As the evening set in, we three got dressed in our finest and went out to the Mandapam first to make sure that everything was ready before the groom (and his brother, Karthick who had gone with him) arrived straight from the beauty parlour where they had gone a couple of hours earlier itself to get ready for the festive occasion. A big board greeted us at the entrance- “DR.Nitin Rajsekar, MS Ortho” getting betrothed to “ER.Ramya Rani BE ECE” in big flowered letters, worthwhile for the amount Nitin’s dad had spent to get him that degree.
Once inside the Mandapam we got caught in the festive atmosphere and at the sight of all the good looking girls from the brides’ side, for she worked as a software engineer at Oracle Labs or something and had attracted a hep crowd of hanger-ons and besties- each girl worth looking at for atleast 5 mins. One girl in particular caught everyone’s attention- a fantastic looking beauty of a girl who was running around inviting everyone personally and generally making a big scene. Pradeep took one look at her and immediately fell in love with her, or so he claimed. He took me aside and said “Machan, I am going for her” and this from a man who had spent all afternoon praising that other beauty, our friends sister Nithya and how it was all heaven foretold that they should be linked in marriage and how friends should turn relatives and how I should not try anything on her but look on her as a bhabi and within five minutes of catching a glimpse at this new girl, Pradeep was proposing me enthusiastically as the right person to become the brother in law to Karthick and Nitin and to leave the field open for him here.. Oh! How fickle are friends…
He didn’t even give me the option to decide for myself which one I wanted- he merely told me “you take that one and I will take this one” and he wanted me to agree to a gentleman’s bargain to share and share alike. I demurred at first, for I felt I was being taken advantage of, but Mama had a few words with me about how I had fought all afternoon for the right to date Nithya and here I was getting a chance to do it and what was I objecting for and with those profound words of the leader of our party- I gave up my right to put an application for this newest angel on the horizon. Besides, I had my own doubts about this new girl- she clearly was looking out of our range and an expensive piece to maintain on a limited budget.
By judicious enquiry among the older relatives hanging around we established the fact that the knock-out girl was in fact the younger sister of the bride, but what was she doing her? Why hadn’t she gone to the beauty parlour too, as we were sure her sister would have gone to get dressed? As we learnt later the reason that Renuka, which was the girls name, had not gone to the parlour was, her elder sister – the bride Ramya had also not gone there- they were too sure of their beauty to require expert assistance. Either that or the two sisters were too kanjoos.
With the groom still missing from the action, the engagement party was yet to pick up speed or tempo and consequently there were lots of empty spots and time gaps for anyone to indulge in – for a little romance if they had the inclination and guts to. Guts I have never lacked. My friends would vouch for me about the time, I had stood up on the podium in class and proposed to the entire class of 50 girls that I loved them all (for a truth or dare bet) and asked if anyone love me back? When no one volunteered I informed them that they had all broken my heart, I was now officially in Devdas mode and the least that they could do for me- after the damage they have done to my heart- was to vote for me in the upcoming class rep elections..And you know what? I won in a landslide based on the female vote- especially as my opponent was Pakki Bhaskar..a misogynist who never even talked to girls in class as opposed to your’s truly who gifted a rose to every girl (who voted) on election day…to remember him by.
So I was pretty much looking out for my chance to start my own romantic engagement during the course of this engagement.