It was a day like that.
A Sunday. Very early in the morning, ‘Ma’ asked him to sit with ‘Pa’, “We’ve to talk.” He guessed the issue to be risen shortly. For the past few weeks he had been avoiding it. But there was no running away from it now.
They started with a general talk about his general life. How’s the office going and the weather outside getting cold and how he should be giving attention to his future, now that he is of a certain age. A certain marriageable age.
He squirmed in his seat. “Why the hell today of all days, why are they hell bent on spoiling my Sunday, especially when I’ve to meet her today, why don’t they let me go and have a bath, hmmm, what will I be wearing today…” and things like these were going at a rapid pace through his mind.
Ma couldn’t tolerate the patience that Papa showed. She jumped straight to the point. “Look beta, there is this family in Paharganj, of our caste, the girl is a teacher in a Govt. school. The family is good, the girl is good, I’ve met them and they are eager to meet you soon.”
“Meet me? Why?” He almost jumped up from his seat. Father looked at him punishingly. He sat down.
Then Ma came up with the ace up in her sleeve. Out came a photograph of a girl, (a very nice looking girl he observed) and he was asked of his opinion of her. “Ummm…What?...She is okay…Alright…What do I Say? You guys know, ‘m not interested in this marriage-sharriage thing so early in life.” “You are 26”, reminded Pa. “Whatever! I’m not marrying anywhere in near future. Have to settle down in career, then only will I think about it all. And you guys please don’t search a Bahu (daughter-in-law) for you, I’ll find her myself. And (with a mischievous grin) if nobody else, Fatima is there na!
Ma recoiled at the name. “Na na beta, not an other religion girl for us!” And he successfully deviated attention from the urgent matter at hand. Fatima was the name he’d given to ‘her’, when Ma constantly annoyed him by her multiple questions on whether he was seeing anyone these days, whether there was a girl in his life, with whom he talked so late in night and a million more queries. Now when he looks back at it, he feels that Ma must have guessed correctly, and that Sunday talk was a ploy to bring out whatever he himself had in mind. It worked, and how.
Khair, anyways, he managed to wriggle out of the situation by making a number of excuses, like going to meet Amul & Sachin & Gudiya and among other things, going to a lot of places in the span of the day, so he should leave early, only if you’ll allow him to.
By the time he left home, the gears, pulleys & shafts inside his mind were working feverishly. He had to meet her, but only in the afternoon, after her classes were to get over. And by the time he reached India Gate, about half an hour later, on the way to Amul & Sachin’s place, he had an idea in mind. A dangerous idea to say the least.
He called her to meet him on the K.G. Marg bus stand. “Leave the class, it’s very important.” Alarmed, when she arrived, he was delighted to note that she was dressed in her plainest of outfits. A college-dirty, blue denim with a blue hi-neck sweater that combined to make her look the most common of girl-next-door girls. They hugged, and he asked her to board the next bus home with him.
“Dee! Believe me, it's necessary. Will explain you everything on the way.”
On the way, he once again asked her if she was sure of everything she felt about him, “Because there will be no turning back after this.” A raised eyebrow settled the matter well enough.
They reached to find out that nobody was at home! Ma had gone out shopping and Pa might have gone to the nearby temple!
Waiting at the landlord’s floor above, they suffered many a anxious moments, waited almost for two hours. The landlady, excited to see a ‘guest’ with Adi, tried her best to keep them at ease. And they waited still a little more.
Finally, Papa came home, unlocked the front door and went inside. He went after him. Surprised that he had come home so early, Pa asked, “What happened? Didn’t you meet anyone today?”
Legs shaking and with a rapidly drying throat he replied, “Pa, I’ve brought somebody to meet you.”
He doesn’t know what she was feeling at the moment, she herself doesn’t know, but the moment she nervously came in through the front door and after the first greeting, things gradually eased out. Only a little though.
Both of them talked about a lot of things, how she and Adi came to know each other, what was she doing, life, poetry, studies, some politics too (if he remembers correctly), then making tea in the kitchen together while he was sitting inside, nervously waiting for the outcome of it all, then more of talk until it was time for her to leave.
When he came home after seeing her off, Pa didn’t say a word. “He must have something to say, he must have liked her. Or not liked her, what is he thinking, how will Ma react to this all", but no reaction. Nothing at all.
Not being able to gather the courage to inquire directly, and not in a state to leave the matter in limbo, troubled, edgy, nervous, he took a blanket and pretended to sleep. Which he couldn’t. Tossing and turning in the bed for nearly two hours, he finally asked Papa, from beneath the blanket he was hiding in, “Pa, did you like Dee?”
It is days like these, that become bigger than years in themselves.
Because it was on the 10th of December 2006, that he took her home to meet the parents, and got blessed and blissed.