The story is about Pallavi, a young woman who isn’t looking for love or marriage, happy to be a singleton. But she reluctantly agrees to meet a prospective groom to save her favourite aunt from embarrassment. Her idea is to meet the guy once and then dump the whole incident in the garbage bin of memory.
Onkar is a sensitive man, unsure around women, here with his father from a small university town. The father-son duo meet Pallavi at the appointed time, but things don’t work out as she planned. Pallavi shocks everyone and her own self - she finds love at this very public “parade” as she calls it, but the road to attain it turns out hard and long.
The reason for wanting to tell a certain story often lies in the story itself. That’s why readers go back repeatedly to their favourite tales. And that’s why words shift and smoulder restlessly in writers’ minds, refusing to lie silent.
Pallavi’s story is no ordinary wishy-washy account of an arranged match and married love, though the first part does look deceptively like it. It’s a gritty struggle of overcoming societal and parental opposition, of going against every established norm. Of an unflinching love triumphing over petty mindsets in an inspirational and heart-lifting real-life tale of a modern Indian woman. It carries all the characters and the readers along on a complex tide of fearlessness, and love.
“Hi Onkar! Pallavi here. How’re you all?”
“Hi Pallavi. We’re good, thanks. How are you?” Onkar’s surprise and a slight guardedness trickle through as he responds to her telephone call.
“Found the perfect girl yet?”
“Ummm...ahhh....well, actually, yes.” Pallavi can almost see the blush on his face.
“Good, good, congrats! So glad your trip didn’t go waste.” She is bubbling with laughter but checks it, ”Listen, I need to talk to you guys.”
”You mean, you want to meet?!”
“Okay, what I mean specifically is, will you both have lunch with me at the Riverside?”
“I’ll ask Dad and call. But why? You do know...I mean...you....” Onkar fumbles miserably.
Pallavi can no longer hold her laughter back, ”Yeah, yeah, I know I didn’t make the grade. And I still want to take you both out, okay? Let me know, please.”
The Riverside Walk is deserted midday, she knew that when she decided on the restaurant. It is too classy for the university crowd and too out of the way for office goers. The father and son arrive punctually, and the atmosphere turns a little uneasy for a spell, Onkar is visibly squirmy. His father’s eyes are still smiling, but his lips are grave. Pallavi herself is outwardly calm, but feels edgy and restless. Even the most self-confident woman must be allowed to feel a little nervous under these circumstances.
This is my entry for the HarperCollins-IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is run with inputs from Yashodhara Lal and HarperCollins India.