Monday, June 29, 2015

The Wedding Absentee Part 2

Bangalore has a very peculiar weather.

It can change instantaneously.

Based on weather forecasts and your own personal predictions you may have just planned the best outdoors roof party at your home, but when you are least expecting it, the rain gods will decide to crash your party.

It’s worse for people like me who love riding to work. The one day I am convinced that the city is going to witness heavy rainfall, the sun will shine till 7 p.m. making me, in my thick jackets look like a complete doofus.

I also can’t remember how often I have left all of my rain-protective gear at home looking at the clear blue skies in the morning only to return in the evening soaking wet and shivering like a leaf.

So when the young man (from last month’s post) left home reluctantly on a Sunday afternoon 5 years ago, it was all bright and sunny outside.

The umbrella at the corner of the car porch stared back at him ‘I won’t need you today buddy.’ He thought to himself as he shut the gates.

The wedding reception was at a hall right next to his church at a walkable distance, so he boldly set foot with clear instructions from his father to smile at the people he met since he was representing the family.

A few hundred feet away he began to notice the sunlight around him start to dim.

It was about to rain.

The young man knew he would make it to the wedding hall in time before the rain came down, but that wasn’t his problem.

Here’s the thing about rains, just before it pours, the humidity in the air goes up.

The young slightly overweight man, who was now rushing to the venue, felt the sweat begin to break on his forehead. He reached for his pockets only to realize that his partner in crime in such moments i.e. his handkerchief, was missing.

When he finally arrived at the wedding hall, the clouds overhead opened up.

The rain came down with fury, but the young man in this story had made it indoors.

Right at the entrance he saw a bunch of kids chasing each other, one of them in particular reminded him of his own childhood self.

Feeling a little nostalgic he smiled to himself and for a moment he forgot about the rain, the sweat and the chicken biriyani he so desperately wanted to eat.

Just so you know, another not-so-much-fun fact about rains in Bangalore is that when it rains heavily, for safety reasons, the electric company shuts off the supply to large areas in the city, sometimes for many, many hours.

So when the young man climbed up 3 flights of stairs hoping to be welcomed by an air conditioned environment, he was instead greeted by a sea of people trying to keep from bumping into each other.

He understood the true meaning of global warming as glands he didn’t even know existed came alive, and the sweat began to pour more freely.

His frail attempts to wipe his face clean with the only thing at his disposal (his shirt sleeves) failed miserably and he ended up looking like a man who took a shower with all his clothes on.

He was confused, was he supposed to congratulate the couple first, or rush to the food section?

“If I eat hot food now, before they turn on the generators, I will probably drown in my sweat” he thought to himself and decided to climb another flight of stairs to meet the newlywed couple.

At the entrance to the fourth floor stood 2 men offering the guests a welcome drink. The drink  consisted of a thick orange-white liquid which looked inviting to the young man, however, when he tasted it, it brought back memories of a de-worming syrup his father used to force him to drink as a child.

Without a moment’s hesitation he threw the rest of the drink into the trash can.

He should’ve looked before throwing his cup away, that too, with the force that he did.

He watched in horror as the projectile moved in slow motion and landed straight on a tiny pond like collection of the thick orange liquid that had formed in the can, creating a splash.

As several droplets of that orange stuff went up in the air the young man bolted into the hall, his sunday school teacher Mrs. Nirmala was standing right there talking to someone and was just about to be sprayed with a weird drink ruining her expensive attire.

She had on several occasions in the past, twisted his ears for running around the church during mass, he didn’t even want to think of what would happen if she realized that it was him who ‘made a splash’ at the wedding, so trying to remain unnoticed he walked with his head fixed at a strict right angle not turning to the right or to the left.

Say what you want about the young man, but he was a stickler for rules, it didn’t bother him that the queue of guests waiting to meet the couple was longer than any line he had stood in before, but he was going to wait for his turn.

The line moved at a snail’s pace.

He watched in amusement as large groups of people stumbled and fumbled on stage like a real life version of the game pac-man.

He looked heavenward and prayed for the generators to come on.

He didn’t realize when he prayed that he was standing next to a large speaker mounted on a stand.

His prayers were instantly answered.

The speakers nearly blasted him off to outer space.

He was dazed for a short while after the sound waves pounded against his eardrums, shaking his ossicles to the bone.

"Are you listening to me", "Are you listening to me" the singer kept screaming, the young man stared in silence at the loudspeaker thinking to himself, "Yes dude, we are all listening, shut up already"!

Scores of people overtook the him, but he didn’t budge, he wasn’t going to break the queue, and after a while he had grown fond of the same bollywood song that was playing on repeat.

When he finally reached the dais and was just a few minutes away from meeting the couple, he realized that he had one major problem.

He had no clue who either the groom or the bride was, and of course, he did not know their names.

“Oh no! Whom do I congratulate”. He thought to himself as he looked around anxiously for some sign board that said ‘x’ weds ‘y’, but there was nothing.

In a desperate attempt, even though he knew that his next move would make him look like a complete burro he turns to the guest behind and asks them the question – Do you know the names of the couple on stage?

The pair of girls in their early twenties who stood behind him were dumbfounded, they were convinced that this guy was just a wedding crasher.

The taller one among them wryly said Jilu and Jinu.

But before he could clarify who Jilu or who Jinu was, he found himself on centre stage, walking toward the couple.

His mind went into overdrive, Jilu sounded like a girl’s name, so did Jinu, he looked blankly at the newlyweds on stage, he didn’t want to call them by the wrong names, he briefly looked behind at the girls who gave him the names, they were giggling now.

He shook the bride hands and asked – Which one of you is Jilu?

For a moment all the hustle and bustle on the stage stopped, relatives of both the bride and the groom who stood behind froze, and stared at him with their jaws open.

It was an audacious question.

The bride looked at him with an ice cold stare and squeezed his hand so tight that the young man nearly screamed, the rings on her fingers sank into his chubby palms, as she spoke to him through clenched teeth and said, "My husband is Jilu, I am Jinu".

Fortunately for him the cameraman intervenes, the young man tries to hide behind the groom for the photos but the videographer keeps insisting that he stand next to the bride.

He stands next to her, keeping a fair distance,afraid that she would stomp his feet with her high heels.

He nervously leans to her side.

He was scared, and his hands were still hurting.

The lighting on stage and repeated flashes from the cameras augment the whole sweating process which for a while had reduced.

Streams of sweat begin to pour down the sides of his eyebrows and over his cheeks.

He stumbles out of the dias and nearly trips on the makeshift stairs only to find himself standing face to face with Mrs. Nirmala.

"Oh my dear sweet Lord". He whispers under his breath.

“Thomas, why are you crying”? She say sympathetically.

Crying??? He wonders. 

“Don’t worry; even you’ll get married one day, the right girl is just around the corner”.

He feels relieved that his former teacher is still oblivious of the large stain on her saree so much so, that he doesn’t even try to explain to her that the streams of sparkling liquid flowing down his cheeks weren’t tears but sweat.

He somehow manages to break away from the conversation and reaches the third floor.

The queues are much shorter there.

He completely ignores the salads, the kebabs, the kurmas, the raithas, and the rotis and fills his plate with his favorite thing on the menu, chicken biriyani, lots and lots of it.

He looks around for a place to sit and like a gift sent from above he sees a blue plastic chair covered in white cloth and a red ribbon beckoning to him from the corner of the room.

Tired, hungry, and sleep deprived he makes his way to the chair.

He sees the same kids running on the floor again, and he waves at the one who reminded him of his own childhood.

The child stops running.

He stares at the young man for a moment, and then, all of a sudden he bolts toward him.

The kid runs really fast, too fast for the young man to act and crashes into him, he barely retains his balance when the 5 other kids running behind their fearless leader follow suit, with one kid punching him right in the Bermuda triangle.

The young man nearly collapses.

He holds the chair with one hand and the plate full of food with the other and sits down.

The chair gives way.

And he lands on the floor.

The kids laugh, and so do some adults.

The young man has had enough, with this final blow from the universe he has lost his apetite not only for biriyani but for food in general.

He lifts himself up, clears the mess off of his new blue shirt and pant and begins to walk out of the room.

Before he reaches the door some of his appetite returns when he thinks of the dessert.
Maybe a little ice cream will ease the pain and embarrassment. He thinks to himself.

Hesitant yet optimistic he walks toward the dessert counter only to see a mob of adults and children crowding around a hapless man standing with a box of ice cream.

Dismayed he walks out of the wedding hall.

"Ah, atleast the rain has stopped". He says to himself and begins the 10 minute walk back home.

2 minutes later.

It begins to rain again.

"Oh great"!!! He looks at the skies and exclaims loudly, "Anymore surprises"? He asks.

Nothing happens.

He exhales heavily and continues walking in the rain, convinced that his trials were over when a car passes over a large pool of muddy water spraying the young man with dirt as it speeds away.

When he finally reaches home he finds his father at the front door holding a towel in his hand.

"So how was the biriyani son"? He asks.

The young man laughs hysterically and slowly walks away without saying a word leaving behind a trail of mud and water on the floor.

And thus, on that sunny yet rain washed, humid, electricity less sunday afternoon the one and only wedding absentee as we now know him was born and to this day every time someone invites him to a wedding he thinks a hundred times before saying yes.

Until next time.

Sentimentally Your’s


P.S: Both Jilu and Jinu went on to have a very happy marriage. They have 2 kids now, a boy and a girl and their names are Linu and Juna, and by the way, in case you were wondering, Juna is the girl’s name.