The cell phone beeped and there was an SMS. An SMS from one of my closest degree friends. It just had three words: "I got engaged." This aroused a mixture of emotions in me. Though we both parted right after our BSc., we were in touch through phone and e-mail. She would make it a point to call me every now and then. And it was through her special interest that we met at least twice a year. I hope she feels that even I have reciprocated her affection and love.
With most of my childhood friends, college friends, PG friends and colleagues getting married, a thought occurred to me. These friends have inspired me to write this story. All the characters in this narration are fictitious but some of the incidents have been influenced by the real-life experiences.
“I got engaged.”
These are the only three words in the SMS. I cannot believe my eyes. My best friend, Radhika, has got engaged and I don’t even have a clue about it. Bad! Very Bad! I give her a call immediately. But the line is busy.
An hour later, I try her number; it is still busy. I send her an SMS, asking her to call me at once. Another hour has gone by and I am yet to receive a call from her. I get irritated. I rush to get down two floors to find her.
Radhika and I have been friends since childhood. We have been residing in the same lane, studied at the same school, completed our graduation together and by sheer luck got placed in the same company.
She is busy listening to songs.
“Hey! Why didn’t you call me back?” I ask her in anger, “What’s wrong with your mobile?”
She turns around and puts a finger on her lips gesturing me to be calm. My eyes fall on the mobile on her lap. She is not listening to songs; those are the earphones of her mobile. I try grabbing the cell while she tries her best to pull it away from me. She mumbles something into the mouthpiece and ends her call.
“Why did you do that?” she asks.
“Snatched my cell?”
“I have been trying to reach you for the past two hours.”
“Oh! I am sorry,” she says and adds sheepishly, “I was talking to Siddhu.”
I try to place the name.
“Siddharth, my fiancé.”
The word ‘fiancé’ reminds me of the real reason why I wanted to meet her.
“You get engaged,” I say and add, “and your best friend does not even get to know about it.”
“I am so sorry, dear,” she replies, “Let me explain.”
I am on my bed trying to grasp what Radhika has told me. I remember the first time when Radhika’s parents found a match for her. What was his name? Vinay. We all had a look at his photos, chatted with him through Yahoo and Gtalk and spoke with him over phone. During those days, Radhika was the sole target of our discussion. We would tease her day and night. Though initially reluctant for marriage, after getting acquainted with Vinay, she accepted the reality that she had to get married some day.
On the day of the engagement, everyone was very excited. We had invited all our close relatives and friends. Radhika had a blushing glow on her face. She looked gorgeous in her pink sari. Just before the function, Radhika’s parents were in a very serious talk with Vinay’s parents. We saw the unpleasant side of them. They were finding fault with each and everything. No one was able to understand what was in their minds. All of a sudden, Vinay intervened and declared that he did not want to marry Radhika. He said that he was going to the US for an onsite assignment and would be away from home for at least 3 years. We insisted that the engagement be done and then we would have the wedding after he returned. But he refused. Everyone was heart-broken.
I vividly remember the way Radhika had reacted to the situation. Though her life was shattered, she never lost her calm. She continued with her day-to-day activities. But the people around her never forgot the incident. She was always reminded of her broken-engagement in their pitiful and sympathetic looks.
After a couple of months, we got a wedding card from one of our common friends and colleague, Priya. We were shocked to know that the bridegroom was the same Vinay. We realized that Priya got to know of Vinay through Radhika. While Radhika and Vinay were courting, Priya started sending mails and messages to him. They started liking each other. And before Vinay could realize what was going on, he was already deeply in love with her. But his parents had fixed his wedding with Radhika. He eventually convinced his parents and they agreed as she was from a richer family. But why did they play all that drama? They could have told everything frankly. Yes, it would hurt, but at least it would have been better than the hypocrisy. Why did Vinay hide the truth from Radhika and continued to fake love?
Amidst all these thoughts, I drift into asleep.
(Continued in "Getting Married, Part-II")