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“They are in a live-in relationship, that means they are already living like husband and wife, the wedding is just a formality to be completed. You are being ridiculous, talking about matching the horoscopes.”
Sara was strolling aimlessly by the riverside. She was frowning every now and then, glancing at her mobile phone and checking for any new messages. Rohit had messaged her that he was on the way, and would be there within 15 minutes.
Sara had been in London for the past three years. She had met Rohit when she was doing her Masters at the London School of Economics (LSE). In fact, he was her classmate and since both of them were from India, they felt a connection with each other. Their friendship blossomed into love within six months. After graduating from LSE, both of them were lucky to get lucrative jobs with renowned multinational giants. They rented a flat in the lively Notting Hill area and had been residing there for the past one year. They were in a ‘live-in relationship’. They had hidden this fact from both their parents.
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Rohit and Sara’s parents stayed in India – they knew that both of them loved each other and were serious about their relationship. Whenever Sara’s mum called her, she used to ask her about their wedding plans, and today her mum had given her an ultimatum that they have to finalise their wedding, as soon as possible. Sara was determined to talk to Rohit about it.
Sara saw Rohit racing towards her and her heart missed a beat. She thought in her mind, “Oh, he looks so handsome!” Rohit was very tall and muscular with a dusky complexion. He looked attractive in his blue summer jacket, white shirt and black jeans. Rohit hugged Sara and said “Hey! I am sorry, I am late. What’s wrong? Why do you look so gloomy?”
She replied, “My mum had called earlier today, and she asked about our engagement and wedding plans.” “Oh please Sara, not again. Come, let’s go to ‘Shades Piazza’ you wanted to have Italian today, didn’t you?”
Sara knew Rohit always tried to avoid the subject of marriage. She thought, “Today I am going to talk to him about it. He either quibbles or gives an ambiguous reply as far as this topic is concerned.”
They ordered minestrone soup, followed by lasagne and risotto. Sara once again brought up the topic of marriage, “I feel winter is the best time to get married in Jaipur. What do you think?” Rohit frowned “Sara! It’s not the right time to discuss this serious topic. I am too tired; I have had meetings all day at work. Come on! Let’s enjoy our dinner!”
Suddenly Sara’s beautiful oval face changed and lost colour. Her lovely large eyes were filled with tears. She looked beautiful in her black formal suit. She stroked her silky black long hair and said, “I really doubt your intentions. Maybe you are not serious about our relationship. I am filled with guilt, whenever I speak with my mum as she doesn’t know about our live-in relationship. You know that our parents are not progressive and they consider sex before marriage immoral and against the Indian traditional values.”
Rohit replied, “Just say you are in a relationship with me, you don’t have to give any more details, that’s it.” Rohit shrugged his shoulders with a ‘what’s a big deal’ attitude and added, “We both have started new jobs recently; we can wait for a few more years before we think of marriage.”
“Rohit, if they come to know about it through other sources they will be totally disappointed”, explained Sara.
“Stop it, Sara, don’t be so theatrical and dramatic. I am not interested in discussing this topic any further” retorted Rohit.
They reached home in complete silence. Sara entered the bedroom, took a pillow and comforter, went to the living room and lay down on the couch. Rohit stared at her, arms akimbo, and went to the bedroom and slammed the door. Sara started sobbing bitterly. She missed her mum very much. She suddenly took her mobile phone and messaged Rohit, “I am going back home, never to come back to you. Goodbye.”
Sara did not know when she dozed off to sleep. She got up with a jerk and looked at the time – it was 9 am. She was startled and pleasantly surprised to see roses around her and Rohit entered the room with a broad grin. He knelt down in front of her and asked: “Will you marry me?” Sara screamed excitedly, “Rohit, are you serious? I hope you are not joking?”
Rohit replied “Call your mum and tell her that Christmas is the perfect time for our wedding. Will you call her or shall I call my dear mother in law? Come on, I have to ring up my parents as well.” Sara smiled happily and hugged Rohit.
Rohit said, “Madam, can you tell me, how do you manage to look so stunningly beautiful, with absolutely no makeup?”
Sara leaned on Rohit’s shoulders, feeling reassured and relaxed, and completely released from anxiety.
Nandini was watering the beautiful plants in her small garden and smiled with contentment. She whispered, “Yes, the plants are perfect, they have grown as per my expectations, just like my two sons.”
She boasted to her friends that she had always been a strict disciplinarian. She expected that her sons and her husband followed her instructions, as she was confident that her intentions were good and it was for their betterment. Her husband Rakesh understood Nandini’s nature and always acted with an attitude of indifference to avoid confrontation. Nandini had trained her sons in such a way that they felt their mother was always right. She followed the tactic of emotional blackmail. Her standard dialogue to her sons was like, “I have devoted my entire life for your upbringing.” Her narcissistic personality was ignored and accepted by them for the sake of peace in the house.
Nandini’s elder son Varun was married – he and his wife Shanti were staying in the same house as them. Shanti was true to her name; calm and peace loving with an unflappable temperament; hence, she had won Nandini’s appreciation. Her younger son Rohit was working in London. Nandini was a bit disturbed when she heard Rohit talking about his love for a girl called Sara. Nandini did not retaliate when she heard the news, and did not make any disparaging remarks about his decision. She had schemed a plot to break their relationship.
Rohit was a rebel as compared to Varun who was straightforward and obedient. Two days after Rohit arrived home, he slowly started the conversation with his mum about Sara and suggested that they should invite her for dinner along with her family members.
Nandini replied, “Today our family astrologer will come and he will match both your horoscopes, so first give me her date and time of birth.”
Rohit almost screamed “Mum, what is the need for horoscope-matching when I have already told you that we both are in love. And what if the astrologer says that our horoscopes don’t match?”
“In that case, we cannot proceed with the wedding, that’s it.” Saying that she left the room.
Rohit was completely flummoxed. He rushed to his room and called Sara.
“Rohit, this is nonsense! We are in a live-in relationship, so where do horoscopes and predictions come into the picture?”, Sara wailed from the other side. She continued “And if the horoscopes do not match, are you going to marry a girl of your mother’s choice?”
“Come on Sara! As such I am confused and stunned, you please don’t taunt me like this.” Rohit snapped back. Then he tried to compose himself and said “let’s not talk about the problem, but think of a solution”
Sara said, “The only solution is to tell her that we are in a live-in relationship!”
Rohit retaliated “Let’s wait and watch, if the horoscopes match then there is no problem at all, however, if the astrologer says they don’t, then we can disclose it to my mum”
“No Rohit, please don’t try to complicate the matter. Let us talk with your Mum, and tell her everything!” She paused for a second and said: “I will come to your place today and together we must tell her about our relationship.”
Rohit agreed reluctantly. So it was decided that Sara would come down to his house in the evening and they would talk with Nandini.
Sara reached Rohit’s house exactly at 5.30 pm – she was dressed in her best Indian ethnic wear. Nandini was watering the plants in the garden. She raised her eyebrows and looked at Sara enquiringly. Sara folded her hands and said, “Namaste aunty, I am Sara!”
Nandini narrowed her eyes and scrutinised Sara from head to toe. She thought in her mind “Oh, the news about the astrologer must have reached her.” Rohit came swiftly from his room and welcomed Sara.Nandini said, “Please come in.” All the three of them sat in the living room. Rakesh, Varun and Shanti also joined them, and Rohit introduced Sara to everyone.
Rohit looked at his Dad and said “Dad, Sara and I have decided to get married and now mum is insisting on getting our horoscopes matched. We think this is absolutely not necessary.”
Before Rakesh could reply Nandini said, “We followed the same procedure before Varun’s marriage so what’s wrong?”
Rohit replied, “Varun’s case was different, he had an arranged marriage, whereas Sara and I know each other for years together and we live in the same house.” Sara said, “Yes, we are in a live-in relationship and now we have decided to get married.”
“All we ask is, our families should come together and decide a convenient date to solemnize the wedding.”
Nandini was dumbfounded. She opened her mouth to raise some objection, but Rakesh intervened “Yes, we will invite your parents and we can decide a date for the wedding.”
Sara smiled and replied “Thank you, Uncle, both of us have taken a month-long vacation, it would be nice to conduct the wedding before we leave! We would like to keep the ceremonies a simple affair, followed by a grand reception.” Varun and Shanti also nodded in affirmation.
Nandini gave her husband a cold stare, who just ignored her.
Rohit thanked his Dad, and Rakesh said “Sara! why don’t you go and have a look around our house?” All the youngsters left the room. As though waiting for this opportunity, Nandini burst out at Rakesh “Who asked you to talk with her about wedding plans when I have not even approved of her?”
Rakesh, for the first time in his life, gave Nandini a stern look and replied with an authoritative tone “Didn’t you hear what she said? They are in a live-in relationship, that means they are already living like husband and wife, the wedding is just a formality to be completed. You are being ridiculous, talking about matching the horoscopes. If you want to maintain your dignity, do not unnecessarily interfere in their lives and complicate the matter. Tomorrow I am inviting Sara’s parents for lunch and we are going to finalise the dates. It is up to you to decide whether you want to participate or not. Once the children are grown up, you have to encourage them to take their own decisions and be cooperative and supportive towards them.”
Nandini retaliated “But don’t you think what they are talking about, a ‘Live in’ relationship… isn’t it wrong?”
Rakesh said “Maybe it’s wrong in your opinion, however, what is right and wrong differs from generation to generation and society to society. As a matter of fact, even during Vedic times ‘Gandharva Vivaha’, which is known as a ‘Love Marriage’ today, was practised. And now since Rohit and Sara have decided to marry, bless them wholeheartedly. That’s it. I don’t have anything else to say.”
Nandini, in her entire married life, had never seen Rakesh talking to her in this manner. She realised her mistake and decided to second her husband’s opinion. Rohit and Sara entered the room and Nandini hugged Sara and said, “Welcome home!”
Rohit was pleasantly surprised to see his mum hug Sara, however, he understood when Rakesh winked and gave a thumbs up sign from behind.
Image source: pxhere and See page for author [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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Hello! I am Jaya Rajgopalan.
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