Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A marriage and a thief

The marriage was in a temple complex. Other than that, it was, like any other South Indian marriage. A far off cousin getting married to somebody. But marriages were like that. As families spread apart like continental drift - and it has no geographical equivalent - a sudden spasm that gets them all together - only to continue to their drift, though, now with updated phone numbers and mail ids.

Dheeraj thought a while before deciding to drop down. Marriages, more than other similar social events - like upanayamams or engagements - were like five day cricket matches. Between the crescendo of the muhurtam or the melee at lunch, there are significant moments when the silk haired grandmothers take stock of their progeny across multiple family trees.

And that meant that discussions would veer from "Why your son is not in America" to "My sons house in Seattle" to "My daughter is studying in Illinois" to a "She is only looking at green card holders". Even Platinum card owners (by invitation only) - she was not interested.

But because this venue was closer to Raghavans house, it made sense. Atleast he could slip away to catch some TV or even a nap during the times when there was nothing to do. In any case with Raghavan around, it would not be boring.

They all trooped in, the uncles, the aunts and the cousins. Each generation tried its best to look better than the previous generation, but then cosmetics only worked so much. But in the meantime, as they had lunch - which was the usual feast - and scrambled to get into Raghavans place at the earliest, Dheeraj had a problem.

"I dont seem to be able to find my sandals"
"You must have left it at home"
"No, it was with me until now"
"May be you left at the temple in the morning"
"No, I am pretty sure I had it until we came in for lunch?"
"Where was the last time you wore it?"
"Dheeraj, we are moving man, you get your sandals and join us at Raghavans"

He did not let his conscience bother him too much- not when he was faced with the prospect of having to walk a kilometer on ashpalt barefoot at 1 pm in Chennai in April. Soon Dheeraj was back, having lost his favourite seat under the fan by about 5 minutes.

Some time later arrived all the uncles and aunties who were coming in to catch up on their siesta at Raghavans - who had helpfully arranged a spare room with their neighbours to cope with the wedding rush. As the discussion topics veered from stolen slippers to people losing their morals in temples there was a shriek.

"My slippers are here"
"You muttal, you were always like this. You forgetful oaf, Mani"
"But I cannot forget my slippers here"
"Because I did not come here in the morning"
"Oh, so you forgot that too?"
"I came with you, remember?"
"And we did not stop here."
"So who is forgetful? In any case, these are my slippers. Why? I can even see the sticker on it. God is great. I thought I had lost my slipper in the temple, only to find it here. It is a miracle."
"God has better things to do than take care of your slippers"

Just then Dheeraj woke up in the middle of a dream on footwear. "Hey, Mani mama lost his slippers at the temple and found them here."
"What? Which are they?"
"Why are you so interested?"
"This is your sandal?"
"Yes. It suits me does it not?" beamed Mani Mama "makes me look 20 years younger"
"Oh no."
"What do you mean? It looks bad does it?"
"No. Someone stole my new sandals and I picked up the newest of those remaining. Now I have to buy another one..."


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