The flight touched Ontario airport and I held Rajesh’s hands even tighter. I rushed through the gates. I was nervous. I couldn’t figure out how I could stand this tragedy…
Not so long ago…
My dad and mom arrived for the graduation day. I picked them from the airport, arranged a nice hotel room close by to my university. They were really happy that I was finally getting graduated and for the person that I had matured to become in the last few years… They were excited unknowing to the story I was about to reveal to them. It was like the US would call it – WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction).
But first I had to get this girl back. I went to her when she was in the library; she slapped me for my act at the birthday party! I knew I was wrong so had to take it. I convinced her for close to 4 hours. She kept pushing my hand every time I took it closer to console her. At some point, I couldn’t control my laugh. Even she couldn’t but kept pretending that she is pretty serious.
So I finally let her know that my parents have arrived and they would be revealed with the WMD called Zoya in the next few days. We knew it’s going to be a hell of a weekened ahead and started to prepare for it.
I took my parents to all the places of interest in and around Houston. Rajesh joined us the next day. Finally when the time came, I and Rajesh arranged for a small get together for my mom and dad. All my friends came over to the party and I introduced everyone to them… There was Zoya as well…
Rajesh was astonished, my friends stunned, I was speechless. Would you believe it…? Zoya wore a sari and it was dazzling… My mom was easily attracted to her. Even though I introduced everyone, I played the waiting game before introducing Zoya. And my mom, after waiting close to 45 minutes, finally let it out… ‘Who is that girl?’
Friends… What do you think I would have told her?
I gathered cold feet and said, ‘She is a friend of mine from the university…’
‘Oh! She looks beautiful. Is she from Punjab?’
‘Punjab…?! Phew… Mom! You have no idea…but tell me, if I bring a girl like her tomorrow to you and dad and say that I want to marry her, would you be okay with it?’
‘Avale madri yenna da, avaliya kootitu va! Naan rombo santhosha paduven! (Why someone like her, bring her as our daughter-in-law and I will be more than happy to accept her!)’
I guess, the time was right and without waiting a second, I took my mom aside. I waved and signaled Zoya to come over. She came, touched my mom’s feet and then I said,
‘Amma (Mom)… She’s the girl I love. I want to marry her. Will you accept her as your daughter-in-law?’
My mom first thought that it was a joke, and then she realized the seriousness in my tone…looked surprised for a moment but within few minutes, she was happy… ‘Your choice is ours… Go ahead! I don’t know what your dad would say but, I like her… Only concern… Does she know only Hindi and English…? I can’t talk to her every day in Hindi or English…’
She placed her hand over Zoya lovingly and asked innocently, ‘Why don’t you learn Tamil or Telugu?’ She just put her head down and said,
‘I will learn to speak Ma…’
‘Mom… Just don’t freak out what I would be telling you now…’
‘You have already given me a pleasant surprise. What else is it going to be?’
‘This wouldn’t be any pleasant to you I suppose.’
‘Kill the suspense and tell me what it is!’
‘If I had to tell you that she is from Pakistan and her religion is Islam, would yoy feel different from what you felt a couple of minutes ago?’
As expected, she was in a state of shock. She couldn’t go easy on what I had told her. She sat confused. She called me closer, told me that she always wanted good for me but she isn’t sure of what this is. She didn’t like the way I cornered her… My dad came over to my mom watching her sit in disbelief. She explained him what I had said… My dad wasn’t convinced with my mom’s version of the story.
All our lives, me and Zoya have been selfish in looking after our own interests. We sensed that it was time we acted responsible and convinced our parents about our love and how deep our understanding was – Way above religion, caste, creed, country…
‘Papa… I am sorry to be introduced this way. I know what you feel deep down in your heart and I respect it with complete reverence. I know it’s really difficult for you to accept me as part of your family but I can assure you that I am very much the girl you would want Arjun to get married to at some point of time in his life. I am not asking for a chance here… I am asking you to give us hope. I am asking you to accept and love me the way you love your children. Please…’ she said…
My mom was overwhelmed with emotion. Her eyes filled with pity were fixed over Zoya. My dad didn’t look at her even once when she spoke. He silently stood, took my mom, called Rajesh to advance their tickets as they wanted to leave for India tomorrow. We knew that we have not only broken my parent’s hearts but Zoya’s as well! I tried convincing them further but nothing worked.
On the day my parents left, I told my parents,
‘Dad…I will not get married to anyone other than Zoya. Nor she would get married to anyone other than me… But we will marry, only when you, mom and her parents will accept us…And we will wait for that day!’