Vasumathy narrated everything that Saroja said to her Amma. After a patient hearing, the old lady laughed showing her toothless gum, nodded her head and interpreted the most unexpected marriage proposal from a respectable Iyengar family, as Hanuman's special blessings to his devotee, Madhavan. According to her, the timing was perfect, the proposal came soon after the Vadamala offering to Hanuman, that too, when Vasumathy went to give prasadam to Rajgopal's house.
"What other proof do you want to believe that it's divinely ordained"?, asked the old lady.
Before Ranganathan returned from the University, Vasumathy got Lakshmi's photograph and horoscope that was sent by Saroja through a trusted common friend. One look at the photograph of the good looking, Kanchipuram-sari clad girl, both Vasumathy and her Amma, were ecstatic. They were very much impressed by Lakshmi's big eyes, sharp nose and thick tight braid with lots of jasmine flowers entwined in it. "What a sharp nose..what large, expressive eyes.. I did n't imagine her to be this beautiful,” Vasumathy remarked. Vasumathy's Amma clucked to show her appreciation. "Amma, look at her lustrous hair, typical Iyengar features, too" Vasumathy's eyes gleamed with pride.
Vasumathy was little apprehensive about Ranganathan's reaction to this sudden proposal for Madhavan's marriage.
So, to keep her husband, her lord and master, in good humor, that evening, she made his favorite Kathrikkai bajjis and served them hot, with coconut chutney. When Ranganathan belched his appreciation, Vasumathy coughed to get his attention. Then, she went ahead and presented Saroja's proposal along with Lakshmi's photograph.
Ranganathan's face was impassive for quite some time. Vasumathy was waiting anxiously, with the same anxiety of a criminal, waiting for his verdict from the judge. After about five minutes, which seemed an eternity for Vasumathy, Ranganathan took off his spectacles, wiped its lenses vigorously and said,
"This is most unexpected. Madhavan's too young to get married. He has a number of responsibilities. Our future, I mean Harini's future, depends on him. It is he, who has to get Harini married. Once he is married, he would certainly change his loyalties. Of course, he can get a match from the creme de la creme of Iyengars, any time he wants.. You think that this is a great proposal, just because the girl is beautiful. Moreover, what's the great hurry? Madhavan's too young to get married. I got married when I was nearing thirty”.
"I agree, you got married much later, but times are changing. Madhavan is in a foreign country, far away from our reach, what if, what if...., "Vasumathy hesitated, unable to utter the dreaded word and then continued, "what if he falls in love with a Vellakkari, converts to a Christian and marries her? Saroja mami was talking about her cousin, Dr Jagannathan, marrying a white and ruining his life. This Lakshmi, though born and brought up in LA, is every inch, a family girl. Her parents are very strict. It seems, they speak only Tamil at home. What a sweet girl. Good looks, intelligence, money… everything she has. Real Goddess Lakshmi. Amma too says that there is Nakshatra porutham. You can ask Desikachari who predicted everything so well." Looking at Vasumathy's eyes flashing fear at the thought of their son falling for a white, Ranganathan laughed,
"Don't get so upset, I'm not against the idea, only wondering how this marriage was going to affect us”
"Madhavan is such a sweet boy, to lose him to some Vellakkari, is unthinkable. Getting him married to a good girl is our moral duty. Lakshmi is an only child. Naturally, her parents would love Madhavan as their own son, if he chooses to settle in the States. This should be an ideal match", Vasumathy insisted.
By bedtime, Ranganathan had come to the conclusion that Madhavan's marriage to Lakshmi had two great advantages, which these silly, sentimental women did not think of. One, Lakshmi was a US citizen and by marrying her, Madhavan would be a much coveted Green Card holder and two, being a Doctor, Lakshmi, would mint money and all her earnings would be her husband's and his family's, according to Brahmin custom. What an advantage, in the Brahmin community, once the girl was married off with all 'Seeru', she had no place in her family. She then belonged to her husband's family, assuming their name and their 'Gothra'. Ranganathan could not believe the incredible windfall in Madhavan's fortunes and vicariously, in his own fortune. Naturally fantasizing a fabulously wealthy future for him, he slipped into a sound sleep, snoring away rhythmically...