Instead of attending the reception of my 4-day-old marriage, I am ensconced in a bungalow located on the southern bank of river Krishna in the outskirts of a nondescript town Vijayawada some 400 km north of Chennai in Andhra Pradesh, making a video.
My celebrity husband Vinod, mom Theresa and brother Amrish do not know where I am.
The puzzled press back home is wildly speculating the reason for the disappearance of the brand new wife of a film star without a trace or word on the 4th day of a love marriage approved by her affluent parents.
That I belong to the owners of Duncan Holdings – a publicly listed company whose shares are collectively worth some Rs.7000 crores is attracting a huge audience.
Some 60 percent of the company shares are held by my father Subhash Chowdhry, 11% by my mom and the balance are with the public.
Apart from what ought to be rightfully mine, I also am scheduled to get those of my mom as they were originally granted to her gratis by dad when he had created the company from scratch.
I am not exactly happy at the prospect and here is why.
A creative creature, my mother provides a platform for all forms of art on the first Saturday of every month.
We have a big room built for that sort of thing in our central Chennai bungalow complete with the state of the art in acoustics.
Vinod entered our lives about a year ago.
Like others before him, he recited an amateur poem.
For some strange reason, my mother – poet, author, occasional actress, theatre personality, socialite, blah, blah, approved his style, encouraged him and honed his talent.
“Blessed with the gift of ample gab, this budding writer will one day give another of our great poster boys Manoj Night Shyamalan, a real run for his money,” Amrish hailed Vinod on the day when all of us had lunch together.
For some strange reason, my Shakespeare buff dad seemed cold towards Vinod.
The virtual antithesis of my mother, dad is a no-nonsense successful businessman whose sphere of activity includes exports, manufacturing and distribution.
He had been completely immobilised after a recent paralytic stroke with just his seeing and hearing faculties intact.
Mom had left him in the care of a male nurse at home.
Just a few months to complete my graduation along with twin bro Amrish, life had to go on in the corridors of Presidency College, parties and all the other things people like me indulge in.
Dad hated his loneliness.
A recent university don, Vinod often came to Presidency to take many of us out, pronounce his rather extempore witty reviews of Indian movies during shows.
Put up in his paying guest bachelor digs, Vinod sometimes stayed back to improve his scriptwriting, acting and directing skills under mom's guidance.
Mom’s contacts had landed Vinod a few small, but significant roles in offbeat films.
Before long, the tall, fair, handsome hunk, whose expressions always triggered my uncontrollable giggles, landed a good role in a small budget film that broke box office records.
Needless to add, he had part authored the script and the dialogues.
His screen presence was so good that the main protagonist was upstaged.
Suddenly, Vinod had become girls’ darling.
Fresh from his success on screen, a month ago, suddenly he proposed to marry me.
Even before I could properly react, magazines splashed news of his impending marriage.
Dismissing suggestions of an inevitable downturn of his career owing to the chagrin of his female fan-following, Vinod indirectly admitted it to the fourth estate.
“Don’t feed me crap about Rajesh Khanna spoiling his movie image after his marriage to Dimple. Let us face facts. Kaka is a less than average, somewhat effeminate actor whose greed for money resulted in his indiscriminately signing stupid movies doomed to flop. That ended an undeserved innings and poor Dimple bagged the blame and an unfaithful husband,” Vinod commented while chatting with a rag whose cub reporter compared our ensuing marriage to that of the celebrated Hindi film star of the seventies.
I was flattered.
“I suggest you sport a millstone or two around your neck and jump into the Bay of Bengal here. Helpfully, I will add a few more, transport you to the Arabian Sea and/or the Atlantic at my cost to help you drown, if necessary,” Vinod snapped at film producers and distributors who predicted the impending ruin of female teeny boppers’ current infatuation.
The sarcasm thrilled me.
When I had sought mom’s advice in the matter, she winked mischievously.
“I think the boy is good husband material and a welcome addition to this home, Lalitha. I am a good judge of the right attributes in a man,” mom said.
Hearing this conversation propped up on a pillow, I noticed dad’s eyes were sad and misty.
I married Vinod five days ago at Guruvayoor, a small temple town in the south Indian state of Kerala the traditional way.
My father is an occasional Hindu, mom a born-again Christian and us siblings practising agnostics.
Amrish flanked Vinod as the best man wearing a replica of the silk veshti and shirt sported by the groom during the quiet, simple and brief family marriage outside the gates of the Krishna temple, attended only by the closest relatives sans dad who stayed back in Chennai due to his condition.
Amrish flew back home along with mom after lunch from the nearby Kochi airport after we waved them goodbye and drove to Munnar, a hill station nearby for our honeymoon.
This salubrious little Shangri-La is situated along the border of Tamil Nadu's section of the Western Ghats.
Tea, coffee and vegetables grow in abundance in this place that sadly lacks decent hotels, restaurants, proper roads and suffering frequent power outages.
The Tatas own a huge estate and a massive guesthouse there.
Mom knew someone in that organisation and we had a suite to ourselves.
The honeymoon lasted less than two days.
Incessant rain and my chums rendered it meaningless.
Returning home, I began decorating our bedroom and preparing for our reception scheduled today.
Mom was busy inviting people for today’s reception giving our drivers multiple ulcers.
The press had taken the marriage nicely.
“I may be the dream of every dame, but am the reality for my dear damsel of a wife,” I heard Vinod saying in a television channel from an obviously well rehearsed line.
Needing to dub a forthcoming release urgently, Vinod went away after lunch.
Distributors had hinted another sure hit.
I met dad in his bedroom late last evening waving the male nurse away.
His forlorn expression was more pronounced.
Tears rolled down his cheeks as I lovingly hugged him.
“I am very happy, dad and we will be staying here! Vinod is a caring husband who agreed to wait for a few weeks for our nuptials to aid our understanding of each other better. Further, I got my periods even as we reached Munnar, so, I am still a virgin,” I said shyly kissing him on his cheek conspiratorially.
Suddenly dad brightened.
“You have regained your speech! Let me tell everyone!”
With surprising sudden anger and alacrity, he stopped me.
“Don't! And never in this house, Lalitha! One night, saddened after a friend’s death, I got drunk. Since your mom hates the smell of alcohol, she went to the guest bedroom. But before I dozed off to sleep, Vinod was in my room for a few seconds for no apparent reason. I expected the obvious – his making sure I was asleep before trying to get fresh with you before marriage, something I do not approve of. So I staggered to the adjoining room to ask your mother to prevent what I consider sin and to my horror saw my prospective ‘son-in-law’ making love to his future ‘mother-in-law’! The shock perhaps triggered my paralytic stroke. Soon, you accepted Vinod’s proposal and despite understanding the sinister meaning of your mother’s wink, I was helpless. While you never saw me alone, under the guise of looking after me, your mother all the time made sure I was to be a vegetable for life, gloating at the prospect of her never-to-be-discovered orgies of incestuous orgasms. I was scared that if I spoke out, the duo would kill me and waited for an opportunity to speak to you alone!”
Sending all the servants on a mission to buy attire for my marriage reception with a generous tip, I managed to get dad into an ambulance quietly and reached here in the morning, unnoticed.
“You have turned my little Cordelia into a combined reincarnation of Gonerill and Regan. But unlike Shakespeare’s King Lear, this Duncan’s endeavour to save his daughter’s future is bound to succeed, besides defeating the machinations of my Lady Macbeth, soon to be ex-wife!”
Dad's fiery opening gambit for the benefit of the camera had just me and our lawyer as the impromptu audience.
The latter is giving final touches to dad's will whose reading will be videographed. The legal document will be filed and the visuals sent by email to all television stations, to prevent other girls' suffering from this mutation of Oedipus Complex.