Last Sunday had all ingredients of an agonising one, though it turned out to be otherwise. It started with a telephone call in the wee hours informing us about the demise of a relative, a woman of 80, who though a distant relative of my wife, had made a place in our hearts by her congenial and affable nature.
My wife and I were indebted to her particularly, since our marriage 30 years ago was solemnised at her house practically. This was because we, the typical boy’s side, had asked for a wedding in Chandigarh and not Shimla, my wife’s native place (In the hindsight though, my wife doesn’t regret not taking the risk of losing a perfect groom). At the condolence meeting, it came out that the old lady had taken a second to depart after a hearty laugh. The family was sitting at the dining table and had just finalised the wedding date of the granddaughter. Sweets were being passed around. The lady consumed her share, blessed the granddaughter, greeted her son and daughter-in-law, shared a lighter moment with her husband (90), and was gone in a jiffy. What a way to go!
The distraught family, nevertheless, decided to go ahead with the wedding on the pre-appointed date, true to the spirit of the age old tradition of not postponing a girl’s wedding. The entire episode left a positive feel around, despite a tragic content.
As we were coming out of the bereaved family’s house around sunrise, my wife’s mobile phone buzzed. Gugu, her friend, was upbeat. My article in HT’s Sunday Read columns had good things written about her, besides her husband and my friend ADS. Eager to re-read it, we rushed home, only to be dejected. I found nothing scripted by Avnish Sharma but a piece on ‘our tryst with Kasauli’ did look familiar. In fact, it was mine from top to bottom , except that someone else’s name was mentioned as the writer, an inadvertent error by the publisher. So far so sad.
The first one to react to it was my wife: “It happens . Everyone makes mistakes.” What followed was a sweet mail from the editor, regretting the goof-up. ADS and Jaggu (the other friend) who seemed to be on cloud nine finding their names appearing in a positive light, sent me thanks message along with appreciative forwarded messages from their friends and relatives. Some more friends texted motivating words. None seemed bothered about the printing error. My mood had lifted considerably as I reached the golf course for my Sunday afternoon round.
Sitting at the gazebo sipping sweet lassi, I saw a familiar face troop in. He came up, shook my hand smilingly, and remarked: “Pehchaan kaun?” As it unfolded, he was a long-lost colleague, a senior fellow, and we had served together from 1986 to 1988. “Avnish, you write well. Today’s piece in Sunday Read was interesting and well-written,” he applauded. I was perplexed. “Sir, how did you make out that I was the writer?” I explained to him the faux pas and his reply made my day: “I have been reading all your articles. The moment I went through this one, it had your typical style written all over it.” The Sunday that started miserably was heading towards a happy finish.