Hrithik and Deepika clicked the moment they met each other. Maybe it was their troubled past, or the fact that they had the same disposition and temperament, but they took to each other like moth to fire. Seeing their chemistry, their guardians decided to bind them in holy matrimony.
So a date was set, invitations sent out, and a pandal adorned. On the D-day, fire breathed brightly in the havan kund. There was music in the air. Guests and kin arrived in an exuberant mood to give blessings. The bride and groom, accustomed to following their own will, peculiarly dressed down in T-shirt and shorts.
The seven pheras followed, vows were exchanged, and they were dubbed man and wife. Soon after, merry and married, the couple climbed into their decked-out cage for the honeymoon night. Hrithik, a six-month-old monkey, and his spouse Deepika, a month younger to him, are 55-year-old Jayesh Mehta’s pets. Mehta, an animal lover and a developer from Nallasopara, played ‘pandit’ at the wedding he so fondly arranged for his infant monkeys at his animal shelter on the Vasai-Virar Link Road.
“Three months ago, fire brigade officials from Central Park, Nallasopara (East) rescued Hrithik from a building terrace. They handed him over to me for taking care as he was creating nuisance in the fire office premises.
The same day I remember it was Hanuman Jayanthi fire officials got a call from Vasant Nagari about a monkey troubling residents of Shalibhadra Apartment. So they went there to rescue Deepika. She had been injured during the rescue operation. As they were unable to handle her as well, they gave her to me,” Mehta recalls.
“When I brought them together, Hrithik and Deepika started playing with each other and really hit it off. So my family and I decided to arrange a full-fledged marriage for them. We had baratis from both sides:
fire brigade officials from Deepika’s and my family from Hrithik’s,” the matchmaker says, laughing. “Dressed in Ts and short pants, they took seven rounds of the havan kund and vowed to be together through thick and thin. We announced them as husband and wife. Then we decorated their cage and played music for the celebrations,” said Mehta.
Mehta’s affection for animals and birds is evident in the menagerie he has put together over time. “I have an African cockatoo, an Australian macaw, Chinese pigeons, Amazon parrots, turkeys, ducks, swans, pahadi myna, Australian finch, emu and different varieties of fish in my aquarium,” Mehta beams.
“Since childhood, I have had a love for animals and birds. So I decided to build them a home. Owners often desert their pets when they leave for their native places, and I ask them to hand their pets over to me. I take care of them for no charge. I also treat injured animals and birds and take them to vets,” said Mehta, who bears the expenses all on his own.
“During weekends, students and senior citizens from nearby areas visit my animal shelter, and enjoy watching them. It is like a small Ranibaug (Byculla zoo), but in Nallasopara.” “We hope the married couple enjoys their honeymoon, and unlike humans, don’t squabble over petty issues,” said Mehta.