JournalismPakistan.com July 9, 2013
And so it came to pass that after 10 years of marriage they ran out of gas and after running on empty for another painful year-and-a-half in which concerned common friends exhorted them to give it a try and reconcile the differences were beyond bridging.
Since this is a true story even though it is steeped in levity the tragic overtones make anonymity necessary and therefore, I shall call my anti-hero Jai and may he forgive me for writing this narrative.
Three years of post-marital bachelorhood and a series of abortive efforts by his mother to have him remarried finally eroded his defences and she won the day when he agreed to visit New Delhi and call upon the girl and her parents in what was clearly a surrender to his mother’s blatant blackmail that her dying wish was to see him settled with a nice girl. His mother is still alive and well and probably pursuing her last wish with as much vigor as possible but that is another story.
Anyway, Jai fetched up at the home of the young lady on a Sunday morning and rang the doorbell. It was opened by a domestic help who let him in and asked if he was the man who had come from Bangalore to see Seema. Jai nodded assent and was led to the sitting room which was empty. He was instructed to sit down and then the help left the room and Jai spent the next three minutes contemplating various items of kitsch like an Eiffel Tower on velvet with a light on top and a big globe which flurried snowflakes when shaken and three ducks made of wood in Papa, Mama and Baba sizes. No one came to do him any reverence.
From the other room sounds from some TV show filtered into the room.
Five minutes into this vigil and now patently tired of shaking the snowflakes on some Austrian countryside in plastic, Jai displayed certain restlessness. Not that he expected music and garlands and a reception committee but surely someone should have materialized by now. At which point an elderly gentleman made his appearance and introduced himself as the girl’s father and asked how the flight had been.
A fractured conversation followed as each checked out the other. Another painful five minutes elapsed sharing fragile confidences of each other’s health and then, the girl’s mother made her solo appearance and a sort of rerun of the meaningless conversation ensued covering the mutual health aspect again.
The TV sounds amplified each time the door opened and Jai deduced it was a very popular Sunday morning serial, one that had India mesmerized week after week. A thought sloughed through his mind that maybe the bride to be preferred the serial to seeing her bridegroom to be but he banished the thought as being far too ridiculous.
It wasn’t. The moment the serial concluded there was a rustle of the drapes and this girl came out and joined the threesome.
Jai, no slouch himself, said, hello I have been waiting for 25 minutes, you must have been very busy.
I was watching the serial, she said, on the TV, couldn’t miss it, very exciting. There was this stunned silence like after a grenade explodes. There is a ringing in the ears but you can’t hear it.
Oh, said Jai.
Yes, she chirped, very exciting, tense moments.
Let me get this straight, said Jai, while I was sitting here you were watching TV.
Seema loves TV, said her mother, valiantly coming to her rescue.
Yes, said her father, since childhood, she loves to watch religious programs. And he looked around as if waiting for applause.
You knew I was outside, said Jai, you knew I had come from Bangalore to see you and you were watching TV?
Yes, she said, you see our wi-fi is not working.
At which point Jai did something conclusive…what would you have done?
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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