Weddings are never a happy occasion. The people, the noise, the sweaty yet bright outfits, not so willing dances of the groom and the bride, the tired fake smiles, and most importantly — questions. And it was my cousin’s turn this time to get hitched.
Purpose in life is very important. And as I entered the dining wall, which I knew is the most peaceful place at a wedding because people mind their business and never interfere with what you want to do; I went around to see that the buffet spread was too good. Chicken Manchurian on the starters, garlic Naan and butter chicken was all that was needed to get me high. As I was filling up my plate and was going around to grab a seat, there happened the million-dollar meeting.
I saw Vaidehi Ramamoorthy getting biriyani with a bunch of aunties. Oh sorry!! Now she is Vaidehi Ashwin. Yes!! Happily married. I called out ‘Vaeiiii…Dheea…Heeee…’ and she is like “Hey Kasren (actually I am Kasthuri Rangan), how are you?”. We had some old friends conversation for few minutes.
Vaidehi. Instantly, I was judging her for still being obsessed with veg biriyani, but there was something more. She got married to a guy working as a Senior Manager in Kartflip. She also had a cute girl child in the next 1 year. Over the last years, her lifestyle had tremendously changed, most of it filled up with looking after the child, going to become a manager from a junior tech analyst, being the typical daughter in law with an annoying mother in law, worrying over the equity investments with her husband, trying to catch few minutes of sleep past 6 am which was never possible. It’s been 4 years since that incident had happened.
And me. Nothing much, still single, not a proper employee, getting drunk over the weekend with friends, questioning every life choices ever had, getting burnt out from work, filling my free time in the evenings with Instagram memes and Ilayaraja songs, questioning every life choice ever made and calculating a thousand times before doing anything.
Let me explain that 4 year old Pelli Choopulu incident!!!
On a dull Sunday morning, mom had rushed into my room and startled me from my sleep. Normally I don’t brush much earlier on Sundays and so I entered the hall with my shorts and gym vest. I was shocked to see Mr Ramamoorthy, his wife and Vaidehi there on my sofa, as they were served hot coffee by mom. He is a relative from my mother’s side, still working as a bank manager at 58 even though the bank had personally requested him to quit a few years ago. Vaidehi looked alluring and something was so genuine about her eyes with the perfect amount of mascara. I smiled at all of them and went back into my room to dress up.
As I came back from my room to join the guests, the first question that shot up was “How much is your Bank Balance?” Without thinking, I answered “75k in cash and yet to receive pending from my clients”. He laughed for 10 seconds and threw me a Block Hole Yorker “You studied Engineering no pa? Then how do you give counseling to people?”. I thought to myself that this guy is still stuck in the ’90s and does not know that most of the engineers are doing excellent in every other field apart from engineering. Unwilling, I went on to explain my passion and how a startup was started a years back to provide counseling to clients and help them deal with their mental health. I knew the next dialogue that was about to pop, “Let me go to my home and think about this proposal. I’ll let you know pa.” which literally translates to the fact that the entire family has left swiped me.
Bringing myself back to the moment,
Her entire family came for the wedding it seems. She introduced Ashwin and others to me. I knew Ashwin already and we smiled at each other before giving a handshake. Then came Mr. Ramamoorthy with a sarcastic smile and said “Deiiii Rangaaa, How are you? How is your work? Still waiting to receive a balance from your clients ahhh?” I knew he is not going to wait for my reply as he introduced me to the rest of the crowd “He studied Enngginneerring (Dude!! Seriously???) And currently giving counselling to people. He only must be given counselling.”. As usual, he ended with a smile and everyone laughed. I too laughed along with everyone.
When I got back to the car, I started to laugh because I knew Ashwin very well, as he was one of my clients. Ashwin was a well-trained and performing player of Squash and had represented Chennai in a lot of district-level matches. He was a passionate person but his family forced him to take up a conventional job. Because of this frustration and job pressure, he came up to have sessions with me about not being able to feel things and was diagnosed with Depression. He can’t hold anger nor love for himself. He started becoming very irritable with everyone in the family, had a major loss of sleep/appetite. Vaidehi and Ashwin got separated a year back because of this issue. Ramamoorthy is trying hard to patch things between them but remains unsuccessful. He had begged Ashwin to come to the marriage to save his reputation among relatives, which I came to know about later in a session with him.
Happiness, Peace and Satisfaction cannot be bought by Bank Balance but by Dreams and Aspirations. Widely misconceived notions about mental health which are largely influenced by cultures and values are still having a major impact on everyone’s life where people are afraid to express themselves and be comfortable around expressive people. People like Ramamoorthy, helped me to work hard and dream big not just for me, but for the well-being of everyone I meet with. I considered these negative vibes as shoes to run faster but not as a blocker in my mind.
Interestingly, for the last few days, I have been enjoying doing duets in Smule with Lessy and the way she sings ‘Rasathi Unna kanathu nenju’ makes me remind my Destination Wedding plans….
EC — KaSrEn