Saji John Tharayil believed earnestly that Shaadi.com was his salvation.33 years and not being married was bad, even for a guy, in god’s own country. Already he had old aunts surreptitiously querying if he needed any traditional medicines for problems pertaining to you know what. The problem however was that he didn’t like most of the girls he met live through official arrangements and the ones he did ,simply didn’t fancy him much.
This was the dire situation ,getting direr ,when his all knowing friend ,philosopher and guide,his cousin Renju ,directed him to the possibilities of internet romances , the in- thing as far as new age Indian marriages were concerned. Saji was hooked…..now he could skim through dozens of photos and profiles ,shortlist potential Ms.Sajis and if the girl was nice / stupid enough to reciprocate…..voila! you had another marriage made in the word wide web heaven. Saji was simply too nervous to talk romantic with a girl in the real world.The virtual world provided him with the ability to chat endlessly to half a dozen females everyday with a relatively higher comfort level.
His very Indian parents were much more conservative, like…well like very Indian parents are. They were bent upon proving that Renju was an evil influence on their ‘oh so sweet and innocent’ child. They staunchly believed in doing things the time-tested traditional mallu way.
To elaborate : Little known relative /marriage broker meets girls parents /boys parents
( “There is this good girl /boy who I know personally ,she/he has done his/her degree with first class,soooooooooo beautiful/handsome ,verrrry good family………etc. etc.”You do wonder why somebody hasn’t married such a gooooood girl /boy already!).This all too familiar conversation is followed by a exhibition of the photo of the bride to be in a stiff ,full length studio pic ,with jaded wall paper in the background.If the visuals are appealing enough ,a date is set for the girl viewing ceremony.This is when the groom-to-be and family set forth on a trip to the girls house to assess the girl and her house (importance varying in degree for different people).If the assessment goes well ,the date is fixed ,hands are shaken and the marriage broker pockets a hefty commission. Incidentally ,it is a big plus if the girl and boy also manage to like each other.It was precisely this kind of mating ritual that led Saji’s family to fall in love with Ms Sanjana Mathew Parackal ,26 years ,MBA, soooooo beautiful ,verrry good family…….the works.The only hitch was that the bride groom to be wasn’t smitten ,Saji plain refused to even take a look at the girl’s photograph. The matter would have ended there if a certain wager hadn’t been waged by Saji’s father…..
Mr.John Tharayan ,retired KSEB ( Kerala State Electricity Board ) engineer ,really had no idea what to do about his son’s newfound obsession with matrimonial websites and chat rooms.He decided to have a face to face talk with Mr Renju Jose Tharayil ,his unfortunate elder brother’s only offspring.
Renju was one of those lucky individuals who had no idea why they were put on this earth ,and had no intention of finding out either.He was the jack of all trades ,master of some of the shadier ones. His idea of life was relaxing on the backwater kissed inlands of Kottayam , on a regular diet of toddy ,tapioca and fish (precisely in that order ).It wasn’t that he had no formal education to boast of, in fact he had passed his MBA with honours . Renju was what you would describe as a unique combo of street suaveness and unadulterated laziness. He had started up a number of innovative and interesting business operations ,most of which fizzled out simply because of his laziness. The one family member Renju got along was his lil cousin Saji,who was a year younger to him.They had grown up together in the huge house that their paternal grandfather had right next to Baker junction, in the heart of Kottayam town.The house had sadly been demolished a few years back when Baker Junction gradually developed into the central hub of Kottayam town. That demolition had marked a kind of temporary separation for Renju and Saji.Life didn’t change much for Renju though ,he just continued to loaf around in a different surrounding. Both John uncle and his own appachan (father ) Mr Jose Tharayil (BSc Engg ,FIE ) had tried to get him married so that he would learn to shoulder responsibility. In the case of this particular horse it was virtually impossible to take even take him to the water, leave alone make him drink.
The conversation between John uncle and his dear nephew went something like this (expletives censored)
John Uncle : Da..why the *&^%*&* hell did you put up Saji to this shaadi.com nonsense ?
Renju : Nonsense ?What nonsense…at least now he can decide whether or not he really likes the girl he’s going to marry without you oldies breathing on his neck.
John Uncle : You started this mess ,now you better end it…..unfortunately you’re the only person he’ll listen to.
Renju : Nothing doing ….it’s a matter of principles ,besides ,I think it’s for his own good
John Uncle : Principles!! You and principles! You may yet get small pox ,but you can forget principles.
Renju : Well so be it …..but mark my words…the next marriage in this family will be an internet marriage
John uncle : Don’t bet on it
Renju : You know what ?maybe I will bet on it….how about an all expense paid vacation on a house boat in Kumarakom?
John uncle was by now too angry to think clearly ,but either way he took up his nephew’s challenge.He had decided that his son was indeed going to marry the aforementioned good lady Ms Sanjana ….of course he still had no idea of how he was going to go about it.
Enter the main co-conspirators in the wager ( in the anti-renju team ),namely a certain Ms Anita Mathew Parackal , software engineer and the nominated bride’s only sibling .Anita was nothing like her sister.She was one of those confused 20 and half a decade old ,new age Indian females who shifted from full time female libbism to coy ‘girl next doorism’ ,without a moment’s notice ,much faster than a Mr Jekyll could say ‘Hyde’.She had spunk though. So it was natural that when Mr Jose explained to her the plan of action ,she was all for it ,in spite of her more placid sister’s protests.
Thus began operation Barbaadi.com.The plan was quiet simple.Anita was to log in as a mysterious suitor interested in Saji ,entice him and then dump him.so as to make him completely disenchanted with an internet romance.
Well man proposes and god ( and most females ) disposes.Anita did start off in right earnest.She hooked Saji the very first day in the guise of a rather exotic pseudonym - mallu_nymph25 (yuck …sounds like one of those 70’s semi –porno Malayalam flicks) .Saji of course continued to chat under the very ordinary label of Saji_T111 (Whatever that was supposed to convey).They chatted and chatted and each time Saji asked Ms Nymph for a pic she coyly refused.Of course that didn’t stop Saji from imagining a very nubile nymphish mallu girl ,rising out of the water a la Bo Derek in Dr.No.(Not in a bikini of course but in a white sari with silk borders).For Saji there was a problem though ….he realized he got pretty ‘ keyboard tied’, something akin to being tongue tied ,even in virtual reality .At times when the late night conversations started swaying towards extreme mushiness, he felt his typing fingers simply freeze and he had to sign off in a hurry with very uninspiring repartees like “Hey nymphy ,got to go….dinner’s ready” (this at half past midnight ).
So now our hero no:1 turned as he would ,to hero no:2 …a.k.a Renju and ever loyal as he was ,especially with an interesting wager on ,Renju gleefully jumped into the cesspool of this murky affair. Renju donned the mantle of ghost chatter for his cousin. As far as Ms Nymph was concerned all of a sudden her conversations with her very dull would be bro-in-law started becoming uncomfortably interesting.One thing led to another ,and Ms Anita started taking a fancy for Saji_T111.To make matters really worse Renju started feeling very strange mushy feelings for Ms Mallu Nymph.The last time he had felt that way was years ago ..to a little grey-brown Pomeranian pup, which he had escorted home one fine on his way back from school.Unfortunately ,though he felt like doing the same with Ms Nymph ,he knew that things wouldn’t be that simple. As his heart disease turned chronic ,he finally decided to break the news to Saji. Saji mind on hearing the news,was rattled to a state somewhere between hurt and angry bewiderment.However ,being the gentleman that he was ,he decided to cede any copyrights he had over Ms.Nymph. Renju of course was overjoyed, and the very same day proposed to Ms.Nymph and suggested that they meet as soon as possible to discuss their future. According to the pre-written script ,Ms Nymph was to press the eject button at this point ,but as twists in the tale go ,Ms Nymph accepted the proposal,without consulting the director of the drama.To make matters really messy she sent her pic to her virtual lover.To make matters messier than really messy ,this pic which was saved on the desktop of Saji’s computer was later seen by Saji himself and as you would expect in a crazy story like this ,Saji simply fell in love all over with the lady in the picture.
The next day Anita spent in quiet contemplation. Finally she decided to open her heart to her sister.Her sister ,being the mature person that she was ,took things very coolly.They had a long discussion and finally made their decision….they would go together to meet Saji and explain the situation openly.
On the other side Renju too had decided that being truthful was the way to go.So on the day of the proposed rendezvous ,he had a man to jilted man talk with Saji ,and talked him into going to the Olio restaurant ,near the Thirunakkara grounds with himself ,to meet his future Bhabhi and help him explain the whole story in detail.Saji relented ,at least partly out of a desire to meet the beautiful girl he had almost fallen irreparably in love with..
3 months later:
Renju and Saji were relaxing on the open deck of a luxury houseboat ,on the Kumarakom lake.Anita was lazing on the port side of the boat ,with a heavily dog-eared ‘God of small things’ nestled in her laps.
Saji called out to his wife “Darling ,can you pass me that tender coconut juice”
Anita looked up as her twin sister Sanjana, lovingly tendered to her husband’s need.When she turned her head ,she saw her crazy ,adorable husband Renju casting a sly wink in her direction.
The foursome’s honeymoon vacation was completely sponsored by Saji’s dad…who had both won and lost as far as the bet was concerned ,but considered himself to be the greatest winner on the whole ,at the end.
© copyrighted – Feroze Kaliyadan 2007