It’s that time of the year again, for another Valentine post/story. Hope you enjoy this one.
Pu Siama sat on the grand sofa motionless, lost in his own thoughts, oblivious of his surroundings. His mind was miles away, thinking about his beloved son. The son that he never got to know well, separated by distance, time and culture. The last time he spoke to him on the phone was a year ago. And the last time he came home was almost five years ago. Suddenly, a friendly nudge brought him back to reality.
The MC announced, “I now invite our respected Chief Minister to come to the stage and…”
The entire auditorium erupted in loud synchronized applause. Pu Siama took a deep breath, adjusted his suit and stood up. As he walked towards the mike, the applause grew louder.
He delivered his speech with much charisma and grace. He had achieved everything in life, but deep inside he was a sad man. The one and only son he had, was like a stranger not just to him but to the state Pu Siama loved so much – Mizoram.
Thousands of miles away, on one of the busy small narrow winding lanes of Munirka, Johnny kick-started his bike with ease. The Delhi registered motorcycle had seen its fair share of kilometers, accidents and women.
Johnny worked as a senior Marketing executive at a renowned FMCG. He graduated from Delhi University with honors. Being the son of the Chief Minister of Mizoram had its own perks and advantages, but Johnny had never exploited such opportunities because he hated the fact that everybody would look at him differently because of his father.
That was the reason why he had never mixed with the “Mizo crowd” in Delhi. People talked too much, he grumbled. He felt like his life was being scrutinized and analyzed by everybody around him just because of who his father was.
Hence, Johnny had cut off all ties with the Mizo community and moved in an apartment with his former school mates from Chandigarh, where he had completed his school education. He felt more comfortable hanging out with his non-Mizo friends, after all, he had spent 23 of his 26 years outside Mizoram.
He had dated a lot of women from different race and caste and region, and had always thought he would end up marrying a tall Punjabi girl. He knew his parents would disapprove of it, but he also knew that he would never be happy with a Mizo girl because he knew so little about his own culture and heritage.
And then one fine Christmas party at “Blue”, one of the more flamboyant and posh lounge bars in Gurgaon, he was introduced to a Mizo girl Puii by a common friend.
Puii too was just like him. Brought up in a boarding school in Mumbai at the age of 7, she had spent her entire life in the midst of non-Mizo friends. There was an immediate chemistry between the two of them that night.
The next day, Johnny called her again and shyly asked her out on a date. She smiled.
They spent the whole day at CCD together, talking non-stop about various issues. Johnny talked about how his folks would always poke their nose into his friends’ lives. They would always ask him for the name of his friends’ parents, as if that mattered in his friendship. Puii completely agreed that that really bugged her too. They both asked each other why parents in Mizoram were like that, and then burst out laughing.
Puii then made a mock introduction of her father in a very dramatic way, “Hi, my name is Puii and my father’s name is Lalramliana.”
Johnny imitated his father by putting on his voice, “Ohhhh… Lalramliana. I know him. He stays at Zarkawt locality and his father is a very good friend of your grandfather. He once shot down an elephant with a small catapult this size.”
They both laughed again.
“Seriously, how do these people know everybody?” Puii asked amidst the laughter.
“I have no idea,” Johnny quipped. “And Lalramliana is such a common name. Two of my Mizo seniors in Chandigarh were named that. And I think one of my cousins is a Lalramliana too.”
The laughter never seemed to stop. Soon, hours flew by and before they realized it, it was already nightfall.
Johnny asked her if he could see her again the next day. She blushed and said yes.
That night, Johnny couldn’t sleep a wink. He kept tossing and turning on his bed, thinking about Puii. He thought he would never meet someone like her in his life - She was like a mirror-image of himself. And she was extremely attractive too - those eyes, those lips, that beautiful smile, they all kept flashing in his mind over and over again.
They met the next day, and the day after that, and so on, until one day, Johnny held her close and pressed his lips against hers. She reciprocated with a moan. From that day onwards, their love bloomed further and further.
Puii started sleeping over at his place. She was completely head over heels in love with him. She still remembered the last time she had a fight with her mom because she was seeing an Arab exchange student from her campus. This time she knew her parents would not have any objection to her relationship. But still, she decided not to tell them anything about him.
With Puii lying in his arms, Johnny felt complete like never before. He hadn’t told her about his father being the Chief Minister of Mizoram, and she didn’t ask anything about his family either. It didn’t matter. That was one of the many reasons why he loved her so much.
And then suddenly, he turned around and whispered, “Will you marry me?”
Puii couldn’t believe her ears. She said yes as they fell back into a deep passionate embrace.
The marriage was quick. They appeared before a magistrate at a family court along with two of their friends as witnesses, and they signed the required documents. Within two hours, they became husband and wife.
“You know what?” Johnny asked as they laid together that night.
“What?” Puii asked.
“In our culture, we would call this “in ru”, as in eloping…” They both laughed.
Johnny continued his work at the company and Puii found a job as a PR executive for a renowned MNC. Neither of them told their parents about their marriage.
And then one fine day, Johnny reached home to find his wife waiting for him… she was sitting on the dining room chair, contemplating deeply…
“What’s the matter, hon?” Johnny asked with much trepidation.
“Darling,” Puii said slowly… “I’m pregnant…”
Johnny reacted both with shock and jubilation. He ran and hugged her immediately.
And then Puii told Johnny about what she had been thinking the whole evening ever since the color on the pregnancy strip turned pink. She now felt guilty about not telling her parents about their marriage, and with the pregnancy, she felt extremely vulnerable and insecure. She wanted to see her mother and take her advice. She cried.
Johnny understood. He reassured her that he would take leave from work and book a ticket to Mizoram immediately.
He warned her that their parents weren’t going to take it easily, but at the end of the day, it was their life, their decision, their future. She nodded in agreement.
On the day of their departure from Delhi, Johnny called up his father from the airport.
Pu Siama was surprised to see his prodigal son calling him up. The last time they spoke was around a year ago. His heart beat pumped faster as he answered the call with subdued excitement.
The call was quick. No formalities. Johnny quickly told him about his marriage, the pregnancy, and that they were on their way home. Pu Siama almost got a heart attack. Johnny then mentioned her name and hanged up immediately to avoid any awkward questions or reprimand from his father.
Five minutes later, Pu Siama called up his secretary and ordered him to find out everything about the girl, where she studied or worked etc based on the name that Johnny told him. It wasn’t going to be difficult tracing such a person, especially since she was from Aizawl.
The plane landed at Lengpui Airport that same day. Johnny and Puii got out, checked out their baggage and hired a taxi. He wasn’t surprised there weren’t anybody waiting for him at the airport. He hardly had any friends in Mizoram, and he was like a stranger to his cousins.
Finally, the taxi reached Johnny’s palatial bungalow. There was an awful large number of cars parked outside the house, and Johnny immediately assumed his father was organizing a quick marriage ceremony or reception for them so as to save his face in front of the conservative Mizo society. After all, it was like destroying his reputation if the public found out about his son’s elopement.
As they walked hand in hand cautiously into the main living room, the place was filled with people. He recognized some of his uncles and aunts. But instead of celebrating or even acknowledging him with a smile, they all sat their staring at him, as if they were mourning.
Johnny held Puii’s hand tighter.
And then a middle aged man with blood shot eyes stood up slowly. Johnny didn’t know who he was until Puii suddenly screamed, “Dad!”
Johnny realized his father must have traced who she was and asked her father to come over. He didn’t care. He loved her and that mattered the most.
And then all heads turned towards the centre of the room as Pu Siama stood up. He trembled as his wife and brother supported him on his arms. Johnny hadn’t seen his father in almost five years, and realized how much he had aged.
With a heavy breath, Pu Siama pointed at his son slowly… his fingers shook as he uttered painfully, “You stupid ungrateful son…” pin drop silence filled the room as time came to a halt. He continued with all his energy as he looked at his daughter-in-law, “She… is your cousin’s daughter.”