Amrita Pritam's concern for my marriage
You would always be proud of being an eligible bachelor if someone like Amrita Pritam starts taking interest in looking for a match for you.
I found myself in such a flattering position in the late '90s when I was in touch with her and occasionally visited her Hauz Khas residence that had been the Mecca of several budding as well as established writers.
Whenever I found some time, I drove from my news agency office near Parliament House to her abode in South Delhi. She always welcomed my arrival for, I guess, I just had an association with her that was not guided by any personal interest. I just liked her for what she was and had no axe to grind.
I enjoyed her love and affection in ample measure and she reposed a great amount of confidence in me.
Over a period of time, she got concerned over my being bachelor at a much marriageable age. I was in my late 30s. She would broach the subject quite often.
I made it clear that I don't plan to marry just because everyone else in the world gets married. "You never fell in love with anyone?" she asked. "Never so far. May be, some day I will meet someone living with whom, if I feel, life will be better off, I will take the plunge," I said. She smiled but was not satisfied with the prospect of an unending wait for the D-day.
Forgetting and keeping aside my idea of marriage, she would often pick up the subject in our conversation. "Manoj, I have an acquaintance. She is extremely beautiful and was also wary of marriage. But she recently got married to someone…," she would say before thinking about someone else known to her.
Once Amrita talked about someone who was translating one of her books in English. "But she is working in a publishing house and earning a huge amount of money. Manoj, when will they enhance your salary in UNI?"
Finally, she settled her mind on a girl working in Miranda House of Delhi University. "Manoj, she is a classic beauty. I am sure you would like her. You meet her once at least. But the only problem is she is not a Brahmin. Will your mother accept her?"
During most of these conversations, I just lent my ears to her while keeping my lips sealed.
Then one fine morning, I called her up from Himachal Pradesh, where I had gone for covering the assembly elections in 2002.
After a brief talk, she said: "Manoj, why don't you bring someone from here with you?" At that time, I was in Bilaspur where then deputy prime minister LK Advani was to address a rally later in the day.
By an interesting turn of events, I finally married a Shimla-born girl living in Bilaspur itself in 2008. Amrita was no more as she had passed away in 2007.
As I brought my bride to my Mohali residence for the first time, I gave her the pink dupatta Amrita had once gifted to my mother. Rashmi covered her head with it and gave a teary-eyed tribute to Amrita whom she would never meet in this earthly existence.