The missing ingredient


Ours was an arranged marriage. The alliance was fixed through a common friend and everyone in our family absolutely loved Gaurang. Gaurang was an IT professional working in Germany. Our horoscopes matched, which was important for his family and our professions matched, which was important for my family and we liked each other, which was important for us. What else could one ask for?


It was a quick marriage when Guarang came to India for one of his Christmas holidays. I was so thrilled to go back with him. New country, new home and a new person to share the rest of my life with.


Gaurang was a very sweet personality and we both were happy together, but there was something missing in him, or maybe in our lives which I couldn’t pin point. There was nothing major enough for me to complain though.


One day Gaurang came home from office and said “Ragini, my parents have never been to Germany, in fact they have never been out of the country, even though I have been living out for so many years. I want to bring my parents here for summer. What do you think?”


I was happy and scared. After the marriage I had spent very little time with my in-laws and my interaction with them since has been a weekly few minutes phone call and that is all. From my very short stay with them, I realised that they were very orthodox and conservative where as I came from a family where we were just the opposite. I wasn’t sure if I would manage to impress them during their three month stay with us.


I told Gaurang about my fears and he assured me that everything would be fine and he would be supportive of me whatever happens and that his parents though orthodox and conservative would not force anything upon me and I was free to be the person I was.


I was happy that he understood and was even looking forward to their trip.


The in-laws were going to stay for a few months, so we had to plan for trips and do our bookings.


“How about Paris?” Gaurang asked.

“That would be lovely… it is such a romantic city. Always wanted to visit Paris”

“OK, let’s book tickets and hotels then”

“Oh yes!” – I was super excited.


“While I check tickets, why don’t you check hotels?” – This was Gaurang “And by the way, check for hotels or B&B near Gare du Nord. I have a friend who lives near by there and may be he can join us with his family too.”


We both sat with our laptops. Booking holidays is always so much fun. We were chatting away while searching for cheap airline tickets. The tickets got finalised and booked first as Gaurang was quite efficient in what he was doing.


I was sitting and chatting away, with the screen open and talking about how this hotel would be nice and how the breakfast spread would be nicer. Typical me!


Once his work was done, Gaurang came and cuddled up with me and we started checking for hotels together.


“Gaurang, you know, it is very important that they give us proper breakfast!”

“Yes sweetie”

“And they should have TV in the room”

“Why sweetie? We won’t be in the room to watch TV, we are going to visit places and by the time we come to the room we are going to be ready to hit bed.”

“But still I want a TV in the room!”

“OK done and in fact 99% of these hotels have TV in the room, so you don’t have to worry about it”

“OK, what about internet and wi-fi”

“Why would you need it Ragini?”

“But will you not want to check mails every night?”

“Nah, not when we are on a holiday!”


“Fine, you do the booking and I will just cuddle up with you and keep talking nonsense!”


Gaurang went into a couple of sites like tripadvisor and expedia to compare prices and put in the dates and the number of people. When he put in as four people, the options that came were big rooms with two double beds. I wasn’t comfortable sharing my room with my in-laws, but Gaurang seemed to be happy with it and I didn’t want to complain.


Before we realised, the visas got sorted and the tickets were booked. Our tiny three bedroom house had to be set for their arrival. We had very little furniture and we had only a single bed in the second bedroom and the third bedroom was more like an office room. We decided to move the single bed to the office room and put a double mattress on the floor in the slightly bigger room. My father-in-law with his arthritis could not sleep on the floor so the two of them will have to sleep in two different rooms. I wasn’t happy with it but Gaurang said that it was fine and his parents won’t mind.


“Will we give them our bed Gaurang? And we can sleep on the mattress on the floor. I am not comfortable asking them to sleep in separate rooms”

“They are past 60 years, not newly married couple so it really doesn’t matter”

I didn’t know what to say, so I left it, after all he is their son and he knows them better than I do.


The in-laws arrived and I could easily see what was wrong. Gaurang would never come near me when they were around. All the cuddles, hugs and kisses were only inside the bedroom walls. Initially I did not notice any of this, after the first couple of days, I realised what was going on and it was starting to get on my nerves. We had three full months and I wasn’t sure how I would cope.


It was time for our trip to Paris. Bags packed and everything set. We were on the flight and I had to sit beside my mother-in-law. I was going to the capital of romance and I was sitting beside my mother-in-law. Sigh!


When we went and checked into the hotel, I realised that I would have to share the bed with my mother-in-law while Gaurang slept with his father. Did I do a mistake by letting him book the hotel?


Paris was fun, but would have been much more fun if it was just Gaurang and me. I made him promise that he would take me there again, just the two of us.


We arrived back from Paris and life was going on as usual. Mornings I had enough time only to do the cooking and rush to work. Evenings, Gaurang and his father would come and pick me up at the bus stop which was fifteen minutes walk from home. Then one day it happened. Gaurang had come alone to pick me from the bus stop as he was late coming from work so he came directly to the station. Those few minutes of “just us” time felt so good. Just as he parked the car in front of the house, I turned around and gave him a peck on the cheek, and while I was still at it, his father opened the front door and saw us. Gaurang was very very very embarrassed to say the least. I could see his face turn red as though he was caught doing something he shouldn’t have done.


Now I knew what exactly I was missing. Gaurang was a nice person but he rarely showed his love. His parents were the same too. I decided to have a chat with him about it. That night I asked Gaurang if just the two of us could go to one of those 24 hour shops to do grocery shopping. It was Friday and we could stay out as long as we wished anyway!


I waited till we finished shopping, then we sat at the cafe with our hot chocolates in hand and I started talking to him…


“Gaurang, when I kissed you today, why did your face turn red?”

“Oh, did you not notice? pappa saw us”

“Was there anything wrong in what I did?”


“Please Gaurang, no dilly dallying… tell me was there anything wrong?”

“It wasn’t wrong that you kissed me, but not in front of my father”

“You are not comfortable that I kissed you on your cheek in front of your father?”


“Gaurang, I have to tell you this, you are missing something in life. Probably you don’t get it because you have never seen your parents do it, but showing love and affection does not mean anything wrong.


You know my father used to lift my mother up and dance around the house, just for fun and we used to laugh at it. My fondest memories from my childhood are of my father lying on my mother’s lap and we fighting with him for space while we listened to the stories my mother told.


There are days when my father would randomly call mamma from work, just to tell her “I love you” and I would have answered the phone from upstairs while she answered it from downstairs at the same time. I would have burst out laughing at his confessions of love to my mother, and he would have felt embarrassed that his daughter heard what was meant for his wife. But when I think back, those were the moments that made our life beautiful.


My brother and myself knew we came from very happy and loving families. We never had any doubt that our parents were a really happy couple. Even the odd day that they fought or argued, we would just take it so lightly because we knew that they loved each other and could not live without each other. My mother may moan and complain about my father sometimes, and my father might joke and laugh at my mother but their undying love for each other could be seen in their eyes, their actions and everything around us. This is exactly how I want our children to grow up too. They should see how much we love each other, they should feel that they come from a loving family and they should spread the love too”


That night when we reached home and as he parked the car Gaurang bent over and kissed my cheeks. The fact that his father had just switched on the garage lights and opened the door and saw him kissing me did not matter anymore…

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