It was the month of March,and the place Atlantic city.For a guy from southern part of India,Rajamanikkam was already numb with the temperature being sub zero.The time 7 pm.He had come for a conference and found all the hotels near the convention centre just impossible ,for his company had given him a princely $40/day.The year 1985.He was guided to a motel & was assured there would be a free pick up from the motel to the convention centre.
As he walked in ,he found an Indian face at the counter & felt very relieved.Mukesh ,as the guy at the counter called himself, was the owner ,receptionist & perhaps all in all of the motel.Pleasantries exchanged and Raja booked himself for 6 days & was led to the room by Mukesh,in his wheel chair.Raja wanted to sleep off but the time difference kept him awake. He walked down to the reception & Mukesh welcomed him with his trade mark smile.What started as a small talk soon drifted into all kinds of topics & they chatted away like long lost friends. Mukesh mentioned his wife,Parimal, was working in O'Briens and would be back by 2 AM & his only daughter Prerna, was 3 old years.It was close to midnight & Raja excused himself and hit the bed.
Morning went off to the convention centre & spent the whole day there. The sheer size of everything in USA was sheer delight & he was awestruck. As he was returning back saw a huge hoarding which said: O'Briens,nothing to top this,everything topless :Evening as he was talking Mukesh ,he mentioned about this & wanted to know what O'Briens did.Mukesh replied it was one top class Bar cum restaurant housed in a famous casino.
On the third evening it was Mukeshs birthday and evening he wanted Raja to join him.Parimal had taken off that day & they sat for a quiet dinner.By then all the three had bonded well as good friends,though they knew each other just for three days.Mukesh had fallen in love with Parimal but his family had rejected his idea of marriage to her,for they didnt approve the nature of her job. So he had walked out & got this motel as his share of family business.Parimal joked,:: We were thrown out,rejected & when mukesh was seriously injured in a pile up,the blame also came on to me. I am so damn lucky,you got it!! :: Prerna was very attached to Raja.
Years started rolling at their own pace,Raja visiting USA every year,and became ANNA ( elder brother ) to Parimal.When Prerna turned 10 ,Mukesh & Parimal wanted to put her in a boarding school in India.After several rounds of discussion with Raja, decided to enroll her in a wonderful school in Kodaikanal. Raja obviously was the local guardian.Every six months Prerna was back in USA to her parents and everything appered fine. Meanwhile Parimal took over O'Brien & became very busy.
Prernas Tamizh was as good as locals & she was part of Rajas family in every function and festival.One Diwali Prerna ddnt turn up at Rajas house & spent it in her schoolmates house. Later Raja came to know it was at Kulasekhara Pandians house & whose only son Adhitya Pandian was her schoolmate. The Pandians were one of the biggest business houses in Southern Tamizh Nadu.
Soon out of school and into college,Prerna shifted to Chennai. Adhitya & she continued to be in touch and love naturally bloomed. Raja kept Parimal & Mukesh informed of this,& they seemed to be quite happy about it & wanted their daughter to take her own decision.
One fine day,Prerna sat across Raja .
Prerna : Uncle I want to marry Adhitya.
Raja : Thats a good news ma,Have you discussed this with Adhitya.
Raja was worried that the Pandian family was too rich and they may be looking for family of equal status.
Prerna : yes ,uncle, Adhitya has spoken to his family too and they have accepted his idea.
Smart girl, Raja thought to himself
Raja : Thats fine then, Lets break the great news to Mom &Dad .
Prerna was silent & after few seconds said
I have told Adhitya ,everything for me is my Uncle i.e you ,besides they may not accept what my Mom is doing back home..Sorry Uncle
Raja was stunned..It was Rejection of a different kind