Saturday, 12 September 2015

Elopement: My Firsthand Experience

(Disclaimer: I don’t encourage elopement, for it takes a heavy toll on the families of the persons involved in the act.)

Marriages are made in heaven, some believe. But not all marriages, few say. It became true in the case of a guy, who gave me my firsthand experience with elopement.

A friend of mine, after our post-graduation, revealed his plans to elope and marry his lover. She was house arrested for about a year-and-half, until the day she ran off, since the day he approached her parents, soon after landing a decent job. His parents, too, opposed their alliance because of caste. However, he didn’t give up on making an effort to convince them all, but to no avail. All the while, she kept in touch with him by sneaking a cell phone in her dress into the bathroom.

But, I had a hunch that he chose to marry a wrong person and I did warn him against making a wrong move, but in vain (alas! Love is blind, not always though)! A handful of bold buddies agreed to help him. My family got the wedding invite, too, so I could make it to the ceremony. A temple in a remote village near Rajahmundry became the venue.

The D-day arrived and I reached the RVP by 8 am, only to realise that I’m the only girl taking the adventure trip; the rest backed off in the last minute, apparently out of fear. A few moments later, one of our friends picked the girl up from her home, and we all left for the wedding venue in a jeep. Four guys on two bikes escorted us. However, there was no chase, like in films, but there were adrenaline rush and persistent efforts to console the hysterically weeping bride. All along, my intuition kept warning me, but there was little I could do to prevent the imminent danger, and the journey seemed excruciatingly long.

The girl’s tears kept flowing even after we arrived at the venue in the afternoon. As the muhurat was late in the night, my friends kept cheering her up in every possible way. They finally succeeded, but my woes just began.

I had to drape the saree, do the makeup and decorate the bride. With no helping hand, it took me several hours, my yet another firsthand experience. Nevertheless, all these seemed less troubling, for the bride didn’t eat anything since morning and was on the verge of falling unconscious. I somehow convinced her to have few morsels of a burnt, soggy masala dosa so she won’t pass out during the wedding. However, I had little time to dress up or eat and left for the temple in my unsuited-for-the-occasion chudidar.

I had my dinner sitting right behind the bride, amid the chanting of hymns. Well, the burnt, soggy masala dosa tasted yum to the starving-me! The guests, who attended another wedding in the same venue, blessed the newlyweds as well. While autographing the marriage register, as a witness, I offered my heartfelt condolences to my buddy, in silence.

The rest is history. My friends kept me posted about his rocking marriage life, for he hardly got an opportunity to stay in touch with me. Then, one day, he telephoned me. “You were right Jyothi. I chose a wrong person! My life became a living hell,” he wailed, while narrating a story as complex as Ekta Kapoor serial. I could do nothing but pray for him and his parents, hoping that they would get all the strength required to adapt to the agony.

Even as I was amazed at my sixth sense, which proved me right, someone inside me chuckled, “We seal our fate with the choices we make!”

Tags: #elopement #marriages #FirsthandExperience #wedding #bride #muhurat #newlyweds

Monday, 7 September 2015

A Long-Forgotten Friend Revisits!

My first feature about the carefree attitude of today’s youth was published in the ‘Collegian’ section of The Hindu-Vizag, while I was pursuing master’s degree in journalism and mass communication (MJMC) from Andhra University.

I still remember, I took several hours to pen down my thoughts, not convinced with what I wrote (or typed), deleting and undoing every sentence, cursing my writing skills, and worse, fearing if I did the right thing by opting journalism. “So, this is what they call 'writer's block',” I wondered, feeling a little uncomfortable and irksome in the presence of the unwelcomed guest. "Oh please, you are not yet a writer. Will you just focus?" my innermost being yelled at me, as it desperately wanted to make an impression upon my dad with my maiden attempt. I had no choice and went ahead with the onerous task, while simultaneously striking up a new friendship with ‘writer’s block’.

A few hours later, I discovered myself and got a shot in the arm when my dad okayed the piece. I was on cloud nine when I saw my first byline in the reputable Indian daily newspaper. Thus, I got my first break in media on November 1, 2004. Later, I contributed quite a few articles to The Hindu and in the course of time, ‘writer’s block’ left me for another writer.

Then came the task of writing about a Goan family who made Vizag their second home, while I was searching for jobs after completing MJMC. Thanks to my dad, who was then working with UNI-Goa as bureau chief, my work got published in the Herald, Panaji. Everything went well and I was about to pen down the info, when the old friend revisited me. Her (writer’s block, of course) presence was, as always, not pleasant and enjoyable.

I killed many hours wondering if I would accomplish the job entrusted to me by my dad (it was he who suggested that I hone my skills before taking up a regular job). Journalism had been my passion since childhood. In fact, I grew up idolizing my dad. Well, there was no going back and I finished the feature only to realize that I actually wrote an essay!

I sought the opinion of one of my seniors in AU. She just said: "Of course, it is an essay and that's what we journalists write. Welcome to the family," understanding my inhibitions. Then, I approached my dad's friend (Pavan uncle), who was then working with Deccan Chronicle here and helped me in accomplishing the job, with a printout of the article. Pat came the reply from him, "Well done. You did it!" The write-up got published in June 2005 and I was confident of realising my biggest dream – becoming a reporter.

Soon, I landed a job in The New Indian Express as a subeditor. The nearly 3-year stint in TNIE brought out the best in me, for I wrote features while continuing my desk job. Later, I shifted to Hyderabad and have learnt the ins and outs of media and also saw the crests and troughs of life.

I grew up like any other girl from a middle class background, in a protective environment and not knowing much as to what awaits us in the real world. But, my parents allowed me to fulfill my dreams and accepted the 'tomboy' in me. My mom came to terms with me after making a few vain attempts to mend me and often expressing her concern for my prospective hubby and in-laws. They even welcomed the love of my life, Dileep into our family with warmth, though they raised objections initially like any other parents.

All the while, my writing continued and the best buddy popped in every now and then until two years ago, when my whole world turned upside down with the sudden demise of my dad. I didn't write anything since then. Every time I wanted to, something always held me back and eventually, 'writer's block' bid the ‘dispirited’ me an adieu. One fine day, it dawned upon me suddenly that my dad truly made a huge difference in my life.

I've been a 'daddy kutti' since childhood, for I used to cry out for him and not mom, like any other kid, when I fell down or was unwell or had a nightmare. I used to wake up in the midnight and also wake my mom up when he arrived home after work hours by his Rajdoot bike. I never missed an opportunity to serve him and eat from his plate. I still mash up idly and soak it in sambar, the way dad loves to eat. All these and more, ever since I was a few months old! Every time my mom narrates these snippets from the past, my love for dad only multiplied.

True! He has always been my strength, weakness and biggest support system. I never imagined a life without him and was under the impression that nothing can separate us. After all, I was being human! And the truth that he isn't here to guide me, chide me or feel proud of me has been holding me back all the while.

Finally, on a sleepless night, I successfully gave vent to my feelings, though after hours of struggle and my long-forgotten friend did pay a visit that moment, with the promise that it would accompany me some more time. But this time, her presence felt very comforting, quite unlike earlier times.

Tags: #WritersBlock #feature #article #job