She wanted to marry a classmate from her business school, who was from a different community and working in another small town at the end of the country. They seemed perfectly matched with similar job profiles and taste and knowing that the young man was also a wannabe writer who had also read the author’s book on the suggestion of this young lady. Driven to desperation they decided to escalate matters. She had read the marriage chapter of the book four times and decided to emulate Soumya. A Different Truths exclusive.
One of the greatest pleasures of a writer is feedback from readers. Any feedback is welcome, as we know we are being read, and praise is an intoxicant. But the greatest high is when you know that your story has somehow helped someone somewhere.
I am occasionally gratified by readers reaching out to me, and some get connected to the social media, and with a few, we have actually met and become friends. They range from various nationalities, cultures, communities, social groups and ages, but a majority of them are women. I suppose ladies are more inclined to take the step of reaching out to a writer they appreciate and letting them know that their more reticent male counterparts or perhaps just more women read.
Anyway, my story starts with just such an exchange, then a friend request on Facebook, which I accepted as I always do to request from readers. This time as the correspondent appears to be a personable young lady, I was perhaps even happier. She claimed to be an Engineer MBA like almost everyone else from her generation and was working in the Financial Sector in a small town, which was her hometown.
Sometime later I was a panelist at a seminar held in that town where the host was the organisation she worked for. This was pure serendipity and what was even more coincidental was that she was the compere of the event. We met during the break, we exchanged contact details and became actual friends. I was relieved to find that she was who she claimed to be, which is not always true of Facebook friends.
Incidentally, I have met a variety of my readers who became Facebook or WhatsApp friends and they all turned out to be who they claimed to be, an English Lecturer from the North East, a Dentist from Western India, a Doctor from Central India, a School Principal from the deep South, a grandmother from the Capital, a restaurant owner from our Eastern Metropolis, a Chartered Accountant from a very small town and a hijab-wearing Ph. D. student from the walled city of an ancient town.
Anyway coming back to our story, we continue to chat over WhatsApp and occasionally sharing the usual jokes and small talk and occasionally giving career counselling when asked for. Over time she started confiding in matters of the heart and I became a sort of agony uncle.
I came to know that she wanted to marry a classmate from her business school, who was from a different community and working in another small town at the end of the country. They seemed perfectly matched with similar job profiles and taste, and knowing that the young man was also a wannabe writer who had also read my book on the suggestion of this young lady endeared him to me even further. Even the families were similar, the fathers being minor government servants.
However, the caste factor was so strong that the girl’s parents were dead against the match. I kept assuring her that parents always come around as they care more for their children than for public opinion and this is not Afghanistan. But this kid was convinced otherwise.
Over time the impasse wouldn’t break and it took a toll on the young couple’s stress levels. There was even an attempt to restrict the young ladies movement and forcibly marry her off to a person of her caste.
Driven to desperation they decided to escalate matters. One day I got a call saying that she had read the marriage chapter of my book four times and decided to emulate us.
Borrowing an idea from a recent hit film they planned their escapade carefully. Leaving for work, as usual, she went instead to the railway station and took a train to the nearest city with an airport. From there she caught a flight to the capital city. The young man had meanwhile driven six hours and was waiting at the airport.
From there the young lovebirds drive straight to the Arya Samaj temple where guess what? Yours truly did plight the troth some three decades ago in circumstances quite similar.
They planned it in detail booking tickets and temple in advance and made a request that has inspired the adventure through my fiction, I must be present at the occasion for moral courage
Of course, I did. Flattered at having done some good somewhere through my semi-autobiographical fiction, which was merely intended to amuse and entertain and not educate I was thrilled at the collateral damage or fallout that would hopefully bring happiness to these kids.
There was a strong sense of Deja Vaux at the venue. The nervous couple quickly rushed through the brief ceremony cheered on by excited friends and cousins mostly from the boy’s side. I was the only guest of the young lady. Certificates obtained we dined at a nearby restaurant and the brave couple started the long drive back to a new life and adventure.
May they be blessed with all the happiness and excitement that we went through and receive the loving support that we received from our families once the initial shock wears off.
It made me feel blessed that I took up this thankless pursuit of being a storyteller.
Photos from the Internet
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Soumya Mukherjee is an alumnus of St Stephens College and Delhi School of Economics. He earns his daily bread by working for a PSU Insurance company, and lectures for peanuts. His other passions, family, friends, films, travel, food, trekking, wildlife, music, theater, and occasionally, writing. He has been published in many national newspapers of repute. He has published his first novel, Memories, a novella, hopefully, the first of his many books. He blogs as well.