11 February

After 14 days of evasion, Comma does call up her parents. Of course, by then, they have heard all kinds of things courtesy Bhopalwali Aunty, and the relay system she has set up, from one relative to another. Some of the conjectures that have reached their ears are:

1. Comma had an affair with a driver in Bhopal.
2. Comma is going to take over Neem, because she is having an affair with its boss.
3. Comma is having an affair with her colleague who had come with her to Bhopal i.e. me. Somewhere along the way, the fact that I was a woman had been lost. Or maybe not.
4. Comma has become an alcoholic.
5. Comma has an affair with her landlord.
6. Comma is having an affair with Abhishek Bachchan. Seriously. No, seriously not. I just added that on from my side.

I can only say that Comma’s parents are immune to this level of gossip, having heard it at different times of their lives about different people, including themselves. And that they trusted Comma a LOT.

However, they were a teeny-weeny bit worried. So they were very relieved when Comma called.

Me: “Why didn’t they call you all these days? They could have just asked you, isn’t it?”

Comma: “Oh no. They know how furious all these nosey-parker relatives make me. They normally don’t tell me all these things, because they are afraid I’ll just lash out rudely at the person when I meet them next. Or something like that.”
Me: “Even then, this was a big thing. Not some every day kind of gossip.”

Comma: “Oh this is pretty everyday kind of gossip back home. If it’s not me, it’s someone else.”

Me: “So, they weren’t bothered at all?”

Comma: “They were. In fact, they were planning to come over to Mumbai. Pretending that Papa had some leave, or something. Just to check up on me.”

Me: “Did you tell them everything?”

Comma: “Yes, that’s why I had called. They were so relieved when they heard about The Prospect, the fact that he was NOT a driver or a woman or my old khadoos landlord; that they almost forgot to scold me. Then Mama started crying. She said she was very hurt that I had gone behind their back.”

Me: “Obviously, she would be. I told you so.”

Comma: “Then I cried, and Papa cried. And my elder brother cried. And my Chachaji cried. You get the picture.”

Me: “And now?”

Comma: “They’ll come soon. To discuss everything. But first they are going to go to Bhopal to meet The Prospect, and check up on his family in Vidisha and everything.”

Me: “And you?”

Comma: “I feel so relieved, frankly, to have handed over the responsibility. Now it’s up to them. Their decision. Not mine.”

Me: “And you are OK with that?”

Comma: “Yes. Because I don’t think I could ever make that decision myself. I like The Prospect, but just feel paralyzed at the thought of marriage.”

Me: “Does it occur to you that you could wait for someone who would be so right for you that you wouldn’t feel indecisive at all?”

Comma: “Not really. I do like The Prospect well enough. And it’s not about that kind of love, Appi, for me. I just think we need to be right for each other, compatible, have fun together, and our families to fit in with each other. Marriage is all that. And if it’s not The Prospect, it would be an arranged marriage of some kind or the other.”

Me: “Really?”

Comma: “Yes. Then why not The Prospect?”

Me: “Why not?”

Comma: “I don’t want to wait until I am 30 to get married. I’m the right age now.”

Comma never ceases to surprise me. Sometimes she sounds exactly like a small town girl.

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