Their Story

She was an innocent 16 year old, just out of boarding school with lots of friends who missed her naughty ways and carefree antics. She dreamt a young girl’s dreams of a beautiful wedding full of friends and celebrations. Dad was a dashing army captain whose cousin Munshi was married to Mom’s sister. Dad had seen her fleetingly once and never forgotten that shy smile.. The visiting married sister suddenly announced that her husband Munshi was arriving with Raghbir the next day. Our mystified grandparents enquired why Raghbir was coming along.  “To marry Harjit of course” they were told – much to Mama’s dismay, since no one expected her to get married at that time, particularly since she still had another older unmarried sister who would be next in line. There would be no beautiful clothes, no time to invite her friends, no time at all to prepare for such a momentous occasion in her life.

Be that as it may, the entire village swung into action and feverish preparations began. Since it was just after the war, supplies were scarce and there was little sugar to make any sweets. No worry, informed Munshi, the Groom had thought of that and was coming to marry his bride with a bagful of sugar along!  Meanwhile, the village  tailor sat down to make identical suits for Mama from the one  bail of cloth  thoughtfully brought along by her brother-in-law and Mama’s dreams of a wonderful trousseau went up in smoke!

The next day, dad borrowed a fancy ‘Plymouth’ car from the Raja of Faridkot, put the promised bag of Sugar in the boot and with three relatives comprising the wedding party, left in the afternoon with the intention of getting to Mom’s village before dark as planned with Munshi. When the Baraat did not arrive at the village by 7 pm, the elders started getting worried.  Munshi was terror-stricken that Dad may have forgotten the plan they had hatched together over a bottle of Scotch regarding Dad marriage to the younger sister.

Young Gursharan, Mom’s kid brother was finally dispatched on his cycle towards the big town of Moga to try and locate the whereabouts of the missing Baraat.  Enroute, upon enquiring from a villager on his way back from Moga, he was told that no Baraat had been spotted. There was however, one huge car that was standing outside another village on the way and it was flashing its lights on and off furiously!

Gursharan knew this was the predetermined signal for Dad to inform his future in-laws of his approach. Since there were very few cars in the towns and no vehicles of any sort in the villages, approaching lights were visible from a long distance at night and caused so much excitement that entire villages stepped out in welcome along the way. As it transpired, Dad had mistaken this village for the one Mom lived in and had been waiting for an hour switching his lights on and off with mounting tension. With no reception committee in sight, Dad greatly worried that due to the whiskey; perhaps Munshi had forgotten their plan of Dad marrying his sister-in-law.  Just then, much to his relief, the young brother rode up furiously on his bicycle and guided Dad and his wedding party of 3 to the right village.

The marriage which was to last 55 years was solemnized between Raghbir and Harjit the next day on 18 June 1945.  Dad always claimed, later in life, that he had ‘bought’ Mama for a bag of Sugar!

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