Story of a Marriage …

Posted on June 30, 2008. Filed under: Personal Stuff |

Imagine – of all things – a relegous service for a dear departed elderly and that in a dusty decrepit Punjab village in the middle of nowhere. And on the last day of a torrid June – some fifty years ago.
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First here is this much mature major – touching thirty – who is single despite extreme pressure, ever since he was ten, from his middle brother and wife hell bent that he marry into their family. But he had weathered it.
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Sheer chance, absolute accident have him accompanying his Mom to this function. He had impulsively come on a weeks leave – from cool salubriious Lansdowne – to see his folks. Good that he came because his father was not well and he was ordered to attend this Bhog thing before he caught the train back.
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He is a total stranger in this family and so sits next to his mom in the women’s group. It is 3 pm and hot and he goes to scout for water.
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As he turns a corner – coming head on – is this beautiful sixteen, going on seventeen Venus made by God – when he had nothing to do. She is stunningly beautiful and it shows that she has character and class. She is without doubt the most attractive, arresting, poised, beautiful creature he has ever laid eyes on – and he is no green horn either!
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Instinctively he is as sure as hell that she is the one person he would like to marry.
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She is carrying a tray of water filled glasses so he returns to his place near his mom and the hostess. The girl shows water to all the women but omits him – as he had anticipated. The hostess asks her to show him also but he declines – Damn you its not water that I want from you!!!
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Thirsty he is and so a wee later he goes to where the water is and is in to his second glass when she reappears. She raises a brow surprised but ignores him. He has difficulty breathing.
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The ceremony over, tea is served and now is his opportunity. He observes her critically, very, very minutely – inch by inch, part by part, limb by limb – weighing and judging every bit and parcel of her body, mind and soul.
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He tries hard to get to the inner person – putting physiognomy or whatever -to its acid test. He does not find anything to warrant raising of a red signal and in vain he looks for the one thing that would put him off. Finally he concludes she has character, class and is the genuine article – and no pushover either.
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As she holds her glass of tea, filled to the very brim, she is conscious of being scrutinized. Self- consciously she chatters cheerily. Her voice is light and lyrical.
She finishes her tea – to the last drop. She has noticed how she has been examined and she is not embarrassed but pleasantly pleased and like all women, flattered with such mature masculine attention.
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The Bard’s ‘Troilus and Cressid’ comes to mind – where Ulysses sums up Cressid, “There is language in her eye, her cheek, her lip – nay her foot speaks. Her spirits look out of every joint and motif of her body”. BUT SHE IS NO SUCH!
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She wonders as to who this guy could be – as he is much older and clean shaven and could be the husband of one of the few sari clad women guests. Never the less she follows him as he is led into the inner quarters to meet an old dowager – who on being told whose son he is, tries to bless him only to find him clean shaven! She gives him a resounding slap on the face and asks why has he done such a shameful thing. She wonders even more.
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He is pleased with himself as he has noted that apart from her, in that large gathering, there was only one solitary soul who has observed him appraising her. And now time to depart – but he has made his decision and he announces it to his surprised family on the drive back. But alas none of them quite know who was the girl serving the water!
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At Najibabad it is 4 am and I take the wheel of the small truck which has come for me. It is a sublime forested winding drive and after a sharp bend, standing in the center of the road is this large Bara Singa. No time to brake and the vehicle hits the beast and goes wobbling right over it. Regaining control, I look back and see the animal groggily dragging itself up and wobbling into the forest. I take it as a good omen.
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First Hurdle. I write to the guy in whose house the function took place – a curtsy thing to establish base. My folks have made enquiries and found that the damsel is the daughter of a younger brother of my father’s old friend who as SHO was posted in our area when my father was an Hony Magistrate in the 1930s.
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My father is not at all keen on the match as he thinks they can be of little help in helping me manage myself after he goes. In October, I get a reply to my note saying that after much persuasion, the father of the girl has Okayed the match.
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Alas now there is once again, intense pressure on me to marry into the brothers in laws.
I have a few doubts re the age difference but a timely Time Magazine article on May and Dec Marriages gives confidence. I hold out for a couple months when lady luck smiles in the form of a new proposal – anathema to my brothers family – which makes them go flat out to help me!
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Thus it is that on Mar 22nd my brother and party drag a reluctant father to the girls place – they have been given only an hours notice for the engagement – a day before I catch my train to Pune where I stand posted.
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New hurdle. I come on a months leave in first week Apr hoping to get married and return with wife. Alas the girls side say the notice is too short and the marriage should be towards the end of the year. This is the straw that broke the camels back and I thought was he unkindest cut. I think what the heck – if it is not to happen then it will not happen! I respond saying that if it has to happen, then it is now or we forget the idea. To my great good fortune an uncle arrives, confirms and wants the date.
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I ask my father. He is disinterested and says he will not attend due to some reason which he alone understands. Of handedly I give the date as 5 May which is a Monday and leaves me a week to return to Pune.
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On May 1st my father asks me to take him to Jalandhar where we arrive early and ring the bell of the guys who make the Almanac. These worthies meet us after their ablutions and flatly tell me that they will give in writing that should we get married on May 5, then we will be separated within six months. Where upon my father says he has done his bit leaving me to decide.
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My mother is willing to go to the girls house that day itself and plead for a date change. Alas, they feel the request a wee too much. On the journey from their village to where we are staying, I am driving when a fast driven car wants a pass and as I am completely pissed off, I crave a fight.
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The occupants take a dangerous pass, get off and embrace me – they are cousins of my wife to be and they confirm that they will come up with something. They arrange for the actual marriage on May 3rd and the festivities as planned on May 5.
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Well, if that is not one hell of a yarn, nothing is. My decision, based on an hour of close observation, has stood the test of time. Despite her youth and the age difference, she proves herself more courageous, more balanced, more sensible and a much better all round person than her Shakespeare mouthing husband.
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His friends make up for all shortfalls. Eli Mirzoeff has been sent from Mumbai by his sick wife. The Solomons have sent the scotch as they are in Milan. Chottu Jojo Sengupta (‘When I consider how my light is spent …… ‘) has come from Calcutta. Vijay Kumar, the VrC, has come from Chamba. The ebullient DP and ND have come from the Fourth. RP, Sudesh Bhasin, Doc Sundaram and Herbert Akhtar Ali have come from the Center.
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And there are several unknowns who have joined Jojo to enjoy his company. In fact one is smitten and asks if a girl is available for marriage but he is told that this one is booked but there are plenty others around. There is enough whiskey from Lansdowne to drown all.
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Jogo makes a prophecy when he tells me, “Now on wards your friends will be the ones you like from among the husbands of your wife’s friends!”
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The thing is that without ever seeing this wonderful girl again, let alone meeting or talking one word and despite the reservations of both families – indeed even open hostility of some quarters – interference, agendas and game plans and what have you – we got married.
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All within a year of laying eyes on her. Surely as Good a Miracle as Any!
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“O Fame! If ever I took delight in thy praises, it was less for the note of thy high sounding phrases than it was to see the eyes of the Dear One discover that I was not unworthy to love her. There chiefly I sought thee. There only I found thee. Her glance was the best of the rays that surround thee!”

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2 Responses to “Story of a Marriage …”

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that was beautiful…..am guessing it was your wedding anniversary yesterday?…..or is that too far-fetched. If it was, congratulations. if it wasn’t, please delete the message!

Beautifully expressed! Very touchy 🙂


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