The argument of whether or not there is a happy here-after for the goody – goody types will continue till Armageddon…maybe even after that.However ,as far as holy matrimony is concerned ,the ‘Made in heaven’ tag is slowly going to ease out of fashion.Apparently the Indian government is planning to make official registration of marriages compulsory.Great !!…That would have been my response a couple of years ago (some time before I got hitched to my bitter half )…but now I wonder.You see I’m one of the few people around who actually got married two times( And before you guys get crazy ideas of polygamy ,both the marriages in question were to my one and only wife ).The first one was a dour affair in the presence of 500 odd guests ,everything going according to script,both of our posteriors being taught an exercise in patience ,and believe me our fixed grins would have put all those wannabe Ms Worlds to shame.The other affair at the registrar’s office was something else!!I mean things were really exciting .We had to do the round of the registrar’s office so many times and we still weren’t really certain when / if he would allow us to marry right till the very end.
This was the scouting trip. I bunked work to get a firsthand view of the battlefield.I reached the registrar’s office around 2:00 in the afternoon. Wasn’t much in terms of the glamour quotient …routine governmental setup. Dilapidated brick walls passionately clinging on to a decade old coating of paint with minimal success. The whole area seemed deserted. It wasn’t any kind of state holiday as far as I knew. I stuttered into the office space …a 5 X 5 feet room with 4 desks ,4 chairs ,a few dozen cobwebs ,many dozen dust coated files and one forlorn looking gentleman sitting in one corner.Couldn’t see much of this guy too ,his entire face was enshrouded in cigarette smoke.
“Excuse me Chetta” You know we mallus are really going places with manglish these days
“Huh???” I wasn’t sure if this was an acknowledgement of my presence or just another exaggerated puff of his fast disappearing bidi.
“I want to register a marriage”
“Huh???”.Much the same tone…a bit gruffier maybeThe smoke was clouding his brains too I assumed.
“Marriage …I want to marry”Now I know that came out something like salman khan talking to Bhagyasree’s daddy in ‘Maine pyar kiya’.I hoped that this joker didn’t have a marriageable daughter of any kind.
“Time….2:00 clock” Mr.Smoker continued with his smoking after this enigmatic statement.
I instinctively looked at my watch .He got that right alright….zigacly 2:00 ( as Obelix would say to Asterix during peaks of inebriation ).
“lunch break…..officer not here”At least he was speaking longer sentences.I was getting through to him!!
“When will he come?”
“4:00 clock”He was slipping back to his laconic best.
“4:00????” I mean was he having lunch or an elephant?
I left for the day ,without having the pleasure of meeting the great man himself
Day 2 :
Not much to write about coz it was only after I landed there that I knew that the office was closed for the day for repairs. I wondered whether they’d repair the guys working there too…..
Day 3 :
This time I came armed with my bitter half, just in case the registrar guy wasn’t convinced that anybody would actually marry me. We made it a point to reach ground zero much before the registrar’s sacrosanct elephant -eating break. This time ground- zero did show perceptible signs of normal human life. I’d like to stress on the word ‘normal’ coz of the Neanderthal nincompoop I met the other day .To cut a long story short, I finally managed to get a ‘darshan’ of the great man himself…the marriage registrar. Didn’t look very imposing …hardly 5 feet ,steel rimmed glasses partially obscuring shifty slit –eyes, scrawny facial features with a prominent dyed moustache,ever so slightly curved upward at the edges …..a miserable failed attempt at a handlebar variety I think .The guy was quite amicable though…..
“So you want to get married to this lady” His eye darting from my face to the ‘lady’s’
“That’s right sir”
“You are running?”
huh?Maybe I did look really fit. “No sir…I go for a walk in the morning ,once in a while,when I ‘m not lazy ,which is not often …no jogging or running”
The scrawny face screwed up in disgust “ No ..are you running away from home?”
“ No Sir..we have our parent’s whole hearted blessings sir”
He sarcastically looked at my nervous hands which were hiding in my pant pockets ,as though he expected me to pull documentary evidence of the aforementioned ‘blessing’ from my pockets.
“Hmmm….OK ,OK…you need three witnesses ….and of course both of you. hee hee!” I assumed that this was his attempt at humor ,so I joined in with a damp giggle.The honorable registrar went on to explain the boring complexities of the Indian Marriage Act in detail. At the end of which, me and my bitter half were exchanging tired glances wondering whether all this trouble was really was worth it.
Now we had more idiots joining our bandwagon, one male friend of mine,a surgeon and two female colleagues of my wife .This registered marriage thing was a first for all of us, so while me and my wife were in a slightly apprehensive mood (This being our first marriage and all ),I witnessed my dear friend enjoying the novelty of the occasion ,flirting around with the other witnesses.
After a short while I and my wife had just signed the magna carta and our esteemed witnesses were about to follow suit ,when the scrawny registrar’s scrawnier assistant sweeps into the room and whispers something ominous into his boss’s ears.
His honour ponders gravely for a moment and pronounces his judgment.
‘I am sorry, I cannot allow this marriage”
“Your place of residence…”His honor paused for effect, before announcing grandly “….does not come under the purview of this office”
“You may have to try the office nearest to your place of residence”
That did it .I put my brand new ‘hero’ pen, specially bought for the occasion , back into my pocket ,caught hold of my bitter half ,gave one of my most threatening ‘I’ll show you’ looks to Messieurs Scrawny and Scrawnier and got out of the registrar’s room much faster than you could say “I do”
It was when we reached the car that we realized that we had left our dear witnesses behind. Even after a few minutes there was no sign of the trio. I was starting to wonder if my good friend hadn’t decided to register a marriage or two with one of the witnesses, when out he came of the office flashing a piece of white paper and some not so white teeth. It turned out to be the receipt of our marriage registration. I was officially married!!
None of our witnesses really disclosed how in a matter of minutes my place of residence shifted under the purview of the holy registrar…however one of the witnesses in question did later comment cryptically that “ Love maybe blind…. but money can be quite an eye-opener!”