Dr. Elizabeth V. Koshy

Dr. Elizabeth V. Koshy is a Professor in English Literature at Dr. A.B. Telang Senior College, Pune, India. Her poems have been published in edited anthologies by Sweetycat Press in ‘Love’, ‘Song’, ‘Beauty’ and ‘Movement’, Clarendon House Press in Poetica 3,4,5,6, Gertrude’s Writing Room, Caesurae.org, The Writers Club (Grey Thoughts), Stacy Savage’s Poetry for a Cause, Lothlorein Poetry Journal, The World of Myth Magazine, Indian Periodical, Literary Yard and Spillwords. Her CNF/memoirs have been published by Academy of the Heart and Mind, Impspired Magazine and Sweetycat Press. Two of her poems are forthcoming in Rabble Review and MockingOwlRoost. Her poem ‘The mystical conjunction’ was selected by Sweetycat Press for ‘The Jewels in the Queen’s Crown’ anthology in the 24 K Gold category.

Waiting for Vincent

Vincent walked into our lives accompanied by the wife of one of my father’s friends in the beginning of January, directly after church for the ‘pennu kaanal’, literally, ‘seeing the girl’. She had seen Vincent the week earlier when he introduced himself in church and had spoken to my father about him. My house was packed with relatives. A lavish spread of snack items was prepared including ethekyappam ( banana fritters), paripu vada (lentil fritters), achappam (rose cookies), Kayani cake and tea. I was dressed in a lovely pink starched cotton saree. We were given an hour to talk to each other. The conversation was brought to an abrupt halt when the family decided that we’d spoken for too long, by bringing in the snack items!

After Vincent had left, the whole family gathered around me, demanding a retelling of the whole conversation and then teasing me. Vincent’s family visited us after about a week. I wore a bluish violet starched Calcutta cotton saree with a long sleeved light bougainvillea pink blouse for the second ‘pennu kanal’. Next, the members of my family travelled to Baroda to see their house and to finalize the dates for the engagement and the wedding.

After the engagement, we met everyday at Chaturshringi Hill. We sat atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the city, gazing at the city lights below and at Orion right above us all through the months of February and March. I had registered for my PhD at the University and was staying in the Girls’ Hostel. The Chaturshringi Hill was just outside the University gate. I had to be back in the Girls’ Hostel only by 9pm!

Vincent used to come by bus at around 6pm. More often than not, I used to be waiting for him on the steps to the temple. He was working in the Research and Development Department in a company in Chinchwad where my parents lived. We spent the whole evening on the hill. Those lovely moments under the night sky were the foundation of our otherwise arranged marriage.

My father did not permit me to go back to the hostel after my grandmother arrived from Kerala for the wedding. And so ended the memorable evenings at Chaturshringi Hill. Vincent escorted me back home  with the luggage, when I left the Girls’ Hostel. The time we spent together gave us the opportunity to develop deep and lasting feelings for each other.

The wedding was fixed for April 19th, 11.30 am. Vincent’s uncle from Nasik, who was a father-figure to Vincent, was to arrive that morning for the thanksgiving rituals at home before the wedding but had got delayed on the highway. My father, always very particular about keeping to the schedule, saw to it that we were half an hour early for the wedding. I was in a traditional Kerala whitish-cream bridal saree, the bridal bouquet in my hand, teary-eyed after the thanksgiving rituals, sweating in a beautifully decorated white car with roses and lilies but no AC! As the groom is expected to be waiting for his bride to enter, we had to wait outside the church from 11 am onwards though it was getting progressively warmer, being April.

By 12.30 am, the wedding guests started coming around to the bridal car, asking me whether the groom had decided against the wedding! Those days, we didn’t have mobile phones. The groom’s family could not be contacted as Vincent did not have a landline connection. I was the only person who was confident that the groom’s party would arrive, as only I knew that we used to meet everyday at Chaturshringi after the engagement and talk for hours on the telephone! Vincent used to call me from a telephone booth outside a hotel he used to frequent. The hotel owner supplied him with one rupee coins for extending the calls!

And finally they did arrive at 1pm. One and a half hours late! The wedding ceremony took an hour. We had to pose for wedding photographs.  I had to change into a wine red saree for the reception. Vincent who had worn the traditional kasavu mundu and silk kurta for the wedding had to change into a greyish black suit. The marriage feast was a traditional Kerala ‘sadhya’ with fish curry, chicken curry, avial, cabbage thoran, parippu curry, pachadi, injicurry and papadam  served along with red rice. Adapradaman, icecream with hot chocolate and coffee too was served! By the time all of us finished lunch, it was almost 4pm, time for coffee anyway!

After the ‘adukala kanal’ ritual, where the bride’s family goes to the bridegroom’s house to see their kitchen with traditional sweets and gifts, we went to my house for the first night to be spent at the bride’s house according to custom. Both our houses were packed with relatives from Kerala. Foreseeing this, Vincent had booked an AC deluxe room at a five star hotel. After dinner and prayers, we left for our first night together. After returning home the next day and seeing off all the guests from Kerala and elsewhere, we left for our honeymoon to Kodaikanal, a hill station where Vincent’s company had a  beautiful guesthouse.

I often ask Vincent why he was so late in coming to Pune! He was 30, I was 29! I tell him we could have got married at 24! And many a time after the wedding, I’ve had to wait for Vincent: to return home in the evening to have our tea, to return from committee meetings at church to have our dinner together, to return in the middle of the night and sometimes in the wee hours of the morning from outstation trips after he started his own business, to return home for the children’s birthday parties to cut the cake ! But I know that even though he is a little late and sometimes a lot late, he will be here and I will be here, waiting for him!                                                                                         


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