothly. After the marriage ceremony, which was attended by a small group of relatives and friends, there was a reception lunch hosted by the bride’s father. The same evening a reception was hosted by the groom’s father. Everything went off very well. Everyone was impressed by the thoroughness with which the ceremony was conducted.

A few days after the marriage Mrs. Sadarangani noted that Veena’s tummy wasn’t growing. Her suspicions became stronger when she realised after a week that Veena's tummy was still just the same. When she asked Veena about it she just smiled. Finally, out of sheer desperation she dragged Veena to a doctor who confirmed that Veena wasn’t pregnant. Both sets of parents had another meeting over a cup of tea in the dining room of the Menons’ house. Both the youngsters were summoned and were asked to stand in front. They stood in front of their parents in semi-attention. They were subjected to another scolding and asked to explain their behaviour.

“Simple,” said Vishal, “we had a good reason to do this.” Both the fathers pounced upon him and asked him to tell them the reason. Vishal looked at Veena. Their eyes met. They smiled at each other nervously and held hands. Veena addressed all the parents, “We had figured out that if we seek permission for marriage all of you would have said no. We calculated that if we were to give you the shocking news of pregnancy you would insist that we get married. And that is exactly what happened. Instead of a love marriage we had an arranged marriage. And all of us are happy. Are we not?”

The parents did not know what to say. They realised that the kids had made fools of them. There was a pregnant silence for a few seconds and then Mr. Menon burst out laughing. His laughter was infectious. He was followed by Mrs. Sadarangani and then Mrs. Menon. The kids also burst out laughing. Finally, a reluctant Mr. Sadarangani who was still recovering from the shock of having lost almost a crore of rupees as dowry in Vishal’s marriage, also joined in. A few months later Veena told her mother-in-law that she was pregnant. Everybody believed her this time.
(Originally posted in my weblog in : )



Blogger vi said...

Vishal eh?


5:36 PM  
Blogger Dev said...

Hi vi... yes Vishal :))) .... didn't think of any other Vishal except a childhood class mate... as they say it is a big world (vishal duniya)... thats a nice pic of yours...

10:08 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

hi dev,
cute story.stumbled upon ur blog as i was browsing for padmarajan movies...saw a comment of urs..them ur blog...this is remya.what made me post a coment is ur words about the movie thingalazhcha nalla divasam.ur right it was simply

5:00 AM  

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