Saturday Story 6: Un-Matchmaking
The alarm on her phone went off at 7 am and, as always, Mallika swiped the screen and went into snooze mode.. This half-awake, half-asleep state was the most delicious part of the day. At that moment, Mallika imagined herself lying head down, receiving a delicious head-to-toe massage, with aromatic oil. Surrounded by the soothing sound of waterfalls, on sub-woofer speakers.
“Madam, is the pressure all right….” asked the masseur. At which point she woke up with a start.
No, the pressure was not right. It was way too much! Ever since the lockdown, her world had gone topsy-turvy. No travel, no business, no kaamwali bai… no weekly massage! Instead, here she was, trapped in an 1100 sq ft house with one Mr Karan Ahuja. On paper, her husband, but for all practical purposes…. a stranger.
Soon Facebook would be serving up memories, from 4 years ago. When they had their fairytale wedding in Phuket. It was the one time that Mallika was in front of the camera, not behind it. As one of India’s most sought after wedding photographers, she knew exactly what it took to capture that perfect moment. Later she would wonder… was it all just acting?
She had known Karan for 6 months, but mostly on chat and phone. They met through the ‘Elite Partners’ dating site, hit it off, and – she thought – really gotten to know each other. So one day, when her grandmother wailed, for the 10,000th time, that she wanted to see her poti ki shaadi before leaving this world, Mallika succumbed.
“Ek ladka hai…” she declared. From that moment, everything changed. And not for the better.
Maybe, she reflected later, she wasn’t cut out for marriage. The focus had always been her career. Despite his IIM degree, Mr Karan Ahuja turned out to be a pretty close-minded guy. The kind who actually preferred the old way of doing things. Which meant two sabzis and dal on the table for a meal, with him lifting not a finger.
Chalo, Savita maushi took care of that bit. But what about accepting a wife whose job required frequent travel, and who earned more than him? Now that bit should have been discussed… Because clearly it was hitting the Punjabi male ego where it hurt the most. A very fragile ego, the marriage counsellor had told her, privately.
As she went into the kitchen to prepare a cup of coffee, Mallika surveyed the living room. A half-consumed bottle of whisky and an ashtray overflowing with cigarette stubs – the usual scenery. He must have slept at 5 am, and would probably emerge by late afternoon. Smelling bad, looking bad, feeling bad…
“This cannot go on,” the realisation hit Mallika, like a bolt from the blue.
They were sleeping in separate bedrooms, leading separate lives. It was time to separate, officially. Just saying those words – in her own mind – was a relief.
I’m sorry, dadi ma, if you’re watching from up there. Maine try to kiya… magar safal na ho paee.
It’s not easy to organise a fairytale wedding but it can be done. What’s harder is the part when the cameras stop recording.
She wrote the sweetest, kindest, most heartfelt goodbye note on Whatsapp. It was the medium of their romance… and only apt, as the medium of closure.
6 hours after she left the house with a single suitcase, Karan pinged back: ‘Agreed’.
8 months later, the divorce came through. Mallika composed an email to her former clients. Where she opened her heart, and shared her story.
“Thank you for all the referrals, but I no longer shoot weddings. If you know anyone who needs advice on an amicable divorce… I am available.”
Mallika’s new company is called ‘Fairytale Endings’. The motto: a chance to make a new beginning.
Don’t miss the audio file: Inside the Author’s Mind: Why I wrote ‘Un-Matchmaking’.