Another wedding – this time, a short story

Mohan was tired.

He was fatigued, irritable, sleepy, and miserable.

And the fun has just begun. He has to survive today, tomorrow and the day after morning.

“God! Give me strength”, he muttered.

He’d been up for most of the previous night. Catching up with long-lost relatives, making sure all their needs were met, smile at people whom he used to hate as a kid…

Well… all the things a responsible brother of a groom-to-be, must do.

He had arrived from Mumbai only the day before, but he already missed his place.

It was a small apartment, agreed. But it was his own pad. He didn’t have to wait for turns to the bathroom, could have the newspaper to himself all morning, do things his own pace.

He’s been trying for a bath all morning, unsuccessfully.

“Mohan!!” His father yelled from the hall.

“Yes!”

“What happened to the cab?” he demanded angrily. “We have to send one to the airport now. Prakash is coming on the 10’O clock flight. Useless fellows!”

“I’ll check up,” said Mohan.

He ran inside to make the call. But his mother was already on the phone, instructing someone about making laddus.

“Ma!” he screamed. “I want the phone!”

“Wait!” said mother. “This is important. After this, I have to call Lalli and see if my saris are ready. I need the phone at least for another half an hour” and shooed him off.

“Mohan!” Thundered his father from the front of the house.

“I’m still checking,” said Mohan, not too amicably.

He knocked on his brother’s door.

The groom.

He had left strict instructions not to wake him up before 9. 30.

But this is desperate. He needed his mobile. He’d forgotten to charge his own mobile, as usual.

His brother’s irritated voice came from inside.

“Who is it?”

“Hey! It’s me. Sorry to wake you up, but I need your mobile.”

“No way, man!” grunted his irate brother. “I am talking to Nitya”

Nitya, his bride.

“But you’re going to see her in the evening and from tomorrow, for the rest of your life! Please, Gopal. Appa is taking my life out!”

After 20 minutes of begging, he finally got the phone.

“The cabs have left, sir. About 40 minutes ago. Should be there any minute,” said the Cabwala. This, he reported to his father, who was waiting impatiently for news.

“Mohan! Can you just run along to Murugan stores? I desperately need sugar,” pleaded his mother.

She was making endless trips to the kitchen to supervise the lunch proceedings and handing out steaming cups of coffee to anybody on her way out from the kitchen.

He dropped off the sugar with his mother and ran to the front of the house, where the cabs had arrived. After giving them instructions, he ran in again for a bath.

No luck. He could hear strains of classical music from inside. His mother’s sister.

On his way out he spotted his uncle, with a newspaper.

“So, Mohan,” said he. “You’re next”

“Next? For what?”
”Wedding, stupid! And I know just the girl for you!”

“Please!! Leave me alone!”

He had to bite back the angry retorts bubbling in his mouth.

He suddenly noticed that the bathroom was empty. Hurrah! He ran towards it.

“Mohan!” His mother’s voice.

“Ma! Please, if I don’t have my bath now, I’ll never get a chance again”

He shut the door on her exasperated face.

Finally a few minutes to himself. God! What he would do for a cigarette now.

He made an offhand head count. There were at least 20 people in the house. 20 people. Staying in a 3-bedroom house. With 3 bathrooms. Of which one bedroom and bathroom were off limits. His brother’s.

He knew there were worse scenarios. Like 10 more people in a 2-bedroom house.

“It’s only for 2 days” was his mother’s logic. “We’ll adjust”

Adjust? At the mention of a wedding, what makes perfectly sane, comfortably off people, jump to pack their bags and head to their kins’ places to huddle, and live in total discomfort for days? And his mother has personally called each one of them to come over a week before to help.

“Help with what?” he asked her. She was the one who claimed that they were the groom’s side and all they had to do was land up for the wedding.

“Mohan! She said sternly. “You’ll never understand”

Maybe it’s a bonding thing. They get together over endless cups of tea and coffee and re-live their own younger days. At times like this all past prejudices and insults were forgotten and they seem to remember only the good times.

He occasionally caught a glimpse of his father in a heated discussion with his own brother about the cricketing style of Pataudi.

Or his mother reminiscing her own wedding with her cousin.

“Mohan! They have arrived! Hurry up!” his mother’s frantic voice shook him out of his reverie.

He dressed in haste and was just in time to welcome his uncle getting off the cab.

The entire populace of the house (except for the groom, who had resumed his love-talk with his bride) had gathered in the verandah to welcome Prakash uncle, who was seeing most of them after 10 years.

Living in Delhi, he was a busy bureaucrat, respected by everyone and the apple of grandfather’s eye.

His son followed him, a little dazed.

Mohan felt a surge of pity for the boy.

He stepped forward, took the bag from him and said, “Hi! Come on. I’ll show you to your room”.”

Mohan spotted a pierced ear. His cousin was in a cut off jeans, in tatters just below his knees.

He couldn’t wait to see his father’s face. But he could only discern a raised eyebrow.

********

The wedding hall was chaotic. Prakash uncle and his son sometimes eclipsed even Gopal in getting all the attention. People milled about them, and his cousin was constantly harassed with the standard question, “Let’s see if you remember me. What’s my name?”

And in the ladies’ quarters, the tongues were wagging in hot gossip about them. Mohan heard snatches of it whenever he passed by.

“Heard he has a Russian girlfriend!” his mother stage whispered to Kamala aunty.

Suddenly spotting him, she said, “That’s why I want to get this fellow married off soon. Who knows whom he’ll bring from Bombay?”

If he was not so bogged down with responsibilities and unreasonable requests, he’d have enjoyed scandalizing his mother and aunt.

He’d have told them breezily, “I have no intention to marry now. I already have a live-in girlfriend!” He could just imagine their horrified faces.

“Mohan!” His brother’s panic-stricken voice.

“I can’t find my tie. I think I have lost it!”

“Hey! The function is only 40 minutes away!”

Finally he managed to run out to the nearest store and bought one before anybody knew and created a scene.

*******

It was a relief when the day ended. Mohan opted to go home for the night.

He needed the peace.

The house was strangely empty.

When he lay down to sleep, he could hear the echoes of the voices of the people who had occupied the house for the past week.

He went to his brother’s room. From tomorrow, he’d lose the freedom to walk in as he pleased. He’ll have to be careful about not invading the privacy of its new occupant.

He suddenly saw a photo of Gopal and himself, taken about 15 years ago. With their arms around each other, they smiled at the camera with bright eyes.

He realized they’d gradually grown apart over the years.

Now they had their own separate circles of friends, jobs, opposite preferences and totally separate lives.

His own move to Mumbai added to that. Both were pathetic in keeping touch. He got news about Gopal from their mother’s mails. He was sure she was also Gopal’s source of information about his life.

Now, the wedding will only widen the gap between them. Gopal will become busy with matrimony. Then maybe children. His life will be filled with his wife’s world as well. Her siblings, parents, friends.

He imagined himself 30 years from now. Will he be so eager and enthusiastic like his uncle to pack his bags and come down for Gopal’s son’s wedding with his family in tow?

Or will he simply send him a gift cheque and get on with his life?

Maybe he’ll come back.

After all, it’s a bonding thing.

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7 Comments

  1. Pradeep said,

    September 12, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Good one… I thoroughly enjoyed it, probably because I haven’t seen my brother in more than an year now and am missing him badly. 😦

    That’s a tough one.. I’m glad you enjoyed the story, though…

  2. maxdavinci said,

    September 13, 2008 at 12:24 am

    I’m the elder one, I hope my bro writes a post like this when I get married. I hope he has twice the errands to run!

    Haha! All the best to him!

  3. maami said,

    September 13, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Lovely!Good Show girl!

    🙂 Thank you, maami!

  4. September 15, 2008 at 4:01 am

    I am the elder one too, so I second max here! But then, I wouldn’t be surprised if one day my brother dropped a bombshell on my parents about a secret long-time Arab girlfriend who’s 6 yrs elder to him! 😛 I’ve always been privy to his weird secrets, so such an event wouldn’t surprise me in the least!

    Hehe… In that case, all the best to you!! 🙂

  5. Vijay said,

    September 16, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Great story.. almost felt like I was there…
    came here from Rada’s blog…

    🙂 Thank you!

  6. Lakshmi said,

    September 21, 2008 at 1:19 am

    My prediction is that weddings are going to get shorter (in duration) and smaller in attendance with just close family and friends. We should save some of those cards that say “Bring your relatives and frineds” to prove how things used to be when we were younger 🙂
    So long forgotten uncles will be sent a link to an online photo album with a nice write up maybe..

    You’re closer to your prediction! I wrote this almost 5 years ago.. Now I hear of relatives watching Srimandams, etc live on webcam.. 🙂

  7. Pearls said,

    May 29, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    very nice story…
    I have felt these contradictory emotions at weddings too. Irritated on the one hand and realizing that it is the only time I ever meet all the people related to me on the other hand.
    Still torn about large weddings. Cant make up my mind about whether it is a good thing or bad.

    Thank you!! I enjoy weddings – the people, politics, gossip, food, dressing up…
    But one wedding I hated was my own! Was so nervous throughout, I could barely eat! Just wanted the damn thing over and done with!!! 😀


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