I messaged Sushi, informing her that I am accompanying Mom to Somnath temple on a religious trip and that I will be back in a week. She called back in the evening, "Adi! Are you mad? How can you do that to me?"
She almost cried on the phone and was shouting hysterically. I maintained my calm and tried to soothe her, "Baby! Chill! I promise to sweet talk her during the trip back home and convince her about us. I know it's going to be very tough, but, eventually our love will win." I sounded like Shah Rukh Khan in DDLJ, hoping that she listens to me considering she's a crazy fan of the guy. Sometimes, movie stars help with girls.
She kept silent for a while and shot back: "Why do you forget we were supposed to meet on Sunday at your parents' place for dinner?. Anyways, have a nice trip, Mr atheist, with your mom and hope you are not converted to the Gods that never existed." She told me in no unequal terms that she is not going to meet me till I don't reveal to Mom about our marriage. I reacted with, "What the fuck?" She told me placidly: "No fuck Mister. Have a nice trip and I am standing my ground." I sulked and accepted her decision. There is no point arguing with Sushmita.
This night, Dad took me to his favorite place at the Olive's Pub in Bandra to have a drink. I order a Vodka with lime and Dad was sipping Dewar Scotch whisky. He looked at my drink: "Son, what are you having? Sushmita's favorite drink." My father has the habit of asking a question and give the answer to unsettle the other person. This time I am his victim.
He smiled wickedly: "Son, girls prefer Vodka over whisky and it's a chick drink."
"Dad, you are such a sexist," I countered. I didn't want to continue this Whisky vs Vodka discussion and was keen on what he wanted to tell or discuss with me. I mean, at times, he can discuss, a completely departure from his 'I am Telling You' dictator streak.
So, over to Dad. "So! You have decided to get married?" I nodded, unsure where this discussion is going and I am not prepared to this Are You Sure-kinda-crap.
Dad gulped his whisky and said: "See, son! You are yet to start your PR firm. Any progress on that front?"
I hesitated but explained: "I mean the whole thing is set and we are planning to start with a team of five. We've zeroed on some buildings in Andheri, Parel and Kalyan. The only hitch is the bank loan and the expensive rent in Andheri and Parel." Dad intervened: "Let me speak to the manager at ICICI Bank. He is a good friend of mine and why don't you guys take our house at Bandra. Give me 10k as the rent till you guys get a new office." I told Dad that I will discuss with the team.
I am being grilled with Dad over the marriage things as I choose to ignore the huge grilled chicken, as if Dad's quizzing me was not enough. He started with: "The match haven't stopped for you and your mother wants to see you settled in a fat Punjabi wedding with a desi Punjabi and homely girl." I was getting restless.
He winked an eye: I wish you all the best with your mom and don't expect me to intervene in your father. I stopped Dad: "I never asked you to and gonna break the news to mom on our way back." As we were leaving Olive, Dad made a stupid joke: "You know how your Mom is obsessed with Indians soap operas and just make sure that when you give her a heart attack, she doesn't shout, Nahin! Nahin! in front of everyone in the train. I replied coldly: "Dad, it's just not funny. He smiled back: "All the best, son." I could never understand Dad and when I thought, he will support his wife in opposing my marriage to Sushmita, he is being quite cool coz, perhaps, he knows that I already left the house and won't buckle under pressure. Well! I thought that he will give me a long gyaan on being married to a Bengali-Punjabi girl who is five times my senior in age, he was just making fun of it and indulging in some stupid jokes. Dad seemed so disinterested and was surprised at the man who wielded a stick to discipline me, give me morality lessons at the time I was an adult who is capable of making my own decisions in life.
The trip to Somnath temple went out well and I dunno what Mom was blabering by folding her hands to implore the Gods. In the name of love, an atheist hanged around the temple by starring at the idols, at least, pretending to pray and being so nice to the priest. Love makes us to things we consider to be ridiculously awesome. On our way back to Mumbai, we took the train and mom nicely told me: "I told Bhagwan to guide you so that you don't stray anymore and you get married to a devoted Punjabi girl."
I tried to protest but to no avail with a 'Mom, please." Who is going to stop Mom telling me the A-Z story of the daughters of Sharma's, Kaur and Khoslas." Finally, I got so fed up and held mom's hand: "Mom! We have decided to get married and we need your blessings."
Mom was stumped and gave me the 'Have-I-Heard-It-Right?' type of horrifying look and you disappointed me. She stared at me for while and spoke in hushed tone, "Adi! You don't know what you doing with your life and look at her age. What will people say?" I reacted with, Mom!! C'mon. She is the only one for me and don't ever think that I will marry someone else." She wore a disappointed look, "Now! Don't make a scene in the train among strangers. You don't care about our reputation and one day you will be sorry for marrying someone out of our community." I wanted to tell her that it is her who is making a hush scene and over-reacting. I didn't and despite my repeated attempts to cajole mom, she refused to speak to me throughout the train journey.
Dad was watching news on NDTV and smoking a cigarette when we reached home. He asked how was the trip and mom started, "Don't ask me but put this question to your beloved son who is hell bent to shame us in front of our community. He is adamant to marry that girl who is older than him and who has a Bengoli mom. She is not even 100 per cent Punjabi. Can you imagine?" Dad was sitting at leisure and said, "I know. He told me about it, the other day." The channel in our house has shifted automatically from NDTV to live Soap Opera in the house as Mom has turned into Tulsi Virani. "You knew about it and you have the guts to tell me now. Yet, you didn't deem it important to tell me that this Adi has lost his head and I am sure that girl is playing Black Magic on him. She has controlled his mind," Mom was being hysterical. I tried to protest but mom continued with her ranting, "I have lost my son now to that girl."
I was getting pissed and finally shouted, "Mom!!!! Will you please shut this non-sense and stop acting like those idiotic characters in those stupid Ekta Kapoor serials. Nobody is taking me away and why would an educated, liberal woman try black magic on me. By the way, her name is Sushmita and not that girl. I walked away from the hall.
There were huge fights at home with mom solely leading the pack with reference to the wonderful matches made in heaven and thousands of marriage proposals.She was constantly referring to age gaps and whether she will be able to take care of me. I replied back saying that I need a wife and not one with motherly affection. I snapped out, "Mom! You are enough with your motherly affection." Mom stopped bugging me for a while and wouldn't stop making drama on how liberal Sushmita is for staying with a boy half her age outside wedlock. "How can I accept this match? This girl is not domesticated as good Indian bahu in the first place and will never listen to what he says. This new generation is so wrong and they reject the beliefs of a good sanskar and I am not sure whether this girl will obey our family culture, traditions and sit in Puja," Mom looks desperate in her definition of a good Bahu as defined by the Singh family. I was incense and uttered, "Mom! If you are so adamant about all those values and traditions, wait till we do the darshan of Sanskari Babu." Mom looked at me to ask who and I said, "Alok Nath." Dad was laughing behind my back.
I walked away, saying that I am so done with all the loose talks, not without threatening that if Mom doesn't agree with the wedding, we are going for a court marriage. I crashed at Sid's place.
Finally, Mom has agreed for the wedding and was informed by Dad about the latest joyful development. I felt like gifting her DvD's of the soap operas. But, I am sure that Dad has worked something and I still don't know how he managed to convince her. Mom was on the phone and spoke lovingly, "Haan, beta! Call Sushmita for dinner, next Sunday." I jumped with joy and kissed Sid on his cheek. The poor guy was too shocked to react and for once, he must have thought that I've turned into a homosexual. Gay and happy!
Finally, I broke the news to Sushmita who was canoodling me on the phone and yelling. She was in the office at Daily News at Fort and started Baby-ing me, "Let's catch up today at Churchgate five p.m. I'll take a break since I will stay in office past midnight. Love you, Baby," she sounded excited at the good news.
We met at Barista near CST station and she yelled and run to hug me as we kissed like school kids. We didn't care that the place was crowded and she giggled like a school girl. "Finally, it's done," she smiled. I told her the whole mom saga and for a while she was not amused at all. Now, it was my turn to ask and she revealed that her parents are not agreeing to the whole wedding and, apparently, her mom has taken an instant dislike to me at the airport. I joked, "Next time, I shall get your mom some fish fry, the staple food for Bengolis. What's her problem, yaar?" She replied, "I don't even know. They are quite worried that you don't have a regular income and guess, we gotta, convince them about your PR firm."
I was silent for a while and decided to meet her parents before the famous Sunday dinner. I kissed her, "Don't worry. We will convince your parents." She smiled, warning me, not to overact when I meet her parents and don't try to act like some filmi hero. Oh! Tough task at hand and I already got an idea, planning to get major Kaul a bottle of imported whiskly. I heard from somewhere that army people love liquor and,perhaps, I'll get uncle drunk and take away the girl. I decided to barge into the Kaul's house..oops! sorry! Sushmita's house and not theirs'.