Her friends had told her not to wear jeans that day.
“Your would-be mother-in-law is coming to see you. You must appear modest and humble. Better put on a kameez-salwaar.”
The modern buchi bought herself an expensive suit, and the tailor got a big tip to stitch it in time.
The day finally came. Her friends rushed to the hostel and helped with makeup.
She looked gorgeous.
“Your mother-in-law will drop dead.”
But she was nervous. She had heard much about her mother-in-law-to-be.
As she walked to the varsity cafeteria, there were gasps of surprise. Some smiled, but some could not hold back their astonishment.
“What’s up, with this kameez salwar?
She ignored them, and stepped inside, accompanied by two close friends.
The mother-in-law was not there.
The waiting grew longer and longer. The coffee friends had ordered did her no good.
Her gaze fixed on the café door.
And then suddenly, it opened, and in walked a modern aunty.
Modern in every sense of the word: from her sleeveless shirt and cotton trousers to the shoe-polish – sorry nail polish – on her toenails.
She headed for their table.
“No, this cannot be her.”
In this world, mothers-in-law, even would-be ones, were not… well…this chic.
Before the buchies could collect themselves, the aunty had introduced herself, and perched delicately on the stool, virtually sniffed with scorn at her candidate’s rather traditional appearance.
The young threesome had tried damage control by getting to their feet, but it was too late.
Two men barged in and joined the aunty.
Obviously important relatives of the groom.
The next half hour was more the crunch of snacks than conversation.
And then the interview board left.
She knew she had been rejected.
The buchi was seething, but kept calm
“How dare she insult me like this.”
Not the one to throw herself sobbing on the bed, she called her boyfriend in Delhi.
“Set that modern mom of yours right.”
He knew better than to argue.
A lightning call to Srinagar.
The modern aunty was in tears, such was the hasb-e-haal from her son.
“You cannot reject her mom.”
He could have added “or else,” but had heard harrowing tales of what distraught mothers were capable of.
The aunty had no choice but to go to the university again.
And this time minus the chic.
Instead of scorn, she was showering smiles.
And when her son’s ladylove appeared, she sealed the deal with a kiss on her forehead.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Hopefully not of the sub-continental type.