Monday, August 8, 2022

Unfinished Story – “Marriage Shield”

Short Fiction 








Circa 1970’s


NB: This story happened 45 years ago in the 1970’s when there was no internet, no email, no mobile phones – and – most digital gadgets we use today like smartphones, PCs, Laptops, tablets etc. – they did not exist.





I recognized her at once.

How could I ever forget a girl who looked so gorgeous – so exquisite – so attractive – large expressive doe-eyes, beautifully arched eyebrows, refined “chiselled” nose, delicate chin, full juicy lips – perfect beautiful face – lovely complexion – and lush black hair flowing over her dainty ears and slender neck down over her elegant shoulders.

She looked exactly the same as she had looked 3 years earlier when I had first seen her in the bank in Mumbai.

The was only one difference – today – she wasn’t wearing a “mangalsutra”.

Yes – today – there was no “mangalsutra” around her neck – and I clearly remembered that she had been wearing a “mangalsutra” when I had seen her 3 years ago.


I recognized her – but – she didn’t recognize me – or – at least – she didn’t show any trace of recognition – in the presence of everyone.

She sat demurely – looking down – at the table in front of her.

After all – she was a prospective bride – the “girl” being “seen” for arranged marriage – and – the “girl” under “scrutiny” was expected to have a modest demeanor at the “Kande Pohe” girl-seeing ceremony.

The “Boy” – the prospective groom – was my friend Avinash.

I observed the besotted manner in which he was looking at the “girl”.

It was evident that he had liked her – just like I had been instantaneously “love-struck” when I had seen her face for the first time – and – seconds later – I had spotted the “mangalsutra” around her neck – and – I felt a pang of disappointment – as I knew I had no chance – since she was married.


Dear Reader – a mangalsutra is a necklace of gold and black beads with two pendants (hollow gold balls called “vatis”)

In Maharashtra – married women wear a “mangalsutra” to indicate their marital status.

The “mangalsutra” is a visible symbol of marriage worn by married women.


Three years ago – she was wearing a “mangalsutra”.

And now – she wasn’t wearing one.

I wondered what had happened…?

Was she widowed – or – was she divorced…?


I looked at her – I said “Hello” to her – and I smiled.

She gave me a smile of forced geniality – as if I was a stranger.

I had recognized her – but – it seemed that she had not recognized me.

Or – at least – she didn’t show any trace of recognition.

Maybe – she didn’t want to do so – in the presence of everyone.

But – most probably – it was possible that she really hadn’t recognized me.

When I had seen her 3 years ago in the bank – sitting at the “May I Help You” counter at the entrance – she was the “centre of attraction” – but I was just a common customer.

Everyone notices a beautiful girl – especially if she is the “centre of attraction”.

But – the beautiful girl doesn’t even bother to even give a second look to ordinary looking men – like me.

So – I remembered her – but she hadn’t even taken notice of me – forget about even remembering me.


After the girl-seeing “Kande Pohe” ceremony was over – we – Avinash, his parents, and me – we said goodbye to the girl and her parents – and – left their house.

I wanted to go home – but Avinash and his father insisted that I go with them to their bungalow – and have a drink.

His mother said she would cook a delicious dinner for me.


As I sipped Scotch Whisky – which Avinash had bought duty-free at the airport – I wondered whether I should tell Avinash about the girl.

Avinash was my college classmate – and – hostel-mate too.

We had studied engineering together for 5 years.

(Those days – the B.Tech. course was of 5 years duration)

Like most of my classmates – Avinash had migrated to the US for his MS – and then – he got a job over there – and it was quite clear that he wanted to become an American Citizen and settle down in the USA.

And now – he had come back to Pune to select a bride – get married – and take his newly-wedded wife with him to America.


Dear Reader – this story happened around 45 years ago in the 1970’s – and those days – an “American NRI” was considered a “prize catch”.

Those days – in the 1970’s – in Pune – in the society in which we lived – middle-class parents had two ambitions for their children:

1. Son should get into IIT and migrate abroad preferably to America for higher studies and settle down over there.

2. Daughter should get married to an “American NRI” and migrate to the US and settle down with her husband over there.


Avinash had come on a month’s vacation for selecting a bride from the prospective “girls” his mother had lined up for him to “see”.

If he liked a girl – they would immediately get engaged – and – if possible – even get married – so that the bride could go to America quickly.


My meeting Avinash was not planned – in fact – I didn’t know that Avinash had come to India.

I had come over to Pune for the weekend – and – on Saturday evening – I was sitting in Good Luck Café chatting with my friends – when someone mentioned that Avinash was in town.

He lived nearby – in Deccan Gymkhana – so – I walked down to his house.

Avinash was most happy to see me.

I greeted his parents.

I noticed that they were all dressed up as if they were going out somewhere.

“I think I have come at the wrong time…” I said, “you seem to be going out somewhere…”

“We are going to “see” a girl for Avinash…” his mother said.

“Oh – then I should be going…” I said to Avinash.

“Why don’t you come along…?” Avinash suggested.

“No. No. I don’t think it would be proper for me to gatecrash into a “Kande Pohe” ceremony…” I said.

“I think it will be good if you come along…” Avinash’s mother said to me, “you are his good friend – and maybe – you will prove lucky…”

“Lucky…?” I exclaimed, curious.

Avinash’s mother looked at me and smiled.

“I have been searching for girls for Avinash for quite some time – and finally – after a lot of thinking – I narrowed down and selected 7 girls for him – all nice girls from good families and from our community – girls who are interested in going to America after marriage – he has seen 6 girls so far – and “rejected” all of them – this is the 7th girl – I hope he likes her – otherwise – all my efforts will go waste – and we will have to wait till he comes to India again – maybe after a year or two…”

“Oh…” I said, feeling quite amused at the matrimonial process for NRIs like Avinash.

Avinash’s father looked at me and spoke to me.

“Please do come along – see the girl – and maybe – you can convince Avinash…” his father said to me.

So – I went along with them to the girl’s house for the girl-seeing “Kande Pohe” ceremony.


The girl’s parents welcomed us.

I was introduced as Avinash’s best friend.

We sat down in the spacious living room.

The girl’s mother went into the kitchen.

After a few moments – the girl came out of the kitchen – carrying a tray with four dishes of “Kande Pohe” – attractively garnished – with a wedge of lemon placed on the side.

She held the tray in front of Avinash’s father, then his mother, then Avinash, and lastly, she held the tray with the remaining one “kande pohe” dish in front of me.

I looked at her and recognized her at one – she was the same gorgeous girl I had seen in the bank in Mumbai 3 years ago – but I also noticed – that – today – she wasn’t wearing a a mangalsutra around her neck.

I looked at her – I said “Hello” to her – and I smiled.

She gave me a smile of forced geniality – as if I was a stranger.

Dear Reader – as I told you earlier – she didn’t show any trace of recognition.

So – I let it be – and watched the proceedings as a passive observer.

The parents did most of the talking.

Avinash kept looking at the girl from time to time.

The girl sat demurely – looking down – at the table in front of her.

I maintained an air of nonchalance.

The parents seemed to be talking about each other’s families – about the “qualities” of their children etc. etc.

The “Kande Pohe” were delicious – and after we had finished eating – the girl went inside and brought tea.

The girl’s mother made it a point to tell us that it was her daughter who had made the “Kande Pohe”  and was a “Sugran” (accomplished in cooking).

After some time – the girl’s father spoke.

“We have talked enough…” the girl’s father said, “I think the boy and girl can talk privately now…”

“Later…” Avinash’s astute mother said, “we will let you know by tomorrow morning…”

With these words – she concluded the “Kande Pohe”  ceremony – and – half an hour later – I was sitting in Avinash’s home – sipping Scotch.


“The girl is good…” Avinash’s father said.

“Yes – they seem to be cultured family…” Avinash’s mother said.

“I liked the girl…” Avinash said.

“Are you sure…?” Avinash’s mother asked Avinash.

“Yes…” he said, “I really liked her…”

Avinash’s father gave a sigh of relief.

“So – looks like the number “7” has proved to be lucky for you – “Lucky Seven” – as they say – after “rejecting” six girls – you have liked the 7th girl…” Avinash’s father said to Avinash.

I remained silent – wondering if I should say what was in my mind.

Seeing my silence – Avinash’s father spoke to me.

“Didn’t you like the girl…?” he asked me.

“Yes. Yes. The girl is very good…” I said to him.

Then – I decided to delve a bit.

“Does the girl work…?” I asked.

“Yes – she works in a bank – but – her parents said she will resign her job and go to America – after all – what is a clerical bank job as compared to a life in America…!!!” Avinash’s mother said, matter-of-factly.

“I think I have seen the girl before…? I said, hesitantly.

“Oh – then why didn’t you say so over there…?” Avinash’s father said.

“She didn’t seem to recognize me – so – I thought it was best to remain silent…” I said.

Avinash’s mother looked at me suspiciously.

“Do you know this girl…? Were you friends…? If you recognized her – why didn’t she recognize you…?” Avinash’s mother asked me, in an inquisitive tone of voice.

“No. No. I don’t know the girl – I just saw her once – in a bank – in Mumbai…” I said, nonchalantly.

“Mumbai…?” Avinash’s mother asked me.

“Yes – 3 years ago…” I said.

“Mumbai…? We thought she works in a bank in Pune. Anyway – I will clarify with her when I meet her tomorrow – maybe – she got transferred to Pune…” Avinash said.

“Meet her…? Don’t be so desperate…!!!” Avinash’s mother said to him, “Let me talk to her parents first…”

Then – Avinash’s mother looked at me – into my eyes – searchingly – and spoke in a serious tone.

“There is something going on in your mind – please say what you want to say – be frank…” she said to me.

“What is it…?” Avinash asked me.

“Did you do a background check of the girl…?” I said.

“Well – we checked out the family...” Avinash’s father was saying – when Avinash’s mother interrupted him – she looked worried as she spoke to me.

“Whatever you want to say – please tell us now – before it is too late – Avinash is your friend – you are is well-wisher – aren’t you…? If you know something about the girl – please tell us right now…” Avinash’s mother said, with desperation in her voice.

I looked at Avinash’s mother and spoke in a calm voice.

“When I saw the girl – three years ago – she was wearing a “mangalsutra” around her neck…” I said.


Story to be continued…



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1. This story is a spoof, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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