“There are so many girls in our community! Intelligent, good looking, smart, the ones who speak our language! Why does he want only this girl?”
“Mom, what do you mean by ‘this’ girl? What’s wrong with her?” I had to defend my only brother.
“What do you know about her? She..”
“What do you want to know about her?”, he interrupted.
“You shut up! I know you had planned all this! First you told me she is a friend..then you brought her home…then while you were away, you sent her here on the pretext of helping me…when I asked you, you said we’re simply friends…and now you tell me you want to marry her?? You have fooled me!!”, her chest thumped in and out because of the anxiety, anger and the breathless pace.
It was a cold October night….My brother wanted me to be at home while he announces something that he knew was close to announcing an Indo-Pak war. I took leave of my husband who preferred not to be mushed up in ‘my’ family affairs.
I knew this was going to be tough. Mom and Dad would never agree, they’re just not that type. I remembered Dad’s expression when I wished to join a college an hour away from my house over the one that’s just 15 minutes away; I remembered how Mom stared to glory at me when my friends came home for my 18th birthday – 6 friends, 5 girls, 1 boy!
But this time, it was my brother…I had to argue.
“What is to be fooled here? When you asked me, we were only friends! But then later I realized that I love her! So what?”
“What do you know about love?”
“What does one have to know about love?”
“I think you should learn to speak to your mother!”, Dad was now upright on the sofa after being in a thinking-Lord-Vishnu pose for almost 45 minutes.
“Don’t forget she is your mother who has given birth to you, cried and laughed with you, and we have full right to take important decisions in your life. If we know how to raise you, we also know when and how and to whom you should be married to.”
“So you mean I don’t have any right to choose my life partner? The law also cannot stop me from this.”
“Now you will teach us law???”, Mom was on her feet, trembling with anger.
“Mom…calm down…please sit down…this conversation is heading nowhere”, I put my arm around her shoulder and gently pushed her back on the sofa.
Her eyes pleaded to me and I slowly blinked an assurance. My heart went out for my poor brother. Long distance makes the bond stronger, sometimes!
“Rahul, you please keep quiet for some time now..let me speak and you will not interrupt.”, he imitated my finger-on-the-lips pose and nodded.
“Dad, I know you liked that girl as his friend. Then just because he loves her now, why do you oppose?”
“There are some things that I don’t want to speak about…we are just not happy with this decision, that’s it!”
“Come on Dad, that’s not done! What is it that you don’t want to speak about?”
“We don’t want to justify anything…we don’t agree to this relationship..that’s it!”
“Mom..dad..he is expressing his wish to marry a girl of his choice and he is asking for your permission…You cannot deny without being reasonable.”
“Do you know since the last few months, she is missing from home for at least 10 days!! She comes here and meets us at least twice a week and then missing for almost 10 days at a stretch…her phone is switched off….don’t you think that’s suspicious?”
Against my orders, my silly, mad-in-love brother jumped in, “I know everything about her..there is nothing to suspect!”
“You are miles away in Bangalore!...How do you know what is this Mumbai girl who earns 20 grants a month, has 2 mobile phones and wears new clothes all the time doing?...You are a defense personnel…Get some wits please!”
“Dad, you are questioning her character and I will not tolerate this!”
“You need to wake up my son and get a reality check!”
“Dad, she comes to meet me every month!!..so for the 10 days, that she is not here, she is with me in Bangalore!...I know her more than you..OK!!”
“What the hell am I hearing????”, Mom stood up again with her hands on her head as if she is about to collapse.
Before I could realize where she would fall, she was steady again and stared at my brother with her eyes wide open. She did better than Nirupa Roy (agony aunt of Indian movies)!
“Before marriage, she goes to see a boy for 10 days with her phone switched off? Imagine the kind of girl that she is who agreed to come to you for 10 days without being married to you!! Shiva! Rama! What am I hearing!!!!”
“Mom..she comes to me every month because we got married six months back!!”