Unknown in love, Known in Marriage

He joined his hands and lowered his head standing before the Lord.

Every morning on his way to work he visited this temple. He’d never know the real reason why except that his mother had put him into the habit.

Today was no different except that along with him there was a small entourage of relatives holding trays of holy paraphernalia to be used in the wedding ceremony three hours from now. It’s 8am and this is my Dev Karya to seek blessings from the Lord. I am getting married. Dressed in a white silk Veshti and a cream and gold sherwani, what a beautiful feeling it is, thought, Devaj.

Devaj, fondly called Dev, was an IT nerd in many ways. His to-be-bride Saraswati was no different. They both worked in the same office since the last three years but on different projects. Sometimes, their paths would cross and some days they’d see each other in the canteen but never more than a fleeting glance or soft greeting had they exchanged as colleagues over the last two years and eight months.

Then one-day uncle Biju visited our home with a marriage proposal. Biju’s wife’s cousin’s daughter was of marriageable age, intelligent and working in an IT company. So naturally the first person uncle Biju thought of was I, Devaj!

But marriages just don’t happen so easily in my family. It is a congregation of elders in the family who come together to match kundalis/our horoscopes, to establish family background and ostensibly a load of other considerations. While Saraswati and I continued to work, our families were planning differently. Our Guna Matching was 32 out of 36. It was to-be a marriage made in heaven. With kundalis and the rest having waved-off green, the next round commenced. The elders exchanged our pictures and visited each other’s homes and continued the discussions, all whilst we both were at our work desks.

That day in the canteen, I heard Sarswati and her friend’s giggle away. With side ways glances at me, I wasn’t sure what was being said. Just then my phone rang. My sister was on the line sounding rather excited. I was summoned to leave all work and ensure I was home at 6pm today to accompany her to Mantri Square Mall. Tomorrow morning was my Nischay Tamulam and I had to be dressed for it.  Apparently my stars had aligned perfectly, predicting a happy and prosperous future. Only I did not know as yet, with who it was. 

9.30am dressed in an off-white churidar and an embroidered maroon kurta, we were on our way to the to-be-bride’s house. While my mom sat with a plate containing betel leaves and betel nuts, my sister’s beautifully decorated tray had a saree, blouse piece, coconut and sweets sitting on her lap. While everyone chatted excitedly on the journey, I was daydreaming. Being slightly plump and fudgy, I had dreams about my partner. She had to be slim, beautiful, have long hair, dressed in a bright Bangalore silk sari, should be a good cook etc. Just then as I stepped out of the car, I was shaken from my thoughts when a simple, short hair, bespectacled Saraswati walked out to greet us wearing a yellow silk kurta over a pair of jeans. Though our eyes met and mouths opened to greet one another, nothing but a feeble Namaskara was heard. At this moment I was buried in embarrassment. The lunchtime canteen giggles justified. If only I’d known then. 

After trays of coffee, mini uttapams, samosas and Mysore pak were served; Saraswati and I were guided to the other room for a private talk to bond.  For the next 40 minutes, Saru, as her family fondly called her and myself, were both tongue tied and exchanged information mostly relating to our ongoing work projects. The only important knowledge I had gathered was that Saru was keen on a career and was waiting to go overseas on a project assignment. My dreams were faltering. Just as we walked out of the room, everyone smiled. The priest had just revealed the auspicious date of our marriage. It was exactly 4 months from today on October 12, 2003. 

The next four months, Saru and I, started to go out occasionally to dinners or movies. We had started to get to know each other better. Saru was smart. Even with dreams to fly, she stayed grounded. Saru, had put in her papers at work due to company policy not allowing married couples to work in the same organization. 

On September 7th, we had the Naandi puja performed at my home by our family priest. It was the initiation to our upcoming wedding ceremonies. A kalash, the traditional copper pot filled with holy water was placed with a coconut on top symbolizing the couple is blessed a life of abundance, health, wisdom, and longevity. The first wedding invitation was presented to the Almighty during this ceremony so that he would bless Saru and me with his presence and remove all obstacles from our life paths. The countdown had begun!

Amidst all the preparations and mounting excitement from the Naandi ceremony till the wedding ceremony time just winged. Soon we were united as husband and wife. 

We stayed at the Taj Samudra, Colombo for our honeymoon and I was in a state of bliss. Saru’s touch would ignite my every passion. Everything was so perfect. In the next year, we had our daughter, Enakshi. Enakshi meaning deer-eyed did justice to those most beautiful eyes. She kept Saru busy. Saru looked after Enakshi, handled the cooking and house chores amicably with my mother, managed the maids, went shopping with my sister but somewhere I could sense something missing. Our guna matching was dropping. From 32 out of 36 it felt like 23 out of 36. 

One evening, as a walked into the house, I saw a stranger sitting on the swing keeping the family in splits. I was introduced to him as Saru’s childhood friend, Varun from California. Tall, smart and an attention grabber, he was back in Bangalore and looking to set up a Software and Management firm to cater to some specific requirements of the IT industry back in California. He had his contacts. He wanted the brains to run his technical side of the business. And who better could fit the role than his childhood friend Sarswati?  

Saru, remained quiet after Varun had left.  She served dinner to the household, put Enakshi to sleep and sat next to me in bed to read her yet unfinished ‘Girls Burn Brighter’ by Shobha Rao. Slowly as I caressed her, I popped the question about her wanting to get back to work. In so many months those eyes shone, the radiant smile curled, the body warmed up to my touch. I got the message that night and she got what she was longing for.

Over the next 11 years, Interfold Software and Management had grown from a partnership to a limited company. Saru, after long office hours continued to work on her laptop from home. Sometimes I could overhear projects being discussed by her and Varun late into the night. Her trips to Chennai, Delhi, Dubai and San Francisco started to get more frequent. I could see her glow after each of those trips. I loved to see Saru happy but jealousy and insecurity was slinking in. As the Chief Technical Officer (CTO), she was not only earning much more than me but also cheerfully taking care of the minutest requirement of every family member, including mine.  Though she had never wavered on her duties as wife, mother, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, I had begun to doubt the character of my wife. 

Today October 12, 2018, we are celebrating our 15th Wedding Anniversary. Our daughter Enakshi, is growing up to be a strong woman just like her mom. Saru, was the perfect hostess. Not trusting, I had blended away into the background over time. Today was no different as I sat there with a glass of whiskey in hand. Every guest left with wishes overflowing for our happy marriage.

In the first year of marriage we learnt to love and lust for each other. In the next 14 years to love and live with each other. Saru, had been the ideal wife. I remembered times when we’d cuddle, to times when she returned from her trip and I pretended to be fast asleep. My own shortcomings had drawn a fine line between us but her love kept erasing that line each time I’d start to draw it. I could never gather enough strength to ask about her about Varun. Some things best left unanswered.

Long after the last guest had left, Saru and I, both sat on the swing, sipping hot filter coffee, just the way I relished it. As our eyes met and our hands touched, the same passion I had felt, ignited in me again. I should have known any marriage is not about 36 out of 36 gunas matching but about adjustments, which keep the love forever ignited. Today I finally made that adjustment!