The rituals were at the last stage. The groom is to put the vermilion on the forehead of the bride but suddenly the thin hands of the bride clasped the hand of the groom firmly and said “Stop it now, I said stop it now”. Bride Sneha did another action, She sprang up from her seat and untied the knot of her Banarassi Sari with the Dhoti of the groom and started leaving the Pandal.
It all happened in a spilt second. The Bride’s father, his uncle, the Priest of the Marriage and myself , the marriage registrar quickly recovered from the shock and disbelief and tried to reach Sneha as quickly as possible. Before we could reach, the groom and his friends came in her way.
She stopped near the New Motorbike, a gift from her father to the groom and shouted, “ I said clear my way before I turn nasty”
“Turn on any thing” the groom shouted none the less “ But tell us and everybody about the drama you made just now.”
“Tell everybody present here and me, did you chant a single mantra of this marriage?”
“Well! Not every words of it, how does it matter?”
“You could not because you were busy in talking to your friends and seeing the Bike. I shall tell every body that he nether chanted the seven words of promises and while taking rounds before the holy fire he looked neither at the fire nor at me but listening to the filthy abuses that his friends were hurling towards my father and the mobike”
One of the friends of the groom side now took over “What a bike, re-painted, bloody old model, two- stroke garbage. This is not worth even a Mopade. We were telling this hour before. But, your father seems to be a deaf. This is a deaf’s family. Till your father replaces the marriage shall be postponed.”
“No Postponement. This marriage is cancelled” Sneha tore the garland and threw it on the face of the Groom. She was shivering with anger; the village women surrounded her and her mother.
The villagers and Torab, the village head,brushed aside the crowd and made their way to reach the trouble spot. A few members of the Barrati party now attempted to thin out from the place. Torab shouted “ Catch hold all of them, don’t let none to go. Amol, you did not call us at the final round of talks with these people, now tell us what is all these going on?”
Amol, a schoolteacher of the village school is the father of Sneha. Sneha is the eldest of the two other unmarried daughters. About a month-back, he finalized the marriage of Sneha with a businessperson boy. He agreed to all the dowry demands of the groom side including a Mobike for the groom.
Torab said “ Amol, People are telling me that the friends of the groom were talking in a foul language about you and the Bike. We were hearing but tolerated enough. Now tell us did they specify anything about the bike, make or model at the day of marriage fixation? Problem is you did not call us. Otherwise…”
The father of the boy and head of the “Barrat” party said, “What is there to specify? Look at the Boy, his and our status. Not every thing is said. We asked for 10 tolas of Gold ornaments. Does it mean that he should give us gold plated third class thing? We have not checked that. It is all possible with this type of family.”
Now another villager said “ did you not come to his house many times before this marriage? Did you not check with us the credential of this family and the character of the girl. You were then speaking very high of them and now why you changed suddenly”
Another person looked at the two gold chains one bigger and another shorter that the groom was wearing. Pointing to the shorter one with his long finger he said “ I am the gold ornament shop owner. This one Amol purchased from me. Not only I but the hall mark in it, guarantee for the purity of gold.”
He touched the longer chain “ But this one?”
The father of the groom said “That is our own”
The Gold smith just had a look and touched the chain.” This one is gold plated”
One of the villager said “They buy fake ones when the buy from their own pocket”
Torab’s brother, Ali, the owner of Mo-bike show room in the Town said “ who said this is old and re-painted? We have the documents to prove that it arrived from the factory just this week. No one so far complained about the performance.”
He identified one person “ Ask this gentleman, about two month back he purchased the same model. Have you faced any trouble or the performance is below the mark and claims made by company?”
Amol said “ He is the younger brother of the groom”
Now Torab pulled his hand “ You were most abusive. Amol is of your father’s age. Beg pardon before him or we compel you to do that” Seeing the angry crowd before him the person obliged readily.
Torab was now fast in his action. He called the father of the groom to be near him
“ Now things are clear to me. We understand what a family you are. Any way, tell me what you want now. There are a variety of bikes in my brother’s “Gowdown” just a Km far from here. All of you go there in my vehicle and pick the one which you like. But that is only and all and before proceeding you and every body in the Barrat must seek seriously the pardon of my brother Amol and make it fast. Otherwise don’t blame us to straighten out thing in our own way.”
Sneha’s mother came from inside of the house “ TorabBhai Please come inside. Sneha is not listening to us.”
Sneha was now in her ordinary dress. As soon as Torab and I reached there she said in her usual calm voice “ Uncle you all did a good Job”
“ Yes Sneha ! Things are now settled now. They sought pardon of your father and he has pardoned them Now get dressed, time is running out”
Sneha said in her calm voice “ Uncle do not misunderstand me. I shall be misfit in this family. Tell them to go back. I will not marry this boy”
“ Sneha try to understand. You may do this but it shall be why difficult almost impossible to arrange your marriage once again. Besides this, you have other unmarried sister. Think of them and better revise your decision.”
Sneha said " Uncles, things should change now. Marriage is not a compelling thing to live. If the attitude of all other grooms family do not change we shall change ourselves to live life being unmarried than getting married to a family like this."
I said “ Sneha there is one more problem. Just an hour ago, this marriage was registered and all of us signed it. It can not be waived so easily. The groom’s side may make problem with me, and all of us. The law …”
“ I shall go for divorce then but certainly not stay married with this man. Uncle get me the papers I shall sign them”
Torab and I finally gave up. I shall have to talk to my seniors to find out an easier way other than divorce suit. That is a long and uphill task.
Five months later:
As a single marriage registrar I move to all most all the villages near by for the marriage occasion. Things have really changed now. Before performing the registration, I made it a point to take a declaration from both the side that there was no deal on dowry. Parents of this and the surrounding villages are getting their son and daughter married without any dowry demand. Things have really changed.
Sneha is getting married today to a close friend of me. My friend and his friends arrived an hour before. Instead of car or bus, all of them including the groom came on each of their own Mobike. The things have really changed.