Only bachelor in our branch was Nafe Singh. Even he has now requested for a 10 day leave as he was also getting married. As marriage was to take place on Sunday noon so all of branch staff hopped in cars & proceeded to groom’s place in a village off Meerut - Roorkee road.
The village was as good as any other in UP. Small zig zag lanes lined with red bricks with overflowing waste water here & there. In between pucca houses there were kuchha houses as well. Some houses just over the edge of lane with their balconies hanging over your head. A km of such lanes will have approx 20 zigs & approx 20 zags! Why these lanes can’t be in straight line is beyond me.
If you blow horn to request the villager walking ahead of you in middle of the road to give side he will slowly turn his head around, have a look on your face & then get to a side & let you pass. And after you have passed him, he will continue to glare at your back for a while. Perhaps he would like to understand your presence in the village first. Or perhaps he might have been an auditor in his earlier avtaar!
Two dogs sprinted behind the cars barking all the way for approx 50 mtrs. Finding nothing unusual dropped back. Even otherwise we bankers are used to them because of late sittings in the branches. Buffaloes tethered to pegs were lazily munching grass & were not interested in banking matters & a standing cow looked at us with half-closed eyes.
Chasing the source of sound of music we reached Nafe Singh’s place decorated with buntings. Large tent was pitched in a vacant plot & local DJ with huge black boxes containing loudspeakers was blowing away filmy music to the delight of the small crowd of dancers. Lunch was getting ready in one corner. Lots of guests, kids & ladies in colourful dresses were roaming about. Ladies had their heads covered & avoided elderly gentlemen.
Nafe Singh all dressed up as a groom greeted us a bit shyly & took us to his father sitting in a group of friends leisurely spread over on cots, takhats & chairs. Practically all of them dressed up in white dhoti-kurta & Gandhi toupees. They were enjoying Gurguri (Hukka), cold drinks, mattha & liquor. His father greeted us & called for drinks. Besides desi santara, malta branded beer & rum was also was available. He ordered for ‘english bottle’ specially kept for us babu log from bank!
I congratulated him on the marriage of his son Nafe Singh & asked for further programme as to where the Barat was supposed to go. He gave a cryptic reply ‘Nowhere! Barat will not go anywhere’. A bit puzzled I enquired again. He put a counter question ‘Nafe Singh has not informed you I suppose?’ We waited for his explanation.
‘See manager saab with your blessings & with blessings of God I have three sons & three daughters. All except Nafe are married. Unfortunately as per God’s will, elder brother of Nafe died in road accident one year & one month before this day. He was two years senior to Nafe & has left wife & six month old son behind with us.
‘See saab with your blessings & with blessings of God, I had four brothers & three sisters. There was family fight over land & then division took place & I was left with two acres. And now if I divide it further in three parts what will be left? A few yards each? How will they survive tell me manager saab?
‘Understand manager saab that this earth is like mother to us as she provides food, nourishment, shelter & life. We are born of mother earth & we go back into it. So I decided no more divisions of my portion of mother earth.
‘Therefore saab I talked to father in law of my deceased son, to wife of my deceased son (my daughter in law) who has six month old son & to Nafe who is my little child & arranged their marriage.
‘So manager saab I am grateful to God that Barat is starting from this house & reaching this very house as groom & bride are both in this house.