Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Walk the Line: Chapter - 8

The wedding was over. The bidaai was done. The bride cried, her mother cried, her aunt cried, her grandma cried, her sisters and friends cried. The groom and his family looked uncomfortably guilty – like they’d got caught stealing something. The men on the bride’s side of the family stood around, shifting on their feet looking perfectly unhappy. And that is how an Indian wedding ends.

Two days later, all was back to calm and normal in the Dutt household. The Raizadas were due to leave at the end of the week. Naniji, Masiji, Anjali, and Mamiji were enjoying a quiet cup of tea, discussing the wedding. Akash and Arnav were in their room working as usual. It was a lazy, hazy day. NK was out somewhere.

‘Anjali,’ Naniji said. ‘You said you had something to tell us.’ Her knowing smile said that she knew what this conversation would bring.

‘Yes, Naniji,’ she smiled prettily, her dimples on full display. Three years older to Arnav, she was slight in build but tall. Her long flowing dark hair framed a face that was so typical of an Indian beauty – large eyes, a full mouth, and a little pert nose. ‘Naniji, I was thinking. It’s time we looked for brides for both Akash and Chotey.’

‘What? Akash? My son?’ Mamiji was looking askance. ‘Why? Why, Anjali?’

She smiled at her aunt, calm and collected as always. ‘Mamiji, don’t you want to get a beautiful bride for your son and a beautiful daughter-in-law for yourself?’

‘Well, yes. But why are we talking about this now and here in America? Are there no good girls in India that we have to talk about it here?’

‘Hear her out, Manno,’ said her sister. ‘Perhaps she has a point.’ She had begun to understand where Anjali was heading with this.

‘Thank you, masiji. Mami – I was thinking that Akash and Payal make a beautiful couple. Perhaps we should think about it..?’ she trailed off watching her aunt’s reactions closely.

‘Payal? That Guptas girl?’

Anjali nodded eagerly. ‘Yes, mami.’

‘Hmmmm… but she is half-angrez. ‘

Uh-oh, thought Anjali. This is not good. Mami will try to find reasons why Payal could not be a Raizada daughter-in-law, since she hadn’t thought of it first. Here it comes. For all her external pliability, Anjali could be as stubborn and manipulative as Arnav. Except no one really noticed it, because she hid it under layers of sugary sweetness. ‘Mami, so what? She’s raised in India, her mother has brought her up with Indian values. She seems like a nice girl, calm, collected, educated and traditional. Think about it.’ And then she played her trump card. ‘Mami, think about this, an American for a bahu,’ knowing her aunt’s propensity for all things phoren, ’AND the family is also well-to-do.’ She dangled the bait. Mami bit.

‘Hmmmm…. What you are saying makes sense, Anjali. Let me talk to your uncle first.’

Ah-ha! Got you, mamiji, she thought. She and Naniji exchanged delighted grins.

‘But what about Chotey?’ God, she thought mami never lets up.

‘Mami – you know how Chotey is. He doesn’t believe in marriage, so even raising the topic is dangerous. I think Chotey will make up his mind in his own time. I just hope it’s soon. But yes, that doesn’t mean that Akash has to sit on the sidelines, does it?’ she brought the topic on point.

‘Yes, yes,’ mami nodded vigorously.

‘Look, we’re going over for dinner tonight at the Gupta’s,’ said masiji. ‘Why don’t we broach the topic then?’

‘But will Akash agree?’ asked a now-worried mami.

‘Don’t worry, Mamiji. I am sure he will do what you say,’ said Anjali, deftly moving the ball into Mami’s court.

‘Of course, of course,’ mami had no doubts that her darling baby would listen to her. She said so. Anjali and Nani suppressed grins. Of course he would, Akash was such a good little boy.

Anjali walked into the room where Akash and Arnav were working. There were files strewn across the beds and Arnav was pacing up and down, having a one-sided conversation with his Bluetooth. ‘Akash,’ she said.

‘Yeah, di?’ he said absently. He was going through something on his laptop.

‘Akash, stop being like Chotey and listen to me,’ she said.

‘Sorry, Di,’ he gave his full attention to his cousin, blinking at her through his horn-rimmed glasses.

‘Your mother has picked a girl for you,’ she said solemnly.

‘What?!’ He jumped.

Arnav went, ‘Keep it down, Akash.’

‘Sorry. What, di? What did you say?’

‘Yes. Your mother has picked a girl for you,’ she was having a hard time keeping a straight face.

‘A girl? What? Why? And here? Besides what about bro? I can’t get married before Arnav bhai does!’ he said.

‘In that case, do you think Payal will wait for you that long?’

‘Who? What?! Payal?! ‘ poor Akash was flustered, embarrassed, and Anjali broke out into peals of laughter. ‘Why would Payal wait? I mean…’ he was at a complete loss for words.

Arnav had also tuned into the conversation by now and was staring at them with what everybody called his ‘What the - !’ expression.

Finally Anjali stopped laughing long enough to give them the news. ‘By the way, your mom is coming to talk to you about this soon. So pretend like you don’t know, okay?’

‘Sure, di,’ Akash couldn’t stop the happy, silly grin on his face. Arnav just shook his head and walked out of the room

That evening, the Dutts and the Raizadas walked over the Gupta’s for dinner. It was a beautiful evening, and it kept getting better. After dinner the elders sat around with drinks or tea. The youngsters headed down into the game room for some pool.

Arnav hadn’t realized how long it had been since he and Khushi had spoken to each other. True, they had met over the wedding and even spoken, if you can call it that. He’d watched from the sidelines, content to keep an eye on her. She didn’t carry around her phone. Aman had also come up blank with Shyam’s whereabouts.

Her phone rang; she picked it up absently and answered it. Across the room, he watched her back straighten with tension, and then she cut off the call. His hands closed into fists. He had no doubt who the other person on the phone was and he was seething inside.

She came across the room and sat down, chatting animatedly with Payal – a little too animatedly, he thought.

‘Payal, Akash, can you both come up here, please?’ It was Mr Gupta. NK, Arnav and Khushi looked at each other, while Payal and Akash went up the stairs. They followed.

What followed was a typical Indian rishta-lekey-aaye-hain scene. Payal and Akash touched their elders’ feet to take their blessings; there were congratulations and hugs and kisses and sweets all around. With only two days remaining of their trip, the Raizadas decided that the formal engagement would happen once the wedding date had been settled.

4 comments:

  1. LMAO...best description of an indian bidaai ever!!! EPICCCCCC *rofl*

    sorry for the one off comment...ofcoz i love ur writing altho i hv only managed till 8chapters! the mystery element is intriguing as is the undeniable tug b/w arhi <3 thank uuuu :))

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  2. I really loved the sarcastic way you described Indian wedding bidaai and even though I wanted to comment on the last update about Anjali, I think this update is the best where her efforts should be praised..I have always loved her because she was a wonderful character of IPK and Daljeet had portrayed her beautifully..the way she used to get her things done by emotionally blackmailing Arnav and Anjali-Nani combination all those came back to me today while reading this update...u have presented her beautifully!

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  3. One brother down, only chote to go. Well done Anjali, I would have liked go see some brotherly teasing going on... maybe the next chapter.

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  4. haha anjali is awesome!!
    lol indian wedding is always like this...

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