“Hurray,” Mr. Asim shouted while browsing through the Sunday newspaper at 9:00 AM in the morning. His eyes sparkled with joy as he fixatedly looked at a particular yellow box with red border. He had found a suitable advertisement at last.
Mr. Asim was a man in his late sixties. Grey hairs had started showing up above his both earlobes. His head had turned into a football field with no bushes or shrubs in the middle. But lush green grass still grew all around that shiny field. To put it straight, he was bald with some remaining greyish-black hair all around his bald patch.
He tried to get up from the couch with a quick jump but slumped down on the cushion all over again. He crashed on the sofa due to the heavy weight of his pot belly. He was no more a young guy who was lean and thin. He was a father with gold rimmed spectacles around his eyes. His tiny as elephant eyes peeped through the thick glasses and examined the matrimonial column of the newspaper. After days of search he had finally found the perfect catch. He was ready as a lion to pounce on the prey.
Mr. Asim again tried to rise. This time he balanced his weight by holding onto the sofa handle with a strong grip. He stood on his weak with arthritis feet and wobbled towards the kitchen.
He walked straight up to his wife and held the newspaper before her face. It blocked his wife Rumna’s vision. But she tightened her hold on the knife and went on making small round pieces of the orange carrot for salad.
“What do you want now?” She asked in an irritated tone.
“Darling, I have found him at last.” Mr. Asim’s eyebrows danced on his forehead as he conveyed the great news.
“Whom?” Rumna asked without looking at him.
“The perfect match.” Asim continued, “This guy seems perfect for Diya. He is fair, handsome and earns 15 lakhs per annum.”
“What’s his star sign?” Rumna inquired with an interested expression. She turned and looked at Asim’s face. Asim’s creased forehead signalled that he had forgotten the horoscope part.
“If everything falls into place, I think it can be managed.” Asim suggested. To him, matching of houses wasn’t exactly necessary to build a home together.
Rumna stretched her hand and snatched the sheet of paper from Asim’s hand. “It says Aries. But no details have been given.”
She tugged at Asim’s full sleeved shirt with the other hand and urged him to follow her with quick movement of her eyes. A woman surely talked more with eyes than with her mouth.
Back into the bedroom, she dialed the phone number printed on the matrimonial advertisement. She pressed the numbers one after another with her clumsy fingers and held the mobile phone against her right ear.
“Hello.” An aged manly voice spoke with a broken tone from the other side.
“Hello. We have seen your ad on today’s newspaper. Are you looking for a bride? Is it for your son?” Rumna questioned without breathing in between the sentences. Her heart too was panting at the thought of a prospective groom.
“Yeah.” The old man replied.
In next few minutes phone numbers were exchanged and noted down. Photographs were sent via emails. Thoughts and views were shared. Finally, the most serious part arrived. It was time to match the natal charts.
Asim took out his smartphone from his trouser’s side pocket and in quick swipes with his finger opened Matching Machine App. It was a perfect replacement of waiting relentlessly for hours at an astrologer’s office. There was no need to fret for hours with sweating palms for matching results. The compatibility result was only clicks away just like school or college results in the age of technology. Asim inserted the names, times and date of births of both the bride and the groom in the set format of the website. Finally, he clicked on the calculate button. The application interface was too easy to handle even for a man of medieval times like Asim. Results appeared on the screen within a few seconds.
“MATCHED.” It read.
Asim threw away his mobile on the bed and moved unsteadily towards Rumna. He threw over his arms across Rumna’s shoulder and hugged her tightly for a split second.
He stepped back and took the phone from his wife’s hand. “Congratulations! We are going to be relatives soon.” Asim conveyed his good wishes to the groom’s father. The aged man reciprocated with a silent nod of his head.
While the final talks were on, Diya pressed her ear tightly against the closed wooden door of her parents’ bedroom. Her heart was throbbing against her chest. Warm blood was pulsating through her veins as she secretly and silently overheard the confidential conversation. Her marriage was getting fixed! It was unimaginable! She felt just like those girls who had turned away from red roses on special days saying they hated the fragrance and yet dreamt of marriage beds decked with rose petals.
Diya heard a creaking sound. Her body became tensed. With an agile move she stepped aside from her parents’ bedroom door.
Asim and Rumna opened the door lock and came out silently. There were no giggles and smiles. They simply walked towards the dining table. Like every other day Rumna started serving food on the plates. She did everything quietly as a nerve-racking thought troubled her mind. They had finally liked a groom but whether the bridegroom would like their daughter Diya or not remained uncertain. Their minds whirled with such a stressful thought. They quickly finished their lunch and walked back to their bedroom. They laid themselves on the bed and soon sleep’s curtain fell over their eyes.
Yet Diya paced from one side of her room to the other. She wanted to pop the question to her parents and know the latest news update regarding her marriage. For a moment, she wished she could simply go online and check the news feed of her wedding plan on any search engine.
After a few unsteady hesitant steps towards her parents’ room she tip-toed into it. She walked as softly as a deer would when a lion slept in a nearby den. Asim’s snore reverberated in the air. She leaned forward on the table and opened the mobile with a gentle tap. The screen light glowed. A new message had arrived in the mailbox. Diya’s heart skipped a beat as she read the email. The groom’s father said, or wrote to be grammatically correct, “My son wants to talk to the bride and see if they are like-minded. Please ask your daughter to call him in this phone number.”
Diya’s eyes glittered with joy and a smile spread on her lips with excitement. She didn’t have any pen and paper with her. So, she quickly memorized the number by softly repeating it in her lips a couple of times. Then, she tip-toed out of the room just the way she came in.
Back in her room, she sat by the window. Sunlight fell on her fair skin, lending it an ivory tinge. She was a girl in her early twenties. Her dreams were still fresh. They took flight whenever she looked outside at the big blue sky and saw the myriad clouds floating at their hearts’ will. Life had not disillusioned her as yet.
She typed the groom’s number on her mobile screen with her nimble fingers. But she couldn’t gather up the courage to dial it. Instead she opened the message section and starting typing with rapid movement of fingertips. She wrote, “Hi. Your dad wanted us to talk.”
Within a few minutes Diya’s phone starting ringing. The music of some unknown traditional song floated in the air. She picked up the phone and answered in low tone. “Hello.”
“May I know who is this?” asked the boyish tone from the other side. The voice would hardly give away his real age.
“I am Diya. May I know your name?” Diya asked with shaky voice.
“I am Sujoy.” He continued, “By the way, you seem terrified of me.” The guy chuckled.
“What do you want to talk about?” Diya directly went to the topic.
“Let’s talk about our likes maybe. I love watching daily soaps.” Sujoy tried to lighten up the mood.
“What? You watch tv serial?” A faint smile appeared on Diya’s lips.
“Yeah. It’s fun to watch melodrama. Loud unnecessary cries in death scenes, bells ringing out of nowhere, winds blowing off scarfs and dupattas are indeed mood lifting. Don’t you watch them?” He asked in an inquisitive tone.
“No. They are silly.” A broad smile spread on Diya’s perfectly curved lips. It exposed her front teeth which were slightly bigger than the others. She continued, “I would rather play games on my pc or a mobile app.”
“Wow. What games do you like to play? Dressing games I presume?” Sujoy giggled as he spoke.
“I love action games. I love fighting with opponents, winning against enemies and finding the secret treasure at last or whatever. It’s my type.” She spoke firmly. Her shaky voice had changed into a steady and stern one.
“Okay. Very well. You like boyish stuff. I like girlish ones. We are a perfect match.” Sujoy’s loud laugh resounded in his room.
“We are perfect together? But we hardly know each other?” Diya asked a couple of questions with bated breath.
No answer came from the other side. She could only hear a faint beeping sound of a busy signal. The phone connection had got cut.
Diya sighed heavily. Destiny loved playing strange games. Just when a connection was getting established it became time for cross connection of telephone line.
Diya mimicked a sad crying expression and in the very next moment laughed noisily. She suddenly thought how easy finding love in a marital alliance was. No need to wait for ages to be proposed. It was like finding love over a cup of coffee or simply a couple of texts. She breathed a sigh of relief as she knew in her contented heart that she liked her groom.
In the evening, new glossy cups and dishes were taken out. Rumna laid a shiny golden table cloth on the tea table. Diya was finally told that the groom was coming to meet her. She pretended to be surprised by lifting her eyebrows in amazement. But the next moment she lightly nodded her head like an obedient girl.
Diya dashed into her room. She adorned herself in a beautiful blue silk saree and matching fashion jewellery. Finally, she came in front of the mirror to put the bindi on her forehead. Suddenly, she smiled looking at herself in the mirror. She gave a full mouthed smile to her old self before leaving her room in search of her new self.
Back in the drawing room, Diya heard the ringing of the door bell. Diya’s parents rushed towards the gate and swiftly opened it for the grand entry of their chosen groom. A man in blue suit and matching azure tie came in. He had a thick moustache above his lips. His hoarse voice echoed, “Good evening.”
Diya’s glowing face suddenly turned pale. It wasn’t the same voice she had heard on phone that afternoon. Who did she talk to and enjoyed chatting with? Creases appeared in her forehead. She could hardly pronounce any words of greeting to her groom. She stared blankly at his face with furrowed eyes. Confusing thoughts started performing ballet in her mind.
In no time Diya saw another lean figure walking inside through the door. He was carbon copy of the man in blue suit. But this guy looked much younger in half sleeved pink T-shirt and casual black jeans. He stealthily looked at her from behind the groom. “Hi.” The known voice uttered with a chuckle.
Diya darted to the guy by almost pushing her groom aside with her arm. “Who are you? Why did you talk to me this afternoon? I wanted to talk to my groom.” Diya blazed with anger as she spoke in furious tone.
“I told you I am Sujoy.” He answered. He lifted his left shoulder and said casually, “But I didn’t know I was talking to you. I had no idea that you wanted to talk to my twin brother Ajay. I just talked to the girl who was interested in me.”
Diya lightly slapped on his forearm and fumed in anger. “You messed up everything.”
Everyone stared at Diya and Sujoy perplexedly as they went on with their fun banter. Ajay heaved a sign of despair as he saw the couple in front of him laughing with dazzling smiles on their faces. They were too lost in their own fairytale world to notice the awed expressed in Asim and Rumna’s face.
Ajay’s face turned pale and sad. He curved his lips downwards like the sad emoji on text messages. He had lost his perfect match while others in front of him were happy on finding their imperfect partners. He got on his feet as he knew it was time for him to leave.
Suddenly, Asim, the bride’s father, caught Ajay’s hand from behind in a cinematic style. He stopped Ajay just the same way heroines stopped heroes from leaving in the films.
Asim suggested with dancing eyebrows, “You have lost Diya. Your brother is a charmer indeed.” He continued, “Marriage is difficult these days. But if you are in a hurry, I can offer you Aarti’s hand in marriage. Arati is Diya’s identical twin. She is my younger daughter. She lives in her college hostel.”
Ajay rolled his eyes in sheer disbelief and subdued excitement.
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