by Ramesh Mahadevan
Ajay Palvayanteeswaran just could not believe his ears. (Okay, okay.
I confess. This is the fourth Ajay Palvayanteeswaran story that begins
with the same line. But just this one time, let me get on with the story).
Ajay wondered if it was for real. The voice at the other end of the telephone,
was it a human voice or was it a computer chip? Computer chips don't have
ABCD daughters waiting in line to get married.
Ajay went through an instant replay of what had just happened. First the phone rang and then when he answered it, a thoroughbred, thick South Indian accent responded. At first, Ajay thought it was the usual call to extract five bucks from him for the Tamil Association or some nuisance call about a forthcoming music concert.
"Good evening, Mr. Palvayanteeswaran. My name is Srinivasan Iyer" the voice introduced himself. "Let me be direct with you. I got your name from the Jyotishi Vijai Maharaj of Tantra Corporation. You see, I have a daughter and I am looking for a good alliance from well-placed Iyer boys. You seem to be a nice boy high up in the Iyerarchy."
Good ! Somebody has finally realized Ajay's true worth in dollars and is taking the initiative to ring up and discuss a possible marriage.
"We call her Molly, short for Malini Ammal" the man went on."Very nice girl - she has the best of our culture and this
culture - the kind of girl who could make stuffed asparagus parathas with a dash of fresh thyme. A child of sound moral
values. By the way, can I have a copy of your horoscope? You can fax it to me."
Why not ? Ajay thought. After all, he always carried his horoscope and never left home without it. In fact, when they cashed his checks, he frequently showed his horoscope as an ID.
"What are you doing this friday night ? Why don't you come to our place for a dinner ? You can also meet my daughter."
The prospective father in law pressed on aggressively. "By the way, you are still employed, aren't you ?"
Ajay didn't even hesitate and accepted the invitation immediately. "If the marriage deal doesn't work out, at least I can get a good dinner" Ajay rationalized. Ajay only knows seventeen women in all his life. If you discount his various aunts and cousins, the number dropped to just one or two, which too were faces from way back during his kindergarten days. Now he is going to have his own wife, that too an American born one ! It is now time to bring out all the repressed passionate thoughts.
Ajay already started to daydream and drool. "The first romantic thing I must do with my woman" Ajay dreamed on "is to take her to India and go straight to my old IIT hostel and show her my ex-hostel room." He would take Malini to Piscataway, New Jersey for honeymoon. And when he showers her with lusty kisses, his toothbrush-like mustache might come in the way and brush her teeth. But he could always sacrifice a little and shave it off. Then one day, they will be blessed with a healthy baby boy. He will have an elaborate 'Naming ceremony', followed the next day by an equally elaborate 'Nicknaming ceremony'. He would call the child Munna, after his favorite mess worker in his old hostel. His parents would come from India and linger on for months to look after the baby. Then one day, in a ceremony resembling the change of palace guards in the Buckingham palace, his parents would leave and Malini's parents would arrive from New Jersey, maintaining the continuity of grandparents for the lucky brat.
The four 'friends of Ajay' had just finished eating the fifth plate of pakoras.
Malini is the product of East and West. She is five percent Mundaka
Upanishad, seven percent Rush Limbaugh, two percent Kamasutra and eight
percent Ann Landers. The rest of her life is based entirely on Jai Maharaj's
Quote City posts. When she was young, she learnt Bharat Natyam, till one
day when she was executing the Krishna Abhinaya, the floor opened underneath
her dancing feet and she fell onto the pool table at the basement and had
to walk around dragging the pool table
for several days. Each summer, she would go to India and learn music under the tutelage of the famous Lady King of Classical Music, Begum Kabuthar of the Piya-ka-Gharaana, until one day when the Begum was on her deathbed, she made Malini promise she would never sing again. Malini struggled with her high school courses and finally, thanks to a football scholarship, she even went to college and enrolled in a popular Major, 'The Caring and feeding of the horse'. After three
days, she dropped out and now works as a manequin in India Saree House.
Ajay tiptoed into the room, checking one last time if his fly was zipped up. Malini Ammal didn't look unpretty. She was like a cross between an old Madhuri Dixit and a young Mother Teresa. Ajay had this incredible urge to just blurt out that it was all a big mistake and run for his life, stopping at a bathroom en route. His knees felt weak. Instead he said a sheepish 'hi' to Molly.
"Hi" replied Malini.
"Hi" insisted Ajay.
"Hi" responded Malini.
"Yes, isn't the weather nice today ?." said Ajay and broke the ice.
Soon, the young couple relaxed and rambled on pointlessly from one topic to another like Ramesh Mahadevan's bboard posts. Just when Ajay thought that things were going well, Malini dropped a bombshell.
"Ajay, I would have gladly married you except for Bob."
"Who is Bob ?" he asked.
"Bob is my boyfriend. He is a very jealous kind of person and knows Karate and has a collection of guns." Malini explained "It was with him I had my first hug, my first kiss and my first everything."
Ajay was petrified. "You mean, first EVERYTHING ?"
"EVERYTHING ?" his voice was quivering.
"yes, everything." replied Malini "You see, I wasn't interested in this Indian-style marriage deal. It was all dad's idea."
"Yes, even I wasn't very keen on this thing. It is all your dad's idea." said Ajay, fearing for his life.
"Ajay, it is nothing personal. If I and Bob break up and you are still interested, we will contact you."
"That's great. Will you then explain all this to your dad? Now, if you will excuse me, I have to rush to my apartment." Ajay said, resigning to several more months, perhaps years, of celibacy.
"You can do better than that Ajay." replied the femme "Why don't you at least have dinner and complete this evening ? My mother is a good cook."