This is my first attempt at writing light hearted fiction…..I sent it to a magazine and in a story competition but never heard back from either of them. I now am not sure whether it is worth reading by anybody and hopefully it won’t hurt someone’s feelings.
Please let me know opinions…
“Is something wrong darling?” asked Sujata patting Ananya’s head.
Sujata adored her daughter. Her daughter lazed on bed with a dazed look or so Sujata thought. Ananya had returned from college but was a little quiet and wasn’t her chirpy self as always. She was a beautiful girl with rich black silky hair that just about reached her waist. With a height of five feet six inches, a slim figure, large chocolate-brown eyes and a heart melting smile she already attracted prospective suitors. Of course the offers for marriage had been turned down as Ananya still had few more months at college to complete her graduation.
Sujata prided herself in raising a well-behaved, compassionate and intelligent daughter who was also aware of all traditions of a Maharashtrian Brahmin family yet was a new age girl. A firm believer in honouring and following one’s traditions, Sujata had never shied away from change. She accepted some new concepts and ideas of younger generation but reserved her opinions on cultural and social behaviour. She had for some years dedicated herself as a primary teacher in a nearby school but refused to take on the post of principal. She now free-lanced as a voice-over artist on a radio channel.
Having worked with children for many years in school Sujata could make a fair guess if something was amiss. She noticed Ananya blush at being asked such a simple question but she kept to herself her concerns hoping her daughter would eventually confide in her.
“Why do you ask this, Ma?” probed Ananya.
“Arre baba! Just like that. You aren’t your bubbly self today and seem a little lost….distracted. And moms just know!!”
“Nah, Ma! Nothing is wrong….you worry unnecessarily. I just have a lot of assignments to deal with, so off you go……let me get on with my work.”
Ananya smiled sheepishly at the mirror amazing at her mother’s perceptiveness. But how to tell your mother about your first ever kiss, wondered Ananya. “Of course, you don’t tell her, dumb-head!!” answered her reflection from the mirror.
Sujata saw her daughter with a dreamy look and a blush more often now and wondered if her mind was conjuring up images or whether something was really going on in her daughter’s life? She had this niggling nagging feeling that something was just not right.
“Oh! Heavens! Has she fallen in love or something….Is she ….Oh! No, no…….Good Indian girls don’t indulge in sex before marriage….. certainly not MY daughter! Why am I even thinking on these lines….it sure is my imagination?”
Sujata had wondered aloud to her husband. “Don’t you feel Anu has changed in last few months? She seems quieter these days.”
“Arre….. You must be thankful that our daughter is calmer and not doing wild things like other kids of her age. And what do you expect from a twenty-one year old….. Maybe she is thinking about her career, now that college will end in few months. Don’t you want her to be responsible now?”
Sujata kept hoping that her daughter would confide in her as months rolled by. Her curiosity was finally put to rest one day when Ananya returned from college and hugged her tightly and just like that blurted….. “Ma, I am in love and we want to get married soon after college.”
Sujata’s heart was racing and she could manage only a “Who?”
“Harjit” said Ananya trying to gauge her mother’s reaction.
“Punjabi family? Will you be able to adjust? Why soon after college? Don’t you both want to get some jobs first? How will your home run?”
“Whoa…Mom, slow down! So you are not annoyed?”
“Are you …. Did you… Have you had physical relationship with Harjit?”
“Mooooom!! Easy mom…. Okay…..not yet, but we have kissed.”
“Anu….!! We don’t do…!” Sujata was so much in anguish. Her daughter…..How can her daughter have forgotten the traditions, culture?
“Oh! Mom…it’s just a kiss…. It’s not like I am pregnant and all! So, the culture traditions are all intact…. don’t you worry. And, what is this … we don’t do? How does our country’s population increase if we don’t do?” Ananya was getting irritated.
“Aren’t you glad that we are seeking parental consent and not running away?” Yes! Sujata was definitely glad about that.
It was not the ‘inter-caste’ marriage that was pinching Sujata but the fact that her daughter had kissed before marriage. She never was against two people of different communities coming together through a marriage as long as both were equally committed and belonged to well-educated cultured families. She believed that the two people who married each other should respect each others’ culture and adjust accordingly for the marriage to survive. She however was absolutely against any sort of physical intimacy before marriage and considered it a western world influence……a not “Indian culture”. But what now had been done could not be undone, so with a sigh she accepted this new development in their life. She had a lot of preparation to do now for the upcoming wedding.
Sujata got down to making a list of things to be done for the wedding. She had decided to marry off her daughter in style. “But what if Harjit’s family wanted a Punjabi wedding? How will we accommodate the rituals of both communities in the marriage?” she wondered. The families hadn’t yet met and Sujata was little concerned that the other side had not shown any interest in meeting the prospective bride and her family.
“Anu dear, don’t please be annoyed but are you sure Harjit’s family is aware of both of your decision to marry? And when will Harjit come to meet us? We would like to meet the family too…….this is normal course that wedding plans take shape, don’t you think?” Sujata broached the topic delicately with Ananya.
“At least show us a picture of Harjit” coaxed Sujata. “Um…hmm… You will meet Harjit , Mom. Have a little patience. I only have a photograph of our group Ma. Here, take a look. There next to me is Harjit.”
Ananya stood sandwiched among her huge group of friends, with a very handsome boy and a good-looking girl next to her in the photograph. “Hmm…”Observed Sujata and smiled at her daughter. Ananya hugged her mother “Thank you Mom, for understanding….I will let your worry be known to Harjit. You will meet the family soon enough I hope.
The months flew away so soon……Sujata kept insisting to meet Harjit before both families met to plan the wedding but the college activities and then the campus interviews had kept both Ananya and Harjit very busy. And now that the time was less, Sujata got another jolt…..Harjit’s parents were against the wedding and would not involve themselves in any activity related to the wedding!
Sujata again had the same niggling nagging feeling that something was just not right. Her thoughts raced again…… “Why doesn’t Harjit’s family approve….. Are they against inter-community marriages….? Oh, God….. Are they expecting dowry? Where will my daughter stay after marriage……Will they never accept her? Why are they not even talking to us? How will we know what they are thinking? O Lord Ganesha! Help us!”
Ananya and Harjit had decided to go ahead with the marriage whether both set of parents agreed or not…… Sick with worry, Sujata nevertheless kept preparing for her daughter’s wedding….after all it is supposed to be the best day of a girl’s life. She bought the blues, greens, yellows ….the silks, chiffons and cottons…. all variety of saris for her precious daughter. She chose most delicate gold jewellery and diamond jewellery of her daughter’s choice too…a big ring and a thick gold chain for the groom. Saris for her daughter’s mother-in-law, suit for the groom and father-in-law. The priests had been consulted for the ‘shubh-muhurta’. The decorators were finalised and the theme decided…..expenses negotiated. Food was decided….both Maharashtrian and Punjabi food would be catered for….What if the groom’s family forgives and decides to attend the wedding after all?
The day of wedding had finally arrived. Harjit’s parents never consented, never called and no one from Harjit’s family was attending the celebrations. Sujata was worried and very unhappy of the whole situation. Ananya and Harjit’s friends were the only ones attending the wedding as the groom’s guests. “Something is just not right” she kept saying to herself fearing that her mood would spoil her daughter’s wedding.
The venue was decorated with the brightest of the red roses, pink and purple gerberas, while yellow marigold petals were laid out as carpet on the pathway. The faint aroma of incense sticks filled the venue. Jasmine and chrysanthemums were used to make the ‘mandap’ where the wedding garlands and wedding vows were to be exchanged. The whole venue was looking like a dream. The guests had started arriving and were sprinkled with rose water and handed a rose bud at the entrance. All were waiting for the groom to arrive.
Soon the faint strains of drums and music could be heard and Ananya’s mother and aunts gathered at the entrance of the venue with ‘puja-thalis’ to welcome the ‘baaraat’. The wedding procession could be seen at a distance and people danced to loud Punjabi film songs and drum beats. The groom was to ride in a red car decorated with white rose bouquets. Since no one had met the groom so as the procession came to a halt in front of the gates of venue everybody crowded over and craned their necks to see the groom…….
Sujata was surprised to see the same handsome boy from the photograph dancing among the friends in ‘baaraat’. As the car stopped the handsome boy came forward to open the car door to allow the groom to get down from the car.
When Sujata saw the groom alighting from the car, her heart stopped and she knew why she had had the niggling nagging feeling all the time since the day Ananya had expressed her desire to marry!
A loud collective gasp was heard followed by a stunned silence as soon as the groom came out of the car holding a huge red rose wedding garland:
There decked up in the most gorgeous bridal finery, a bright red ‘lehenga’ embroidered with the most exquisite ‘zardosi’ and glittering gold jewellery stood the beautiful girl from the photograph…Harjit…..MS HARJIT KAUR !!