Warning: This is going to be an insanely long post, so don't scroll to the end of the post, see the length of it, and then close it without reading it. I know you people do that. Pfft.
I have been receiving threatening emails and messages for some time now, asking me to come out with the pennukaanal story soon, or else…! So here is the pennukaanal story. :)
Rewind to a few months back. It was a Saturday. I was just about winding up the English grammar class that I used to teach part-time at a coaching institute. I was as bored as the kids were sleepy, because grammar has the power to put anyone to sleep. The kids were doing the worksheet while I took my phone out to check how soon I could flee the place and get home to my Saturday night with Old Monk (and my Lily and Marshall too, of course). Two missed calls. From Acha. I knew what he would have called for. To tell me about yet another alliance. There was a message from him too. I was right. He had forwarded some guy’s profile ID and told me to check it out. My irritation went up a few notches. Didn’t I say I’m not interested and don’t wanna get married now and that I need some time?! I was just not in a state to think about marriage or about another guy. You know why.
So anyways, I pushed the phone back into my bag. Class got over soon and I got into a bus. I thought I’ll return Acha’s call anyway. So I called him. He told me that this person (let’s call him S) had seen my profile on the matrimonial site and called Acha, and that he found my profile very interesting. That piqued my curiosity, because ‘interesting’ isn’t exactly the best word one would use to describe my profile. Most guys had run in the other direction after reading it. Acha told me that this chap spoke very well, and he told me to check out his profile. I logged on from my phone, because I had an hour-and-a-half-hour’s journey ahead of it, so might as well make use of the time, right?
And what do I find? A non-weirdly-named Mallu guy without a moosh who- wait for it- WRITES!!! And writes in proper English, using proper grammar, has all the punctuations and apostrophes in place, has the capital letters in place, AND puts space wherever necessary. After getting excited about the fact that he too is a Grammar Nazi, I went through the rest of his profile. He seemed interesting, had reading and interest in travel in common with me, and I liked his family from the way he had described them.
So I call up Acha and say “Acha, it’s an interesting profile. His grammar and all is fine.”
Acha went silent for a minute. And then he burst out laughing. Then I asked him what should be done next. Acha asked me if I wanted to speak to S. I told him to get me his email ID, so that I could mail him. A few minutes later, I get a message from an unknown number. It was S. Acha had given him my number. He just dropped in a hi, and wanted to know if we could speak. I replied saying that I was out, and if I could speak later.
But wait, here’s the clincher. He texts exactly like I do! In proper English, not SMS language, with capital letters and full spellings of words. This guy seemed to be like my Grammar Nazi twin.
So I got home, and hurriedly opened his profile and showed it to U and A (the Lily and the Marshall- or rather, first letters of their real names. They’re the ones I live with). Once I got their go-ahead (yes, I do that), I spoke to him. We spoke for more than an hour that day, the longest I’ve spoken on the phone to anyone in ages. I hate talking over the phone, and the max I can do is 20-25 minutes. My ears start to pain/I get bored after that. We exchanged basic info- education, job, where-when-what of it, families, etc. We also opened and shut the ex-files. I told him very honestly that I had just gone through a break-up a few months back, and he very bluntly asked me if this was a rebound thing. I assured him that I’m not the kind of person who’ll mess up someone else’s life to deal with my own pain. I was over that, which is why I had agreed to speak to him in the first place.
We then spoke every day for the next few days. All this while, our families were on tenterhooks, wanting to know how it is going. Acha went and got the horoscopes checked, meanwhile, and turned out that they matched. S’s mom called me up and spoke to me, and I loved her. She speaks nineteen-to-the-dozen, and guess what? She’s an English teacher. I know, right?!
Then we decided that we have to meet before we take a final call on anything, because speaking on the phone is a different deal altogether. So he came down to Hyderabad one fine Saturday. We spent the day together roaming around in malls, having coffee, and bearing the insane afternoon heat in Charminar. I kid you not. By the end of the day, we figured that we were able to spend a whole day with each other without getting bored or wanting to kill each other. And that itself is a big deal, because to be honest, I was quite nervous about this whole spend-a-day-together thing. I’ve gotten so used to shopping and roaming around alone that I was afraid I’ll get bored of him after a couple of hours. Yes, I’m quite capable of that. I can tolerate human company only for a limited period of time.
But I didn’t get bored of him. We had a good time together, he seemed like a decent chap, and had that one quality that every girl looks for in a guy- chivalry (guys, take notes. Trust me on this). He even got me cupcakes that survived the flight (You can awww at this one). He is older to me, which meant that he had the maturity that age brought along with it. And that was something I really needed at the moment. He was smart, intelligent, and could carry out a decent conversation.
So we realized, we didn’t really have any reasons to say no. Well, except for the fact that he had a cat and that he lived in a city that I had been conditioned to hate because of its legendary heat and auto-drivers. But I figured, I can’t have everything, right? I need to learn to make compromises. And I was willing to consider it not because I HAD to, but because I WANTED to.
Our families were like hyperactive kids that day, calling us umpteen times during the day to ask ‘how’s it going?’ Imagine this. We’re sitting at a café and my phone rings. Acha. I pick up, and he asks me “So how is it going? Do you like him?” What the hell am I supposed to say with him sitting right in from of me?! “Yes Acha, I louuuu him”?? So I politely told Acha to leave me alone and that I will give a detailed report at night. Even then, Amma and Chechi also called in between.
Anyway, he left that same evening. We gave a positive feedback to the folks back home. Positive in the sense, we told them that yes, we liked each other, but would like to speak for a while longer before we take the final call.
So we did that. We spoke for a few more days, weighing the pros and cons. The parents had left it to us kids to make a decision. And so we did. We decided to go ahead and torture each other for the rest of our lives. In my defense, he had already read my profile. So he knew exactly what he was getting into. He can’t complain later, right?
After that, the parents took over. My folks went over to his place to meet them. He had also come down for a couple of days, so my parents got to meet him too. They came back happy and content. I was very particular that the families should also get along well. So it came as a big relief.
And now I come to the actual pennukaanal story (didn’t I warn you that it’s gonna be a looong post). His family hadn’t met me yet, even though everything had pretty much been finalized and tentative dates also fixed. Their original plan was to come to TVM to see me when I went home in June, but due to my grandma’s unexpected demise, that plan got changed. Instead, they came down to Trichur to see me at my aunt’s house. Like I said, I was anything but shy and nervous. Aunty (my future MIL, that is) asked me “Are you nervous, beta?” And I shamelessly replied, “No Aunty, not really. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you all, so I’m more excited than nervous.” I didn’t do that customary serving-chai-with-downcast-eyes thing either. I was just myself. Since I had already spoken to aunty quite many times by then, i was very comfortable being around her. S was there too, and to be honest, it looked more like his pennukaanal than mine, because he seemed quite nervous :P (he’s so gonna kill me when he reads this). He doesn’t talk as much as I do. He takes time to open up.
So that, my lovelies, is the story of how your dear-damaged-Spiffy found her Grammar Nazi-in-shining-armour. Of how she is learning to be happy without holding back. Of how she decided to let go of her past and look forward to the future. Of how she found the guy who knows all about her hang-ups, but still ‘gets’ her. Of how she is gradually learning to accept that fact that maybe having a cat around the house may not be the worst thing in the world, when the consolation is that the guy is good. Of how she is willing to relocate to a city she doesn’t really like, but is ok with it because the guy is worth it *touchwood touchwood*. Does it sound like a fairy-tale? It’s not, trust me. It’s just the story of an ordinary girl who’s been through perfectly ordinary stuff that everyone goes through in life, and has hopefully finally found one of the cozy nooks of her happy place *fingers crossed. Toes too, for good measure*. Her story is not over yet. A brand new chapter is just starting. Only difference being, she has a co-author now.
She is still shit-scared about commitment and marriage and about ‘settling down’, but so is he, so they’ve decided to freak out about it together.
Wish them luck.