‘Every bit, her angry self’
A man in his early 50s is banging vigorously on a bathroom door. A girl opens the door. Her face painted green, while her hair in curls, she looks every bit, her angry self.
Why did you say a no to that guy?
(mumbling, cannot speak clearly, because of the face- pack)
Why? Do you waunt me too to get beaten
Like Meghna didi?
Should I too come home crying to you and ma?
I haed toald
you daed, I will neaver
mery a noan- En.Ar.I. (N.R.I.).
Indian maen doant haeve
I would rather remain unmaerried,
Thaen maery an Indian.
So please Search an Amaerican boarn
Indian foar me, daed.
Bangs the door shut.
Fuming with anger
American born! American born.
The same old story!
Back in America, Kunal is lying alone in his bed. With eyes closed, he is contemplating his to be bride, Swati.
My sweet dulhan - shy shy
Traditional Seedhi sadhi
covered from head to toe.
In Mumbai, India, a car door opens. Swati is getting off in her high heeled stilettos, her micro mini skirt revealing her shapely long legs. A ‘bat- bird’ tattoo, on her lower back mocks the onlookers with jeering eyes.
My sharmili, walking
with her eyes lowered.
Her friends watch her intently, as she comes closer to Café Mocha, their favourite coffee and ‘blending’ shop. The girls look intently, with a tinge of jealousy; while the guy amongst them is ogling, his mouth wide open.
She winks at them.
And her lips… biting, shy!
Her red smeared lips pout in delight, as her cleared washed off the green face pack face gleams bright. Swati, the gorgeous 24 yr. old, snaps her fingers in front of Gautam, the ogling guy. He is startled. Smiling confident, she shuts his gaping mouth, with the words, ‘Shall we party?’
The place is soon filled with smoke from the flavored hookahs, while the hissing sound of the brewing coffee refreshes the atmosphere. Swati & the group are sitting together. Another friend, who is almost an obese, & is, carrying her child, appears, from afar.
Swati, to herself
My God! She is over-taking a hippo!
Kya yaar, you guys are here,
while I have been searching all over.
O! My pretty Preeti,
How are ‘you’ ?
kya yaar-what …. friends
(One of the girls)
playing with the baby
So, how is this cute little gentleman?
Swati, raising her eyebrow
My- my! Look at ‘you’, you have
bloated Preeti. What you were & what
you have become? From
a loaf, to a cake, I must say!
Actually yaar! My mother-in-law
keeps feeding me, so that
I can feed my child well.
We Indians live on such a
stupid mentality. First a girl
is bloated to match her
so-called ‘motherhood’, & then,
her husband moves out in
search for a girl!
Through the laugh, Swati sights a guy, sitting at another table, staring at her. She looks away…. Then looks back…. He is still staring, while sipping hot coffee…. She winks…. His mouth gets burnt with a huge sip. Laughs she, aloud!
God help you Swati.
These stares are so annoying!
No! Its okay. I'm used to guys
drooling over me.
It started when I was
about twelve. In school,
every guy would stare
at me when I walked in.
And I knew what they were thinking.
Looking at Gautam, sitting next to her.
Just like I know what some guys think,
when they stay close to me!
He stares at her, while she smiles.
So Swati, how is
your bird watching going?
Tell me dear, how
are you going to choose?
(taking a deep breath)
Well, one can move around with many,
But marriage is for life,
And the person I marry,
will be ….Special!
Later that night, somewhere else in Mumbai, a phone is ringing incessantly. Rashmi picks up the line. It is Kunal, who has stayed up all night, counting the moving seconds; only to break the big news to his mother. He didn’t want to call earlier and sound desperate about his decision to marry; the phone diary is still in the same place, just this time, Swati’s picture, instead of peeping out, is firmly clutched in his tight fingers.
Mama! I too am going to join you,
Rashmi waits for him to complete his ‘surprise’.
Do you remember you had sent me
a photo of a girl named, Swati Sharma.
I think, she suits me. I can consider
her for marriage…. I’ll like to see her.
Are you serious Kunal?
Remember then, no more Ritas & Suzys!
No pre- conditions mom!
Remember, I want an ‘Indian’ house-wife!
Bangs down the phone.
‘Daddy Cool it!’
Atmosphere is ripe amid the daily routine. The early morning bai (servant) is yet seeing through her everyday drill of washing and cleaning, while the cook is vigorously screeching through the utensils filled with dal and sabzi. Her one eye on the two, while the other on the chapattis being roasted on the tava. Glancing around occasionally is Mrs. Tara, Swati’s mother. Her daily supply of ‘English’ lies more in the supplement, ‘Bollywood’ Times! Oops, ‘Bo**ay Times, rather than the supposedly Main Newspaper. Since…… God knows when, she has taken an oath, to… herself that she is going to master with finesse, her ‘not so good’ spoken English language.
The insistent door bell is as effective in shaking the daily, as are flies in the open.
Tava-a thick iron made pan used to roast chapattis
Mrs. Tara wriggles her nose expectantly and pulls herself off her cushiony massage chair to answer the door. Obviously it is her first daughter, MEGHNA, with her three year old son. Mrs. Tara welcomes him in her arms, & moves in. Meghna enters, shutting the door behind her.
GOPAL, Swati’s teen-aged brother comes out.
Who is it, maa?’
(walks back to his room)
Mrs. Tara’s eyes catch the humming of the young maid, Soni, who is walking into the kitchen. Always dressed in colourful hues, she reminds her of the one particular Love bird in her maiden home, she had always despised.
Oye Soni, ki hai? Why kitchen?
Ki hai -what’s going on?
a… I thought…
you busy with Meghna didi,
so I help make your… favourite dish!
Thank you, but no thank you
Go back to your work.
Clean the cupboards!
I am talking about the
Cupboard, NOT the safe!
Tara’s gaze follows Soni, while the footsteps lead the way to the kitchen. With her head held high, she tucks her saree on her waist and pulls over her apron with the determination of an officer in charge of an ex- communication.
Tara is cooking, while her grandson is relishing a chocolate.
Didi- older sister. Often young girls address older ones as ‘didi’ as a mark of respect.
(to her son)
Move! Move from here
The child, with a serious look on his face, walks out, then comes back, picks up 3 more chocolates & walks away.
(Scratching her head)
When will you pay?
Kal de dungi.
Money- money- money
Thaets ol they are aaf’ter.
Bl**dy haeyd- ache!
(looking at Meghna, who is about to sob)
Today also, it will rain!
Whistling, she moves out. Looks at the kid, eating the chocolate. Smiles. Tries to pick away one from him. He gives her a stern look.
Kya bai- what ma’m
Kal de dugi- will give tomorrow
Ma! What do I do?
Life has become unbearable.
Mrs. Tara keeps cooking. Does not look at her.
Yesterday Kishore again slapped me.
I told ma-ji (mother-in-law), & she simply chuckled,
like it was some joke…
Staring at her indifferent mother
I too have some self- respect!
I too have a breaking point!
So do we! Faed up!
We are faed up! Tired.
Complain, always complains.
You only have self-respect, don’t we?
Did you even ask us before
maerrying that grocerer?
Now what happened?
The devil Love got lost from your head?
Back at Café Mocha
Why are you getting so tensed?
A’re yaar! I can’t help it.
Did you guys hear about Sheetal?
On her first night,
she bled so much,
That she had to be
admitted in a hospital!
Uneasy, Gautam looks away.
Swati, cutting across
What nonsense! How is that possible?
Meanwhile, Gautam stands up and quickly sneaks into the bathroom. Swati watches him amused.
Honestly yaar. No jokes!!
O! Come on!
No! It cannot bleed that much.
But it’s true that it does,
At least in a small quantity, for
May be, for ‘you’, it did!
What do you mean?
Just that, it’s not necessary
that every girl bleeds.
Gautam comes back. His face is hanging down.
Come on yaar. You are talking
as if it is not ‘she’ who
is married, but ‘you’!
Why? Do you need to be married
to experience all this?!
Gautam splurts out the drink.
Later in the evening, Giriraj enters home, humming his favourite classic,
Seene me jalan aakhon me…
(Why is there is a burning in my chest and a storm in my eyes)
Suddenly he spots Soni and falls short. She is cleaning the house, dressed in a typical Maharashtrian Saree. He smiles broad.
(Singing the catchy lyrics)
Dhak- dhak karne lagaa,
Mora jiyaara jalne lagaa..
(my heart is beating..I am on fire)
(hears Meghna’s sobs.)
Seene mein jalan,
aakho me tufaan
Sa kyu hai….is sheher me har shaks
pareshaan sa kyu….
(why is every person in this city worried)
(Sits next to Meghna)
- Same Sad Story?
Meghna breaks into tears. Hugs him
Daddy! I am so miserable!
Giriraj, picking up a smiling frame of Mrs. Tara
I know. Who isn’t?
The photo in the frame frowns angrily. He shudders.
Mrs. Tara comes out. Is about to say something. But looking at Soni, stops.
Go wash the utensils
(as she is leaving)
‘Eve- droaper’! Huh!
Walking to Giriraj.
Will have to speak to
her mother in law.
She has been slapped again.
From the mother-in-law?
No baba! From our son-in-law?
Then why talk to her mother in law,
why not with son in law.
Huh! Meghna, why didn’t
you return a Slap for a Slap?!
Afterall, you are double that idiot’s size,
then what is the problem?
O- Ho! Shut up!
What are you teaching our daughter?
The phone rings. Soni picks up.
Hello! Mrs. Tara?
(making angry faces)
O! Is your sir there?
Yes, he is
O suniye ji!
Giriraj smiles at her mischievously. Tara frowns.
on the phone
A door bell. Soni opens the door. It is Swati.
Soni Smiles broad.
Keeping the phone down
Swati! What do you think
you are wearing?
Yes?. A… I am wearing a blue
Striped micro mini Skirt,
with a plain red Spaghetti top………
So, do I get full marks?
The Song- ‘Daddy cool it!’, rings softly in her ears, while she twitches at her own ripe imagination.
trying to control his temper
Swati! Atleast think a
little about other people
while dressing up.
Change yourself …please...
You know…. That N.R.I. proposal
you had got two years ago,
has come back, &
they are coming on the 15th.
….By all means, it is your
Now you better stop
wearing weird insane pathetic
clothes & spoiling your name!
I think you are forgetting
that the proposal is from
America & not Ulhasnagar
And, besides, this outfit
also resembles the American flag!.
The chap will certainly be pleased,
infact impressed, to spot a girl
Swati, the man is looking
for a wife, not a model!
Now, that’s the difference between you
Indian male chovos & the N.R.I.S.
Tell me, if you don’t like
Such outfits, then
why did you praise my friend,
wearing a micro mini the
Tara looks with interest at Giriraj.
Later that night, the moonlight is peeking through a window ajar. Soft wind is quietly dancing the chiffon window drapes….. Seen through the swaying gaps is a girl, lost in thought. Her clear honest eyes are searching the walls for her unknown future. Her skin like porcelain can hardly contain the conflicting thoughts, edging the surface a rare pink. Swati moves the waiting pen from her lips to her friend, her confidante, her diary spread out at the study table.
‘Dear diary…I think my D’ day is nearing.’
The ink lightens. Swiftly, she jerks the pen.
‘The proposal from the U.S.A which I had got 2 yrs. ago has come around once again & am so thrilled! From today, I promise to write only happy events.’
The ink lightens again; she jerks the pen yet again, but it doesn’t help. …..pulls out the drawer, searches, finds one pen, but it too doesn’t work…… Gets up, goes out of the room. As she is walking to the living room, she hears her mother’s sobs. Walks she close to her parents’ room….. A slight push & the door, gives way…
leaning on Giriraj’s shoulder
So maeny boys we Soe for Swati.
Par kabhi gal nahi bani.
She eis twenty four.
In theis aige, I waes a mother of two.
And my poor girrl is noet even
blaessed with a maerrige.
Patience pays Tara. It is more
important, to whom our daughter
marries, than ‘when’ She marries.
Look at Meghna. What was
the sense in getting
her married at an early age?
Nor is she happy, nor anyone else.
has ruined my daughter’s life.
I just hope & pray to God
that it clicks for Swati.
Kunal will be right for her. Bright
It should click Tara,
This time, it has to click.
Par kabhi gal nahi bani- things didn’t work out
A tear rolls down Swati’s cheek, as she shuts the door.
‘Sleep’, sleep is one factor that the more you think of, the further it drifts away. Too happy or sad, excited or nervous, the effect is the same; inability to drift away in that stage of passive activity, one of the fundamental biological needs.
After fighting tough to conquer the ever so important ‘Beauty sleep’, her other self, finally gives way. Lost she is in another world, as are moving the sleeping eyelids;
The Statue of Liberty emerges from amongst a flurry of clouds. She seems to be moving faster and faster towards it. Scared she is and thumping is her heart. How? Where? When? And then her one half swiftly moves back and sees herself in a red coloured wedding dress, flying on a silver horse. Sitting ahead of her, the reins in hand is her groom in a White coloured sherwani, his face covered with the sehra. Strains she, to glimpse the hidden face, but fails. Swoosh they fly over the statue of liberty; her bride self clutches the arms of her groom tight, while she sways away her face in fright; cold moist wind hitting across her ..… soon, the droplets on her face dry away as she is standing in front of the wedding fire, awaiting the feras. The pandit instructs them to start the feras. ….. he puts the varmala around her neck. She looks up while doing the same, hoping to end the torturing suspense, but Alas; the flowers are webbed too thick. ……. … time is ticking, moving forward.
sherwani- traditional attire for men
sehra- a string of flowers covering the groom’s face
With each passing second, her heart is leaping far and ahead as she awaits patiently her groom, on the flower- strewn wedding bed. Soon, she hears the door click a shut. He is moving towards her. Through the ghungat, she sees him sitting close to her on bed. He turns her towards him. She twitches her toes in anticipation. He moves her ghungat carefully over her head. She looks up, waiting with bated breath. He slowly moves aside his sehra, finally. She shrieks in shock, it is Gautam!
Her younger brother, Gopal, screams back. He was lying next to her, wanted to scare her with his pranks, but instead, is hurt by her swaying arms.
(making a face)
Dreaming about the ass
On a silver horse, again?
Giriraj rushes in
What happened? Kya hua?
Okay then. Bye.
I am already late for office.
Ghungat- end of the saree, covering her face
He is about to leave.
I am sorry about yesterday!
I was rude to you!
will you ever change?
(She frowns, angrily)
She looks at his trouser. His zip is open. He looks down, startled.
Standing Sideways, he fidgets with his zip, which is not closing.
I have to tell your mother
a thousand times before she
fixes my clothes.
He looks up
You are wearing your pant inside out.
He looks down, slaps his forehead.
A ‘desi’ bride in making
The breezy cold night is ripe with the aroma of freshly baked pizza, while the giant sized L.E.D. screen is pushing sights and sounds of a sci- fi Hollywood film, onto the walls in the otherwise vacant Living room. A paid Pizza slip flies off the center glass table, trying to peep at its accomplice pizza box, sitting comfortably on the bed inside. Stretched out liberally on the Master bed is Kunal; his one hand within reach of the obedient pizza box, while the other, holding Swati’s desi (Indian) attired picture.
My desi bride.
Eyes lowered - shy…..shy!
with a smile spread on his face, he springs out of bed. Makes a call… an urgent call.
(on the phone)
Yes mom! Any progress?
Ha beta. On 15th is the meeting.
So come before that.
Beaming with joy
Okay mom! Love you. Bye!
The sun rises in the East. A playful music is humming on the Music system with a huge cut out of Pamela Anderson, over the bed. Swati appears from the bathroom, folded in snow coloured bath robe, hair swaddled. The waiting mirror is filled with her image; the mistress questioning, commanding, almost threatening to provide her with the very best. With a sweeping glance, she turns her gaze to the calendar hanging adjacent, with an image of a clear blue beach and a bold red tip pen attached. Circles she, the 15th, crossing on the way, clear and large, the 1St. Turns she back her gaze at the alarmed mirror. To its relief, she turns her gaze to the door. Shuts… locks… turns around. The mirror gazes wide eyed, as she walks towards it. Then suddenly, looking eye to eye in the mirror, she drops the bathrobe…..
Looking confident, she stands tall…. looks at the posture of Pamela….. then back at herself. Sneakily, out from behind the piled library books, covered in a paper bag appears the infamous Breast Enhancing crème. She smiles, looks up… while the mirror sways its head, a ‘No!... No!’
Somewhere…. Someone’s voice rings in the air, ‘My desi bride!’
The whole of next few days is exhausted in shopping for clothes, cosmetics, footwear; the stilettos and the jogging shoes, as Swati continues to hit the gym, with an increased fervor and attack. The dates on the calendar increasingly are soaked with crosses, until at last the date 13 is approached. Now all that remains is looking good. And what else can better a day long visit to a beauty salon. Although Woman and Beauty is synonymous, a little push from the experts to help ‘maintain’ thyself wouldn’t hurt, right?..
The night brings along the calm and content, the satisfaction of a day well lived, so as to plunge in rest, a deep sense of joy to rejuvenate the self. Rashmi is looking out of the window, at nothing in particular. Suddenly she feels two hands around her, the touch of whom never fails to draw a smile on her glorious face; the arms that have always promised to shield her through all these years, as well as have drawn the benefit of support from the same. The mutual advantage of couple-hood, a whole that they continue to share is nothing short of a marvel in today’s times.
Rashmi smiles to herself as yet again, as usual, his confidence in knowing her so well, makes her twitch her lips in delight, even flattered.
I don’t know Ram, I really wonder,
I mean…. Kunal might marry soon… but…
will he be able to make her happy,
whoever she is, I mean…
O- come on Rashmi!
You are doubting our
Yes I am. But how can I help it?
Contrary to us, Kunal was born &
brought up in America.
We tried our level best`,
that he gain the
Positives from both the
countries; of his origin and
his experience. But instead,
he seems to have imbibed
only the Negatives.
And… and now this double standard
It is disgusting, don’t you think?
‘For Virginity and Fresh Pakodas’
A woman’s magazine brings along a lot of benefit for a lady, especially the one about to marry, and especially when she is reading along within the sham, the ‘Play Boy’!
Through the French windows of the balcony where she is sitting, she glimpses at the T.V. After the smiley lady has sold a pressure cooker of half the nation, emerges an International make-up show. And the episodic theme is, ‘How to apply a theme based style nail polish.’ Wow! She throws ‘the’ magazine aside!
Soni appears; at such times, she normally does appear. God alone knows from where, but she almost always does…..
Ha! Aaja. And get that
nail polish from there
Ha.. aaja.. yes..come
Swati starts applying nail polish to herself. Soni is looking engrossed. A door-bell buzzes somewhere in the background; twice. A shrill voice of Tara breaks the pleasant playful day.
The queen of Sheeba, pleease Open the door.
Soni does not move. The doorbell rings yet again. Gopal looks at the door irritated.
Soon, all of Swati’s nails are painted, while she continues watching the show. Gopal escorts Neha to the room. Soni stylishly walks out, while Neha looks on amused.
Swati, beaming with surprise
Neha!! When did ‘you’ come?
Hugging her, gasping.
My God! This is really a surprise!
But when did you come from States?
No call, no news, just like that?
Maharani- the great Queen (a sarcasm)
Soon, through the pleasantries, the two jet pass to more serious issues.
You know Swati, life isn’t as simple as we think!
He is so different now. I can’t believe my
husband can treat me like dirt!
O! come on now Neha, be matured!
How can you say it is ‘his’ fault,
you know you are so lucky
to be married there. …………
It isn’t possible sweetheart.
I know American men.
They are So..o.. understanding,
Neha looks angrily at her.
…….. No! I am not against you, or may be,……..
you don’t really know how
to make men happy.
You should learn a few bedroom tips
from me, you know!
Through the high end female chat, the two long time best friends are oblivion to the presence of Gopal, who quietly is sitting in a corner, swaying his head left to right and back, in symphony with the warm and soon hot play of words between the two.
The last blow however, takes him completely by surprise and he looks stunned, wide eyed.
You stupid! Don’t you have any manners?
Get lost from here!
Neha does not know how to react. She didn’t expect her friend’s younger brother to ‘eavesdrop’ on what was supposed to be, her private affair!
Gopal quietly walks out, while the two weigh the heavy silence of awkwardness between them. Soon they resume to other activities and simply chill out. Watching T.V. seems to be the safest bet, as they dive in. Coupled with eating, it seems in every way, a cool ‘‘chicks’ day out!’
Finally, Neha leaves. As Swati waves a bye, from her door-step, the two exchange a glance of the trouble, the pain, the solace in words which yet remain in the air, awaiting to be told.
Quietly, she walks to her bedroom. Gopal is watching the soap, ‘Kyuki Saas bhi….’ Before she can word her objections;
Without shifting his gaze
The Living room T.V. has
broken down once again!
Making a face, Swati glances at the wall clock. It is Three- five. Kicks she Gopal, on the hand. The remote falls down. She turns to Star World to watch ‘The Bold & the Beautiful’!
Come on Gopal, act your age!
How can you
tolerate such Saas bahu bakwaas?
Start acting more youthful,
for heaven’s sake!
Saas bahu bakwaas- mother in law, daughter in law nonsense fights
He tries to pick up the remote, she drags it to herself, with her feet.
Grow up kid! I always win.
Swati, Give me the remote!!!!!
Shut up you jerk! Brook is
about to kiss her father- in- law.
Gopal makes a face…. Spots the ‘Play boy’ magazine, fallen in the balcony.
Hey! What’s that- A magazine?
He moves forward to have a LOOK. Swati realizes that she had forgotten all about it…. Gopal picks it up…. she tries to catch him, to snatch it off. They are going round and round the sofa and the center table. The phone starts to ring. Nobody bothers. Finally, Swati dives & snatches the magazine, does a double up over the corner table and picks up the phone, panting.
Somewhere, sometime, a man eager to marry wishes to listen to the voice of his soon to be bride. He finds it sweet, romantic, even erotic. However, what he never expects is the gasps of quick breaths, and more still, what he never expects is the reaction they are capable of drawing from him. Far far away, connected by unseen waves, just that gasping ‘Hello’ shakes him like nothing else. Falling short of breath himself, he quickly disconnects and answers his urge to use the washroom.
Returning from the same, he sits down heavily on the sofa, smiling to himself. Glances he at the diary, where the page is spread wide on the ‘P’ Section- proposals- Swati’s name is sprawled with red ink. A picture is peeping out from under.
He needs to talk, to share his feelings. He needs his friend. Soon, he is video chatting on the laptop.
Aren’t there pretty girls
all around in America?
Going to India for
My desi bride, in short,
For virginity & fresh pakodas!
-What? What do you mean?
Scratching his head, Kunal contemplates whether to share this or not. Then finally, gives in
I basically want a girl who
is a virgin, & who can cook well.
And I am sure, I can get
one only in India; after all, American girls lose their virginity at the age of twelve, & besides, they can never cook good Indian food.
Don’t be too sure!
I am talking from experience.
India & Indian girls
are no longer what you think.
You think your ‘proposal’ girl
will be a shy dumbest ‘cow’?
Yes! A shy dumbest cow,
to take care of my home. Who would
be mine & only mine. A virgin,
waiting for me, and who would cook
fresh pakodas, like my mom does, when
I return home, every evening.
and you are sure you’ll get all this
in this Indian girl?
But of course! After all, Indian girls
still consider their husband as God!
-You have gone nuts!!
Before Kunal can react, the phone rings
RASHMI (on the phone)
Hi! Kunal bete, all ready to leave?
Yes Mom! Leaving immediately
by the next flight. I shall see you tomorrow.
Have only one transit in Hong Kong.
We are very keen to see you beta
And I am very keen to see ….
Giving a sharp look to Javed on the web chat.