Sunday morning at 11am, I was there at the bus stand in the office area, where we met for the first time. Since it was Sunday and the offices were closed, there were hardly any people at the bus-stand. After a few minutes, I saw the tall 5'11" figure of Madhumita walking towards me. Today, since she was off her Policewoman's duty, she had worn a casual Salwar suit. The choice of the colour and design of her dress made it clear that her taste was quite sober. That was good for me, as I did not like overly dressed and flashy clothed girls. As she came closer, I also found that she was just wearing a bare minimum lipstick and nail polish, which made her look quite sober and natural. That was one more point which got my silent approval.
She met me with a beaming smile. As always, I was overawed by the sheer height difference of 8 inches between us. She came and stood right in front of me. She put both her hands on my shoulder. I had to upturn my head high up just to look at her eyes. I smiled up at her.
"So how's my cute little boyfriend ?" She said sweetly. "Did you know I dreamt of you last night ?"
I put my hands on her arms which were beside my face, since she was resting her hands on my shoulders. Wow ! Her forearms were solid…thick but not at all muscular; not fat at all, but the flesh was soft and very feminine.
"So what did you dream about ?" I asked.
She started laughing, " I dreamt that I'm getting married to you. The 'Varmala' ceremony (the exchange of garlands between the bride and the groom) was on. We were standing face to face. I had put my garland over your head easily. But when you were trying to put the garland over my head, my Bhabhis (sisters-in-law) were urging me to stand straight and hold my head high. So you were not able to reach up to my head…..After that I'll not say…" Then she started laughing.
I said, " Why ? What happened ? Why won't you say ?"
She said, still laughing, "No, no, not now…possibly later, let us get more close in our relationship first, only then. Come let's go somewhere."
I said, "Ok, we will discuss this later. Now let's go and sit somewhere. There's a very good restaurant nearby. Today being Sunday, this one will be empty being in the office area. Let's go there."
Truly enough, the restaurant was almost empty. We ordered some Chinese. I asked her, "So where do you want to go after this ? Shall we go to a movie ?"
We were sitting side by side on a sofa. She held my hand and said, "In a movie we won't be able to talk. We have just met two days back, let us now get to know each other better. Let's go somewhere we can talk peacefully."
I said, "Do you have any place in mind where you would want to go ?"
She smiled mischievously and said, "Yes, can we go home ? Actually, my Bhabis want to meet you."
"What ! You have told your family already ? Whom did you tell ?" I was surprised she had already informed her family about me.
She smiled, "I initially told my Bhabis. Then they called in my mother. Later they told their respective husbands also. Then there was a joint discussion where all of them, my father, mother, two brothers and both my Bhabis were present, which went on till past midnight."
"What did you say ? Did you tell them everything about me ?" I was eager to know.
"Yes," she said, "Everything..about your job, your qualifications, your family. Also that you are two years younger to me and eight inches shorter." She was laughing.
"And what was their reaction to my being so much shorter than you ?" I was inquisitive.
She tried to collate her words, "Actually they all agreed that as a marriageable candidate you were beyond their expectations. My father was more worried that I am 2 years older than you. Both my brothers said that they had searched from different sources, but could not get any suitable guy who was willing to marry me, just because of my abnormal height. My mother and Bhabis said that since the boy's background is so good and so well established, height or age difference will not be a factor. In fact, the common consensus was that they were all agreeing to the match. But they envisaged that the problem will be from your family's end. They think that your family would not agree to this marriage because of the age and height difference. They would expect a more beautiful, educated and matching bride for such an eligible son."
I also was thinking on the same lines. Although my parents have given me a free hand as to my choice of my life partner, they would expect a more compatible wife for me. I have not met Madhumita's family yet, but I somehow was getting an impression that their family's educational and social level were not up to our family's standards. I however do not have any such discriminatory feelings myself. But since my parents were of the old school, they had certain reservations as to their conservative and traditional ideas of family background, educational and social strata. In fact, precisely because of these reasons, I myself have not mentioned anything to my parents about my recent friendship with Madhumita.
I was pensive in these thoughts when Madhumita shook me and asked, "What are you thinking ? Do you think your parents will accept me ?"
I replied, with some doubts which showed in my expression, "I do not know Madhu. I was thinking that let us first find out whether we are compatible with each other and how much we like our own company. Also whether we ourselves are comfortable with our difference of height, especially when seen standing side by side as a couple in public.Then possibly I will tell my parents."
She looked worried, "But you said that you like me because I'm so much taller than you. So why are you having doubts now that you will not be comfortable standing beside me in public ? We had been chatting for so long for the last two evenings and even today, standing face to face in full view of the general public. I didn't feel awkward standing beside you. Did you feel odd talking to me standing on the road, because I'm so much taller than you ?"
I said, "Actually Madhu, you have been so tall for so many years, most people you talk to would be generally shorter than you. So that is why you did not find it odd while standing and chatting with me. Ok, I think I'll have to get used to this short height complex of mine beside you. I'll try to ignore if people stare at us because of our height difference. Possibly this is more of my problem than yours."
Madhumita smiled at me and squeezed my hand with her left hand.
We were coming to the end of our lunch. She asked, "So, do you want to come home with me and meet my family today? Or are you feeling shy ?"
I was skeptical and asked, " Who will be there in your house ? Everybody ?"
She said, "No, only the women of the house. My father and brothers will be there in our shop. The festival season is coming, so our shop remains open on Sundays also. It is quite far from our house, on the South end of the city. We live in the North, you know that. So they go in the morning and return late in the evening after 9 pm only."
We needed some more time to sit and discuss. So we ordered some sweet dishes and ice cream. There were hardly any customers, this restaurant being in an exclusive office locality and it being a Sunday. So we could easily take our time on our food.
I said, "When do you want to go home ?"
She smiled, with her hope and expectation rising, that I am finally agreeing to her request.
She said, "Anytime you feel confident. I'll just give my Bhabis a ring, so that they can be ready for us. In fact, they are expecting that I'll bring you home today."
Now I laughed. "Oh, so you already made your plans to take me home." She laughed with me.
I said, "Ok fine, I'll go. But first tell me what you didn't want to complete with the dream story you were narrating."
She said, " No, no…let it be."
I insisted, "Why ? What's there in the story ? Now I absolutely want to hear it. If you don't tell me, I'll not go to your house."
She was laughing, "Ok fine, if you are so insistent, I'll tell you. But in that case, you will definitely have to come to our house today itself. No excuse after this."
I said, "Ok agreed."
Madhumita started her unfinished dream story. "How much did I tell you…yes…the 'Varmala' was on...I had put my garland over your head. But when you were trying to put the garland over my head, my Bhabhis (sisters in laws) were urging me to stand tall and straight and with my head held high. So you were not able to reach up to put the garland over my head. Then after some fun and pranks and laughter, one of my Bhabhis went behind your back and lifted you up. Then you were able to finally put the garland around my neck. Everybody was cheering and laughing. That's what I dreamt."
I said, "Which of your Bhabis lifted me up ?"
Madhumita was still laughing, "My chhoti Bhabhi (younger sister-in-law). She is 5'7" tall, that means she is 4 inches taller than your 5'3" height. She is also quite healthy, around 75 kgs in weight. By the way, what is your weight ?"
I said with a wry face, "I'm 58 kgs."
She burst out laughing, "Only 58 kgs ? Then, I think all the women in my house may be able to lift you easily.
My elder Bhabhi is tall, 5'6", that means she is 3 inches taller than you. She's also heavier than you, about 65 kgs. But I am not sure whether she can lift you, may or may not, because although she weighs 7 kgs more than you, she doesn't always keep well, after her child-birth.
And my mother is 5'5" and 73 kgs in weight. That is, she is 2 inches taller and 15 kgs heavier than you. Although she is 57 years old, she is quite fit and active. She does a lot of work in the house. You are so small, my mother will also possibly be able to lift you.
And for me you will be no problem at all. My weight is 78 kgs, so a full 20 kgs heavier and 8 inches taller than you. So you can well imagine, I can carry you in my arms like a baby all day". She was chuckling at her own joke.
I was feeling embarrassed with all these height and weight comparisons. It seemed that all the four ladies of her house were not only taller but also bigger than me in size.
Madhumita was smiling, "So shall I call up my Bhabis and tell them that we are reaching in half an hour ? Remember you have promised." She already had her mobile phone switched on.
I had to nod yes… I couldn't say no, I had already agreed, before hearing the full dream story.
I was only hoping that my first meeting with my would-be or could-be in-laws doesn't become an embarrassment for me ….
( Continued in the next chapter….)