“They clearly mentioned, ‘no presents, only your presence!’ I muttered as my wife came out of our home carrying a huge gift.

 “That’s what they all say,” said the wife wisely, “but you will always see people slipping in an envelope!”

I did see some truth in what she said, because later going through the wedding album of friends, I would notice there were many which did not have my photo, “That’s because you didn’t give a gift!” my wife had said.

 “But slipping in a small envelope is fine,” I said, “Yours looks like all the bridesmaids and groomsmen will be needed to carry it on stage!”

I was a bit surprised as we entered the marriage hall to find many of the ladies had also brought similar looking gifts. “Same kitty party!” she whispered to me.

 “Oh!” I said, for want of a better word.

 “And the mother of the bride also belongs to our kitty group!”

 “Oh!” I said again and then added caustically, “And did she request you all to bring same gifts?”

 “Yes!” said my wife, looking at Mrs Singh our neighbour, and I watched with amazement as both of them nearly managed doing a hi five with their gifts.

 “What is it?” I asked.

 “What’s what?” dodged my wife teasingly.

 “What’s the gift?”

 “Petrol!” said my wife, “We’ve all brought a litre of petrol for the couple!”

 “You must be joking!” I exclaimed incredulously, “Why ever would all of you do that?”

 “They have given the couple a car for a wedding gift!” whispered my wife to me, “But could not afford the petrol at today’s rates, for the couple to go for their honeymoon!”

With the other ladies of the kitty party and their husbands, we all stepped on stage, and suddenly the music changed, the melody from the shehnai rose in crescendo, just as the tabla players increased their drumming, with the photographer coming running, “They all seem very happy!” I whispered, as the bride and bridegroom touched all our feet followed by the parents of the bride and as soon as the parents of the bridegroom saw what we carried, they also fell to the floor. The next moment they all grabbed the cans of petrol from our hands, in case we changed our minds, and made us all line up for not one, but two pictures.

 “Now do you see how important it is to give a gift?” asked the wife as we drove home later.

 “Yes!” I said, as I sniffed the petrol fumes left by the gift my wife had carried.

Later in the week, it was good to see myself back in a wedding album; not one, but two pictures..!

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