I had a difficult time deciding which names to use in the novel. Most Tamil brahmin names are long, and I knew a western audience would definitely have trouble getting their tongue around names like Mahadevan, Panchapakesan, and Doraiswamy. Unfortunately, using Jay and Ash; short forms that many Indians in the US have adopted, was not an option. The story had to be authentic. So I decided to choose the middle path. I shortened some names Rajam, Dharmu, and Siva for example and of course Partha short for Parthasarathy.
This piece shows the anxiety and restlessness that meeting Rajam brings for Partha. Love at first sight only takes place in Romance novels…..or does it?
He had to meet her. But how? He was 17 years old, definitely marriageable age. But how was he to approach her? He could not actually go up to her and speak with her directly; that wasn’t acceptable behavior. Then how was he to meet her? His mind whirled with a million unanswered questions popping into his head every second. One thing he knew was, if he were to marry, it would be to this girl. The “Lime and Spoon’ girl.”
The next few days were long and weary, with strategies made, vetoed, and then replaced, as Partha was consumed with finding the right course of action. He sat on the terrace with his math book open, rehearsing walking up to his mother and saying, “Amma, I think I want to get married.” That sounded too brazen. Then he switched to a more casual tone saying, “Amma, do you know Inspector Swaminathan?” That was too random. No matter what he tried, it just did not sound right. He had to make sure that he had an impeccable Plan A, so he did not have to resort to Plan B, which was marrying someone else.
After three full days of practicing, he decided the best course of action was to confide in his brother, Siva, who had been married for many years, and have him plead and present the case to his mother. That night, Partha brought Siva to the terrace after everyone was asleep and talked to him. At first, he felt sheepish and awkward talking about marriage, guilty about being preoccupied with a girl when he should have been studying, but the nature of the problem demanded urgency.
“Siva, you have to help me. I am going out of my mind.”
“Why? Did you fail your exams again?”
“No it’s not about school. It’s about …a girl.”
Siva smiled. “What’s up Partha, meet someone you like?”
“Yes,” Partha said bashfully. “And I need you to talk to Amma about it.”
“Why me? Why don’t you ask her yourself? After all, you are her Chella Kutti. I’ m sure she would oblige.”
“I may be her favorite, but I feel nervous about asking her. You are older and married. Coming from you, it will seem as if the whole thing were your idea. You know how Amma feels about boys loafing around. She won’t take me seriously.”
For the next 15 minutes, Partha talked nonstop about the pros of Siva talking toAmma, and the cons of talking to Amma himself. So intent was he on convincing Siva, he barely took time to breathe. After he finished a 15-minute monologue, Siva smiled and patted him on the back, urging him to calm down and take a deep breath if he wanted to live to attend his own wedding.
Partha was overjoyed.