(This thread is not a sequel or prequel to sister @minesotasundari’s “Delay in Marriage” posted on May 11, 2016). AMRUTHA, ANJALI & AYYAPPAN - COULD Almighty Plan Their Marital Status? AQuid Pro Quo in Almighty’s Domain? Twin sisters Amrutha and Anjaliofmy bosom friend Ram - lived in the neighbourhood with their siblings and parents. Amrutha married few years back but for Anjali efforts were on but her marriage was getting delayed for varieties of reasons. All in their family were concerned as she was in her thirties. For the purpose of neutralizing invisible obstacles said to be hindering her marriage and getting Anjali married early, her parents called on senior astrologers and had been fasting too, visiting and performing numerous indoor and outdoor pooja with rare exotic flowers, conducting abhishekams to deities in ancient renowned temples in remote places across southern states of India. During college days, Ram & I were in the habit of collecting second-hand Tamil magazines that were in display on sidewalks leading to Marina beach in Chennai. On one such occasion, we spotted a dog-eared Tamil monthly magazine - Manjari- similar to Readers’ Digest in English, in which we both had read an article about a dilapidated Shiva temple in village known as Thirumananchery 30 Km from Kumbakonam– deep in South India. Inter alia, the article stated that spinsters who arrange and witness at this temple a symbolic wedding of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi would soon be blessed with Thirumangalyam (marriage). Ram discussed with his parents and senior siblings and it was decided to visit the above temple and follow religiously the rituals as practised there. I too accompanied Ram and Anjali to Thirumananchery and completed the formalities and returned with two Rose garlands and a packet each of thazhampoo scented deep maroon kumkum (vermillion) and turmeric powder as “Prasad”. These garlands were the very same ones that were decorating the deities Shiva and Parvathy during the symbolic wedding. It was advised that these garlands to be preserved in sacred place and couple soon after their wedding should return it to the temple. Next day, early morning, we returned to Chennai with these garlands which Anjali preserved with “Prasad” in their pooja room; and after head-bath, she applied the kumkum and turmeric powder on her forehead and prayed. Same day, in the evening, I was at Ram’s up-stair’s residence. He and I were chatting standing on the steps close to a window overlooking the bright open terrace. I saw tall bubbly Amrutha in pink cotton saree with her baby of few months old clad in sleeveless white frock in red polka-dots taking a stroll. Cool evening sea-breeze blowing away her rich black long tresses. After a while, Amrutha holding crying baby over her shoulders with her back close to the parapet wall of the open terrace, was pointing to a flight of doves flying West in a low parabolic arc across the azure sky. The baby ceased crying seemed to have been in awe, staring at the vast sky in the direction where ochre-sun was sprinting to set. Holding baby upright, laughing in instalments, Amrutha stamping her foot sang the rhyme “twinkle twinkle little star – how I wonder what you are - up above..... A laundry man with bullock cart was down below the street and had piled up huge dirty linen bundles over the hay spread at the back of the cart, while the tall snow-white bull was shaking its painted uncut luminous horn-head vertically. Few brass-metal bells strung around its neck in black beaded strands of wool were ringing. The bull’s ringing bells down below drew baby’s attention. Baby jerked its face away from mother brusquely. As the baby was wriggling out of her grip, Amrutha tighten her grip but she leaned dangerously backward outside the 3 feet parapet. That was the moment, the launderer down below was holding the ropes attached to the bull’s body, clicked his tongue repeatedly and the bull just commenced pulling the cart forward... With the baby in arms and her head down, in a jiffy Amrutha fell vertically down below on the pile of dirty linen. Ram & I leaped down the stairs and reached the spot. A little later Anjali, launderer and few onlookers joined us and extricated the baby and mother. Baby and her mother Amrutha not seemed to have been hurt at all. An effete Amrutha leaning on Anjali could not stand on her foot. The baby sucking thumb resting on waist of Anjali, watched her mother’s trepidation. In the meanwhile other members of their family and public huddled around. An ambulance pulled up in few minutes and Amrutha was taken to a nearby hospital. She was examined and after a couple of x-rays the diagnosis was that her spine cracked. Ayyappan, her husband returned from night shift, shocked to hear of the accident but sitting by her bedside, he was a picture of aplomb, spoke to half-shut-eyes Amrutha only words of motivation. A serious of treatment sessions lasting over two months as in-patient proved futile Amrutha’s body remain partially paralysed. With hope of recovery dimming, Amrutha chosen the day when womenfolk observed Varalakshmi Vratham and suggested to Ayyappan sitting by her bed-side that for the sake of their baby, he should re-marry and convinced her sister Anjali too to agree to marry him. In presence of Ram and his family members and I, the wedlock took place during early morning auspicious hours within a month in a suburb hill temple. Amrutha & Ayyappan remained content with the baby and the baby’s children are now well settled with their family at Wellington (NZ). Almighty’s benevolence ever remains enigmatic and queer indeed.