“There you are Ram. We were looking for you everywhere”, Tina Aunty continued, “please help your uncle with these suitcases. Our room is on the second floor you know.”
“Of course, aunty”, I said with a smile gleaming at the unexpected attention I was getting at my best friend’s wedding.
“Thank you. The way you have shouldered all the preparations today I am sure God will gift you a splendid bride.” Tina aunty took time to bless me.
Mrs. Meena was a very close family friend. She had a daughter who graduated along with me and as usual was eavesdropping on us. She took the liberty to suggest, “Ram the girl who marries you will be very lucky. Why don’t you find someone in this wedding itself?” I replied with a grin, “Sure aunty. I will be on the lookout.”
Both of them were happy to know that i was looking forward to settle down in holy matrimony. Their happiness reflected on my face as well and I guess my mother was going to add something when suddenly my phone chimed.
It is Xia, the love of my life. We have known each other for past three years and she is the one person I truly care about apart from my family. And I believe it is imperative here that I mention her nationality. She is a Chinese citizen. Yes, the same country that has been at loggerheads with my motherland over some territorial issue or another. The last one year was particularly testing as the two countries used economic strategies to outgrow the other and we jostled over commitment issues. The final verdict came after two weeks of email embargo between the two of us imposed by a jealous boyfriend (me). We had consolidated the fact (over these two weeks of cold war) that without the shadow of a doubt it was impossible for us to live apart. In fact the next thing on our checklist was a holy union and probably a solemn agreement for the next seven incarnations sanctioned by a Pundit.
“Ram my boy,” a roaring voice from behind me caught the attention of the entire room, “now that you have completed your MBA, I see hordes of suitable girls queuing up for a slice of that 7 digit pay packet.” He winked with a slanted smile to reassure me that he was just pulling my leg.
I smiled back and my father reminded me to congratulate him on receiving the highly prestigious military honour last month for rescuing three Indian corporals who had been captured by the enemy. The remaining patrol unit had been beheaded by the enemy soldiers.
Uncle Rajesh interrupted us, “I tell you. We need more men like Brigadier Saab in our army. I am sure the Chinese would not even dare to take us on.” I nod in approval but at the same time slip a smiley to my Chinese bride. Just when I thought nobody would interrupt my romantic chat (which had slowly shifted to a corner of the main dining hall) my phone ran out of battery. The only vacant socket in the room was next to the bar table. I left it there under the supervision of my chatty teen sister.
It couldn’t have been more than fifteen minutes when the brigadier cornered me. He was accompanied by my parents. Even my best friend was standing somewhere behind them. Two policemen in plain clothes held me by the arms and dragged me out. I was yelling for help, still trying to understand what was happening. Nobody looked me in the eyes. They just watched as I was thrown out of the house. I heard a lot of commotion but could only make out one word. “Chinese spy”.
Written by Vinay Dora Photographs by Arpan ganguli Edited by ‘bhilash