“Haan Poo,” chimed in Anjali who had recovered her composure (thanks largely to Chotti and Chotte), “Tumhe pata hai,” she put an affectionate hand to her cheek, “In March by this time you would have settled down in your new home!”
Poo blushed and hugged both of them – oh how she wished Bhaiyya could change traditions and she could stay here with her husband – that way she could have her cake and eat it too.
Time flew and soon it was time for Poo’s wedding – after much heated debate and discussion Poo won and all the pre-shaadi events (shagun haldi mehendi sangeet etc) were held at RM with only her adopted family in attendance [Aman (and his mother) also attended wherever customs (and ASR) allowed]. Only the wedding itself was to be held at Benaras, which Poo’s biological family would be attending as well.
Nani was most excited about Poo’s wedding – unki bahut dino ki ichcha thi ki woh Benaras jayengi and now look how it had all been arranged when she had all but given up hope. In fact, all the buzurgs of the extended Raizada khandan really appreciated Kashi as the venue of Poo’s wedding – isi bahane Ganga bhi naha lenge!
The children were a bit disappointed initially (for none of their friends would be able to come) but soon got into the spirit of things and specially found the dip in the Ganga very cool – much better than a swimming pool (psst finally all the exhortations and efforts had paid off – Benaras had been restored to its original pristine glory of yesteryears with modern world class facilities and amenities – (fingers crossed!).
Poo’s entire family and indeed many of her ‘gaonwale’ too had landed up at Benaras for her wedding. Poo was of course happy to meet her parents and siblings. They in turn were a bit overawed by the large number of ‘shehri’ people of all ages who had come expressly for the wedding of their Punya– someone they had written off as excess burdensome baggage best dropped off by the wayside. Any lingering doubts that they had regarding their daughter’s status was firmly put to rest by the love and affection showered on Poo who was the star of the group. She was clearly very dear to each and every member of her adopted family, “Humne bahut galat kiya tere saath,” her mother sobbed while her father just looked on awkwardly.
Poo hugged her and gave a carefree laugh, “Aur tu hi toh kehti hai na jo hota hai achche ke liye hi hota hai?” she swallowed and said brightly, “Dekh na, tu ne jaane diya tabhi toh itna,” she waved her hands around, “sab kuch mil paya mujhe.”
“Jijaji kitne sundar hai na!” gushed Chutki, the youngest of the lot the only unmarried daughter (not counting Poo of course), “Jiji mere ko bhi sheher bula lo na?” she begged.
“Hatt pagli,” Majhli smacked her and pulled at her pallu, “Bura mat mano Jiji, lekin Jijaji se toh zyaada sundar aapke munh bole Bhaiyya hain,” she giggled as a chorus of voices supported her contention.
Poo couldn’t help grinning as Khushi waggled her eyes at Arnav who hurriedly and busily strode off from the scene.
There was another burst of laughter, “Hai re Nandkishore! Arre o choriyo hanste hi rahoge ki kauno kaam vaam bhi karoge,” Buaji stomped up to them and sent them off on various errands with the dire warning, “Khabardaar jo humre Babuaji ko paresaan kiya! Ab jaao apna apna kaam karo! Hai re Nandkishore, yeh gaaon ki choriya bhi kuch kum nahi sirf bas masti hi masti,” she scolded indignantly shaking like a poorly set jelly bound together by the trademark gamchcha around her head (psst her dhai kilo ka haath was now saade paanch kilo ka).
The girls scattered and rushed about their business and after much more of Buaji’s instructions, liberally peppered with echoes of HRNKs, the wedding, complete with mantras and pheras, was conducted. It was a simple understated affair, just like Poo and Aman had wanted.
And the best part was that there was no rona dhona – thanks largely to ASR’s shatir dimaag, which was working overtime. Pre- warned by Anya’s wedding, he took steps to ensure that there was no repeat telecast of the wedding aftermath.
How, you ask? Pretty simple actually – while they had flown to Benaras in installments as per convenience and necessity (Nani first, Chotte last etc), but the return trip was a surprise – an overnight train journey – everyone together.
Before leaving for the station, there was of course a formal perfunctory vidai ceremony as Poo took an unemotional leave from her suddenly overwrought parents and siblings. But the Raizada khandan wasn’t much affected and preferred to busy themselves in mundane tasks and activities such as wrapping up and packing – after all Poo was coming along with them.
It was a huge gang that piled on to the train compartment – Nani, Amma Buaji Babuji Mama (Mami was too busy to come for the wedding) Payal, her kids, Aakash, Guddu, Ankit, Chotti, Anjali, Khsitij, Khushi and Arnav (along with ASR, Chotte and Daddy 😛 Oh wait how could I forget the newly wedded couples Sherry and Anya – with their respective mothers-in-law.
So it was a full house and the children, who had never travelled by train before, were particularly thrilled. They ran around, jumped up and down the bunks like monkeys – their excitement was so infectious that one just couldn’t mope and any threatening tragic emotions were heavily watered down. At the Delhi station, there was chaos and everyone was more preoccupied in keeping track of the children’s whereabouts and their luggage to be able to focus on the all-important fact that Poo was going off forever to her sasural – that would sink in later, and individually – just as ASR had planned.
Actually Nani had wanted Poo to come to RM for a proper vidai ceremony complete with rona-dhona, but as I said, shatir dimaag in close coordination with Aman (who also had a morbid dread of emotional outpourings) had booked the tickets for his honeymoon (Goa) that very same afternoon – as a result the couple had just about enough time to dump their luggage in their apartment, freshen up, pick up their already packed luggage and rush for the airport.
Pretty neat huh?
It was later, much later, when Chotti came to Khushi sitting with the others in the lobby, “Boo ki shaadi toh complete hua hi nahi! Ab kya hoga?” she asked worriedly chewing her fingers.
“Kyon? Complete toh hua na shaadi?” Khushi was justifiably taken aback and she looked to the others for support.
“Nobody cried when she left!” Chotti wailed, “I want my Boo,” her lower lip trembled and her voice wobbled.
“Oho Chotti, tum bhi na hadd karti ho!” Khushi hurriedly rallied her, “yaad nahi hai Benaras main sab kitna ro rahe the? Her Amma, Bauji, her sisters?”
Chotti was struck, she nodded doubtfully, “Haan par we didn’t cry?” she objected, “Like everyone did for Di?”
“Par tumne hi toh kaha tha, it is very strange that people cry when they should be happy? Aur waise bhi Boo is still lives in Delhi and with Anka, so why should we be sad? Earlier girls used to be married off to men whom they didn’t know very well and lived in another part of the country,” Khushi tried to explain, “Aur waise bhi Boo abhi Anka ke saath sea beach par gaana ga rahi hogi, like in Goa to Mumbai (the latest YR release starring Aryan and Aradhya where Aryan is an escaped convict in Goa trying to escape the clutches of the police team headed by Aradhya who keeps tripping him up right in the beech of the beach for the nth time – thak kar he goes off into a dream sequence of him singing a song with her and then befooling her enough to make good his escape to Mumbai – but alas only in his dreams—ufff ok ok back to the main story).
Chotti found the idea so funny that she immediately went off into peals of laughter, “Anka and Boo singing on the beaches,” she gasped, “running in slo-mo like A and A,” she started off again, her infectious giggles giving stomach cramps to the others as well.
Yup pretty neat work by shatir dimaag eh?
Click here for Chapter 379