In my fourth trip of the year so far, I went to Indore to attend the wedding of my Dad’s cousin brother, Luv Khot. When I met Luv, he asked me in complete bewilderment, “So Priyanka, How come you came so far to attend my wedding even though we never met?” Hmmm, I smiled the question away. Replying, “This is the second time we are meeting. The first time you had completely ignored me.” His expression was enough to tell me that with this answer he had become even more amused at my arrival to the city that was once the seat of the Peshwai.
I was not for even once offended at the question that Luv asked in jest several times over in the next two days. In fact even I had asked myself the question several times during my 18 hours train journey from Delhi to Indore. Significantly enough, the answer was simple. The occasion of Luv’s wedding was just an excuse. My main aim was to travel back in time, meet the family that I had heard about for so long from my late father, but had never met. The experience had to be monumental, I was convinced, as I was to, in form of stories, relive the moments my Dad had once lived in the city with his uncles, all his age-group.
‘In relations uncle, but in age and friendship, almost brothers,’ is how my dad often described them to me. I had this golden opportunity of meeting everyone under one roof in their best festive moods and hopefully nostalgic once they met me. I HAD to attend Luv’s wedding. I had a reason. I did not tell him this then, because I did not want to come across as a bad relative, trying to reduce the importance of the groom on one of the most important day of his life.
I know many might perceive my reason for the visit to be selfish. I would not even say it was not. In fact it was. It was one opportunity that I knew I had to lap up to, maybe only for just three days, see my father living in the twinkle of the eyes of his uncles when they shared stories of the mischief they conspired and executed together with panache. I had to see once again glimpses of my deceased Dad.
To see the characters in blood and flesh, who I had imagined to be only parts of the stories my Dad told me at bed time or during long train/bus journeys. I saw my Dad’s reflection in the polite manner of Brig. Prabhakar Khot, the wicked and immensely intelligent humour of Ravi Khot, the style of humming songs that Sunil Khot adopted and the shot temper yet extremely caring nature and concern that Anil Khot showered. My sincere apologies for writing their names without the respectful address of Aajoba that our relationship demands or uncle that I call them since all of them do not look and are not even old enough to be my grandfathers.
The stories that flowed were amazing. I really wish my Dad was alive so I could fight with him, for being so strict with me when he has done some of the most outrageous tomfoolery in his time. I mean he got kidnapped by an opposition camp for four days, when he stood for college elections. And he would not even permit me to stand in the school elections contending, “Politics is a dirty business.” He developed his strong taste for food in the city. The ear for music had also been sharpened in company of Sunil uncle. He had cycled for 25 kilometres to smoke cigarettes with Anil uncle.
The stories I heard and the love I saw in their eyes for my Dad is what I had gone looking for there. What overwhelmed me the most was the love I received from everyone I met. Being my Dad’s daughter is an address I have not been conferred with in a very long time. The family had adopted me instantly. Sushant, Asha Aaji, Jyoti Aunty, Pushpa Aunty and Suneeta Aunty welcomed me with such warmth that it was with a great effort that I kept my tears down. Not for a moment did I feel like I was meeting them for the first time. I belonged to the wedding. I was a Khot daughter and received all the love that I had longed for from that side of the family.