To word it sweetly-the season of the union of the souls is in full bloom. This time of the year, poeple seem to be in a rush to get married.

There is a ‘marriage hall’ next to the building I live in. Everyday I get out for college, I have to come face-to-face with pretty ladies dressed in sarees and gems. Some of the girls are dressed in saress too. I wonder what they are thinking, standing on the road like that-every passerby is looking at them. The least the organisers should do is put up a “WARNING: ACCIDENT PRONE AREA” board. People could die, no? It is another thing that looking at these pretty ladies makes me feel really shabby in my white shirt-navy blue trousers college uniform…

The evenings are the best times though. The baraats chugging along the road are a real treat. Riding along to get a fag, I come across a traffic hold-up. Moving on, and I hear the sound of the drums and horns from up ahead, rising above the assorted’n’loud road noises. It sounds pumping! I worm my way ahead through the crawling traffic. The people in the cars spare no words to let their feelings be known, abusing profusely in the general direction of the baraat. Gradually I am close enough to see the band, playing the latest bolly tune, and a small crowd dancing it up in a mad frenzy. The loud drumming sends an electric pulse through me, and I wish I can get down and get lost in the throbbing mob of revellers. Then I see a guy bend down and light a sutli bomb. My pulse is already racing, and the sight of the lighted fuse shoots it up to astronomical levels. I start praying silently, hoping that the bomb does not explode while Im passing by. I cannot stop, theres a line of cursing vehicles behind me. I move on and approach the bomb, and suddenly the fuse starts burning with a greater speed. I twist the acclerator, praying, watching, perspiring, a Don tune in the BG, the bomb wanting to go off and a steady honking of vehicles pushing me on. The crowd starts yelling, louder and louder, waiting for their yelling to end into a loud boom, as the light appoaches the green horror. I look at it, I find myself right next to it…wrong place-wrong time and–FISSssssssss…the bomb pees off. A fuska baar, damp squib. The crowd laughs, I thank my stars-and get away. Puffing at a nearby paan-wala, I catch a glimpse of the groom, resplendent in his rich wedding do. You’re comfortable, I want to say to him, you’re a safe distance away from the bomb. Let me see how you do when I light one before your gentle steed. The thought and the vision that follows it is amusing enough…

The marriage bug hasnt spared anyone. I go to see my aunty, and see another crease below her eyes. I can tell from the look of her face that theres a new wedding invitation lying in the vicinity. Every invitation to her brings alongwith it a reminder that her daughter, my cousin, is in that age-range too. The fact that cuz is away on a job and not interested yet readily adds another two lines to aunty’s countenance.

Later in the night, sitting in the balcony, I see the silent, distant starbursts of red n blue in the sky. ‘Another lucky one’, I think. ‘Ek aur halaal ho gaya’.


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