September 15th, 2005
House no 18, Balayya Sastri Layout, Seethammadhara
Nidhi starred anxiously into the mirror. She looked like a perfection. Only, worry protruded directly from her eyes. She was looking forward to this day, but never thought that it would come so soon. Adjusting her South Indian drapes carefully, Nidhi checked on her make-up and jewelry. The purple Motif patterned Venkatagiri silk coupled with minimal gold ornaments dazzled her up completely. She presumed that it would work. No, she was being judgmental about the way they dressed up here. Pondering slowly over the oncoming interaction, Nidhi carefully sprayed the Calvin Klein’s new variant all over. Shock, it was called, incidentally symbolizing her probable forthcoming moments. She tried to calm her mind as Nithin walked in.
“Wow, you look…outstanding” he said, staring at her wide eyed.
“Yeah, right” Nidhi teased him, in an attempt to normalize the state of her mind. “See, don’t patronize me so soon. I may very well fail” she said, continuing to look at him in the reflection of the mirror as she adjusted the loaded Sari.
“Come on” Nithin said. He came forward and put his arms around her fondly, still looking into the mirror. “Amma and Naanna will both love you. In fact, my whole family will. They will only wonder as to how a fool like me ended up with a Diva like you” he laughed.
“Hmm” she said, using the phrase that conveys discomfort, “either this or they would think I’m shallow and superficial”
“Hey, hey hey” Nithin “that’s my wife you are talking about. Most honest and genuine person ever. Easy there”
“Let’s see you saying the same thing about me after ten years” Nidhi laughed. “Guess it’s time to step out for the meet and greet”
Nithin showed her the way out like a gentleman. Nidhi giggled slightly as she tried to walk comfortably in the Sari.
As they reached the door, Nidhi tightly grasped his hand. Nithin sighed.
“Okay, now you are acting like a child” he said. Nidhi nodded and took deep breaths. She signaled for the door to be opened. They walked out.
There they were. The entire family of Nithin. All Telugus. The surname was Kanuri. She was a Singh before. There were aunts, uncles, cousins and friends too. Nidhi heard her heart beating very fast. Born and raised in Chandigarh, this was the kind of marriage that she had least imagined. They met at work and fell in love. The parents on either side were far from agreeing to such a liaison. Nithin had to arrange for a quick wedding at the Arya Samaj, as the pressure at Nidhi’s house grew in the form of marriage proposals coming from bulked up Jhat lads. Nidhi chose brains to brawn. They had to get married in the presence of eye witnesses and then break the unpleasant news. Parents and relatives from either side did not stay in touch for over six months. And then recently, miracle happened. Nithin’s parents wanted to drop the animosity and give in to their new Kodalu. So what if she was not a Telugu, they seemed to have got used to that idea.
The pair walked ahead to meet the family. Nithin’s cousin was about to get married and it seemed a perfect timing to ‘induct’ Nidhi into the family. The relatives stopped talking as Nidhi walked towards them. They stared at the couple. Nithin broke the awkward silence.
“She is Nidhi”
“Wow, she is gorgeous” said one of his cousins. The girl must be in the college, Nidhi thought. She came forward to hug her.
“Hey, I’m Swati” the cousin said, with a beaming smile. “And I’m Prasad” another one came forward, joining the new ranks in support of Nidhi. “I’m Harsha” One by one, all the cousins gathered around Nidhi. All of them went on conversing with her, when a voice rang from behind.
“Will you people let my daughter in law meet me at least” said the lady, who looked strict and organised. Nithin was her exact replica, Nidhi thought. The cousins made way for her and Nidhi went to meet her in laws. Her father in law flashed an instant smile.
“Welcome to the family” he said, carefully checking the reaction on his wife’s face.
“Please sit” she said, sternly. Nidhi immediately sat next to her.
The silence of over two minutes that followed was rather unpleasant. Everyone around was chattering except for them. Nidhi tried to stay calm as she looked helplessly at Nithin in between. Her husband, on the other hand, was far from bothered. Just like typical Indian husbands all over the world, he would have thought that the induction process was over.
Suddenly, her mom in law started talking. The beginning was not as pleasant, just as expected.
“You know, during our days, we would seek the blessing of our elders” she said, looking straight as Nidhi stared at her. “But now, things are changing so fast. Kids don’t listen to their parents anymore. They just, rush in with their instinct and tie the knot. Please understand I’m not trying to make you uncomfortable. Just expressing my view point since there was an absurd silence for half the year”
“I understand what you are saying, Ma” Nidhi said quietly.
“Call me Amma”
Nidhi adjusted her tone and corrected her sentences.
“I understand Amma. In fact, I’m very sorry that we had to marry this way, without your blessing”
The lady did not budge. Nidhi continued.
“I’m not Telugu and don’t know the practices and traditions here. But I promise to learn and adapt. In fact, Nithin is also trying to help me learn the language. I hope you will soon be comfortable with me” she said, that part sounded amateurish even to Nidhi. Why did she say that, she wondered.
“It’s not about being Telugu, or Punjabi or Tamil or whatever” the lady said. “It’s about waiting. We would have agreed to the marriage, had Nithin given us sometime. But no, that boy is always like that. Jumping off the roof with decisions. You don’t have to adapt to us. I was just hurt because of the way this marriage happened.” The lady then looked at Nidhi “but we have to say, even we couldn’t have found such a girl for Nithin”
Nidhi saw a smile appear on her mother in law’s face. She smiled back gratefully. And before she knew it, the lady embraced her.
“Welcome to the Kanuri Family” she said.
Nidhi instantly got up to touch her feet. Nithin and his father stared at them from across the room with joy.
“We would love to taste some Punjabi dishes everyday” her mother in law said, lifting her up.
“Nidhi, do you know how to make Chole Bhature by any chance? Your mother in law can never get close to making a decent version” said Nithin’s father. Everybody laughed.
“You have indigestion. No chickpeas for you” Nithin’s mother retorted.
“Come Vadina, let’s go shopping” cousins jumped back like a battalion, whisking Nidhi away to the car. She looked at Nithin for confirmation. Nithin nodded. Nidhi said a silent “Thank you’ to her husband while he replied with a “Love you”.
The new Telugu family was no longer a stranger to her. It was now Nidhi’s big, fat, endearing family.
Photo Credit – Veni La as ‘Nidhi’