It was Ranjita’s marriage. Her dad, Mani, was having a quick bath, often referred in Tamil as kaaka kulizhal (bathing technique of crows, quick and assumed to be quite effective in certain situations). He thundered, “Meenaaaaaaaa …… , Towelllll!!!!” The decibel level was high enough for the glass window in the bathroom to explode, but fortunately for denizens (especially the ladees population) in busy Vadapalani area, where this mandapam (marriage hall) was, the glass decided to stay not disintegrated! Good job, Asahi glass!
Meenalochani, affectionately, known to all as Meena, with one hand on her aching knees, climbed the steps leading to the bathroom and handed over the towel to Mani. His hand emerged through a gap in the door to immediately pull the towel and he barked, “Why so much time?”
Kris (Krishna, Meena’s four and half year grandson), told Raja, his dad, “Appa, in that geography serial, froggy shot out his tongue to catch the insect. Thaathaa’s hand was also catching towel just like the frog tongue, no, appa?”
Ramani mama: “Soopper! The boy is verry smart!”
Ramani mama and his wife, Pattu maami had been with Mani and Meena in the Americas for 20 years and moved to India about 12 years ago. They treated Raja and Ranjita as their own children and had seen them grow up since Raja was a 5 year old. Ranjita was 13 years younger to Raja but Aditya, Ramani and Pattu’s son, was born when Raja was six.
Meena smiled at Ramani and ran towards Amala, Aditya’s wife, who was helping Ranjita to get dressed in the big budget 35000 rupee saree. Mani had insisted on that saree while others didn’t see too much difference between this and the other one that looked and felt the same but cost less than half. It was Mani’s money, so why crib!?
The Vadhiyaar (priest) began reciting the mantharams and the ceremony began. Kris was curious to know why things were going up in smoke when Ranju auntie and uncle mama were repeating the words that shirtless uncle vadhiyar was saying to a large brick cake with cow dung on fire!! Aditya pleaded with him to play with J, somebody’s six year old daughter. Every now and then, the vaadhiyaar wanted something and he would ask Mani, who would bark orders to Meena. Meena would get the job done and in the midst of all the chaos, also remember to give a pleading look followed by a smile at Pattu maami every twenty minutes. Pattu maami would understand and ask Deepa or Ramya to fetch an extra hot cup of filter kaapi with 3 spoons of sugar. Meena would then hand it to Mani, who would snatch it from her and gulp it down in one swift motion. It was a mystery, how such hot liquid could be consumed by a human, but Meena knew Mani more than anybody else.
The ceremony ended well. Relatives and friends congratulated the newly weds and began to leave. Meena was holding Pattu mami’s hand, while tears of joy rolled from her eyes. Mani walked up and said, “Oh, you have started crying again. See, Ramesh and his family are leaving …. ”