“Excuse me, aren’t you Imraan from Eastern Mosaic?” I heard the voice say.
I swung around from the shopfront window display I was admiring to discover that it belonged to an elegantly dressed, petite Indian woman in her twenties.
“Yes I am.” I replied, mentally preparing myself for what typically followed that question : A photo request? An autograph perhaps? Or just a quick hello. This is how things would usually play out in public spaces like shopping malls – so I was used to it – but I certainly wasn’t prepared for what came next.
“I just wanted to say congratulations!”
“Er…thank you. Just so I can truly savour the moment, what exactly am I being congratulated on?” I asked.
“Your wedding of course!”
“Your wedding! Everybody is talking about it, don’t you know?”
“Er…no I don’t. Are you sure you’ve got the right guy?”
“You are Imraan Vagar from television aren’t you?”
“Last time I checked, yes.”
Well, I hear you recently got married. To a Muslim guy.”
I paused for a second or two to make sure I had heard her right.
Did she really say “married”? “Guy”? “Muslim guy”?
“Wait, is this a joke?” I said, almost looking around and over her shoulder for the hidden candid cameras.
“Everybody’s talking about it. Even my relatives in the United States.” she continued, unabated.
By this point I started to wonder who “everybody” was and how someone so obviously misinformed about me and my life could speak with such conviction and authority about me and my life – to my face!
“Sorry,” I said, laughing, “but I’m afraid you’ve been misinformed. I think I would know if I got married to someone, wouldn’t you say?”
And so ended a most bizarre visit to the mall!
Days passed and I’d all but forgotten about the strange encounter, until I received a text from my co-host, Candice, that read:
“Oh my G*d, you’re not going to believe the latest gossip about you!! The whole of Fordsburg is talking about it! LOL! Tell you on set when I see you…”
“Could it be related to what I’d heard at the mall?” I wondered.
Later that day on set, I learned that it was.
The accounts Candice had heard about my alleged wedding from the folks in “Little India” were uncannily similar to the colourful yarn that the mall lady had been fed, with a few extra dollops of bullshit.
Okay, so this wasn’t some random piece of gossip. It had clearly been doing the rounds. But as a public figure you learn to approach the stuff people say or make up about you with a healthy dose of humour – so we had a good laugh about it all before dismissing it as yet another in a long line of silly rumours that would eventually run out of steam. “Great, at least now my mum won’t have to fend off those marriage proposals that get sent to her for me!” I said jokingly.
But then, a week later, it was actually my mother who called to say that she’d started to receive phone calls from extended family members all around the country wanting to know when (not if) I’d gotten married – and why they weren’t informed about it. The whole thing snowballed and eventually got so out of hand that even people who knew me relatively well began asking if I’d gotten married in secret. Seldom would a week go by when I wouldn’t receive some congratulatory e-mail, text or phone call from someone from my past that I’d lost contact with. Colleagues routinely complained of being harassed by questions from people who knew they worked on my show. There were even a couple of menacing e-mails from folks angered that I had entered into a nikah (marriage) with a man.
After a couple months the gossip-fest surrounding my big fat phoney wedding had reached such epidemic proportions and levels of absurdity that amusement gave way to curiosity and fascination. I had so many questions : How did the rumour start – and who started it and why? How had it spread so far, so quickly? Not to mention uncovering the identity of the lucky fella I’d supposedly married!
But the question that kept playing over and over in my head was…
Why would people be so eager and willing to believe something that far-fetched and unsubstantiated?
I mean, the folks who bought the bollocks weren’t a bunch of giggly, gullible adolescents. They were educated, intelligent grown-ups – seriously discussing my mythical wedding at dinner tables and parties – without a shred of evidence to prove that it actually happened. Surely they realised that if I did say “I do” (to another man, no less) there would have been some mention of it in the press? Some wedding photos or paparazzi pics floating around on the internet maybe? A public record of my marriage license?
Months after the rumour first surfaced more details started coming to light, like where the rumour began, who instigated it and who stood to gain from the resultant exposure – and how the darn thing managed to spread so far and fast!
Ironically, it turns out that my fake-wedding rumours gained most momentum and ground at other real weddings. And because Indians typically attend loads of these, it didn’t take long for the skinder to reach a tipping point – and spread throughout the country and beyond (if the mall lady is to believed). It never ceases to amaze me how some people will start to treat fiction as fact if enough people say it is.
Fast-forward 8 years to 2015 – and there are still some folks out there who genuinely believe that I got hitched.
For others, it’s an ongoing subject of curiosity…
Well, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it’s getting a little tired. So I lured you here with the title of this post to kill the suspense – and lay the rumour to rest, once and for all. As much as some of you want it to be true, there’s a reason your “Imraan Vagar Wedding” web searches haven’t yielded any conclusive pictures or results all these years…
Because it never happened.
I’m sorry if you’re disappointed.
But I won’t make you leave completely empty handed. Here’s one I call “Imraan Vagar Bedding” – taken by the only person I’m likely to marry, by the way.
Oh, and when we do, I promise you’ll be the first to know.
Till then, I’ll leave you with my parting line to the lady at the beginning of this article:
“The next time you nice folks decide to throw me a wedding, please do me the courtesy of inviting me.”