Pallavi came out of the general ward and straight away went to the Emergency Ward. She had to talk to Amir. He was waiting for her outside the ward.
“Pallavi just give me 15 minutes and then we will get out of here. The patient with dengue is showing some scary symptoms.”
“Okay. Take your time, I am in no hurry today to reach home. Mom wants to discuss how should we go about planning the marriage.” She sighed.
He kept his hand on her shoulder. “Don’t worry, is anything going to change by you worrying so much?”
“You finish your duty and then we would go out.”
She sat on one of the grey steel chairs arranged outside the ward for the visitors of the patients. Her phone beeped. Sujata had sent her a text, she wanted to know when she will be back. Pallavi replied that she would be late and not to wait for her.
Amir walked out of the emergency ward some 20 minutes later.
“Come, let us get out of here.”
“Where do you want to go?”
“Let us go to the new coffee shop nearby. I am famishing, haven’t eaten a bite since hours.”
“Yeah, me too. Lets go.”
They came out of the hospital and went to the coffee shop which was further up on the main road.
They took the inside seats as it was really hot. Amir ordered two cups of cappuccino and chicken sandwich for him and a mushroom sandwich for her.
“What will we do Amir?”
“I don’t know. It is all so complicated.”
“The guy said yes even when I asked him to say no.”
“Yes, that is very strange. Is he planning to strangle you to the mandap if you are not ready. But I know why he would have said yes. It's hard to say no to you.” He pulled her hand and held it.
She smiled. “Why can’t we tell our parents and then see what happens.?”
“We can. But see my family might still be okay as they would say let us change the religion of the girl. But what about your parents? Would they be okay with you changing your religion? Will they accept me as who I am? There is going to be a huge conflict. I think we should just go ahead for court marriage without telling them and then inform them later.”
“I can’t change my religion. Actually I don’t mint it, but my parents would. How can we do court marriage? My family would be devastated.”
“Then what will we do Pallavi. I don't think any kind of convincing would work. And even if it does, there would be no acceptance from my family unless you become a Muslim. Your parents are not going to accept a Muslim boy or you changing your religion. I don't see it working by the convincing way. I want to be with you. I think the only option is court marriage and then we will tell later. They might accept us then or reject us. But if we tell them and try convincing them, they won’t even let us do court marriage. Like I don’t know what all will happen once we tell them.”
“I know that you are right. I am just not able to accept it, that’s all.” Pallavi sighed and laid back on her chair while looking away. “ I am dissolving in this confusion and this struggle of choosing between you and my family. They love me and do whatever to keep me happy. They have spent their whole life while working towards giving us a better home and a better life. How can I just betray them like that?”
“I understand. Even my family have always been so supportive. They are the perfect parents. But our case is just so complicated. Who told you to fall in love with me?” He winked and tried to ease the air.
The waitress brought their food and cappuccinos.
“Let’s eat first.” They both devoured their sandwiches as if they had been hungry for days and sat taking sips of cappuccino.
“Let me decide Amir. First of all we have to take care of this situation impending on our heads. What should we do about this guy Ravi? He said yes, and my parents want to take the conversations ahead with his family. Somehow, I will have to say no because that guy won’t say no. If he had to say no, he would not have said yes in the first place.”
“Why don't you tell your mother that even though they have said yes, you need some time to talk to this guy and get to know him a little better. That’s how arranged marriages happen these days anyways. Nobody says yes without getting to know the other person. When your conversations start, tell your parents that he is making absurd conversations and you don't think he is the right choice.”
Pallavi smiled, “not bad Mr Amir. It seems reasonable. Let me try this. It might work out. You don’t mind me talking to him?”
“I mind you marrying him. So talking is fine if that’s going to keep the marriage away.” He smiled.
They left and Pallavi went home.
She reached home around 10:30. Sujata was waiting for her, sitting on the sofa, watching TV.
“What took you so long Pallavi beta? I sent many messages. Where were you?”
Pallavi took her phone out and saw text messages from her mother. “When will you come back?”, “Where are you?” “Why aren’t you replying?” etc.
“Mom I was working. One of the doctors had taken off and I had to fill in for her. I told you I will be late.” Pallavi got irritated. “Why do you worry so much? You know my work is like that, right.”
“Sorry beta. I didn’t get a reply so I was worried. Won’t do it from now on. Actually it’s my mistake, you had told me you will be late. We were all planning how to take things ahead with Ravi’s family. So I thought it would be good to have you as well.”
“Its okay. Yeah about that, Mom I think it would be good if I talk to Ravi for a while and then decide. I don't think it is a good idea to just marry off someone with out even knowing them.” She thought it was a good chance to put in her words.
“Why do you want to talk to him? You never said this before.” Sujata was surprised at Pallavi’s sudden suggestion.
“Don’t you think it is better that I know him a bit more before deciding or getting married. Right now I don't know what kind of a person he is, what does he like, how he reacts in situations. You think it is a good idea to get married without having zero knowledge about his behaviour, his likings, disliking etc.” Pallavi knew she could convince her mother. She knew she was not being unreasonable.
“Okay beta. I understand actually. I know it happens like this these days. All this just scares me off a bit. If these things get prolonged, it sometimes creates issues also. The families get involved, you two would get involved and it might become messy.”
“Don’t worry Mom. I would be careful. We won’t involve anybody, instead we would just get to know each other better.”
“But what will I say to them now? His mother asked me if you like Ravi and I said yes. I said that we will talk to them about marriage preparations etc. They would feel odd when I tell them this.”
“It is okay Mom. Tell them that Pallavi wants to know Ravi better before deciding. When she said she liked him, she meant she is ready to take things forward. I misunderstood her and thought she is ready to get married. Let us see what they say. They are a well educated family. I don't think they would mind it much. In fact, I am surprised that this request didn’t come from their side, Ravi’s side I mean.”
“hmm okay. If you say so. I will talk to your father once. Beta, I hope this thing goes well. It is a very nice family.”
“It would be fine Mom. We are also very good people. Don't forget that.”
She kissed her mother on her forehead and went to her room. Pallavi came inside her room and texted Amir. “I told Mom to let me talk to Ravi for a while. She agreed. But I am feeling very bad. They don’t even have the slightest idea that why am I doing this.”
She lied down on her bed to sleep. She thought meanwhile they might find a solution. Maybe her family would agree for Amir and changing her religion to Amir’s or maybe Amir’s family would accept her as who she was. Thinking about all this Pallavi went to sleep.