Mahadevan was very busy. His daughter Sunaina’s marriage was about to take place in a month’s time. He was a bit vexed and tensed. His wife Sharada was quite cool. Generally, mothers would be quite perturbed and worried and fathers would be quite casual. Here it was reverse. Sharada tried to comfort her husband saying, “Why do you bother so much? Everything about marriage has been outsourced. As long as we can foot the bill and afford luxuries, marriage is only a matter of yet another family function. All we need to do is put up a happy-go-easy-face and keep greeting the incoming guests and relatives. We have Apps for everything. Though we got the wedding cards printed, first we sent it through Whats App only. Then later we went in person to invite them. Just think, even for engaging a taxi, we used an app. Ola Uber. Look at your cousins! They order food snacks and even Tea coffee on some app or other.”
Mahadevan was relieved to some extent joined her sway of talks. “Yeah. You are right. See, our visit to Tirupati and performance of special Poojai cum holy darsanam is also booked online through their website. Indeed, these days things are made easy. Only I am not so confident in handling these websites or apps. Sometimes I get stuck up with my smart phone. I wish there were special classes for training us in operating modern gadgets. I am happy, at least you are managing.”
“Yes. Daily I need to order groceries on Big-Basket. More often I need to make payments through Google-pay. But there are many more things to know. Don’t worry. When Sunaina’s marriage will be over, we shall look for someone who can help us to teach us all these modern techniques. Otherwise, wait for some years. Our grandchildren will teach us.”
They both had a hearty laugh over the ‘grandchildren’. Not even a minute passed. Mahalingam’s phone gave out a musical ring tone. An unknown number was calling. He was hesitant to pick up the call. But Sharada nudged him. She promptly said, “It may be someone connected with marriage activities. Till marriage is completely over we must honour all known or unknown calls. Who knows he can be a very important person from the groom’s side? As long as they don’t ask for any password or secret codes or bank account details, we need not bother about who is calling.”
True. The phone call was from the uncle of their would-be son-in-law. In a very low and sad hushed voice, he said his elder brother suddenly became serious. He was paused for a while and hesitantly added there could be a possibility of postponement of marriage.
Mahalingam really got upset. His very nature was like that. Even a slight disturbance was more than enough for him to collapse and get shattered. His immediate reaction was, “Aiyo! Aiyo! What a huge loss! Advance for the posh marriage hall and hefty decorations there, catering arrangements for three full days, music party, the marriage priests, and what not! Above all, how can I compromise our Tirupati trip with the newly wedded couple? Oh! God! What is this new obstacle?”
Sharada did not get the full news. But she understood that something very devastating was happening. She was worried about another aspect. The two hundred and odd relatives and friends she had meticulously listed out and sent invitations for the marriage. How could she tell them? What would happen to them? “The gossip mongers with their wagging tongues will certainly smell some rat and will play spoil sport. How can I save myself?”
She saw Mahalingam dumping himself in the sofa and held down his head in his two hands. This was not the time for sitting tight in melancholy moods. Soon she collected herself and went to him. He simply held her hands and looked at her disparately.
“See. All doomed. What are we going to do now? How are we going to face the world?”
She moved her one hand on his back to-and-fro and patted and comforted him.
“Let us see how we can tackle this. First tell me what happened? Did anything happen to son-in-law’s parents or sisters? All are alive – Are they not?”
“Yes. Yes. They are fine. His uncle suddenly became serious. Now they want to see his health condition and if necessary, want to postpone the marriage. How mean they are, you see! Have they ever realised our position? How panicky we are now?”
Sharada was a lot relieved. “Uncle – that too – only serious now. That’s all no? Let us go there and see them. They may have gone to admit him in hospital. But even in the hospital, not everyone will be permitted. We have all chances to meet the parents of our son-in-law. They too must be worried if the marriage gets postponed. For them also it is lot of dislocation and disturbance.”
Mahadevan rang up Sunil’s father. Sunil’s mother came online. She said that Sunil – Sunaina’s would be husband – his father had gone to hospital. Mahadevan gave the phone to Sharada, thinking it would be better for ladies-to ladies to handle the issue in their own way. Sharada deftly managed. At first, she expressed their profound sorrow on sudden developments. Then she slowly turned their attention to the other sides of the issue. Marriage was about a month away. Hence thinking of postponing it, might not be necessary right now. She emphasized that modern medical advances and hospitals were all well equipped to instil new life into the patient. So better it would be to have full faith in the modern technology. Rest all in God’s hands.
As a matter of curtesy both Mahalingam and Sharada went to the hospital during the visiting hours of the hospital, to see Sunil’s uncle. The patient – Shripathy, was in ICU. But they could see him through the glass window. At the very first sight of the patient, Mahadevan felt a striking familiarity with a similar person known to him. The patient had a big scar on his forehead. Mahadevan could not fix when and where he had met a similar person with a big scar on the forehead.
He was citing this to Sharada. She smiled kept silent. She silently sneaked from there and enquired from his brother about the patient’s present health condition and level of seriousness. She also told him that they both themselves were regular blood-donors and in case of need, they could either offer their own blood or arrange to get the required blood group. On hearing about their large heartedness, the brother felt quite at ease and was comfortable with them. She, in the course of conversation also enquired about the scar so visible on the patient’s forehead.
“Oh! That one! My brother in his younger days was an angry-impetus and impatient guy. At a slightest provocation would get into a scuffle. Years ago, say some thirty years or so, he picked up some quarrel with a guy at a railway reservation counter. In those days, computerisation was not there. Only manual ticketing. Queues also used to be endless and people also used to be impatient. Jumping the queue and at times pickpocketing and such rogue elements were quite common. On one such occasions, my brother was pitted against a rogue who picked his purse. That pickpocket was caught and nabbed by my brave brother. But the rogue fellow cut his forehead with his pocket knife and this scar was the prize for his bravery.”
Mahadevan who was listening to this episode suddenly remembered that this was the same person whom he had met at the railway reservation counter some years ago. Mahadevan had gone to station to reserve railway tickets for Sharada and Sunaina. When it was almost his turn to go to the counter, there this man had come requested for favours for booking a ticket on out-of-turn basis as he was in a mad hurry. Mahadevan was not a fussy person and would normally give way for others. It was a computerised reservation centre and hence it was not a big problem for Mahadevan to help him and accommodate booking of reservation of one more ticket. He happily recalled that old incident to this brother and said,
“If only this computerisation of rail tickets had happened in those days, this your brother would have been spared. He need not suffer a knife-stab nor needed to put up with a life-long scar. Thank God! Days have changed. Nowadays we need not even go to railway station for booking a ticket. Everything at your fingertips and on your phone. How nice, you see! Modern smart phones are really great. Do you know, I had even arranged for our Tirupati trip along with new couple, immediately after their marriage without any hastle.”
Sharada took the opportunity and told him to consider twice about ‘No cancellation, no postponement of Sunil- Sunaina marriage.’ Because all arrangements had already been made. Shripathy’s brother too felt it was too early to talk about postponement or cancellation. He happily concluded, “Uncle, don’t worry. All is well that ends well, as long as the bride and the groom are fine. Anyone unable to attend also need not worry. I am there to ensure that webcam is in position at the marriage hall and live steaming is done right there and that too then and then. Webinar and zoom-meetings are the in-thing now. You carry on with all your preparations in your usual gusto.”
Mahadevan felt so relieved. A great problem which surmounted him had just melted away into the thin air. Sharada cautioned him. Don’t be in a hurry. Believe in God and leave things to Him. He is our saviour and sailor.”
“Yes. You said it right. No matter whatsoever modern apps and technologies spring up, without His divine blessings nothing can happen. Oh! God Bless us. We are at your mercy.”
Both Sharada and Mahadevan looked up and folded their hands in prayers.