Archive for December, 2008

Arranged Marriage

Arun Raman was like every other young man, tried hard to get into IIT, and settled for a mediocre engineering college, in a god-forsaken corner of the city, tried to differentiate himself in college, but settled to being one of the thousand Infosys recruits, and posted in another god-forsaken corner of another city. He had the IIM dreams too, and diligently traveled a hour to the coaching class every weekend, and discussed strategies and fundaes with other indistinguishable members of his club. CAT too, was a distant dream, but the hard work was rewarded as he ended up with a painfully expensive MBA from a decent place (as compared to the engineering college), and a job as Business analyst for 7lacs per annum.

He was also like every other young man, for he had resigned to the fact that his dreams of an exotic love story, woud be exactly just that: A dream of an exotic love story. He hardly met any girls in his line of work, and the few that he met, were always ‘friends’.

Since starting the job two years ago, he has been getting to the ‘oh-he is successful’ quip from random uncles and aunties in the family. The short trip to America on business, and the car that he purchased was enough to convince Arun’s amma, that he will pass the test (of having a stable job and an assured income to take care of a family) in front of prospective in-laws. He was pushing the upper age limit for successful marriages, and will be 28 in a couple of months. She convinced Mr Raman, that it was time to look for the ‘bahu’ of the house.

And, so they went, in Arun’s new car, to the highly reccommended horoscope reader. Shanti, their next-door neighbor never forgot to mention this horoscope reader, who had found her daughter the perfect husband.

The jyotishi, was a retired bank officer, and based on a couple of perfect matches, that he had made, was becoming popular, and earning a lot of money, consulting people, who think all their lives woes are because the stars are in the wrong places in the whole vast universe, and who fool themselves to believe that this is true, because these stars have great gravitational powers.

Mr Raman, dutufully produced the date, place and time of birth of his only son to the jyotishi. The jyotishi then retired into his bedroom, to start the process of calculating where the stars and planets were, on the day of Arun’s birth. The Raman’s, were sipping the sherbet that Mrs. Jyotishi had offered them.

Mrs Raman was sitting passively, Arun, was on his phone, sms’ing and following the cricket (NZ vs Bangladesh), and Mr Raman, had read today’s paper, and was re-reading parts of it. The calculation was taking just too long.

Finally, the jyotish comes out of the room, shaking his head, and sending shivers through Mrs Raman. She had been silently praying that the planets do not play a cruel joke on her son, but the look on the jyotish defied her powers of prayer. The jyotish, imagined himself to be the stern faced doctor in hindi movies with the task of breaking the bad news to the overly sentimental mother in the white sari. With the saddest look that he could make, he broke the news. What to do, he said, the planets have decided. He asked them to do certain pujas to please the Gods, but said that what is written cannot be un-written. Arun’s life has been destined to be not-so-pleasent. Mrs Raman, did not want to assimilate the long sad life of her son, but chose to discuss the immediate ramifications of the foretelling, Arun’s chances in the marriage market. And that news was not any good either.

The jyotish explained that the probabilities that the planets being placed in a way that will mitigate the cosmic joke on Arun are very less, but asked them to pray, and hope in the large population of the country.

As they were getting to leave, with resigned hearts, the jyotish, suddenly sprang up with a suggestion. Much later, he tried to analyse as to why he made that suggestion. And, he could come up with no reason. Instinctively, he asked the Ramans, to change the time of birth. The planets will be much favourable then, he said. Surprised with such a suggestion coming from the jyotish, they walked away, muttering something about considering it.

Later in the evening, the family got into consulation, calls were made to relatives and friends, soliciting advice. Ethical and religious questions needed to be answered, and the self needed to be convinced of the cosmic stunt that was being planned. Finally, Jaipur mama, was able to convince them to forge the horoscope. A marriage can be made by telling thousand lies, he said.

Mr and Mrs Raman, now found a new passtime, sifting through the profiles of prospective matches, jaunting upto the jyotish to match the horoscopes. Initially, they secretly wanted the original horoscope matched, but gave up after they realized the improbabiltiy of it. Mr Raman, decided to organize the search, and used his newly learnt computer skills to good effect. And, in good time, dinner time discussions were about the merits and demerits of different girls, their profiles, and wild imaginations and theory of why she is the one, or why not!

Soon, Arun, was asked to send emails to a few girls, and asked to talk to them and decide. He juggled dates for a while, and sped around town in his car from a coffee day meeting to a dinner date, to movies and stuff, with different girls. It seemed it was all a blur and dream for him. But, then the pressure increased too, with his parents on his tail everyday, forcing him to decide. All he wanted, was more time with each of them.

But, slowly, he rejected some, and others rejected him, and Arun got back to dreaming exotic love stories. Then, on New years eve, as he headed for a party with his friends, Mrs Raman, showed him Pooja’s photo. She said, that this was a good match. Arun, took a look, and instantly, instinctively, took a liking to Pooja. Amma asked him to drop her a mail, and he did it the next day.

The next few days, Arun checked his inbox continuously, checked the ‘to’ address of the mail he sent a million times a day, and saw his hopes drained, with no mail coming from her. This must be the sad fate that the jyotish talked about, he thought.

Fate had other plans, and Pooja mailed back, after a week, apologizing in every sentence. She had been on a holiday with friends. She said, she liked his photo that her mother had given her, and was ‘interested’ in trying to see if this can work out. Arun, added her on gtalk, and waited patiently for a green bulb next to her name. They chatted along, on gtalk for a while, about this and that, and decided to meet.

The meeting was magical, and instinctively, Arun and Pooja were dreaming about their marriage. And over the next few meetings, the love blossomed, and they were behaving like a couple out of college.

But, this gave Arun a headache. The small matter of forged horoscopes was eating him. He liked her, and did not care about it, but, he felt that such matters could be fatal later. He did not want the original horoscope to dictate his life, and decided that, it is better setting things straight in person.

On a balmy friday evening, he went to Pooja’s place, and confessed about the forged horoscope and about the depressing life, his true horoscope predicted. Pooja’s face lost her smile, and her mother, let out a gasp, and a shocked ‘WHAT’, but instantly, she calmed down, and a wry smile sprung on her face. The smile then became laughter, and Pooja and her dad joined in. Arun looked bewildered.

In a sigh of relief, Pooja’s mother admitted to forging Pooja’s horoscope too.

Indeed, it was a match ordained by fate, and the marriage preparations began.