Daughters? Get them married

It all began when my father’s friend called and said, “Just drop everything and come.”  

“What happened?  Is Aunty all right?” I asked.  

“Yes, we have some very good news for you.”  Click.  He had already disconnected the landline.  I smiled.  Ram Uncle never used a mobile.  Nor did he ever waste time over greetings or good-byes.

When I got off the auto and entered their house, Aunty said, “Congratulations!” and thrust a peda into my mouth.  Was she mad or was I dreaming?  Uncle grinned, “She has found you two sons-in-law.” He snapped his fingers, “Just like that.”   

Aunty looked smug, “Remember I introduced my friend to you at the satsang where your daughters sang?  You also met her son and nephew there.  Well, my friend’s son is simply smitten by Divya and her nephew wants to marry Maitri. Isn’t that great? Your responsibilities are over.  You can sit back and stop searching.”

 “But Aunty, I haven’t even begun.  Vasu and I discussed it with Divya and Maitri.  They refuse to consider marriage at present.” I instantly became a human target.

This is the ideal age.  Divya is almost 25 and Maitri is 23. They’ve finished studying and are working now.  How much longer will you wait?  The later they marry the less choice they have.  Moreover, these boys are very well qualified – one is a doctor and the other a CA.  We’ve known their families since two decades.  They are extremely nice people. Be firm with Divya and Maitri. Convince them. You will never get a better match. Discuss it and get back to us.”

As I returned home, my mind was in a whirl.  This kind of social pressure was definitely daunting. Uncle and Aunty were very convincing and most people would agree with them 100%.  Yet, my own upbringing clashed with their belief system. My parents had three daughters and they never made us feel marriage was mandatory.  They told us we were free to decide for ourselves and meant it too.  I felt the same way about Divya and Maitri.  Though I would be very happy if they found compatible partners, I have never believed that marriage is the panacea for all ills. I have seen too many marriages go awry to believe that. Marriage and motherhood require a certain temperament.  They need the strong shock absorbers of commitment, common sense, adaptability and humour to make them pleasurable.  Otherwise, life becomes more misery than fun. I feel each person has the right to decide when they want to marry and whether they want to marry at all.

Anyway, I decided to see how things would go and broached the subject at dinner.  Divya smiled sweetly and said, “Why not? I’m sure we would love to marry strangers.  Anything to oblige you and your friends.”   

Maitri said, “You’re not serious, are you, Mommy?  I never expected you of all people to ask us this.  Which zamana are you in, anyway?” The next day I rang Ram Uncle and told him, as gently as I could, that those wedding bells would not ring any time soon.

Rrrring. Rrrring. I squinted sleepily at my mobile.  1 am.  It was Manasa, my old classmate.  Why couldn’t she ever get the time zones right?  “Hello,” I croaked.  Her voice sounded crisp and fresh. “Good morning Vani.  Have you started looking for grooms for your daughters?  I recently met some very eligible bachelors here.  If Divya or Maitri want to settle in America, we could easily make it happen.”  I groaned loudly and disconnected the call.   

Well, as I said, that was only the beginning.

 From a trickle, it’s now an avalanche. I’m convinced there’s a cosmic conspiracy going on.  I don’t know how they plan it, but not a day goes by without a friend, foe or stranger asking, “So, have you started looking for - ” On the bus, in queues, in malls, on Facebook, SMS, Whatsapp, phone or face to face!

Especially at weddings.  I never knew I had so many well-wishers.  Just a while ago no one cared what I did with my life.  Now, suddenly, it’s everybody’s business.  I’m sure they mean well, all of them - and I understand where they come from.  Unfortunately, they completely fail to understand me.  How can you not be anxious about the future of your daughters?  How can you not be searching frantically for Mr Right?  It’s in their eyes and faces, if not on their tongues!  

Yesterday, the dhobi came to return our clothes.  Pocketing the money, he said, “Akka, I want to ask you something.  Have you started - ” I hurriedly said, “Sorry, the milk is on the stove,” and ran into the kitchen.  

From tomorrow I’m going to carry a small board that says ‘Don’t even ask.’  Or, at the risk of sounding really rude, how about ‘Mind your own business’?