It was a Sunday morning. Two weeks after the demise of Shantha the dear wife of Raman, due to cancer the much dreaded disease. A few friends and relatives were still dropping in to offer their condolences. Sunder and his wife Mala had come all the way from Madurai to be with him to share his grief.
“Shantha Mami was very special to us. We cannot forget that she was the person who found the alliance for our daughter. If my daughter is leading a happy life in USA with her husband and two children, we owe a debt to Shantha Mami” said Sunder.
“Such a simple and unassuming person she was. So talented yet so humble, I always had a great admiration for Shantha Mami” added Mala.
“We have so many close relatives in Chennai but visiting your home has been always special to us because of your wonderful hospitality”, Sunder continued to heap praises.
As they were talking, Raman’s mind travelled back fifteen years, to recall the days preceding the marriage of Sunder and Mala’s daughter Meera to his nephew Raju.
X x x x x x x x x x x
Raman’s sister Chitra was almost in tears when he visited their house that Sunday. She had just finished talking to her only son Raju on a long distance call to USA and looked very disturbed.
“Raju is becoming impossible, Anna. He is nearing 30 and is not agreeing to marry anyone we suggest”
“Did you ask him if he is in love with anyone in USA? As long as the girl is a Hindu we can look at his choice of a life partner”
“I even asked him that. He is denying involvement with any girl in USA. Today when I talked to him about a good alliance from Chennai, he was angry with me. He only wants a girl from Mumbai. According to him girls from Chennai would be backward. Every time I have a talk with him about his marriage, we end up fighting and I end up crying. I don’t know what to do? Will we ever find a good wife for Raju?”
“Don’t worry Chitra. I am sure that there is a girl in this world who is destined to marry him. Whenever God decides that the time has come, I am sure we will find her, as they say marriages are made in heaven”
Raman did not realise that within two months of his talk with his sister, God would open a window of opportunity in the form of a girl from a village near Madurai.
* * * * *
Raman, with his wife Shantha and his sister Chitra and brother- in- law were visiting Madurai to attend a wedding in the family. They were put up in a hotel. During their conversation, they realised that the family of Meera, with a Masters degree in Computer Science, whose horoscope Shantha had got through one of her close friend, were living in a village on the outskirts of Madurai. According to the astrologer, Meera and Raju’s horoscope had all the ten poruthams and if they married, they would live happily ever after.
Though Raman knew that Raju, as a boy born and brought up in Bombay and now settled on U.S.A., did not prefer any girls beyond the Vindhyas, the family decided to give a call to the prospective Sambandhi to meet them at the hotel. During the informal chat Sunder and Mala, parents of Meera told them that though their daughter was born in a village and did her initial schooling in the village, she had completed her schooling from a boarding school in Kodaikanal and done her graduation from a college in Chennai.
When they informed that Meera was actually working in a software company nearby Raman suggested that they call her to the hotel so that Raju’s parents have an opportunity to meet and talk with the girl. Fortunately Meera agreed to their telephonic request and presented herself at the hotel room within fifteen minutes.
When she knocked to announce her arrival, it was Raman who opened the door. He was more than stunned to see a charming girl full of poise and grace standing before him. After she took her seat and they started talking to her, everyone found her not only intelligent but very articulate in English and Tamil. Raman and his family realised that they had at last found a perfect match for Raju. But the question was who will tell him and convince him that a girl from a village near Madurai would be the answer for his long quest for a perfect life partner. Raman’s creative brain quickly hatched a plan to solve the problem.
* * * * *
After Meera excused herself from the hotel room as she had taken permission from her boss only for an hour, Raman decided to initiate the first step in his plan.
He told Meera’s parents that the 60th Birthday of his brother-in-law was planned to be celebrated two months later in Chennai and Raju as the only son will be there to participate in the event. During his brief four week stay in Chennai, they had planned to get him married.
Raman told them, “We will be happy if your family along with Meera attend the function as our special guests. I have a gut feeling, which I am sure is shared by my family members here, that Meera will be a perfect match for Raju. If an informal opportunity is presented to him to have a talk with Meera I am sure both will like each other”.
Though reluctant initially Meera’s parents agreed to consider the request after consulting their daughter and await the formal invitation to take the final call.
* * * * *
Two months flew in a jiffy. The day of the event saw hectic activities at the venue with a number of friends and relatives gracing the occasion. Raman was on tenter-hooks. Though he had sent the invitation to Meera’s parents, there was no response from them. Raju, who was busy on the stage, participating in the religious ceremonies warranted by the occasion, was not even informed about their visit.
It was closer to the Muhurtham time. Raman’s eyes were drifting between the entrance and the stage with anxiety writ large on his face. Will they come or will they not? Suddenly, his face brightened when he saw Meera’s family making a hesitant entry into the venue. He rushed to the entrance and welcomed them with all the love and response they deserved and made them sit in the hall. Now Raman’s mind was planning the next step in his plan.
X x x x x x x x x
During a break in the ceremonies, Raju who was a tall, fair and handsome young man, whom any girl would like, came down to mix with the audience. As a part of his strategy Raman introduced Meera’s family as his good friends from Madurai. Raju, obviously impressed with Meera`s looks, sat with them for an informal chat.
From the corner of his eyes Raman could find out the vibration passing between Meera and Raju. Both seemed to be enjoying the brief conversation they had, while the parents of both of them were looking tense and anxious.
Raju had to excuse himself suddenly, as he was called on the stage to participate in further ceremonies. From the stage, Raju showed signs to his uncle that he wanted to have a word with him. Raman realised that he had passed the first step in his plan. With a spring on his feet he rushed to the stage and lent his ears to Raju, who whispered, “Mama, I want to meet that girl Meera again. Will you ensure that they don’t go away?”
When Raman realised that he now had an upper hand he answered, “Let me see, I will find out if Meera also wants to meet you”.
His mischievous smile revealed to both parents, who were watching Raman anxiously, that the plan was proceeding on the right lines.
* * * * *
After the ceremonies, when the guests were busy taking their turns to have lunch, the family found Raju busy talking to Meera, sitting in one corner of the hall. The animated discussions and the frequent bursts of laughter between them indicated that the pair was getting along fine, like `house on fire` as they say.
After lunch when Meera’s family was taking leave, Raju requested for a date with Meera in the evening to have further chat with her. Meera’s parents reluctantly agreed to the request because it meant postponement of their trip back to Madurai. It fell on Raman’s shoulders to drop Meera and Raju at a restaurant so that they could get to know each other better with instructions that Raju would drop Meera back at her host`s place.
* * * * *
Things then moved very fast. Raju and Meera met a couple of more times, with Raju delaying his decision, causing a lot of anxiety to both parents. Finally when Raju brought Meera to his house and told his parents “Appa – Amma, meet your future daughter-in-law”, they heaved a big sigh of relief. When the following day Meera’s parents came with their relatives to exchange Thamboolam and fix the date for a hurried wedding to be conducted within two weeks, there was joy all around.
After the marriage function was over Meera and Raju did not forget to take special blessings from Raman and Shantha for making their marriage happen. Shantha even received a special Kancheepuram saree as a token of thanks for getting the horoscope of Meera from her friend.
* * * * *
With God’s grace and elder’s blessings Raju and Meera got along very well and in due course were proud parents of two lovely kids.
During one of his trips to Raju’s home in USA, Raman asked him “What Raju? You had refused to even look at any alliance beyond Mumbai. How is your marriage with a girl from a village going?”
“Come on Mama! That is an old story. Today Meera is really the better half in my life” said Raju with a sheepish grin.
X x x x x x
Ringing of the doorbell announcing the arrival of another friend to offer his condolences brought Raman back from old memories. Taking the cue Sunder and Mala took leave from Raman, inviting him to Madurai to spend some days with them.