Monday, June 27, 2011

Anything for honor

“Where am I? What am I doing here?”

I opened my eyes slowly as the place I was in started coming into focus. I was lying in the foyer of a house. The whole scene looked as if a battle had taken place recently. Some chairs were overturned and some were broken.

I tried to get to my feet. Was I hurt? As I started to regain my footing, a dull pain started to spread through my ribs. Yes, I was hurt, but not fatally. My bulk has saved me from a serious injury. It was a club that hit me. It all started coming back. It cannot be very long ago, just a few minutes since I passed out I thought.

“I’ve to get to Rajesh sir” I thought to myself.

I tiptoed my way into the backyard, eyes alert, looking for anyone who might still be lurking in the place. Highly unlikely, I thought. As I walked, I saw tread marks of a vehicle, tread marks unlike anything I’ve seen in the house before. I followed them till the back gate of the house before they disappeared on to the concrete road.

I went to the place where I put the one thing I always found useful in these kind of emergencies. I dug it out of the bushes where I hid it and started sprinting through the fields into the darkness. I started to recollect when it all started. It was a routine evening.

Before I get any further with what happened that evening, let me introduce myself. I am Trixie, a five year old, brown black German shepherd dog. At 35 kgs and 65 cms, I was one of the most adorable and feared dog in our little town. I was adorable because of my thick fur and my affability to children and feared by the thieves because I was one of the best and most intelligent police trained dogs in the town. I helped the police in nabbing four drug peddlers, tracked about ten local thieves and helped in tracing two bombs.

In spite of being one of the most intelligent dogs on the police force, I loved the peaceful life of our town. My owner Kamala was a sweetheart who absolutely adored me. And I cared for her no less. Five years ago, she found me in the small wood adjacent to the farms when I was just a pup and dying of starvation. She brought me to her house, fed me, took care of me and gave me a home.

She would spend one hour with me everyday no matter how busy she was. She meant the world to me and it used to drive me into an uncontrollable rage whenever someone one hurt her. Her dad in particular, used to beat her up when he was drunk. After I attacked him once when I was just two years old, he never dared to raise his hand against her again. He simply used to scold her till his drunken mood wore off. After I completed my police training, he stopped doing that as well.

She was the daughter of a farmer, who was one of the many farmers in our little town. Kamala stopped her education after her class 12, because her father was not able to afford her education anymore. But the bright girl she always was, she set up a pickle business with the help of a loan from a self help group and now, at 21 years of age, ran one of the most successful businesses in our town. She was flooded with orders in summer and in the marriage season. She had plans of saving up enough money for her college and marriage. She also wanted to leave her family, marry and settle in another city. I didn’t blame her for it. Her parents were always pestering her for the money which she wanted to save for her college. And there was another reason.

That evening was like any other evening. Kamala and I were on our routine evening walk on the mostly isolated mud road that ran alongside the river that flowed through the village. Kamala, like always had a hard time putting up with my speed as I tugged at my collar hard and ran in random directions smelling the earth.

In a few minutes, we were joined by Ram, who was Kamala’s sweet heart. As usual, her grip slackened as she spotted him coming out from a turn. They started chattering away happily about their future plans. Ram was two years older than Kamala and was a good fellow. He had finished his degree recently and secured a permanent job in a computer firm. Kamala planned on marrying him and moving in with him as soon he found a house and everything. I was happy for them. Kamala made Ram promise her that I would come along with them to the city. I did not complain. As long as am with Kamala, I am a happy dog I thought to myself.

“Don’t you think I should tell my parents before we plan on doing something?” Kamala asked Ram. I could sense a note of panic in her voice. She released her grip on my leash completely and I started moving along with them listening to them and smelling the familiar damp pathway.

“I don’t think they’ll agree Kamala. You know that we are from different castes, and your family is particularly very stubborn. I talked to my parents and they approve of our marriage. But they don’t want to get involved in a fight with your family if it comes to that. I’ll lose the edge as I belong to a lower caste. My parents will end up getting banished by the Panchayat if they stand up against your family. It’s better if we just disappear. My parents will act as if they had no idea of what happened.” Ram said.

“He has a point” I thought to myself. Though Kamala’s family wasn’t really well to do or anything, they carried a chunk on their shoulder that they belonged to a higher caste. They considered speaking to a person of a lower caste as a sin. A marriage was out of question.

“I think. I think we should just leave without telling my parents then.” Said Kamala in a voice muffled with fear and pain. Ram put his arm around her shoulders and started to comfort her. As I walked around, I smelt the exhaust of a vehicle close by.

“Very peculiar” I thought to myself. Vehicles usually don’t come on to this road. As I moved to my left into the thick bushes on either side of the path, I spotted someone lurking behind the bushes and spying on Kamala and Ram. I barked loudly and started running in the direction of the person.

Ram and Kamala ignored me, assuming that I spotted a routine stray cat. The man who was lurking in the bushes was terrified as he saw me, teeth bared, barking angrily and sprinting with great speed in his direction. He ran in the opposite direction into the fading sunset. I ran behind him for a good ten minutes till he got into a jeep and accelerated away.

I remembered that Kamala might be searching for me and ran back to the spot where she would usually wait when I wandered off into the bushes. She was not there. I looked around and spotted a trickle of blood a few feet away from me.

“Ram is in trouble” I thought to myself as I took in his scent. I followed it keenly as it led me the deep bushes on the right of the pathway. “What happened to Kamala?” There was no trace of her scent at the spot I found the blood.

As I ran into the bushes, the smell of his scent mixed with the smell of blood got stronger. I saw his lying face down, sprawled in the grass. He was bleeding profusely from the back of his head. I circled him completely, checking for any signs of other injuries. He was unconscious but not dead. Long experience with the police taught me that I should find help first. I picked up a second scent, probably the man who attacked Ram. It was strong enough to be followed. But I needed to get Ram some help first.

As I started running to the pump house a few hundred feet away where I was sure I could find help. I started to worry about Kamala. If someone attacked Ram when he was with her, there was a good chance she was in trouble as well.

I stopped at the pump house and started barking loudly at the door of the maintenance man’s cabin. He opened the door and looked at me. He knew me as I once helped him trace a thief who stole some jewelry from his house.

“What is it Trixie boy? Something wrong?” he asked and looked at me though the darkness. I pushed my leash towards him and barked again. He got the hint and took hold of my leash immediately. He called out for another person and he joined us as I led them in the direction where I found Ram.

“God, he is badly injured. Ganesh go call an ambulance immediately. We’ll carry him to the pump house and clean him up a bit. Good job Trixie.” He said and patted my head. The job was only half done. I still had to find out where Kamala was.

I ignored his startled cries and started running in the direction of our house. If she was attacked I wouldn’t find her at the house I thought to myself. But that was the first place I could search. I heard muffled cries from inside the house as I approached closer to the house. I jumped the wall in the backyard and moved quietly in the direction of the sound. The cries got louder as I came closer.

“How dare you insult our family by falling in love with that wretched Ram guy? Do you know what shame you brought upon us? How can I ever show my face to the people of the town again?” Kamala’s dad shouted as a heard the sound of wood hitting against skin and a muffled sob.

“You wanted to run away with all our money didn’t you? You wretched girl!” I heard Kamala’s mom scream before I heard a tight slap. Another muffled sound issued from the room. I was sure that Kamala was bound and gagged.

My whole body shook with a blind rage as I did the biggest mistake of my life. I barked with mad anger and ran to the front door trying to push it open with my paws. There was someone waiting for me. It was the same scent of the man from the bushes. He must have had another accomplice, the one who attacked Ram. I yelped with pain as I felt three heavy blows strike my rib cage and head. I was out cold before I knew it.

I still felt the dull pain throb my head as I ran in the direction of the police station with the collar that bore my identification number held tight between my teeth. Rajesh sir was the person who took care of the dogs in the police station. He was also the person who trained me. I hoped with all my heart that he was in.

I reached the entrance as two constables looked at me in the darkness, ready to jump and stop me from entering the police station. They apparently thought I was a stray rabid dog on a biting spree. I stopped before and held my collar out at them. They saw the name and the number on the leash.

“Is someone in trouble?” he asked me. He recognized me from some previous theft job I helped them trace down. I barked madly and turned in the direction I came from and barked again.

He removed the wireless from his pocket and spoke into it.

“Rajesh sir, your dog Trixie is here. And I think he has something.” He said into the wireless.

In five minutes Rajesh sir was with me. We were running in the direction of the house. Rajesh sir didn’t even use a leash. He was sure I would lead him to the right place. We ran to the house which was now deserted. I led Rajesh sir into the room where I heard the screams. We spotted some ropes, sticks and a trickle of blood.

“Control room, this is Rajesh speaking. We are in the north of the town in house number 23-43/1 opposite the Shiva temple. There are signs of violence in the place and I want three armed constables with me within fifteen minutes.” Rajesh sir spoke into his wireless.

Time was running out. I had to find where they took Kamala before they did something to her and it was too late. I ran around the house looking for some clue. Then, all of a sudden, it hit me. I ran in the direction of the place where I found the marks of a vehicle after I woke up. I smelt the tracks of the vehicle. It was the same jeep from the evening. With some luck we could trace down the vehicle.

The two people were apparently relatives of Kamala’s dad. They found out about Kamala and Ram and wanted to stop them from running away. The person in the bushes was a trap to lure me away from them. The other man attacked Ram and took away Kamala he must’ve used some method to conceal her scent. I barked loudly and Rajesh sir came to my side and I started running on the highway. I could trace the smell of the jeep amongst the trucks and the cars.

As the scent began to become hard to follow, I started to lose hope. Just as I was starting to give up, I was struck by fortune. The jeep veered from the highway and took a turn into the fields. I was much easier to track the scent now, amongst the smell of the paddy fields.

After half a kilometer, we found the jeep parked in an obscure corner. I smelt the seats. I smelt Kamala, her dad, her mother and the persons who attacked me and Ram. The scent was now so strong that I could walk with my eyes closed. We reached the edge of a field which had a shack on the other corner. The lights were glowing brightly in the pitch black night.

I sensed it, and I was sure Rajesh sir sensed it too. The people were in the shack. We tiptoed our way to the side of the shack. We hid behind some bushes and peeped into the room. Kamala was there, bound and gagged. Her father was speaking.

“You don’t deserve to live if you don’t change your mind about marrying that low class bastard.” Even from a distance I could sense that he was totally drunk. There was the other person who was looking out at the door.

“Constables, change of location, come immediately to the paddy fields located on the first left after the first kilometer stone of the highway, I need you here ASAP. Come from the south and find us hiding behind the shack where you can see the lights shining” He whispered into the wireless set.

In the meanwhile, I could see Kamala’s parents dousing her in kerosene. They wanted to burn her to death in the isolated farm.

The constables arrived in the nick of time, and we nabbed all the four people who wanted to kill Kamala. Kamala had to be taken to the hospital as she was on the brink of unconsciousness. In a few days of time, both Kamala and Ram were back to their routine after healing from their injuries. They got married under strict police custody and the three of us were to soon leave the town to the city. All was well and I was the happiest dog in the whole world.

Author’s note: Honor killings are a dark mark on the 21st century developing India. In a country where hundreds of castes and creeds co-exist, it is still considered an offence to marry a person from another caste or community, more so when the person is from a lower caste. Here are the various other reasons that lead to honor killings.

(a) Dressing in a manner unacceptable to the family or community,
(b) Wanting to terminate or prevent an arranged marriage or desiring to marry by own choice,
(c) Engaging in heterosexual sexual acts outside marriage, or even due to a non-sexual relationship perceived as inappropriate,
(d) Engaging in homosexual acts.

People from villages and under developed areas in particular consider this as a loss of prestige and are ready to kill their children for it. These acts are mostly directed at women and girls. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that perhaps as many as 5,000 women and girls a year are killed by members of their own families. Many women's groups in the Middle East and Southwest Asia suspect the victims are at least four times more.

In India, Honor killings have been reported in northern regions of India, mainly in the Indian states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, as a result of people marrying without their family's acceptance, and sometimes for marrying outside their caste or religion.

Bhagalpur in the northern Indian state of Bihar has also been notorious for honor killings. Recent cases include a 16-year-old girl, Imrana, from Bhojpur who was set on fire inside her house in a case of what the police called ‘moral vigilantism’. The victim had screamed for help for about 20 minutes before neighbors arrived, only to find her still smoldering. She was admitted to a local hospital, where she later died from her injuries.

It’s time we spread awareness amongst the people and stop people from committing such heinous crimes to their own children. It’s only when these social illnesses cease to exist among the people, we can call ourselves a developed country.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Love: 'Arranged' at first sight!

“One. . Two. . Three. . And heave.”

I felt every muscle in my body ache as we tried to push the stone aside. It had already been two hours since we found the entrance to the cave where we had evidence of the existence of a dinosaur fossil, a completely unique dinosaur which would be a ground breaking discovery in the field of Paleontology. But the wretched rock prevented our entry.

“Let’s make one last attempt guys. If it fails, we’ll call for an earth mover or something for help.” said my teammate Sandesh.
He and I were the only Indian people on the team. The six of us nodded our heads and got ready for a final push. The seven of us combined the last reserves of our energy and gave one final heave. This time, it worked! The huge rock moved aside, revealing a dark tunnel. It must’ve been here for ages but no one had discovered it for so long.

We moved in cautiously with our headlamps and flashlights illuminating the path. As I moved forward observing the limestone deposits on the walls of the cave, one of my teammates yelled, “Watch out Rahul you are on the edge.”

But it was too late; I stepped on some loose earth and lost my footing. Before I knew it, I was plummeting down into a huge fracture in the ground probably caused by an earthquake. As I wondered if I’d be alive by the time I touched the ground, I heard a bored voice from above.

“Dude, are you going to wake up or should I switch off the fan?”

I woke up with a start and gaped at the blurred form of my sister. “So it was just a dream.” I thought to myself. Damn, it felt so real! I rubbed my eyes and squinted at my sister and she came into better focus. I looked at her appearance and gaped at her.

“Woah, don’t tell me that we are going out for some marriage on a very short notice.” I said and smirked at her.

My sister, who was in the final year of her med school, was a person who rarely gave a damn about how she looked. It was only on rare occasions that she dressed up the way she did right now. She was wearing a red and white salwaar with heavy embroidery, a heavy gold necklace and bangles which she hated. Her shoulder length hair was straightened and looked sleek.

“When you find out why I’m dressed up, you won’t be so smug annayya.” She said as she gave me a twisted smile and walked out of the room.

This might be trouble, I thought. I looked up at the watch. It was close to eleven in the morning. The jetlag hadn’t worn off. I was home after a long time. Four years, I thought to myself. Finishing my masters, immediately getting a job offer from one of the best design companies in Canada, it was a dream run. It was after all these years that I was finally able to afford a vacation.

I twisted lazily on the bed, and looked at my iphone which was lying on the side of the pillow. The last conversation I had before falling asleep made me let out a weary sigh. My two year old relationship with my French girlfriend was facing a deep crisis.

Matters took a shitty turn when my father found out about it from some of my facebook conversations when I didn’t log off from the home computer after I came back home. That was a week ago. From then, it was a choose-between-your-parents-or-girlfriend situation for me.

Though Victoria and I agreed right from the beginning that we would take the next step only with the consent of the two families, it was hard to break away from her. One week of talking with my dad hadn’t yielded any result. He was very stubborn about the whole thing. It was unlike him. He was always a man who gave my views a good thought. That stubbornness was what alarmed me.

“If you try hard enough, we can convince your parents. It is not impossible.”

“But I don’t think your parents can ever accept me. I don’t want you to abandon them or fight them for me.” said Victoria. She was wavering between agreeing to break up and unable to leave me. She had a point.

“Even if you marry her, she can’t adapt into a family like ours. She’ll have a tough time adjusting to our traditions and customs. You may say all that can be worked out, she is ready to adapt and she’ll be ready to live with us. All this may sound good in movies. But I’ve seen too many relationships fail after marriage due to reasons like frustrations arising from fighting stubborn relatives and families who refuse to accept the couple.” said my dad. Coming from an ultra conservative family, he had a valid point too.

Unable to decide on what to do next, my vacation was being spent in utter confusion. I got up and made my way into the living room. The room looked neat and prim as usual. My dad was sitting in the farthest corner talking to someone on the phone. I noticed that he was dressed up too, like my sister. He was wearing a neat pant and shirt and not in the Lungi and Baniyan which he preferred whenever he was home on holidays. He looked at me and nodded his head. I nodded my head in return and walked into the kitchen.

My mother was there busy cooking. She was also dressed up in an elegant saree, cooking in bigger vessels. I noticed Pulihora and Paneer.

“Is anyone coming to see sis?” I asked her. There was no other reason why all of them were dressed up so nicely on a Sunday morning, especially my sister. But her expressions in the morning suggested otherwise. She meant I was in trouble, not her. But there was no chance that it could be happen without my dad telling me beforehand.

“You still didn’t brush your teeth? Look at yourself Rahul, you look all groggy. Oh my god, go brush your teeth and take a bath. What will they think when they see you like this?” she bellowed at me. She was angry that I still in my bed clothes and anxious for some other reason.

“Amma, what is going on?” I questioned in a firm voice. I needed to know what the heck was going on in the house.

The anger vanished from my mother’s voice and she looked apprehensive and started fidgeting.

“Dad got a match for you Rahul. They’re coming over for lunch today.” she said. She looked at me with tension clearly showing on her face. She was bracing herself for my violent reaction.

My body stiffened up at her words and my grogginess disappeared. I became alert and a fresh burst adrenaline started to course through my blood. My whole body started shaking with anger. I was in such a rage that words didn’t come out properly from my mouth.

“Why. . . Why haven’t you told me?” I managed to mutter, trying to keep my voice steady and from shouting at her in anger.

“They are just coming over for lunch. It’s nothing serious. Talk to your dad. It was his idea.” She said and turned back to her cooking. I could see her flinch.

I stormed into the living room. I was in such a blind rage, I wanted to lift something and break it against the wall. I felt mutinous. My dad was sitting in the same corner, his face obscured by the newspaper. I stood there until her shifted the newspaper to turn a page. He saw me staring at him, put the paper aside and motioned me to sit. I didn’t feel like sitting but under my father’s pointed gaze I always found it very difficult to shout. I was intimidated and I hated it.

“I know you don’t like it. I’m not trying to do this out of anger or out of an insecure feeling. I know how much you love us and I also know that you are trying to end your relationship because we don’t approve of it. Don’t think I don’t appreciate what you’ve done. Just meet the girl and talk to her. I am calling them over just for lunch. We won’t discuss marriage. I just want to you to experience how arranged marriage takes place. How we used to marry a girl after seeing her for a few minutes and talking to her for an hour or two. Now go and get ready. I am sure you want to present yourself decently.” he said in a calm voice without any sign of agitation or anger.

I opened my mouth to protest. But he sounded reasonable. There was no immediate threat. I could just pass it off as a meeting with some random friend of my dad and his family. For the second time in the day, I just nodded my head and walked off. I brushed and looked at myself in the mirror. I had a three day old stubble. Long experience made me learn that girls liked guys with a stubble rather than a clean face with no facial hair. I looked at my six foot frame. Not bad, I thought to myself. At 25, I was fair, had a weight well proportioned to my height, broad shoulders and thick dark hair which I kept short most of the time.

I took a head bath and wore a short length white shirt which I didn’t tuck in. I wore a slightly old pair of faded blue jeans. I wanted to look good, but I didn’t want to look like a person who was eager to please. As I finished dressing up, I heard a car pull up in front of our house. I came out of my room and came out along with my parents and sister to greet the guests.

Three people got down from a Ford Figo. The man was about my father’s age with conventional features for his age. He was of medium height with a gaunt face, slight paunch and with grey black hair which was receding rapidly. His wife was a short and plump woman with a cheerful face. The girl was the last person to get down from the car. She must’ve been my age I thought, probably a year or two younger. She was about five foot eight, tall for a girl, had a golden white complexion which was enhanced by a salwaar with a deep violet top and a white bottom with a print on it. She made her taste clear. She wanted to look elegant but not gaudy. She had long silky hair which crossed her shoulders and came a few inches above her waist. She was slim with a trim waistline and no sign of extra weight. She had deep set brown eyes. I looked her as she entered the foyer of the house along with her parents. She smiled pleasantly at my parents and folded her hands into a respectful Namaste. She gave my sister a friendly handshake.

“Smooth” I thought to myself.

She was not trying to overdo it. She looked calm and composed. I greeted her parents with a formal Namaste and shook hands with her dad. Our eyes met as we walked into the living room. Her gaze was calm and steady as I looked into her eyes and sized her up. I had a feeling that she was doing the same. She had a very piercing gaze. I found it hard to withdraw from the steady eye contact. I flinched slightly as she kept looking at me even after all our parents had settled down into the sofas and started exchanging pleasantries. She caught me flinching and smiled. I found myself smiling in return. She had a pleasant warm smile. It was a sweet smile neither haughty nor stupid. I felt dumb. This was the first time I had broken eye contact with a girl. All my life it happened the other way round. My sister, who was following the whole chain of events silently, looked at me with a smirk written all over face. I gave her a dirty look and she turned away trying to hide a grin.

We introduced ourselves to the family on the other side. I found out that her name was Sanjana and she was working as a charted accountant for a famous firm in Hyderabad. I was right. She was about my age just a year younger to me. I explained her parents about my job in Canada where I designed safety systems and improved the existing ones for automobiles. I also told them about my plans to leave the country after the end of the contract next year and settle here. From the look of it, they looked pretty impressed. After sometime, both the older women escaped into the kitchen discussing recipes while my father and the girl’s father immersed themselves in discussing current politics.

I found myself engaged in a three sided conversation with my sister and Sanjana; we talked about random things like friends and our respective areas of work. Sanjana had a sweet feminine voice which was neither too shill nor too meek. She listened attentively to my sister as she told her about her course and spoke with enthusiasm when she had to reply. She always maintained eye contact when she addressed me and talked to me with ease and confidence. Not a girl who can be intimidated, I thought.
“Rahul, why don’t you show Sanjana the floor upstairs? Said my dad after a while. My sister made a smooth apology and disappeared into her room. I was soon upstairs with her giving a tour of the recently constructed floor upstairs. She took in everything with enthusiasm, her deep brown eyes darting in all directions whenever I pointed to some painting or decoration and why we picked it up. Soon, we were sitting on a pair of chairs in the balcony.

“You have to know that I already have a girlfriend and she is French. Her name is Victoria.” I told her in a flat voice.

“Oh . . . That’s cool . . . How did you meet her?” She asked with no sign of emotion in her voice.

I told her about how I met her in the first year of my master’s course and how we have similar ideas and how much we liked each other.

“That’s very sweet . . . So, you people plan on marrying each other?” She asked, again, with no sign of emotion. But I could see that she was paying rapt attention. Her gaze never left my face as I spoke.

I told her about everything about my situation. How we decided on proceeding to the next step only if our parents approved of it, how my dad disapproved of the whole thing and how I was in a fix on what I should do next.

She listened to my ten minute long monologue and nodded her head but did not say anything in response for a long moment. I could see she was thinking. As a person who hated awkward silences, I had to say something to break it.

“So, how about you? Did you ever fall in love with anyone?” I asked her in a matter of fact tone.

She looked at me for a moment before answering and said, “Yes . . . I did . . . I fell in love with this guy who was my classmate used to work with me in my first job one and half years ago. It was all very good in the beginning, but soon he started imposing himself on me. He started getting insecure whenever I used to talk with other guys. Yes, he was very devoted and caring, but soon after my father found out, all hell broke loose and I found it very difficult to cope with his insecure feeling and the pressure at home about marrying a guy who is not of the same caste. I tried to fight and convince them, but one day I sat down and weighed my options. I decided it was not worth it. It was very traumatic for the next few months. But I got over it now. He is transferred to another place and it’s been a long time since we talked to each other. And yes, I do miss him, but I am ready to move on with life.”

Her calm voice and her honesty impressed me. I was not expecting such an honest account of life from a girl I’d met for the first time in my life.

“Why did you tell me all this? Don’t you want to make a good impression?” I asked her, looking into her eyes.

“I don’t know. . . Why did you tell me all that? You didn’t want to make a good impression either?” she said, boring her eyes into mine.

I was taken aback and kept looking at her face, feeling a warm feeling of intimacy growing between the two of us.

“I trust you. If you like me, I want to marry you.” She said suddenly.
I nodded my head.

“I like you too. This is the best first meeting I’ve had with a girl till date.” I said and paused.

What has gotten into me? I thought to myself. I met the girl an hour ago, I knew nothing about her interests, her hobbies, her likes or dislikes. But I had already started imagining marrying her and living with her. I am shallow, I thought to myself. Forgetting the girl I liked for two long years after talking to this girl for an hour. Was it because of a feeling of security that she could make herself a part of my family? Was it because of the feeling that she had a similar upbringing and could understand me better? Was it because I thought she could reconcile with my past and live with me comfortably?

As I kept looking at her, lost in thoughts, my mother shouted saying that lunch was ready and we went down to join them. Lunch was cheerful and filled with laughter and healthy conversation. Soon, they had to leave. I shook hands with Sanjana’s dad. She made a respectful greeting to my dad and mom yet again. She wished my sister good bye with another handshake. I could see that they had exchanged phone numbers.
We simply looked and nodded at each other. I came back into my room and lay down on the bed. I closed my eyes and replayed our meeting. I must’ve dozed off due to the heavy lunch when I heard a voice.

“Wake up dude . . . Screw your jetlag. . . Wake up. . . I need to talk you about something. . .” It was my sister yelling at the top of her voice.
I woke up with a start and looked around. The time was eleven and the sun was shining brilliantly. My iphone was lying on the side of my pillow and was not in my pocket as I put it last. My sister was dressed up in a t-shirt and pajamas, her hair in a knot on the top of her head.

“Listen, dad said that there is a family coming over for lunch. It’s a potential match for you. This is the picture of the girl.” She said and passed me the photo.
I looked the person in the picture and gaped. She was talking about something, but I didn’t quite catch it. I kept staring at the picture.