Could an idli (south indian any time favourite) make a decision in your life? Crazy, right!! Well, it made in mine. Ok not only mine but ours.
Ours was a typical arranged marriage. The formality of making sojji and bajji from the time immemorial during the occasion of ponnu paarthal (ceremonial bride and groom seeing each other) was followed without any deviation. My grandpa’s paternal aunt (my great grand aunt) ordered to make idlis also and bajji with plantains sliced lengthwise. When my aunt objected the decision of making idlis instead of just sojji and bajji as the outcome is not known, Pop!! Came her reply – How come they won’t like our Manju?! (What a confidence!!) We need to show them how hospitable we are. (Not slipping an opportunity to show our hospitality and generosity too).
The ritual of ponnu Paarthal with 7 relatives of groom and 10 relatives of mine took place. For both of us it was the first such tensed moments. I played “bandu reethi kolu “ in veena and my long pleated hair was checked whether it was real by one of his inquisitive aunts. My great grand aunt’s confidence won. Things happened so fast and after he satisfactorily answered my three questions during our permitted private chat, I really didn’t find any reason to reject (too frank na ). So when my aunt asked me whether they could serve idlis to them, I said yes (This is the twist of the tale ). Our marriage was after four months of our engagement. Like now we didn’t have much means of communication. No internet. No mobiles. Not even pagers. As a matter of fact they had their phone connection on the day of our engagement. We didn’t have even that. We used my grandpa’s who was residing just behind our house. After engagement we met twice before marriage in midst of family members before he left to Mumbai to take up his new assignment.
All was well until he asked me whether I like him? Did anybody ask me whether this guy is ok for me? on our very first night when we were trying to know each other. I was little amused but gathered my guts to tell him, that even I was not ready to get married (I was 22) so soon, but since our fathers were colleagues (13 years before our wedding. No contacts in between), both families had a strong feeling that it would be nice if we get married. Also his father knows astrology who strongly believed that we surely will get married.
He threw me the next shock that he was never asked this question by anybody at his home, proceeded to have discussions on wedding arrangements . He was very much surprised and even a bit irritated to see everybody happily satisfying their appetite (as if he wasn’t, he asked for more servings) after the ceremonial bride seeing got over, while he didn’t have slightest idea of getting married when he came home from Bhobal to spend 2 weeks before joining his new job. As far as he knew, his parents were searching groom for his younger sister and his opinion was never sought about his preparedness or how the bride of him should be. In fact he came to know that his marriage proposal was already on only on his arrival the previous day. (Me: How come he was not updated as this high drama of scrutinizing the horoscopes was going on for a month by four astrologers including my fil)
I was stubbornly replying him that his father did ask him whether they can have idli after we had a chat. I also upraised that he said yes for that, which indicated his acceptance. Doesn’t he remember I was asked to serve him when he asked for more idlis. He snapped back, “what would that mean? How an acceptance to eat idli would indicate that I am ok with you? You were also asked to serve idlis but not asked if you liked me?” I started getting worried, in my mind all that arrangements of marriage, expenses and my parents’ faces were flashing . My inner voice asked him if he had not liked me he could have told his parents even after going home so that the engagement would not have happened or otherwise even after engagement he had ample time to say so. Why he didn’t dare to? Was he obedient or afraid?!! whether he likes me or not was oscillating in my mind. I was seriously praying all Gods not to let my parents down. Also I had a doubt whether he was trying to fool me as it was April 1st night (Our wedding was on 31st March) My face showed my mind.
Each tick of the clock was like an hour for me. Much to my relief, he assured, he liked me very much, my long hair attracted him at the first sight of it, and also he found me sensible during the chat blah blah blah… He didn’t raise any questions to my in-laws for the fear of missing me if he postponed his decision or marriage, but could not understand how a simple idli implied a decision of his life
I burst laughing on hearing this as it suddenly struck me that he might be ignorant of the indicator his father mentioned to his family members and to my parents (who in turn to me), that if only the groom and bride liked each other they will eat anything salted in our house. Otherwise they would only have sweet and coffee to respect our hospitality. My fil felt that directly saying a “no” by either side will hurt each other (What an idea fil ji!!). That is why he had asked my deeeeaaaaar hubby whether they can have idli forgetting the fact, he came from Bhopal just the previous day and nobody had told him this indicator.
Later I asked my sil about this and my sil replied with a glee in her face, “Why we should have asked? We had to do all sorts of signals and dances from the window behind you to tell him how long it has been. Did he chat for such long time (may be an hour) without liking you?? In my whole life he had not talked to me continuously for more than 10 minutes.” I swear I asked my three questions within first 5 minutes to confirm whether he is a teetotaler.
After this incident definitely idlis kindles this nice memory. Whenever some arguments erupts between us I will say “after all you married me just because you ate idlis at my home. At least in next janma think before you eat” which eases our temper.