The easiest thing about promises is that they can be made in an instant, the toughest is having to keep them. No, this is not any philosopher’s quote but my own experience. Like when my mother said, “Vijay, tomorrow morning we have to attend a wedding so get up early” and I simply replied, “Yes amma.”
Indeed there will be hardly anyone who wouldn’t appreciate being cozily tucked up in ones bed on a chilly winter morning. It so warm and comfy under the quilt, so why spoil it to keep a promise foolishly made or a word carelessly given. One knows that the early bird gets the worm, but then who wants grubby little worms. It is only fitting that Cuckoos get them.
So it was already rather late when I got up that morning, groggy and bleary eyed, blaming our clan of Madrasis for not being sensible like Maharashtrians who don’t have wedding muhurats at an ungodly hour of 7 a.m. in the morning. In fact I had to trouble myself to join my parents for the event since I alone knew the exact location of the venue.
Finally we were ready and all set to go. My father and I were waiting outside for my mother to finish her security arrangements. She has to lock all the doors and the windows and even switch off the electrical main supply.
I casually asked my father, “What are we gifting the newly wedded couple?”He stood rooted to the spot and foolishly murmured, ‘Oh, I forgot the gift in your room.” My mother had just arrived and started to complain bitterly. I took the keys from her and went back.
“Ayyo amma …”, I cried out for it had been pitch dark (the power had been switched off) and I had stubbed my toe against the almirah. My blood curdling cry brought my amma to the scene. It was locks all the way and she worked frantically, all the while grumbling about my clumsiness and my father’s forgetfulness.
Still we made progress and reached the wedding hall. We saw not one familiar face and it looked odd. On checking it was confirmed that there was no such marriage scheduled at the venue. It was then that it dawned on me that I had got the venue hall named mixed up and we had come to the wrong hall. The correct venue was quite a long detour and my mother’s patience was wearing rather thin by then.
We finally made it to the wedding hall and an aunt came forward to eagerly greet us. My mother was all smiles now, for she likes to keep up the social graces. My aunt enquired, “We were wondering why you were late. I hope you had no trouble finding the place?” As I said earlier it was just not my day, early bird be cursed for chasing its worms. But of course I was over-reacting for I realized that it was a rhetorical question asked more out of civility rather than by any design. I wisely lowered my eyes and studied my shoe laces. “No, not the very least.”, I heard my mother respond.
I avoided her gaze but understood it well. I instinctively looked at my father and in a flash we realized that if there is one lady who believes in defending her men in public, it is my mother!
The article appeared in ‘The Middle’ column of a local newspaper ‘Maharashtra Herald’ in Pune, India on June 17, 1998. It is based on a real incident with the permissible amount of creative licence that is allowed to every writer. My parents were very amused that I spun out a tale from the everyday trivia of our lives.
I think I had the Italian writer Giovannino Guareschi who wrote, ‘The House That Nino Built’, in mind while writing this with a deliberate attempt to reinforce the cultural stereotypes to the story.