it was winter in Pune in 2001, maybe the most pleasant of weather experienced in the whole country. We had just moved and were staying at a place called Dhapodi. It had no Kashmiri pandiths so it seemed a bit boring. While receiving or seeing of relatives who visited us briefly at Pune Railway Station, I and my wife would seek Kashmiri Pandiths from the crowd and pick up conversation. My son was still a toddler then, and enjoyed our quest for Kashmiri Pandiths on stations and Airports. One fine day, we struck luck. We met a young girl, Miss Koul who was also in the process of finding kashmiri family friends, though the reason was not exactly the same that we had. We became familiar and it was not long that Miss Koul became an important member of our family. She became very fond of my son and my wife looked very happy in her presence. Though she had a room in the city but used to visit us on weekends whenever she could find time as we were staying at suburbs of Pune.
In her consequent visits she revealed to us that she had a serious affair with a colleague at ICICI Bank, where she worked. He was a local Pune boy. She informed that her family was not very comfortable with the marriage as her parents insisted on marrying a Kashmiri pandith boy. My wife was her great supporter and and thus I was automatically dragged into the love story.We urged her if we can have look at the boy and his family before we could be of any help. We found the boy very smart and the family was equally impressive. His father held a good position and his mother was also working. They had their own house in Pune and were very well off.
I and my wife were convinced and we somehow broke the ice with her parents and the mission moved very fast that a day was fixed on phone for ring ceremony totally subscribed by boy’s parents at Pune and Mr Koul, the girls father was invited to Pune with his family for the occasion. I was really very enthusiastic about it. On their arrival, I went to railway station and received the family and brought them to hotel where they were supposed to stay. Mr Koul was a simple soul, very grateful to me for making it possible. At the station only, he thanked me and reminded me that I am like an angel to him and had brought some gift from Jammu as an offering for setting up the stage for ring ceremony. I took it lightly and we started for the hotel.
Settling at the hotel I observed that Mr Koul had brought with him his brothers and a brother in law and their families for the ring ceremony. His brother in law and Miss Koul’s mama ji reminded me of Jeevan of Bollywood. He was offended by everything that was happening and kept foul mood throughout. He considered me a very big crook having put his reputation on thin ice. He may have had some inferiority complex. So I warned the friends of the boy to be extra careful of this Jeevan. Mr Koul appreciated it and reminded me of his hidden gift for me.Next day we had a formal meeting with the boy’s parents in which I did most of the talking as Mr Koul was busy in making his brother in law comfortable. The boy’s friends were taking good care of him and ensured that he spoke less and ate more. I was able to keep his goblet shut in case he would ruin all the good work.
All issues regarding marriage were settled and the girl’s family was invited formally for the ring ceremony by the boy’s parents the next day at the hotel. I was relieved and on return I took the family for some shopping around Pune. My car was being extensively used and I was happy to lend my hand to a brother Kashmiri pandith. During all these events the girls father, Mr Koul used to come compassionately to me, thank me and continuously remind me of the gift that he had preserved for me. I felt really good that things had moved in the right direction.Next day was the ring ceremony and we were early despite my wife insisting that we should go at the normal time. On reaching, I found that there was no cameraman from girls side. Luckily, I was carrying my Kodak Camera in the dash of my car. So I bought two Fuji photo rolls and made my self a cameraman. The event went smoothly thanks to the boy’s friends who faithfully obeyed me as I was trying all trouble shooting. At the end of the event, everybody was happy. We also took leave and came back home.
The family was supposed to leave back for Jammu boarding Jhelum express. I was tired and was in no mood for seeing them off but two things were irritating me. I had forgotten to hand over the camera rolls to Mr Koul and secondly I had bought the rolls and was expecting that he will pay for it as these used to be very costly those days and last but not the least his continuous offering of hidden gift that he had brought for me made me leave my house and meet them at station. I reached the platform and was greeted by Mr Koul who was expecting me as he told me that the camera rolls was important to show to his other relatives back at Jammu what had happened at Pune, however he neither mentioned of reimbursing cost of rolls nor I wanted to offend him by asking for it and there was no mention of gift which he had mentioned hundred times to me during his stay at Pune. I also forgot and saw them boarding the train and started to wave as the train was leaving. Suddenly, Mr Koul threw something at me, with regret that he had forgot to give me the same at the right time.
At the end of the day, I was happy and saw the boy’s family off in the parking area, kept the thrown packet at me on the other seat and started the car towards my home. At that time, I was a bit satisfied that finally, I will be able to tell my wife that the promised gift was delivered which will have some consoling effect of non payment of rolls, the money for which I had lent from her. Due to curiosity, I parked my car to a side and wanted to have a look at the gift. So I opened the packet and found about a quarter of shelled almonds about maybe 25 in numbers. I thanked my God, started the car and came back home. My wife greeted me and spoke neither of the gift nor of the money and I from that day was impressed of her being much more mature than me.