My name Muthuswamy Shivaraja Naidu, fondly called MSN by my friends. All those jokes about messenger, portals that just came up in your mind have already been done. I am quite a big hit among my friends, the typical dark, puny, spectacle clad south Indian boy who has never gone against his parents’ wishes, who is generally the butt of all jokes. For whom a nite of fun is several mocktails drunk slowly while seeing his friends get boisterous by the minute.
I have never had a girlfriend, because Amma doesn’t approve of one but do interact with girls. Most of them female colleagues who find me quite amusing and ofcourse being the s/w whiz that I am, every girl gets her extra work done by me. Like Sunny says I should probably learn to say no. The friend zone he says is the worst place to be in.
Sunny, you see is my best friend, we were roommates in Texas, where we had gone onsite and had to share the same house. I still remember Amma’s reaction when she heard that I was sharing my room with a non vegetarian. I forgot to tell her that he was about a spoon away from being an alcoholic and changed girls as frequently as one changed his socks. Many a girl would enjoy talking with me while Sunny would act very busy on his cellphone making imaginary calls to multi millionaire clients (How I wished the phone would ring in between his charade). The conversations began with How lucky they were that they had found him, moved on to disenchantment, disappointment, disillusionment, so on as the days progressed till a new one appeared, equally good looking, equally hot almost as if there was a bank of girls to which somehow we never were admitted.
Anyway this is my story, not sunny’s. I got up as usual on a bright Monday morning raring to go to work. I would have loved to do the testing on Sunday, but the new office policy prevented Sunday working. Today everything would fall in place. Hmm, concentrate man, I would have to start the prayer again. As a mark of respect to my parents I still applied the sandal paste on my forehead and neck, but it seemed to get smaller each day and of course the bus ride to SEEPZ would get most of it off. I looked around for Sunny and noticed he was missing. This meant that I would reach office on time.
I reached office and straightened all the things on my desk. I hate things out of place. Its not OCD, just that things must be properly placed. I notice that my keyboard has still not been changed. It’s been a month since I’ve complained about this thing. The enter key keeps getting stuck. Last week, Shilpa from the next cubicle found a scratch on her screen and was given a laptop from admin. Mine’s been in process since a year. Girls have all the fun.
Just then Shilpa knocks at my cubicle. ‘Hi MSN, Raju seems to have dropped your mail in my cubicle’
I gingerly take it from her hand, while she enjoys my discomfort. She’s the kind of girl who gets an outstanding appraisal just by flashing her dimples which she liberally does.
‘Wat’s it, Sandal paste again?’
Everyone still makes it a point to remind me of the Sandal paste, which Amma sent which I mistakenly dropped on my new khaki pants and that too before a client presentation. I give her a look which says buzz off. But she really has nothing to do today so she ignores me.
‘Aren’t you going to open it’
I know that she always gets her way, so I begin opening the letter as deliberately as I can.
‘Oh give it to me.’ Before I can protest she’s taken it and out pops a letter and a photograph. She turns the letter around twice and then hands it to me. It’s in Telugu, hurray :).
‘Who’s the chick, you sister? Some traditional day photo, huh?’
Frankly even I’m intrigued and begin reading the letter. It’s short and to the point. This is the girl my parents have chosen for me and they would like to schedule the engagement as soon as possible.
‘Hey ur sister looks cute, Seems like ur the black sheep. Hee hee’
Beautiful gurls generally have a very bad sense of humour. Defensively I blurt out the one sentence I shouldn’t have.
‘She’s my fiancée to be’
‘Fiancee, Hey guys listen MSN is getting married’
What ensues is people popping out of all the cubicles all around me. Productivity has gone for a toss. I am after all the project manager even if people never accept it. Leena, Shilpa’s best friend has already scanned the photo, blown it up and printed a copy and pasted it on the notice board. It’s already been mailed to everyone and the original picture full of thumb impressions is pinned onto my board, annoyingly no one seems to even attempt to do any work and the worst part is that I have yet to see the picture properly.
I finally gather courage and look at it. The girl is good looking in a very South Indian way and I really should be happy that such a girl has even consented to look at me but something is bugging me and I can’t put my finger on it.
Sunny meets me for lunch and does this hurt impression before embracing me in a hug that almost snaps my back. Everyone has got the news by now and there are congratulations all around.
I reach home a little late and find Sunny at home. He’s got nachos, popcorn, lays some sauce and a couple of beers in front of him, which means one thing some football match, since formula one is generally on Saturday or Sunday.
‘Pour me a glass’
Sunny looks at me. A glass of beer is a once in a year thing which signifies that I am very happy or very sad. He looks at me and pours out a glass from an already open bottle. Most of it will anyway go waste. He tries hard to concentrate on the pre-match talk for some time while I sit grimly sipping away my drink in a very hurt hindi film hero way. There is a break before the match and Sunny presses the mute button.
‘Wats buggin you?’
‘Cmon man, you are goin to tell me this and I’d rather not miss the match’
Silence even though I should be hurt at his insensitivity.
‘Tell me yaar. Some problem in testing?’
‘Phir kya hai?’
‘It’s the engagement thing’
‘What engagement thing?’ and then seeing my face ‘ Arre kidding yaar, tujhe to khush hona chahiye’
And then the floodgates open. I finally seem to realize what’s bugging me. It’s the fact that my parents never even asked me about my choice and that’s not all. I love my mother but I really don’t want to marry someone like her. I’ve hardly heard my father speak in years and frankly will a typical south Indian female ever be part of my life. And even though I’m among the first to bitch about girls like Shilpa, I secretly am quite taken in with their independence.
‘So you have a crush on Shilpa’
I’m this close to emptying the bottle on his head
‘..and frankly she’s not your type. Hee Hee. Ok ok seriously yaar if it’s such a big prob just say no’
I have never said no to Amma for anything. Dad tried once and the hysterics ensued that no one would ever repeat it.
‘Achha chal show me her picture. I deleted the mail thinking it was just another prank’
‘Look at her Sunny, do you think she can fit in with my modern lifestyle, will she..’
‘Arre, this is Sue’
‘Sue yaar. I met her in Pune, very cute, very saucy’
‘No yaar, she actually turned me down.’
Interesting, a girl who turned Mr. perfect down.
‘I think she’s in software or something’
‘Yup, Sulekha is a engineer’
‘Dude, I assure you, behind that 7 yards of silk is one very terrific gal’
‘Sacchi yaar, teri kasam’
The next morning I phone Amma and tell her that I like the girl but since I could possibly be going onsite again I’d like to get the marriage over as soon as possible. Amma is most proud of me. Appa phones me later and asks me whether I would like to see the girl. I reply in the negative. What I don’t tell him that I’m secretly scared that going by my past interactions with females, she might reject me.
Sunny comes to see me off at the airport.
‘She’s in Wipro, I found out’
‘MSN, you are one lucky guy, makes me wonder whether I should get married too’
‘Yaa man, chal got to go, will catch you later’
What happened in the ensuing 5 days was just a blur. The couple is not supposed to meet for a week before the marriage and she manages to put on a very demure look during all the ceremonies. I get a moment to catch her ear and whisper in spite of disapproving looks from all my aunts.
‘I know how you really are?’ which is what I end up saying.
She gives me a very puzzled smile but a smile nevertheless.
D day (actually N night) and I enter my room to find my very traditional, demure looking bride.
Frankly she is one amazing actress.
‘So when do we start living in Mumbai’
She looks up shyly and says ‘whenever you say?’
‘What about your job?’
‘The one at Pune’
‘I haven’t started working, I just completed my engineering last month’
‘Cmon I know you work in Pune, My friend saw you’
‘Oh’ followed by peals of laughter.
Laughter in tense moments, grossly overrated
‘Arre, that’s sue’
‘No Sue. Sue is my cousin Sujaya, who looks a lot like me. She’s quite a wild one. Even lives all alone. Certainly not marriage material’
‘…unlike me who knows to cook all possible dishes, I read the Gita everyday, I…’
I’m suddenly in a funk. The lady in front of me seems like a reincarnation of my mother. I pick up my cellphone and switch it on and try to contact Sunny. The recording lady tells me that he is busy. I pace the room waiting for a return call.
Sunny returns my call with a message. ‘Dude small mistake, the chic ur gettin hitched 2 is Sue’s cous. I just met Sue at Sunil’s party. She’s moving to Mbai and the best news, were goin out. We might just marry into the same fly :) Do update me on tonite ;)’
I place the mobile and look into the very eager eyes of my bride, my wife, my soulmate. Well frankly she does look nice and I really could do with home cooking. I must count my blessings and most importantly it is my first nite. So I get closer to my wife and very gingerly try to kiss her.
She jumps off the bed and says ‘No No, Amma says sex on second Saturdays only’