Though we did not live in a joint family but it was the unwritten rule that we the members of the clan always spent our holidays with our cousins , either we visited them and spent all our vacation with them or they came over to our place . How we looked forward to these holidays and as it used to happen in those days every age group had their counterpart among the cousins .
It was one such summer vacation when our cousins were supposed to visit us . We were waiting for them .This visit was more important because an unmarried aunt of ours was to be married during the vacations So there was double excitement , holidays and a wedding in the family both together.
My dad was the head of the family as we had lost our grandfather many years ago . Dad had to look after all the arrangements and everything including the fact that he had also the responsibility of finding a groom .Which he had achieved after a lot scrutiny , selections coupled with a very very humble attitude in all his dealings . The result was that he had secured a really good match for his darling sister . The youngest of his siblings and more like a daughter to him .
Half the vacations were over and the hustle and bustle had picked up momentum only ten days left for the wedding . Lovely gifts for the grooms family , special and exclusive gifts for the groom and a beautiful trousseau for the bride were all being arranged for . The best brands were vying with each other and all visitors and friends were full of praise for the arrangements .
Just four days were left when a courier came from the grooms family with a letter which said that since they were not asking for any dowry the elders of their family had asked for a car as a gift which they could boast about, after all they had to show something to the society how could a highly placed groom in a good job in a private company be just handed over to the bride free of any charge , she would be the one enjoying all comforts he would bring home so a car was not a hard bargain .
This was a big blow to our family and my father was heartbroken he had two reasons to feel bad about , one was that it was not easy to get a car in such a short time span and the second and more important was that he found it disgusting to see that even the family which he had chosen with so much scrutiny and of which he was so proud that they were not greedy , even they had turned out to belong to the greedy clan of dowry seekers. He had held them in such high esteem but his castle had come down with a crash .
My family decided that such a person was not fit to be trusted with the girls future and the news was conveyed to the grooms party .Though people did talk in hushed tones that this could ruin the girls future .
After this a pall of gloom fell on our family because in those days as even today it was difficult to get a girl whose alliance was broken for whatever reason ,married again .Society of course was always ready to pounce on such episodes and satisfy their urge to gossip.
Two days later another uncle of ours ( my mother's cousin) came to join the wedding celebrations with his family .He did not know about all that had happened . So he was astonished to hear about the sad story . But in an attempt to make matters light he asked everyone to take matters lightly and may be better things were in store for the girl --"he said why are all of you sad this is not the end of the world .. we will together look for a better match for her we are with you Bhaisahab" to which my grandmother replied rather rudely that it was all right to say this but did he realize how difficult life would become for the girl. And of course much of her anger was targeted towards my father.
"But we are into it together , each and every one of us , we will look in our respective social surroundings in our own cities don't you know that story about the bundle of sticks which could not be broken when together , similarly our family will not be broken "
"Stop that lecture of your's Subodh enough of your togetherness "my granny shouted "enough of it .. go find a groom for her and then come back " This hurt him and he went to his room . My dad went to him and apologised .
But Subodh mama said he understood her reason for the outburst and then he rather meekly asked my dad if it was acceptable to them if he asked my aunt's hand in marriage for his son will my grandmother accept the alliance . My father could not believe his ears and asked him why was he doing this was it out of sympathy ? to which he replied it wasn't out of sympathy but it was due to the respect he had for my fathers's decision of not giving dowry and he had seen how calmly my aunt had behaved and seconded her brother's decision not like other girls who would have thrown a tantrum.
Together he and dad went to my granny and asked if the alliance was acceptable to her . She was dumbstruck and after a while she asked him if he really meant what he was saying , if he knew what the gossip mongers will say about bringing that girl whose marriage had been broken as his daughter -in-law .
He calmly asked" that means you too think that the fault lies with the girl your own daughter , because if you think like this then why blame society ?"
This silenced all and my granny realised that society is made of all kinds of people . She understood the meaning of the word " together " which she had found so irritating when Mama ji was using it to calm her down , she had called his words " Lecture".
My dad asked her if there was any problem in accepting the offer some caste and gotra and all that kind of stuff to which she replied in the negative she said " firstly from now onwards I have stopped believing in the false and pretentious rules and customs made by society and secondly even otherwise Subodh was Bahu's ( my mother) cousin so no problems "
The arrangements were already done , the wedding preparations were complete only thing some of the branded gifts were returned and better and more expensive brands bought and this was the first marriage in our family in which the bride and her family were finding it difficult to stop smiling when the bride was leaving her maika ( mother's home) for her sasural ( in-laws-place ) even the customary tears were difficult to bring into our eyes . And our Vivek Bhaiya now became our Phoopha ji .
Isn't this what being together is all about . Distances don't matter its the heart which should be together and ready to help .
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