Me: So Thatha, what do you think about love ?
Mani Thatha: Ennada, yaaravudhu ponnu kinnoda kaadhal aagi pocha ?
Me: No Thatha..Chumma, I am doing a series of articles on Tam Brahms and I thought I would start off with the purest of all samples
Mani Thatha: Ennavo, I don't quite trust you
Me: Please...Now tell me about love
Mani Thatha: What about it ? There's nothing new in this...Its been there throughout the ages and will continue to remain so...
Me: Baaah...no philosophy please...Tell me something nice and groovy...
Mani Thatha: When I got married in 1942....
Me: Ahhh...1942: A love story
Mani Thatha: Seriyaana cinema kaaran da nee...And wasn't Manisha beautiful in that picture ?
Me: Ayyyoo.. we are getting diverted again..
Mani Thatha: Yeah...we were a huge joint family and I was the fourth son...So when my father went to seek an alliance for me to your Paatti's house, I didn't go alongwith them. Appa and my periya Anna went and finalised the whole deal. I met my bride-to-be just 3 days before our wedding
Mani Thatha: Venumna Paattiya kelaen
Me: Paatti, nejama ?
Sundari Paatti: Yes da..
Me: ...and was there any love in the whole thing ?
Sundari Paatti: Love'nnu solla mudiyaadhu... but there was something..
Me: Hehehehehe...Now this is interesting...
Sundari Paatti: In their house, everything was run by his father. My maamnaar was a strict disciplinarian but a very caring soul. In my parents' house I remember we used to watch new movies every Friday. When I came into this house, my first concern was whether I could continue with that. When I asked your Thatha about it in the first weekend, he remarked that they had never seen movies in their house but insisted that he would seek the consent of his father...
Me: Waaah Waaah... Thatha, kalakreenga ponga
Mani Thatha: Full story keluda
Me: ok ok.. the suspense is killing me...
Sundari Paatti: The next month when the salary came, your Thatha as usual took it straight to his father...it was a joint family, remember... and then humbly requested that some provision be made in the budget for taking his newly wed wife to the touring talkies...
Sundari Paatti: You know what was the best thing about it...I later learnt from his elder brother, remember that silent old man you met the last time you had come here, that in all his 22 years till then, your Thatha had never ever asked his father anything....
Mani Thatha: Unmai da
Me: Then ?
Sundari Paatti: Of course the request got sanctioned...We went out for a movie and we even had tiffin at Subramaniams on the way back. You can say that it was on that day that I knew he truly loved me
Me: Paattti, soooooooooooper...Btw, were you educated ? English ellam pesrel neengo...
Sundari Paatti: Even that your Thatha only taught me.. but that story when you come to our house next time....
Me: Uncle, what do you think about love marriages ?
Vishwa uncle: These days Love is extremely over-rated...And all this is because of the hype in the movies...
Me: But still....
Vishwa Uncle: In our days it used to be much simpler
Kala Aunty: Don't ask him... Ask me
Me: You tell me then, Aunty...
Kala Aunty: Love is extremely important for any marriage to work..sometimes you get lucky by falling in love before marriage and tying the knot with that person...soemtimes it happens after marriage...
Me: and if its not too personal, how was it in your case Aunty ?
T: I'll answer that...I have heard this story so many times..
Me: Batao tho sahi
T: It seems to ponnu paarthify, a huge pattalam turned up from Dad's side.. almost 20 odd people...
Me: Hahahaha... the usual... the 70s were like that nuh...
T: and then Mom was asked to serve coffee and snacks to everyone
Me: Okie... the usual again...
T: and it seems she was so nervous that evening coz the bajjis has turned out a little too kaaram...
T: Don't interrupt R
Me: Ok ok
T: ...that she hardly had a good look at my Dad at all for she kept fearing that someone would comment on the bajjis...
Kala Aunty: In our family, we don't mind that extra kaaram...But I had forgotten to tone it down since you can never say with visitors..
T: and then it seems Dad's family left promising to get back in a couple of days...
Me: Ohhhhhhhhh.. the usual "have to consult everyone" line
T: Yeah... and it seems Mom's family were not really sure... until....
Me: What happened next ?
T: After everyone had left, Dad came back...It seems he had wantedly left behind his purse on the sofa, or so Mom claims, and...
Vishwa Uncle: I did nothing of the sort
Kala Aunty: Come on, why this ego after all these years...
Me: Uncle, you are so romantic
T:...And he picked up his purse and then commented to Thatha that he loved the bajjis and liked the kaaram too....
Kala Aunty: It was then that we knew it would be a yes to the proposal...
Me: ...and love ?
Kala Aunty: Of course, I thought his gesture was really sweet and I prompty fell in love with him
Me: Hey Tarun, do you believe in love ?
Tarun: Yes I do
Me: Then how come you got into an arranged marriage ?
Tarun: Sez who ?
Me: Wasn't it ?
Tarun: Nopes. Twas a love marriage arranged by the elders
Me: Duh ?
Tarun: Didn't you know ? We met at Univ. Everytime I borrowed a library book, I saw her name in the previous readers list. Whenever I went to the local video store, she would have rented movies which matched my tastes.
Me: So you met her, asked her out and stuff like that ?
Tarun: Nopes. I e-mailed her, we corresponded for a couple of months, got to know each other really well and when we finally met a common friend's party she told me that her folks were under pressure to get her married off..and I asked her if I could get my parents to speak with hers.. and she said "Why not"
Me: Is this how it really happened, J ?
J: Yes re. You can call it the New-Age romance..
Tarun: Or rather, a geeky love story ;-)
Me: Oh god...U guys were so bloody lucky...Did your folks consent easily ?
Tarun: Why wouldn't they ? We were both Tam Brahms...
Me: Hi Spoorthi
Spoorthi: Vinod Anna is upstairs in his room...
Me: Thank you dear...What are you doing ?
Spoorthi: I am coloring pictures in this book that Arun gave me
Me: Who's Arun ?
Vinod: Arun is her boyfriend
Me: Sssshhhh...How can you say such stuff in front of her ? She's just 9...
Vinod: Ask her
Me: Spoorthi, who is Arun ?
Spoorthi: He is my class mate. Sits in the next desk. Always gets into trouble with Martha Ma'am
Me: and why is that ?
Spoorthi: He is always making noises in class and hitting other boys
Me: Why would he do that ?
Spoorthi: Coz all the others keep teasing me about my short hair
Me: Oh hoooooooo
Spoorthi: And anna, he shares his lunchbox only with me... and also his paintbox...
Me: Cha... why are you spoiling such innocent minds ?
Vinod: You just wait...Spoo, do you love Arun ?
Spoorthi: No...Arun loves me
....and then I fainted. I think I've understood perfectly how love works in Tam Brahm families.
Note: All characters are purely a figment of my imagination. Any resemblance, however remote, to any person living or dead is purely co-incidental :-)
Please ensure that nobody asks me any stupid questions in the comments section. Or should I just disable comments ? Hmmmmm