“Maa, this is my fiancee, Jackie”.
This was the crisp and unusually short message on WhatsApp, sent to Mrs. Ranga by her son, Mahesh. When she heard the notification go off early morning, two smiling faces greeted Mrs. Ranga. One was her handsome lad, Mahesh, whereas the other one in the photo was… Jackie?? Seemed to be Chinese…or Korean?
What type of a female name is this, she wondered. She had known only two Jackie’s in her life…and both, undoubtedly male. One was the very debonair and dashing, Jackie Shroff, whereas the other was the exceedingly flexible, Jackie Chan.
Why is Mahesh’s fiancee named Jackie? And why Chinese, when there must be so many Indian girls in USA?
As soon as her husband, Kishore woke up, a flustered Mrs. Ranga shoved the eyeglasses on his face and thrust her mobile in front of his eyes, “See… Mahesh’s fiancee. Jackie is her name. How can a girl’s name be Jackie?”
“Arre, wait, wait”, and he rubbed his still sleepy eyes with his fingers. Then he took the phone from her hands and saw the photo closely.
“Must be Jacqueline. You know that new actress? Jackie must be her pet name”, as he stared minutely at the photo. “Ah! So finally Mahesh has a girlfriend.”
“You Men! You all are the same, keeping updates on new heroines.” She whacked her husband gently on the back.
“Chitra, see. Doesn’t look much feminine, does she?”
Watching closely, Chitra exclaimed, “Kishore, it is such a small photo and you are trying to conjecture about her feminine qualities. She is my son’s choice. Has to be good, don’t you worry”, she admonished her husband. “I will ask him to send more details.”
That evening Mrs. Ranga received a message from her son.
“Maa, I need you to know something important. I don’t know how Paa will react, how you will react. Please come here. Only you. I will be sending the air ticket.”
Mrs. Ranga was now confused. She decided to discuss with her husband.
“Don’t worry Chitra. You go. I think he wants to introduce his Chinese fiancee to you properly. You know, he is much more closer to you than me.”
“Ok, I will go if you insist.”
Mrs. Ranga’s eyes welled up. She looked disbelievingly at her son.
“A transgender! Of all the people, you fell in love with a transgender? And innocently I was thinking, how could you not find a single worthy Indian girl in this country.”
Mahesh was sitting in front of her, looking very defiant but ready to accept all her admonitions. He expected this reaction from his mother and was prepared.
As she wiped her face with a kerchief, she smiled resignedly, “When we decided to send you to this country for higher studies, Kishore had prepared me for a love marriage, to accept any girl you might choose, as the daughter-in-law. Not for him, the restrictions of language, caste, religion. Why, he was ready to accept a Chinese DIL too. But this…”
Mahesh got up and sat near his mother who was certainly in shock. As he tried to hold her hands, she shrugged him off. “Don’t you try to convince me. I am not going to hear anything.”
“Jackie will be hear any moment, Maa. I request, please meet him with an open mind.”
Just then the bell rang. Mahesh moved to open the door. It was Jackie. As they moved inside, Mrs. Ranga was nowhere to be found. Mahesh went inside to see his mother lost in her own thoughts. After what seemed like eternity, she finally allowed herself to be led to the hall by her son.
As soon as she entered, Jackie stood up with a big smile and bowed down to touch her feet. Mrs. Ranga looked at Mahesh who just smiled. Without returning the smile she just sat on the big sofa.
“Maa…I hope I can call you maa”, began Jackie. Dressed in a crisp, white shirt with black trousers, Jackie was like any other slightly built man, albeit with a hint of lipstick on his lips.
Mrs. Ranga watched him, then lowered her eyes.
Jackie continued, “Maa, I know this is difficult for you to accept but what does anyone look for in a marriage. Love, support, understanding…”
As Jackie spoke, Mrs. Ranga was only concentrating on his voice, which was very jarring to her ears and she was busy imagining him with her son. And she certainly was not ready to accept the scenario.
“Please be assured Maa, we came to this conclusion…of spending our lives together, after a lot of thought. There were too many similar likes, I loved his sense of humour, we enjoyed each other’s company exceedingly and I decided that this man is for me…I had to propose to him”, Jackie continued.
In all this, Mrs. Ranga only heard that Jackie had proposed, her only consolation being, it wasn’t her son who initiated this relationship. Was she still hopeful that her son would return to normal relations…
“Maa”, it was now her son speaking, “I called you alone here because, over the years, you have always been my support and I am now banking on you to convince Paa. I have made my decision Maa, this is how I am…”
He said all this with such conviction, she was convinced that her son was now lost to the alternate relationships, he was not going to come back.
“Mahesh…Jackie, I think you have already decided, so it is now upto me and Kishore to açcept it or otherwise. I need some time.” So saying, she retired for the night.
She could hardly sleep. Her thoughts ranged from pulling her son away from where he was headed to acceptance of his orientation. Late at night, after a lot of twisting and turning, she reached her conclusion.
She placed the call, “Kishore, these kids make a great, albeit an odd pair…”
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