A Wedding in Trichy…
So it rained. At last.
I don’t think the monsoon’s here yet, though. The rains are a good few weeks away, but the summer’s ending, and I’m thankful.
It was a raging, relentless summer, like the wrath of a thousand angry Gods, and I bore the brunt of it. Everyone who knows me will tell you that I love the rains, but never have I looked forward to them like this time.
It wasn’t raining last Sunday afternoon, though, when I got on to the Vaigai Express to Trichy from the quaint familiarity of Egmore Station.
Monday morning was Kruthi’s wedding.
True to form, the train was an hour late. I sat on a bench and looked around.
I’ve been on trains since I was a kid, and the scene on a railway station never changes. It is a captivating picture of chaos, a microcosm of our vast country, a celebration of the way in which we Indians live our lives. There are families, all three living generations of them sitting together in a huddle, there are soldiers, there are students, there are parents holding their babies, kids running around, tourists with backpacks, chai-wallahs, porters, magazine-stands, lathi-wielding policemen. There is so much color, so many languages, just so much life.
The train rolled into the station and I jumped into it. I had no seat anyway, so I chose a random compartment and sat beside a disapproving old man, who was evidently of the opinion that only the people who had reserved tickets should be allowed to sit. I quite unfortunately did not share his viewpoint and that led to a spate of acrimonious staring at each other. At last the TTR, who arrived after a good two and a half hours, found out that I was supposed to be on the unreserved side, told me to get up, to the old fellow’s immense satisfaction.
By this time it was evening anyway, and I was tired of needling old men, so I went and stood near the door and let the wind do the rest.
The skies were darkening.
All day I had succeeded in pushing Kruthi’s marriage to the back of my mind, not allowing myself to think about it, but there, as the train approached Trichy and it began to drizzle, then rain, and the streaks of water hit my face and cold gusts of wind took my breath away, I had to.
That was how it used to be back at University.
Ettimadai’s monsoon and winter cannot be described.
Only those who were there will ever know how it felt.
I know. I was there.
I have woken up on those freezing mornings, beautiful and windy and dark, the sky full of rain, the mist full of stories, and wanted them to never end, to go on forever. I have come out of class, holding my books, and sat down at the entrance to ASB, watching the rain fall on the grass on our lawn and becoming one, like two estranged lovers meeting. I have watched the Anamalai, hidden in shrouds of silvery fog as I walked through Amrita University’s roads, under an umbrella, wondering what great mysteries lay beneath the mountain’s heights.
Kruthi was there too. My two years at Amrita School of Business will define my life, and I know it’s the same for her. She is special to me, this girl, because at a time when everyone I knew had either forsaken me or didn’t give a damn, she was there. You don’t forget things like that.
How do you feel when you go to a close friend’s wedding? How should you? Happy, sad? I felt both. Happy, coz’ I knew she’s happy. Sad, coz’ she’s going to Texas, and I have no idea when I’ll see her again.
She’s a lovely girl, full of laughter, advice and generally useless philosophy, but she’s genuine, there’re no pretenses about her. If she wants to give you a piece of her mind, she will, and if she thinks you are a pig-headed idiot, she will tell you so.
Our time together as friends is filled with memories, some beautiful, some painful. But as friends, we endured. She had her debacles. I had mine. But somehow, in the midst of all that happened in those two years, the people we lost, friendships that broke, relationships that soured, we remained friends. I think it was more because of her than me – I can be colder than an arctic salmon at times, and I respect her all the more for it.
The train rolls past Srirangam into Trichy. I get down and take out the wet ticket from my jeans – Rs 89, it says, Chennai Egmore to Tiruchirapalli Junction. I let it blow away.
This is Tamil heartland, an ancient city of temples, fought over by the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Pallavas and later the British Empire during the Carnatic Wars.
I’m happy she’s getting married here.
What will I say to Kruthi at her wedding? I don’t know. I’m far too emotional, I don’t think I’ll be able to tell her anything.
But maybe, just maybe, if I’m able to, this is what I want to say –
Take a bit of South India with you da Kruthi. Take the scent of jasmine and the smell of filter coffee. Take sambhar recipes and some pickles. Take some Tamil sarcasm and some Lankan flavor. Take that damned Nike bottle of yours, if you want to. Build a home like only an Indian girl can, full of love, hope and all that which goes into making a family.
Make us friends proud, Kruthi.