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Updated: May 23, 2014 15:53 IST

Two States and beyond

SOMA BASU
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Illustration by Satheesh Vellinezhi
Illustration by Satheesh Vellinezhi

The writer got much more than she bargained for when she took her daughter along to watch 2 States

Home has always been an akhara for khichri bhasha, khana, kapda and emotions. The war between Bengali roshogollas and fiery Telugu chutneys refuses to cease. Children never really bothered about the assortment till I recently took my daughter along with me to watch 2 States based on Chetan Bhagat’s book.

"Mummy our house is also 2 States, no?" she asked in sudden realisation. Yes, I smiled. That night bedtime story telling session turned into a trying time. “Tell me your story mummy. Did you also have same fun?” I mumbled something about all the fun coming after she had entered our lives!"

"And were there same fights between naannamma (paternal grandma) and dadu (maternal grandfather)? What will happen if I marry somebody from Delhi or Tamil Nadu?” she asked. Holding on to my smile I replied ‘We will then become three States."

The questions continued relentlessly. “How does one get somebody from another State?” “What if dada (elder brother) also marries somebody from another State, will you get angry?” “How many more languages will we speak at home?” …I answered as patiently as I could. "No I will not become angry. And we will be Four States then...but you have to grow up first, study well, understand your responsibilities, and it is always good to learn more languages."

Sleep had deserted both of us. I couldn’t help thinking back on my wedding. My relatives couldn’t believe that we all had to wake up before dawn break on a cold wintry December morning in Delhi for the muhurtham. Even the tentwallah was shocked that he had to erect a shaadi ka mandap by 4 a.m. That is usually when they are dismantling shamianas after late night weddings and festivities! “Didi, yeh toh ek dum ulta hai, (this is totally opposite!)” the puzzled Punjabi tentwallah had remarked.

My bridal sari was white. Bengali weddings are usually performed in the nights and the bridal sari is red. If my relatives were taken aback by the ritual of bride's parents washing the groom's feet, my in-laws were surprised to learn that Bengalis do not have a first night! There were no end of surprises for either side as the conch and the nadaswaram battled it out at the mandap.

The outcome of a mixed marriage is mostly fun with moments of irritation and elements of comedy. But at the end it is all about understanding and an acceptance of each other’s differences. But how do you explain all that to a little girl? She is only eight.

The questions continued. “Can we also marry an American?” she asked. “Why not”, I replied cautiously. “Then what will our house be?” “Two countries,” I said firmly. The pensive face suddenly broke into a smile, “So can I marry an Italian? Then I can eat lots of my favourite pizza and pasta!” Then came the final question: “If I marry Mummy, do I really have to stay away from you?” I nodded. “Then I do not want to marry anybody from any State”, she said and drifted off to sleep, leaving me wide awake and wondering if I had done the right thing in taking my daughter along to watch the film!

somabasu@hotmail.com

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