They reached Yamuna's house which was not very far away from Veena's place. The house was full of people moving in and out busy doing their work, a few children were playing in the courtyard of that house, it was a house where a marriage was going to take place and so that was expected. On one side there were was place to keep chappals, both the girls removed their shoes, kept them there and they tiptoed inside the house hurriedly, Veena getting welcoming remarks and the women curiously noticing the new girl. They come near a small room which housed the family Gods; Veena peeped in side, saw Yamuna sitting in front of the God image, her head down, she was alone. Veena took hand of Ibna and entered the room sneakily. Came close to her friend and held her eyes in her palms. This disturbed Yamuna and she moved agitatedly. Soon she could know who the hand was and she shouted, "Veena"! Veena removed her hand the two sat together looking to each other with some passion. Ibna watching it slowly moved next to Veena and sat there. Looking to Ibna, Yamuna showed a gesture of surprise and to that Veena responded by introducing Ibna to Yamuna as her friend in the office. Ibna was not in a position to understand what they were talking but it was not necessary. She took out her camera and shot a few pictures of that room. She showed great interest in the chapel that was put in front of Yamuna and asked about it to both of them. They were talking in low voice but even that disturbed the priest who was in the next room. He came out and saw the three chatting in front of the chapel. He reluctantly complained to Veena and requested that it was not proper to sit there on this occasion. This nosiness of the priest disturbed their meeting and Veena wishing her friend a very happy married life, got up and shot an angry glance with a scoff to the young priest whom, she knew very well and the two moved out of that room.
"Now what"? Ibna asked with great curiosity. Veena suggested, "Let us go to bridegroom's place and wish him".
"Can you go like that"? Ibna
"Why not, we are very friendly and you know Ibna this boy is also my cousin".
They moved out of the place and came on the road, a small alley; Veena saw Charu coming from the front and greeted her. Charu asked about the girl in her company and Ibna was introduced to her as office colleague. They moved further and then at once Veena turned towards Charu and told her that she will be coming with her father to meet Ramnath, the moneylender. Charu waved her back signing, "of course". Now the two were moving to a big house and from that it was obvious that it belonged to somebody special. Yes Yamuna's in laws were big people in that village. They held almost the entire farmyard in the village precincts. A few motor bikes were parked outside of the house and the house was, as the previous one, was packed with people. Looking to Veena they all greeted her and even without knowing Ibna were showing welcome signs to her also. There, Veena spots Ramnath standing on the porch and having some conversation with some other elderly person. At that very moment Ramnath also catches a glimpse of her and gives a very specious smile. Veena returns it and moves inside after removing her shoes, Ibna follows. They begin to search for the bridegroom and soon they reach a big room in which a young man was sitting along with some of his friends. He sees Veena with Ibna and gets up to greet her.
The young man asks jokingly, "Veena, who's side you are coming for the marriage"?
"Why this question? I can come on both sides with equal right, is it not"? Veena retorts with equal ease as he questioned. They both smile together and then he enquired about the beautiful girl, Ibna and he is told that Ibna is her office friend and has come to witness the marriage. From her bearing it was more than obvious that she was not an Indian but a foreigner and that interests some of the young boys around. The girls do not hang around there for much time and after wishing him a very happy married life move out.
As they come in the courtyard they notice Ramnath loitering there, as if, he was waiting for somebody. Veena sensed it and deliberately walked across him so that he can easily see her and she was correct in that; Ramnath saw her and called to say some thing. She along with her friend stopped at him and before he could say anything told him that she has come with the final installment of the loan and as soon as the marriage ceremony is finished she will be coming to see him at his shop to clear the deal. This abrupt but timely retort stunned the man but he did not show it on his face, giving a sly smile he nodded affirmatively. The girls move out very fast and now they wanted to be at Yamuna's house for the feast. The day was busy since Veena had many things to complete in a very short time. They reached the house of Yamuna and saw all preparation for the great banquet. Already one line of eaters was finished and hurriedly Yamuna's mother holding Veena's hand told her that she must finish her eating quickly as she was chosen as Yamuna's best girl. Veena looked very pleased at that and started looking around to see if there was any empty seat to go and start her meal but then she realized that she is not alone and looked to Ibna impatiently. Some girls collected around the two and asked if the foreigner girl can sit on ground and eat, if not, they can arrange for a table for the two. Veena asked Ibna what she would prefer, to sit on ground as the others have done or need a table. Ibna wavered and for some moments could not decide and finally spontaneously she told Veena that she would prefer to go as the custom here and so no need for any table, "Come on Veena let us occupy one place together and try the meals here". That was a good reply from Ibna and they search for some place as people were finishing their meals were getting up and the rows of eaters were getting ready for the next round. Somehow, Yamuna from inside of the room spotted the two and told her mother that Veena with her foreigner friend should be treated differently, lest, no bad impression go to out side world from where this girl comes. Bride's wish was granted and the two girls were taken inside and they were now sitting with bride and having the meal chatting with her. The arrangement Veena really appreciated and for that she planted a kiss on her friends cheeks. Thinking that, it is the custom Ibna followed her and kissed Yamuna and on that all the people in that room began to laugh appreciating the act of the foreign girl.
Marriage was solemnized and the other ceremonies were completed. Now the married couple is to go to bridegrooms house and that was arranged as the custom goes to have a horse so that the bridegroom along with his bride will mount and the procession to follow. But alas, at the last moment the man who owned the only horse in that village told that the horse is not well and will not be able to oblige. People looked very upset as they talked to each other, "Everything went well and now why this predicament"!
Veena came to know of the trouble and fast she thought and taking Ibna on one side asked her if she will allow the newly married couple to go by her limousine. Ibna was very thrilled with the idea and hurriedly and very happily accepted the suggestion. Veena told this to Yamuna's father who looked very worried about it, and the plan was quickly accepted. It would be a unique procession, he admitted and Ibna got her big green limousine to the place. Veena, the best girl of bride and Ibna on the steering was sitting in the front seat and the couple occupied the rear sit with two very little toddlers as the custom goes. The procession began and the whole village witnessed it with great fun and frolic. The whole village was appreciating the new idea of going by a car instead of by horse.
Veena and Ibna both tired came to her house after the last ceremony of the marriage was over. Ramachandra was sitting on the veranda holding papers of loan waiting for Veena to join him. Veena immediately collected her wallet, checked for the contains of it and told Ramachandra about her encounter with Ramnath at the bridegroom's place and said she is ready to go to Ramnath, "He must be at his shop", Veena whispered to him and they immediately embarked on to the shop. Ibna knew something about it and so requested that it will be good if she is allowed to accompany them. The request was granted and the trio walked down the alley to the square, to Ramnath's shop.
This Story continues in the next posting.
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