"Off with the old! And on with the new!" thought Nishi. New Year always brought with it a sense of anticipation. She was all set to put the JP episode behind her and get on with the business of finding a life partner. Logging into her profile online, she powered the partner search and began browsing. Eventually, she stopped at one profile.
"Hmmm....", she thought " Thirty six years old. Has a masters degree. Works in the pharma industry. Is against dowry and states it. Thats good. Lives in Delhi with widowed mother. Hmmmm...." Nishi decided to let her dad do the talking. She was going to handle this through remote control.
A day later, her father called.
"So? What gives?" asked Nishi.
"See, he's working for a public sector undertaking. Its under the Ministry. I know about this one. Job wise, its all pucca. He is the only son. His father passed away some five years ago. He lives with his mother. Has a sister who's married. No encumbrances." said her father in delight. " I gave him your mobile number. Talk to him. See how it goes. If you're comfortable, then at some later date, you can meet him."
Two days later, he called.
"Hi. This is Bharat. Am I speaking to Nishigandha?"
Bharat lived in Delhi with his mother. His father had passed away a few years ago. Due to bad business decisions taken by his father, the family had suffered a financial set back. Bharat had started working after completing his graduation. He did his MBA part time and brought the family's economic situation back on track. He was now ready to settle down and get on with his life.
Bharat gave Nishi a lot of attention. They talked on the phone for at least an hour daily. His English was poor and he preferred to speak in Hindi. But at times, it felt to Nishi, that he was coming on a bit strong. Particularly after one incident. He had gone to Bangalore on official work. He called her from there and said that he was at his aunt's place and would she please speak with his cousin? Nishi didn't really want to speak to cousins this early in their relationship. But not wanting to sound rude, she agreed and promptly had an anxiety attack.
The cousin, trying to appear friendly, started the conversation with "Congratulations!"
"What for?" asked Nishi
"For your upcoming marriage to my brother"
"I haven't yet decided you know. Its too early to tell" replied Nishi feeling cornered.
"Doesn't matter. Thats just a formality. You're going to be my Bhabhi (sister-in-law)"
It wasn't the cousin's fault, Nishi supposed. Bharat must have led him to believe that things had progressed further than was actually the case. The thought annoyed her. She didn't care for high handedness. Later, Bharat apologised for putting her on the spot. Nishi grudgingly gave him the benefit of doubt.
Nishi scanned the airport terminal nervously. Here she was, at Delhi - come to meet Bharat and see if he was 'The One'. He had warned her on phone last night that he was 'no Hritik Roshan'. That he was 5'4" and weighed 90kgs. Nishi knew this from his profile She hoped she was not one to judge people on the basis of their physicality alone.
There he was. Wearing a yellow kurta and white pyjama as he said he would. He bore little resemblance to his profile photograph. It had not been very clear anyway.
Well, ok. The Hritik Roshan disclaimer had been bang on. He resembled a stuffed toy more than anything else. But that could be cute yes? And look! He was carrying red roses. How sweet!
Nishi lay back on the bed with a tired sigh. It had been a long day. She was glad to be staying at her friend's place for the next two days. She had gone to Bharat's home and had lunch with his mother. A sweet lady who hardly spoke. She had just greeted Nishi and disappeared into the kitchen. After lunch, Nishi had insisted that she wanted to speak to his mother - alone. Bharat had reluctantly agreed. He went to take a nap and left the two women alone.
Nishi had asked his mother what she was expecting in a daughter-in-law. The lady had replied softly," I have no expectations. I just want my son to be happy".
"But you must have SOME idea about the sort of woman who will be Bharat's wife" insisted Nishi. "The reason I'm asking is that I'm not your 'typical' daughter-in-law. I am a working woman and would like to be in a liberal minded family. I am not religious and do not observe rituals. Are these ok with you?"
The lady had seemed surprised. Then collecting herself, she replied " Like I said, I have no expectations. Maybe if you light the lamp daily that will do..." Some reality orientation was called for here thought Nishi. Before she could get to it, Bharat walked in.
"So? Finished all your discussion?" he wanted to know.
"Not really", said Nishi, annoyed at the interruption. Naps should last at least an hour she thought.
"Well, you ladies can discuss your matters later. I want to show you something Nishi" said Bharat.
"What is it?" asked Nishi
"I don't know if I mentioned it earlier Nishi, but I have got another job offer from a multinational pharma company. I have decided to accept the offer and will be moving to Bangalore."
"No. You didn't mention it." said Nishi. Not that it mattered really. Bangalore....Delhi. One metro city was the same as another.
"I've been offered a package of fifteen lakhs per annum. I will also be given accomodation and a car. I wanted to show you my offer letter."
"Congrats Bharat. Thats a great offer. And you don't have to show me your offer letter. I'm sure its as you say it is."
With her thoughts in turmoil, Nishi prepared for her departure from Delhi. What was she going to do about Bharat? On the one hand, he was well qualified, had a great job and good prospects. The way he had pulled his family out of financial doldrums was admirable. On the other hand, he was pushy. He took things for granted about her (cousin incident). They didn't really have much in common as far as interests went. And the weirdest thing was how he never left her alone with his mother for too long. Where was this headed?
At the airport, she told Bharat, " I need time to think things over. You're a nice person. But I need to think whether you are right for me. I'll get back to you with an answer in two weeks."
Two weeks later, Nishi was still in a dilemma. Was she headed anywhere with Bharat at all? To make matters worse, Bharat would call incessantly (truth be told, it was probably just 'regularly'. But given her mental agitation, it seemed more like 'incessantly'). Her parents kept asking what her decision was. She felt like a storm was trapped inside her head. Finally she decided to seek guidance from her college professor - someone she had great respect for and who had always given sound advice.
Prof Kamat listened to Nishi patiently. "So what do you want to do?" she asked Nishi.
"If I knew that ma'am, I would not be sitting here!" wailed Nishi." As time goes by, I'm filled with misgivings. My brain says I should say yes. But my heart and my conscience are holding me back. I don't know why".
"Hmmm...." said Prof Kamat thoughtfully. "Buy some time. With Bharat and with your parents. Let me do some digging on the chap. I have some contacts."
Five days later, Nishi sat looking at Prof Kamat in horror. "What?! Are you sure its the same Bharat?"
"Positive. Lives in Delhi at Dwarka with widowed mother. Works in a PSU in pharma industry. Yes. He's already married. Whether separated or divorced I don't know. My contact could not dig that much."
"No wonder he wouldn't let me talk to his mother! He was afraid she would spill the beans. How can somebody attempt to deceive like this? This is a lifetime decision. It should be made based on trust and transparency." said Nishi, shaken. What a narrow escape.
"Well Nishi," said Prof Kamat, "I know you. When you said your conscience did not permit you say yes, it got me thinking. You called it conscience. Others would call it a gut feeling or intuition. That's why I took the trouble of doing a bit of digging. And it was worth the effort. Now you know the way forward."
"Thanks Prof. Indeed I do."
Nishi was waiting for Bharat's call that night. She had already brought her parents upto speed. They were equally shocked and thanking their lucky stars their daughter had the good sense to seek objective guidance.
"Hi Nishi. Its Bharat."
"Hi. I've been waiting for your call. I have a decision."
"I'm turning you down Bharat. The reason being that you're a liar who can put all other liars to shame. You deliberately tried to deceive me about your real marital status. You should be ashamed of yourself. Please do not attempt to contact me ever again. And a word of advise - foundation of marital relationship is truth and trust. You can never be happy unless you cultivate that. Goodbye."
Nishi disconnected the phone and looked across at her parents. They were smiling in encouragement.
- Welcome!Blogging is a form of self expression for me. I find it a wonderful, democratic space. So often in life, our articulation and expression are controlled by environment-like relationships or work place. Here, it is only about me and what I want to say. I write about anything: books, movies, issues, rants...anything which strikes a chord in me or makes me think. Life's lighter moments, highs and lows, causes, opinions. Anything. I follow no structure. It is all about self expression - a form of empowerment if you like.
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