When ‘they’ came!
I was told the previous night that someone was coming to ‘see’ me. That’s what we call it in India when we are arranging a meeting for fixing up a marital alliance. Everybody knew that it’s too early for me to even think of it, and that I had no plans for marriage right now. So, I asked my parents why were my ‘prospective in-laws’ visiting us in the first place when it wasn’t gonna lead to anything. I was then promised that it would be nothing but a Sunday brunch with random relatives.
Next morning, when they arrived, I was taking shower. As I came out of shower, I heard my parents singing out eulogies for me. Holy crap! My feet were too frozen to go downstairs and enter the room amidst the eulogy session and do a ‘meet the parents’ there! I called up a friend to tell him I was feeling shy and scared by the heavy weight of the sights of everyone around me in next few minutes. He told me to relax and better concentrate on recipe of Samosa, so that I can narrate it when people do not believe that I prepared them, which of course I hadn’t.
For the ease of writing, the prospective in-laws will be called Mr and Mrs. Mr asked me the break up of my salary. I literally had no clue. Every month when salary arrives in my salary account, I silently transfer a fixed amount in my dad’s account, pay my credit card, mobile and other bills and have a look at the amount left, to decide how I am gonna live in the coming month! So I could not divulge details on this question of Mr, which seemed to have left him in some doubts. Mrs asked me if I wanted the girl to work after marriage or stay at home. What the hell was I gonna say to that.. I simply told them that I had’t even thought of any of this, there was nothing I could comment. But my SBMA blood was boiling now after being a part of gender activities in garhwal! so I did probe them why they want me to decide what she wanted to do after marriage. They were so typical. They repeated the exact same thing what my parents had said to the other party in such meetings when we were looking for alliance for my sister, ‘हमने तो कह दिया है बेटी से , अभी घर में रह, बाद में ससुराल में जाके कर लेना जो करना है , as if in sasural, she will have her will!
In fact at this point, this struck me for the first time that if I end up marrying into such a family, I will be having two set of similar parents, & families both of which will be of thinking wavelength different from mine. Handling one itself is taxing, what I am gonna do against the power of two! I am sure that any alliance through my parents will present this power of two. So I gotta find someone before I get overpowered by the power of two.
I forgot to mention the eulogy that was harped in my presence. “Our son has no bad qualities – doesn’t drink , doesn’t smoke, doesn’t eat non-veg.” None of which was true! I noticed that this has been happening ever since I could remember. Is it that my parents did not know that I do all these, or that it’s a formal ritual to make this statement in such meetings? I remember hearing about a guy in Kumaon who could not get married after 35 because of his honesty which made him mention in every meeting that he drank.
What are these arrange marriages, if they begin with hiding things? How come a sea of humanity believes and respects this kind of institution when majority of these marriages begin like this? It seems to be a done thing, an unwritten rule. I discussed with some married couples and they told that of course no one affirms when asked such questions as ‘do you drink’, ‘do you dope’, this is how it works always.
Towards the end, the most embarrassing thing happened. I thought I would not need to blush or anything. But how could this be complete without that. My parents asked me in front Mr and Mrs when we should go to see the girl. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat? I thought it was just a brunch, I could digest the questions of marital enquiries, but ‘meet the girl’? I gave the best blush possible. Mr and Mrs told me not feel shy, and that I could visit them anytime, and that I could meet her in Maaaaalll also. I had blushed enough now, did not know what to do next because don’t-feel-shy commandments were being issued from all directions now!
At this critical point, I was saved by a phone call, which we all knew must be from didi. I ran before my dad could pick the receiver and thanked her for calling, which I never do otherwise! I spent as much time on call as I could as against usually telling her in 5 mins that I was hanging up. As I finished with the call hoping that festival downstairs must be over by now, my parents and other parents came upstairs in my room to see the rest of the house. Anyways, they left soon expecting that we would visit them in the evening to see the girl, which my parents were eagerly looking forward to.
It’s intereting for me to now that for the first time, I kinda felt empowered. I kinda feel that I am now in a position when people will wait for my decision, although everyone comes into this position at least once, so it’s not really a big deal. But it was my first time. Was it because I am an Indian male or that now I am of marriageable age?
After they left, mummy asked me ‘क्या करना है ’?
‘what do you mean क्या करना है , it was only for formality, we were all clear that nothing will happen out of it’
My dad added, ‘क्या पता पसंद आ जाए तो कर भी लें’.
By now a filter was already plugged in my head to ignore the talks around and enjoy my soap ‘how I met your mother’