08 December, 2020
Finally the day has come. I was waiting for this day since my childhood. I am feeling so nervous. The thought that everything should go well is running throughout my mind from the moment I woke up today. I pinched my hands to check if this is happening for real. I realized it was, since it was paining where I pinched. I heard a knock on the door. I took the watch that was lying on the table. It was a gift for me from her for the wedding. I wore it in my left hand. Then I took the gold chain and bracelet which lying beside the watch. They are the gift from both our parents for the wedding. I wore them both. Then I took the ring from it’s box which we both bought together after the proposal. It was a pair. One was with me and the other with her. I inserted it in the ring finger of my right hand. The gold watch, gold ring, Chain and bracelet were matching my White Shirt and Dhoti. I combed my hair for one last time before leaving the groom’s room.. I smiled with happiness looking at the mirror that was in front of me. It felt very good to be at this point after a lot of struggle. I opened the door. It was Sandy. Obviously it would be him. He is the best man for me today. “Hey Arvind, What were you doing inside for so long. Don’t say me that you were applying some makeup or something”, Sandy Said. Makeup? Who! me? Hahahaha!! I ran my forefinger over his face. Oh! Mr. Sandy, then what is this in your face. Chapati flour or what? Have you become a kitchen staff here? Are you going to keep your face in stove directly for making phulka?, I asked. Okay Okay stop! We have no time for these 2 rupee jokes. Come soon everyone are waiting for you, he said.
I came out of the groom’s room and with Sandy on my side, I walked towards the stage where the marriage is going to be held. When I climbed the stage, I looked around at everyone in the hall with a smiling face. There were a lot of familiar faces looking at me and smiling at me. I felt nervous but there was a lot of happiness and an awesome feel running through my heart. I sat behind the Agni Square. Iyer was chanting the mantras. I looked around and I saw my gang standing right behind me on the stage. Everyone were in dhotis. I winked at them and showed them the mangalsutra (Marital Chain) which was lying on the coconut that was in front of me in a plate that also had some flower petals and yellow rice seeds filled around it. I then showed them number 1 with my forefinger and then indicated it towards me. Vishnu threw a marigold flower that was nearby towards me. I prayed they did not have any naughty plans to execute on the stage. All their faces were having a sarcastic look. On the left hand side, My brother Arjun was standing with a bright face along with his friends who were also friends to me. Actually in my childhood it was his friends who were so close to me. One of his friends said, “All the best Anna”. I Smiled.
My Mom and Dad, along with my uncles and aunts were standing below the stage and were welcoming everyone with a smiling face and joined hands, showing them a seat to sit. Loudspeakers were at every corner of the marriage hall. My Friends arranged for a Dj. That Dj rocked yesterday night at the reception. My gang made everyone go crazy for dancing in the hall and they also made everyone do some awesome steps with them. Even my mom and dad danced. Arjun went thara local. “Aluma doluma..!!!!!!”. He was a great dancer from childhood. Even I did some casual steps along with her on the stage. Then we rocked hard together with everyone at the end of the reception. “Danga Maari oodhari puttukina nee naari…!!!!!!”. It was such a great night of dance. Now the Dj was playing all my favorite 90’s Tamil songs. I have been to a wedding which was my friend’s brother’s wedding. I had some kind of awesome feeling when I was hearing such 90’s songs in a wedding. I have spoke about that a lot to my friends and now they have arranged it for me. They are the best anyone can get. I also made sure to arrange perfect Tamil Nadu style Marriage food to be served on the banana leaf to everyone. I wanted it to be like that. I wanted people to go home wholehearted and also with a full stomach when they leave the marriage hall. They should say there was no other place where I had an awesome food like it was in Arvind’s Marriage. I was firm that Everyone should be made to Sit and eat. And the food should be brought to them and served instead of the buffet system. I never found a buffet system to be very good. I never came out of any marriage which had buffet system with a full stomach. I don’t know why but it was never right. Since people used to stand and eat, they never eat so much in a buffet system. I have seen old people who hesitate to stand and eat, they go home without eating. I have heard people saying, ” Instead of Standing and eating, I will go home and eat. Also in buffet system, the one who is standing near the buffet will look at us how much we are taking. But in the case of our traditional marriage, we would ask, “How is the food”, “Is the food enough”, “Here take more that will not be enough”, “Eat till both your heart and stomach is full”, ” Don’t forget to Eat betel leaves and betel nuts after food”. And also traditionally actually it’s our friends and relatives who serves food in marriage to everyone. In one of my Uncle’s marriages, I was one among to serve food to everyone. I felt very happy to do that. It happened in our native village. Everyone from rich to poor attended the Marriage. They sat together without any difference and we served food with our heart out. That felt awesome. So that is why I wanted the same to happen in my marriage. I was feeling happy and was thinking about everything I did specifically for this special moment of my life.
Suddenly, Iyer shouted. It’s almost time, please bring the bride soon. I was sitting behind the Agni square into which the iyer was throwing some water and rice seeds etc and was chanting hymns and mantras. I showed my Mom and I laughed. She kept her finger on the mouth and signaled me to be quiet and that everyone was watching me. One of my favorite song was being played in the loudspeaker. It was “Penne Neeyum Penna Pennagiya Oviyam Rende rendu kanna ovvondrum kaaviyam…….!!!” I looked around the hall, everyone’s eyes were focusing me. And so I turned my eyes towards the right side. There from the bride’s room, Aaradhana, my life, my soul, my love, my everything, walked out with the bridesmaid holding her hand. Yes, She is my to be better-half in half an hour. “That hand will be held by me in sometime”, I thought. And the lyrics played, “Kamban Shelly serndhu dhan kavidhai eludhiyadhu..Endhan munbu vandhu dhan pennai nirkiradhu….!!!!!” She looked like an Angel in her Red Silk Sari. There was like a garden of flowers covering all her hair at the back of her head. She had a beautiful golden forehead pendant (Nethuchutti) which was touching her forehead. She was wearing an earring which had a stud from which beautiful dome like jhumka made of diamond was hanging from it. She was wearing a pair of Gold necklaces with beautiful gemstones on it and it was hanging around her neck like a flower bed on a garden. But She herself is the most beautiful flower I have ever known. She was wearing a set of dozen Bangles which was covering her beautiful hand that was lined by beautiful Mehendi. The tinkling sounds of her anklet was playing a unique sweet music among the loudspeakers. She was an Angel even without those ornaments. She looked perfect. I don’t know if I am deserving enough to have her as my wife. But I will look after her with atmost care till my last breath. I promised inside my mind. She looked at me and winked. I smiled at her. I signaled her thumbs up. She climbed the stage with the bridesmaid who was her best friend “Radhika”, also her parents and her aunts.
She came near me and sat beside me. She then whispered in my ear “Mama”. A ripple of unknown awesome feeling ran through me. This is the first time she is saying that word. I blushed at her. I whispered back in her ear, “My Dear Aaruu, Do you wanna take Mr. Arvind as your husband, do you think he is the best man for you, do you think he can take care of you till your last breath and love you more than yourself?”. Yes, Mama. I strongly believe he is the best pair for his Aaruu, She said. And then she whispered, “My Lovable Mama, Do you wanna take Miss Aaradhana as you Wife, do you think she is your best half and your soul mate, do you think she will be there as your support at all your good and bad times and will never leave your hand no matter what”. I bet my life on that, I whispered back. And the song lyrics played at the perfect timing, “Manadhil nindra kadhaliye manaiviyaaga varum bothu sogam kooda sugam aagum vaazhkai inba varamaagum…!!!”. I looked at her again and blushed. Our parents looked at us and laughed. Naveen shouted from the side, “Dai Dai Dai !! Romance can be done in the night not now”. Everyone laughed. Then we exchanged garlands that were on each other’s shoulders. Radhika was taking the large plate with mangalsutra to everyone. The plate with mangalsutra came back to its original place after everyone took their handful of flowers and turmeric applied rice seeds. Once it was back, Iyer asked us to do some rituals by joining both of our hands and throwing something into Agni. I looked at my Mom and her. Both stared at me. I kept chup and concentrated on the rituals again. After sometime, the Iyer took the mangalsutra in hand and gave it to me. And he shouted, “Kettimelam !! Kettimelam !!” And the Dj played, “Mangalyam thandhunanena…!!!” I took the Mangalsutra in my hands. I moved it towards her neck. Everyone stood up and got ready to throw the blessings via the flower petals and rice seeds towards us. And let’s Freeze. Okay Let’s stop this scene here. Let everyone be in the same position they are now till I tell you my story and make you realize how special this moment is in my life. Come walk with me through my dream.
Let me start my story by telling when the seed called marriage was sown into my mind and how it started searching for water and sunlight day by day to grow into a huge tree.
02 June, 2016
It was a special day for me. My Birthday. My Birthday would be incomplete if I don’t spend time with my new and best gang of friends. We call ourselves “Comrades”. I am Comrade number 07. Vishnu is Comrade Number 01. Naveen is Comrade Number 03. Sandy is Comrade Number 05 and Anand was Comrade Number 09. We all numbered us in Odd. Because we always wanted to be Odd in everything. That day Sandy called me at around 6 PM. And he asked me to give a treat for my birthday. He said everyone are gathered at Turkey Kebab and are waiting for me to come. He said he will come in ten minutes and will pick me up at the corner of my street. Actually before he called, I was lying down in my bed and was replying back to everyone who wished me in whatsapp and facebook. I got up from my bed, washed my face, changed clothes and said my Mom that I will be coming late at night and asked her not to wait for me. She likes my friends so much especially Vishnu. She knows if he comes, I will be safe wherever I go. I said her, Mom I took 1000 rupees for giving treat to my friends. She said, Okay go and come back safely. She did a lot of ruckus when I picked Black shirt for my birthday. Actually, she is a religious person who believes all superstitions. But I am a son to her who never listens to those gyans of superstitions. Arjun is an ideal son who does everything she says. But not me. If She asks me not to cut hair on tuesday or friday. I would wait for that day and do that. If She asks me not to cut nails after 6 PM. I would wait for 6 PM and cut my nails. I would tease her when she asks me not to drink water or eat food during Solar eclipse. I would say, Mom this is science world and you are still following these superstitions. Please grow up Mom. She would say you will not know what is this now. Your time will come. That is me and my mom. So, I took the 1000 rupees and walked towards the corner of my street. There he was, my Best friend, Sandy. he was sitting on his Honda Shine. he raised his hand and showed his palm to me and then he slapped it on his bike. I got what he said. I had made me ready for the war which was about to come. I wore a bunyun, a T-Shirt, a Shirt and also a Jacket over it. I sat at the back of his bike and we started towards Turkey Kebab. On the way he asked me how was my day, who and all wished, did I get any wish from any girls etc. I said , “yeah everyone wished da, even some girls from school too. I never thought they would still remember me. I am very happy for having such good friends. Also I realized that I was such a good friend for them too”. We took right from my Street to market lane. And then we took left in the Main road. We reached Turkey Kebab in less than 10 minutes. He told me to join everyone inside so that meanwhile he can park his bike and then join us. Turkey Kebab is the place our gang would meet whenever someone gives treat or whenever we get bored. It was like a secret base for the comrades. I opened the door of Turkey kebab and went inside. For my surprise when I looked around there was not even one of the comrades inside the restaurant. I surely know that Sandy said everyone are already here and are waiting for me to come soon. But I can see there was no one here. I went and sat in a empty table for Six. And waited for them to return if they had gone somewhere nearby. In some 10 minutes, Sandy entered the restaurant and he asked me where are the others. I said, “you only know where they are. You are asking me. You only said they are here and they are waiting for me”. He said, “yes they were here. But now where are they?”. I was already a lot scared about what they are going to do to me today. And this increased my tension. Last year my birthday bombs happened in my college building where I got left and right from everyone. But my professor came on time and saved me. I was a primary target because I do a lot of ruckus on each one’s birthday. I asked Sandy to call one of them and ask where they are. He called Naveen, kept the phone in his ear and walked away towards the door. He signaled me to sit wherever I was, till he says. I looked around to make sure no one was hiding behind me or something. There was no one. I confirmed it.
Suddenly, He came back rushing inside the restaurant. He said come with me soon. We have to go. “Anand got!”. He Stopped the sentence in Midway and ran outside. I ran behind him. When we reached his bike, I asked what happened to Anand. He said, sit soon. We have to go. I will tell you on the way. I sat at the back of the bike at once and he rushed the bike from Turkey Kebab towards the beach road. When We reached the beach road I asked, “Where is Anand, where are everyone, What happened to Anand. Tell me Sandy”. He said Anand fell down from the bike and was caught by the police who was standing nearby. He said we have to go and rescue him from them before something big happens. I asked him, “He is not hurt right. Is he alright?”. “Don’t know da, we will get to know once we reach there. Naveen did not say me everything”, He said. Okay da! Go faster! I said. I forgot everything and repeated to myself, Anand will be Okay! Anand will be Okay!. He took left on the beach road towards the Container ground. I asked Sandy, why did they go to Container ground at first place this time. He said I don’t know da but Naveen said Police caught them near Container ground and they are standing there. Sandy stopped the bike outside the container ground and said me, this is the place they said they are standing. But I can’t see anyone. Can you go and look around if they are standing anywhere. Maybe they ran away from the police and are hiding somewhere. And may be the police left. It was around 8.00 PM and everything was dark around. And here I am standing on my birthday with my best friend at a place which looks like it is haunted and he is asking me to walk around alone. He said me to check inside the Container ground and that he will check the other side of the road. I have heard from people that this ground is haunted and no one comes here at night that too alone. This ground it was near a cemetery that is the reason they call it haunted. I gathered courage and walked towards the Container ground entrance slowly. It was an empty ground with lorry goods Containers on its side. It was used for storing the empty containers since the Harbour did not have enough space for it. It had a flood light and a control room for it at one corner of the ground. It was so dark. I called out Anand! Anand! Naveen! Dai Vishnu! But No response. I turned back and saw even sandy was not there and nor his bike. I was shocked and horrified. In a moment I thought, How did I end up here. Did Sandy really come with me. But I remember sitting in his bike and traveling. And where are these guys. And I started hearing some weird noises. Some laughing sounds, some crying sounds etc. Oh Shit! What is happening. The thought of running away from there came to my mind. I was so horrified that I was not sure which direction I was running. Instead of running away towards the road. I ran inside the Container ground.
When I kept my first step inside the ground. The Flood lights available nearby got switched on and there in front of my eyes. I saw my Comrades all four of them standing in front of me together with a 1 Kg black forest cake which was resting on Sandy’s bike. And there was an uncle who was standing near the room under the floodlights. I just fell in my knees and cried. Everyone Shouted in Chorus! Happy Birthday Arvind !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tears started flowing continuously from my eyes. Because this is the first time ever in my life in my consciousness that someone bought cake for me to cut on my birthday. We don’t actually cut cake in my home. My Mom takes me to a temple and we worship there and come back and she will cook special food for me. But we have never cut a cake. That too with this thrill that was special. I shouted, “Love you Bitches”. And then I ran towards them and hugged them all together. Sandy wiped the tears of my eyes and asked me to cut the cake soon. Since they asked only 10 minutes permission from that uncle who was working as a watchman here. So I got the plastic knife from Naveen and went near the cake. Vishnu pressed the candle in the cake which was in shape “22”. It was my 22nd birthday. He took out the matchstick and tried to light it. But since it was an open ground, the wind was so high. And it blew off the match stick not even the candle. So we all joined together and covered the cake from air and now he tried again. He lit the candle and when we moved apart again. The candle went off. Vishnu said, its okay you blew the candle like that itself and cut the cake. And I blew the unlit candle as he said. I was so overwhelmed that I am not sure what I was doing. I blew out the candle and got ready to cut the cake. I sliced the first piece out of the cake and Vishnu came forward took that from my hand and fed me some and then it started, the Cake Facial. I took a piece from my hand roughly from the cake and applied it into vishnu’s face. And everyone joined the party and we picked the pieces and threw it like a cricket ball on each other. And when it came to the last piece, I asked them to stop. I took the last piece of the cake and moved towards the watchman and gave him the piece. He said, “Happy Birthday and God bless you kid!”. I said, Thanks Uncle. And I came back to the place where everyone is standing. There came the first blow on my shoulder from Sandy. And it continued one by one from others. It is a ritual for getting a birthday bomb on your birthday right. I ran around the ground but they kept chasing me and at one point, they grabbed my hands and legs and were hitting my back like a football. Watchmen shouted, Hey what are you guys doing. They turned and I escaped from them and ran towards the entrance. They said, Its over and asked me to wait. But after reaching me, Vishnu gave me one last blow on the back again. Then we bid goodbye to the watchman. I saw him taking some money from Vishnu. I thought it was free. But it was not. He got 50 rupees for this I guess. Then we went back to turkey kebab and there I gave them freedom to buy whatever they want. But I had only 1000 rupees in hand. I thought they will not cross it. But when they started ordering American Chopsuey, Prawn fry. I know it is going to cross the limit. But I want them to enjoy the time and eat whatever they want. They have been a very special people in this phase of my life. I know they will be with me till the end. They are my college bus mates. We had a lot of memories together. But we became so close in this recent past year only. And also this has been the most memorable birthday for me till now in my life. I said I ate full and came. So only one Shawarma is enough for me and I asked them to eat till their stomach hurts. And when the bill came it was 950 rupees along with the food I bought as a takeaway to my home for Arjun. Still we had 50 rupees extra. We decided to drink Rose Milk for the rest 50 rupees. Rosemilk was 10 rupees. When we reached the shop. I changed my mind and we ordered, 4 Rose Milk and 1 Badam Milk. Badam Milk was my favourite one.
After finishing it. We drove to Naveen’s Home and on the way I gave the food I bought for Arjun in my home and joined everyone near Naveen’s Home. And there we stayed on the road standing and talking near the bikes for like 2 hours. It all started with the one sentence from Sandy, “So this may be the last year everyone of us are meeting on your birthday. This may be the last moment even. Many of us got campus placed and will move to different cities and who knows if we will meet again or not”. And that shook everyone of us. This is the last year of my engineering college life and yes we will move soon. But I don’t want comrades to be separated even if we are not together. I never had a constant gang if friends in my life from my childhood. It would always be changing each phase. But I want this gang to be with me till my end. We discussed a lot of other things about our college days memories. And suddenly one of them not sure who raised the question, Okay! Who do you think will get married first in our Comrades gang? I don’t know why but without hesitation, everyone’s face turned towards me. I said, “Hey!, What why me?” They said you see it will be you. You are destined for that. Vishnu and Anand although they are committed they had sisters so they will not marry soon. Sandy was the youngest one and he had two more brothers to get married before him. And Naveen he will get not married before all of us that we all know for sure. Because if he falls in love with someone, that one will get married to someone automatically. He had 5 love failures from School till now and all of them got married. And they all turned their face in unison towards me. I don’t know why but I said them that yes it will be me and also within next 2 years. I had absolutely no idea why I said that. I actually have never fallen in love with anyone in my life till now. I was that best friend character to all the girls I know and was a friend who will do anything if you ask for. But that moment everything changed. Vishnu said, we were just joking you will never get married. I said, “You will see, I will be the first one”. Everyone of us laughed. We promised that wherever we go and settle, we should attend everyone’s marriage compulsorily. And then after discussing a lot other things about each of our lives and our future, we left for our home. Vishnu stayed near Naveen’s house so they both walked. Anand and Sandy sat on their bikes and started it. Sandy dropped me again at my home and left with Anand. I entered my house at around 11.00 PM. Mom asked me to eat. But I said, I am not hungry and my stomach was full. I went inside the bedroom and laid myself down in my bed.
And all the thoughts in the world about that topic called Marriage entered my mind. I thought, how would it feel to love someone? How would it feel to get married to someone and live with them for lifelong? Arrange marriage means that we have to get married to a complete stranger, but will that work out? Will I fall in love with someone? Will I have a marriage in which I will marry a loved one? Will my love end up in a way as like it did for Naveen? Will I really be the first one among the Comrades to get married? Will my marriage be love or arranged one? Or what if I never get married at all? Who will I marry? What will she be doing now? Which place was she from? will she be from Chennai? will she be from Tamil Nadu? will She be from India? Will she love me so much forever like I will do? Oh what happened to me? Why am I thinking such things? And then I took out my phone and I made a long status on facebook about how awesome my day was and how the comrades made it so special. I thanked everyone in whatsapp group and also personally. Everyone replied for my status. Naveen Commented “Once again Happy Birthday, Yet to be the First Wicket!”. Anand Commented, “Thanks for the Awesome treat machan!”. Sandy Commented, “I know everything that was about to happen when we reached Turkey kebab first time itself. How was my acting and how was the surprise”. I replied, “You bitch, you cheated me. And also Thank you all the bitches for all the surprise. I will never forget you all in my life ever. Be with me till the very end of me.”. Vishnu reacted “Heart” for the post. And everyone reacted “Heart” for my comment. I blushed on seeing Naveen’s comment and it bought me the memory of Ravinder singh’s “I too had a love Story” which I read a year ago. Should I have to find her in Shaadi.com like he did. Nope she will come to me. She will become My Soul, My Love, My Life, My Everything. She will be the best half and my soulmate. “She will come”, I said to myself and fell asleep that beautiful night.
**To be Continued**