July 31, 2015.
I reached New Delhi Railway station at sharp seven in the morning to bring my parents, sister, Jiju and Heer. The train 'Rajdhani Express' was about ten minutes late. As the train was about to reach the platform, my excitement to see my family after almost six months was increasing. Heer noticed me first through the window and she ran towards the exit.
'Mamaaa, Mama' I heard her voice.
I looked back, and she was standing at the gate of the compartment. I ran and took her on my lap after which I kissed her all over her face.
First my Sister Drishti, then Jiju, Dad, and mom stepped out of the coach. We all were happy to see each other after six months and I touched everyone's feet.
'Bau patlo thayi gayo chhu.' Thank God! First time in 5 years, my mom gave me a compliment that I was losing weight. Otherwise, whenever she would see me when I traveled to India from Dubai she would tell me, ' you have become fat, please have some control’
'Yess, all thanks to Hritisha. She must have trained him to lose weight' Jiju said.
‘Aahan? Then I should also ask her to give me some tips on how to lose weight' Drishti said.
'No problem. Have aapdi j Gharni chhokri chhe. Sikhvadi dese' - Dad said to everyone that, now Hritisha would be their daughter in law soon and she would take care of everyone.
'Let's go now. Baki vaato hotel Par karisu' I suggested asked everyone that leg pulling can be done once they reach the hotel.
All of them were talking about their old memories of Delhi during the journey from Railway station to Hotel. Jiju had already made a plan to meet his old friends in the evening on that same day. Mom was very much impressed by the service provided by Rajdhani Express train and dad was continuously talking about foodservice as food comes first to Gujarati People.
I asked the receptionist to issue the keys of two pre-booked room. After shifting the luggage, we all gathered in mom and dad’s room. I shifted my cot to their room for the next two days. Dad asked me when they would meet Hritisha’s family.
I told my dad to call Hritisha’s father and ask the venue.
'Bettu, uncle, is talking to my dad' Hritisha texted me while my father was talking to her dad.
'I know I am in front of him only' I replied.
Just like before my dad could not understand her father's speedy Hindi.
'Le tu kar. tara sasra jode vaat' Dad again pulled my leg by asking me to talk with my would be a father in law.
'Hanji Uncle, Namaste' first time I spoke with Hritisha’s dad. I was quite nervous at that point of time. He was not audible because of the bad mobile signal. However, I deciphered that, Hritisha will text you the address.
‘Nirula’s Corner House-K-14, Outer Circle, Connaught Place, New Delhi, 110001' Hritisha texted me the venue.
'3.30 PM. Sharp'
'Done. See you jaan.'
Hritisha’s family did not want to say their relatives, that it was a love marriage. Love marriage was a kind of a sin in their family. Her parents narrated a story; just to hide the truth from her relatives. They said that they know me since they were in Dubai and I am the only son of her father’s one of the business partner’s family, which was a totally fake story.
Hritisha warned me that my family and I should take care about not to disclose the real story.
In most of the cases in India, a boy and a girl cannot decide themselves to spend their life with each other, only parents and relatives can.
‘Sorry Boss. Hum Bajrangbali ke Bhakt Hai. Hum Kabhi Juth Nahi Bolte’ I said a dialogue from the movie BAJRANGI BHAI JAAN
‘Abbey Please. Say Yes. I am scared.' Hritisha said
‘Arrey don’t worry. I won’t tell anyone.'
'See you bachhu. And best of luck. Love you.'
'Same to you bachhi. Love you.'
Mom brought 'Thepla' for me, which is one of my favorite Gujarati dishes. We all started getting ready after few discussions. We had to have lunch with one of my Dad's friend who had come to Delhi all the way from Faridabad. Aruna Aunty, Dad's friend asked us to reach Saravana Bhavan at Connaught Place by 12:30 PM. We reached by 1:30 PM due to confusion between two branches of Saravana Bhavan. She booked the table at Janpath's Saravana Bhavan, and we reached somewhere else.
We all finished our lunch by 2:30 PM. Aruna Aunty decided to drop us at Narula's. Again, we got confused between Outer Circle and Inner Circle of Connaught Place and there was heavy traffic on road. Hritisha’s cousin brother Suraj called to ask where we were and explained us the exact location. We reached at Nirula's by 3:30 PM, which was half an hour late. I noticed that Suraj was coming to receive us. We greeted each other. It was our first meeting after the telephonic conversation.
As I was approaching toward the first floor, my heart was beating faster and faster. Hritisha, her parents, and her few family members were waiting for us but my eyes were looking for Hritisha only. I was sure that she was going to wear Salwar Kamiz and must be looking gorgeous in ethnic wear.
Jiju, Drishti, and dad went first with Suraj and I came after them with Heer. Mom was just behind me. I noticed that Hritisha sat on opposite direction, therefore I could not see her face but, I was sure that she was Hritisha as she was the only young woman in that group.
Suraj introduced all of us to Hritisha’s family members. From our side, there were only five members. But, from Hritisha’s side, there were almost four gentlemen including Hritisha’s father, her cousin Suraj, her father's Uncle's son Tauji, her father's sister's husband Fufaji and five ladies including her mom, Suraj's mom, her dad's two sisters, and the gorgeous lady Hritisha Jain.
We all greeted each other and settled down. My father introduced my family to Hritisha’s family and vice-versa. I was trying to stare at Hritisha but I was afraid, if anyone caught me staring at Hritisha then it would have been an embarrassing situation. However, my eyes could not stop seeing her. She had put light makeup, straightened her hair and left it untied. She was wearing mixed orange and yellow Salawar kameez.
'Bas baka, Bau naa jois, control kar' Jiju whispered in my ears not to see Hritisha constantly.
I felt bit awkward and gave him a smile.
'So? Was the journey okay?' Finally, Fufaji started to communicate.
'Yeah, the train journey was fun and we didn't face any problem.' Dad replied to him.
'When did you come, Siddhant?' Suraj asked.
Fuck! I was in trouble. How could I tell him that I came two days before and hunting Delhi with his sister for last two days?
'Aaaah, yesterday midnight only' I lied.
'Okay great. So when will you leave?' Suraj asked
'Tomorrow evening is my flight at five.'
'Oh, so you came only for two days from Dubai?'
'Yes, I have Friday and Saturday weekly offs, so I planned accordingly.'
Thank God, he believed. Only Hritisha’s Mom and Reet knew about my three days trip instead of two.
'So do you like Delhi?' Suraj asked.
'Ohh yes, it’s a beautiful city' I said.
'Actually, my daughter and son-in-law have lived here for three years.' Dad said.
'For job or business?' Fufaji asked
'No. For job. I was working in the Diamond market in Karol Bagh' Jiju replied.
'Okay and then you moved to Ahmedabad?' Tauji asked
'Yes. I have started my own business of ready-made garments' Jiju informed.
'Got it, Gujarati people are always into Business' Fufaji cracked a joke, and we all gents started laughing.
Gents group had begun gossiping. Starting from Business; the stock market; Politics; Narendra Modi, Amit Shah; lifestyle comparisons of Delhi vs. Ahmedabad and Singapore vs. Dubai; iPhone vs. Android; iPhone 6 vs. iPhone 6plus; spicy North Indian food vs. Sweet Gujarati Food; even Delhi metro train vs. Dubai Metro Train. No topics were left to discuss. I too gave my opinion and information in between the conversations.
I noticed on the other side, the ladies group had also started their gossips and chitchats. Hritisha was only smiling and nodding but she was not exchanging any words. Perhaps, she wanted to behave like a sweet and shy girl in front of the elders. We all did not feel that it was our first family meeting. Everything was going smoothly when Fufaji blasted the first bomb.
'Siddhant and Hritisha should meet separately and they can clarify any queries they have in their mind.' Fufaji advised.
All though all my family members knew that we both were madly in love with each other, but my dad tried to be formal and agreed with his suggestion.
'Ja bhaila, khali khali time pass kari aav' Jiju again pulled my leg by saying, go and do some fake meeting with Hritisha.
Hritisha and I went downstairs and settled in a corner. We had to behave as if we were meeting for the first time. She had to shy. We did not talk much I had to keep my dignity and had to behave like a proper and smart man. The ambiance was just like how the bride, groom and their family would behave when they meet for the first time in arranged marriages.
'How dare you call me 'TU'? I am your would be a husband; give me some respect' I teased Hritisha.
'Tujhe respect degi Meri Jimmy Chhoo.' She said
'I mean my shoes. It is of Jimmy Choo, brand and I will hit this on your head.'
'Ohh then Tujhe bhi salute karga mera, Louis Vuitton.'
'What do you mean?'
'See my belt, it is from LV brand. I will hit you with this.' Then I stood up from the chair, showed her my belt, which was not from LV and started showing Dabanng Step with the belt.
Everyone started looking at us; she asked me to sit and again started laughing. We did not know what we were doing. We were just pulling each other's legs and no one could imagine that this kind of things also can happen in so-called ‘Arranged Marriage Meeting.’
'Behave yourself' Hritisha said me while laughing.
'Okay. So tell me what is your name?' I was not in the serious mood and started behaving as if we were meeting for the first time.
'My name is Shyam Sundri Rajouriwali' She replied.
She too was in a humorous mood.
'Wow! What a lovely name. Shyam means black and sundri means, beautiful girl. What a combination.' I laughingly appreciated
'Yes. It is. The black beauty you know.'
'Got it got it. However, it does not suit you. You are not black beauty; you are very fair so your name should be, Shwet Sundri Amulwali.' I said
'Yes. Your color is as white as Amul Milk is. So'
She could not stop her laughter.
'Motu. Stop it now.'
'No way. I have just started balak.' I said.
'Achha? So tell me your name then.' Hritisha asked.
'My name is Kh..Kh..Khan, Kh..Kh…Khan from the epiglottis.' I stammered and acted same as Shahrukh Khan did in the movie ‘My name is Khan’
'Kuch bhi Matlab.'
Stopping her from laughing was impossible. She turned fully red and could not even drink water properly.
However, that was not the end. I started my jokes again.
'So tell me about your qualifications.’ I asked
'I failed seven times in the first standard. So parents said 'beta, tumse naa ho paega, tumhare lachhan Hume theek nai lag rahe, tumse naa ho paega' and I dropped schooling' Hritisha said.
'Ohh. Interesting. It means I am more educated than you are. I failed only four times in the first standard.
'Bravo Bravo.' She started clapping.
'Merci' I said.
'So what do you do for a living? I mean what job you do?’ Hritisha asked.
'I am giving tuitions to the Senior KG students as per my highest qualification.
We both again started laughing excessively.
'What do you do?' I asked.
'I am giving tuitions to Junior KG students as I have failed seven times.'
We both did not know what we were doing at that point. We were just enjoying the moment. We never laughed so much before.
Looking at her smile had given me a kind of satisfaction. I wanted to hug her tight and felt like kissing her.
'What? Again, you are staring at me. Stop it Siddhant' She said.
'Bloody public place.' I complained
'Why? What happen?'
'I want to hug you.' I said
'Shit man! If the meeting were at your home, I would have hugged you.'
'Our parents would have talked outside, and we would have been doing romance in your room, in private.'
'Abey Pyaar ke Bhoot, control control.' She stopped me
I hit her on her leg with my shoes. I wanted her to hit softly but by mistake, I walloped her, immediately I apologized. We had almost spent more than half an hour. No one takes more than 15 minutes in a private meeting in arranged marriage system.
Suddenly I noticed Suraj running outside the restaurant, it's then I realized that we had already passed more than half an hour and our parents were waiting upstairs. Hritisha and I got completely lost in our jokes, which we were cracking, to each other. We went upstairs and behaved like an ordinary people who meet for the first time.
'Be aatli vaar karay? Aa loko tension ma aai gaya' Jiju whispered in my ears that, you and Hritisha took so long that her family members got tensed.
'Gappa Marta hata banne' I said that we were just enjoying our fake meeting.
Tea, coffee, snacks were served.
'What's your favorite Dish Siddhant?' Suraj asked.
'He likes Thepla and khichdi the most' Mom said before me.
'What? We make khichdi only when someone is sick.' Tauji Replied.
'Yes. I love Khichdi and Thepla the most.' I said.
'Even when he comes to India during his annual leave; he tells mummy to cook only khichdi and Thepla for the whole month' Drishti Said.
'Hritisha, you must learn how to prepare his favorite dishes' mom said to Hritisha.
'No worries. She knows how to make khichdi but not thepla. I will teach her how to make Thepla once you send me recipe' Hritisha’s mom said to my mom
'Pakka.' My mother India replied.
She smiled and nodded. It was embarrassing for me. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone for some time.
'Bhai sahab kam bolte hai aisa lagta hai' my father asked Fufaji.
Hritisha’s dad was quite calm and was not into conversation much, as we all noticed that he had said nothing from the time we entered. Only we and no one else knew in our family that, we both arranged this family meeting after so many arguments and fighting.
'Haan, unka nature aisa hi hai, shant Ek dum' Fufaji answered my dad saying Hritisha’s father is quite shy.
'So Uncle how's your health now? All okay?' I asked Hritisha’s dad.
'Haanji Haanji, ab sab theek hai' Hritisha’s father said that he is fine now.
I noticed that he was still unhappy with our relationship. Almost after one and half-hours of a family meeting. We all came outside. Suraj arranged a taxi for us and we left bidding farewell to all.
'So, how’s she?' I asked my family about Hritisha.
'Hmm. She is pretty' mom said
'Haan, she looks more beautiful than photos' Jiju told me.
'Her family is also very kind' Drishti stated.
'What about your dad?' I asked
'Hmmm' Dad did not give me any answer.
I realized that he became quite upset and the reason was not known to me. I did not want to drag the matter so, I kept quiet. We all assembled in our room, as it was quite big and started discussing more Hritisha and her family. Jiju had already decided to visit Karol Bag to meet his old colleagues and friends, in the evening, but dad refused to join us.
He was still upset. I asked mom what had happened to him, but she could not give any reply and ended with the assumption that he must be tired of traveling long distance routes. Seeing dad quiet, mom too refused to give us company to Karol Bag.
‘Reached.’ I sent a text to Hritisha after reaching the hotel.
‘First, Tell Me. Have you changed your clothes?’ Hritisha asked.
‘Reet wants to know how you looked today.'
I had already removed my shirt, but again I wore it and took a click to send Hritisha so that she could show Reet.
‘Get slim. Mottu’ Hritisha told me after seeing the photo
‘Yes Yes. From Sunday onwards.' I replied
‘Can I call you?’ I asked
‘Haan. Everyone is downstairs.' Hritisha gave me the permission
I called Hritisha.
‘Hello,’ I said.
‘Hi Bettu’ She replied
‘First of all, let me know, the reaction of your family members, after seeing me and my family members’ I asked.
‘They said I have to decide.'
‘Then Decide and say yes again.’
‘Hahaha. No. I will say NO.’
‘Should I flush the Ring then?’ I asked sarcastically.
‘Shut up! Don’t you dare touch my ring. My husband gave me.' She said
I informed Hritisha, that I was about to leave for Karol Bagh to meet Jiju’s old friend and to explore Delhi more. I had put on the same PINK t-shirt, which was gifted to me by her. She asked me to have lots of fun.
Hritisha’s mother praised me saying that I looked much better in real than what I looked in photographs, slimming down a bit would have made me perfect; she also said that her relatives too liked my family and me. Besides this, they advised Hritisha to have some control on her anger.
My reply to this was very logical. I asked her to tell her parents that Siddhant also needs a strong competitor in anger; that is why he would marry her.
I told my family about Hritisha and her families’ opinion about us, but my dad still seemed to be unhappy. I decided to ask him after coming from Karol Bagh.
‘A Girl is staring at me’ I texted Hritisha, while I was eating Chaat Masala.
‘Hahaha, let her see. We Delhi girls always appreciate the beauty of nature.’ She replied.
Jiju, Drishti, Heer and Me visited Gaffar Market first, and then went Karol Bagh and Ramesh Nagar to meet Jiju’s friends. We had dinner at one of his friends’ place. After knowing the purpose of our visit to Delhi, Jiju’s friend wished me luck and offered me to stay at his house in future, if I would come to Delhi to meet my girlfriend.
We had also seen the old home where Jiju and Drishti used to live as paying guest with a Sikh Family. I felt the positive vibes from all the people around me, maybe because was feeling positive from inside because of Hritisha’s love,
‘Bettu I am going off to sleeping, just be ready around 7.00 AM. Let’s meet somewhere first, then we will go to Gurudwara after which we can eat something in McD. See you…Goodnight…...I Love you.’ I received a text from Hritisha on WhatsApp when I reached the hotel.
‘Ok boss, I just returned to hotel… Don't worry…...main ready ho jaunga. See u baby, and love u, take care’ I replied.
I changed my clothes. Jiju and Drishti came to our room; maybe dad had called them. Everyone was quiet and when I observed dad, he still seemed annoyed. Jiju asked me about the next day’s plan so I informed him that, I would leave at seven in the morning with Hritisha and visit Gurudwara Bangla Sahib first, and then we would hang around in Connaught Place.
'When will you leave for Dubai?' Drishti asked.
'Departure timing is 5 in the evening. So I will leave maximum by 2:30 pm' I said.
'So, what about us?' Dad asked. He was still upset.
'Means?' I asked
'You will leave early in the morning with Hritisha, and after that, you would leave for Airport. Our train will depart at one in the afternoon. Till then what will we do?'
'You only told me that, you would be meeting your another old friend.’
'I don't want to meet them.' Dad shouted
'I am tired and not feeling well.'
'Okay, then what am I supposed to do?' I asked.
Ignoring my question dad asked me when Hritisha and her family would let us know their final decision on marriage.
‘They would inform us within one week.’ I said
I cannot wait for one week. Hritisha parents must give their answer by tomorrow.’ Dad ordered
‘Please wait and let her parents take some more time to think about me. It is a question of their daughter’s future.’ I tried to make him understand.
'Sorry dad, it is not possible. I don't agree with you this time.' I continued
'Why? What's wrong in this?' He questioned me.
'This is about Marriage, a decision about whole life; they are from girl's side; they have full right to take time and think again and again.' I defended.
'Why are you defending her parents?' Dad asked.
'I am not defending anyone dad. I just want to tell you that this is wrong.' I argued
'I know what is wrong and what is not better than you.' Dad answered.
'No, sorry to say dad, but this time you are wrong. If they say yes by tomorrow morning, then would you ask them to do engagement by the evening?’ I asked.
'So? What's wrong in that also?' Dad still opposed me
'Mom please tell him to understand the situation.' I said furiously.
'Don't shout, calm down both of you' mom said.
It was almost midnight and suddenly the ambiance of the hotel room got very spoiled. Dad and I got engaged in an argument. .Jiju, Mom, and Drishti were trying to calm us down and we realized that we were in a hotel room, not at home.
‘Tell me, why they invited us to meet in a restaurant and not at their home?' Dad asked.
'Yaar! Now, what is this?' It was frustrating.
'Answer me, why didn’t her parents invite us to their home?' Dad continued.
'What kind of question is this dad?' I asked.
'When a boy and his family come to meet you and see your daughter for marriage, don't you think they should invite them to their home?' Dad went on harping.
'It's not necessary.’ Jiju said taking my side.
'Exactly. Did they treat you bad? Did they behave improperly?' I asked
‘Don’t counter me.' Dad said.
'Listen, dad, it all depends on culture. Nowadays almost everyone meets outside and nothing is wrong in this. The primary concern is the understanding between each other. Whether we met at home or in a restaurant or on the roadside, it hardly matters.’ I tried to explain.
I never thought I would fight with my dad, that also when we met him after almost six months. I was upset and could not think of doing anything at that time. I did not wish to ruin my last day in Delhi. Dad’s rude behavior made me cry and went off to sleep at 3:00 AM.