I hated my sister, officially now. I hated mom. How could they do this to me? They had created a profile with my details in Shaadi.com, without my knowledge and shared all my interests with Mr.Chauhan, from among all the prospective grooms who had requested attention. I cringed with embarrassment when I saw chats about our favorite food, color, book and movie genre, season, holiday destination, childhood memories, and even political and religious inclination. And just thank god, there were no cheesy lines included. I replied out of courtesy that I would clarify the day’s problem when we met later. I would have to explain it to him, lest he should misunderstand.
‘You said you wanted a prince, I actually got a prince for you,’ my sister, Laxmi retorted over the phone. We called her Lux, as did her group of cool sophisticated friends. I tried to scold her but in vain. Mom was always at her rescue, taking her side. Getting me married and settled was her lifelong dream. So I gave up and started planning ways to revert whatever they had done. I could not admit that it was my sister and mother whom he was chatting to. That would not be appropriate. I grabbed my handbag, smoothened my skirt in front of the mirror, sprayed my favorite sweet pea sunscreen, and tried deciding the lines I was going to speak to him.
I was at the same café after about an hour. I waited for about five minutes, before he entered the door. I was nervous. My hands wouldn’t stop fidgeting. I couldn’t believe it; I was never nervous in the recent past. Perhaps the prospect of marriage with this handsome young man with a regal blood line has got into my head. He gave me a genuine smile, ‘Hi’. ‘Hello’ ‘Your memory faculties seem to be fine today,’ he added with another mocking look. ‘Yah, I’m sorry for yesterday,’ I added with a laugh. And so went our casual talks and our conversation was sailing well on calm waters.
‘No, don’t,’ I said covering my face with one hand. I am photo shy; I can’t really pose that well if the photographer is not that close to me, and my facial expressions become pitiful. ‘It’s just one live pic I want, just to make my mother believe that I met you. She likes you so much,’ Mr.Chauhan requested. ‘But she doesn’t even know me, nor do you. How can you be so sure about me just from a matrimonial site? Didn’t you ever think that, perhaps, I may not be worth your time?’ I asked intrigued. He looked at me, an expression I couldn’t place, searching and guessing how much of what I said did I really believe. His stare gave me goose bumps, I averted my eyes. But he didn’t. He was still looking into my eyes, still searching. ‘You are worth all my time,’ he said in a husky tone, a bit louder than a whisper. For some reason that made me smile as I tried not to blush and looked away, everywhere except his eyes.
And there went Click!
* * *
Mr.Chauhan was the second cousin to the Maharaja, and so his family too was considered royalty. A Havard graduate, he came back to India a year back to take care of the businesses that the extended families shared, and to be near to his family that he loved so much. His mother Gayetri Devakumari was an amicable personality, yet strict in upbringing of her children. He had an older brother and a younger sister too- Shivam P Chauhan and Nandini D Chauhan. The siblings were quite famous here, though not that much known in the eastern parts of our country.
I browsed more about the family history, about the childhoods of Mr.Shantanu, his brother and sister. I liked the family photographs; I found nothing fake in their smiles, as I had perhaps expected. I didn’t understand why a prince had to rely on matrimonial sites for a potential bride. More surprising is the fact that I was to be the One. I had nothing extraordinary in me, except that my great great grandfather was somehow related to the lineage of the Bengal royal family. That explained our unusual surnames.
A ping drove my attention to my email inbox. A mail from Mr.Shantanu was staring at me. I could call him Shaan, he had said, as he called me Rano, but I decided against it. Increasing informality and encouraging familiarity would be futile in the end.
It was a mail from Rani Sa herself, his mother Gayetri Devi had invited me to pay her a visit. I don’t know how to address her- Her highness, or her Excellency- had cordially invited me to have a chat, or perhaps a long discussion over a cup of tea, or a royal beverage in silver polished intricately designed cup and saucers.
Oh, I am a bundle of nerves already!!!