During my early years after graduation I landed in Jamnagar(Gujarat) after the long hunt for a job. I had to share two room apartment with two more guys. Ravi of Vizak and John of Goa. John reminded me of Ravi’s marriage plan. An engineer-MBA. He comes from a traditional family of Vizak. But he was born and brought up in Chennai.
He is a bachelor and that is the root of all his woes. Ravi was just back to work after his one week vacation. ?My parents want me to get married and settle down,? he confessed during one of the post-lunch sessions that we usually had. ?My mother tried to talk about a girl night before I left from Chennai.? ?What did you do?? I asked him. ?Just walked out of the room,? he said, tapping the ash off his cigarette.
Bachelorhood was Ravi’s prime possession. He confided to me that he had seen the world. Translated, it meant he had gone out with all sorts of females. Initially I found it strange that Ravi chose to share such a tantalizing piece of information with me. We had just become friends for the last six months and were still opening up ourselves to each other. I wondered how a maverick like him would withstand parental coercion in this usual domain of conflict.
?How long do you want to remain a bachelor?? I dared him.
?Yaar, I just don’t want to lose my bachelorhood. I don’t want to pawn my freedom in lieu of responsibility. And the idea of sharing my lifetime with a person whom I don’t know a bit is scary to me. This idea of an arranged marriage makes me nervous and lost.?
?Can’t you ask your parents to wait some more?? I suggested.
?No yaar, they don’t understand a bit of it? Ravi expressed his dilemma.
Sitting with Ravi on the cemented platform outside our balcony, I imagined him in a disco, tall, dark and dapper Ravi – drunk, dancing with a human torso. He had a lot of pride in himself. He was creative, unlike his other friends, which he thought qualified him to be rated above others. And this he did not do disparagingly. That way, he was a true gentleman.
Several days passed, Ravi had not talked about his marriage again with me. I was curious.
?Did you see the girl’s photo?? I asked him one day. I was keen to see the photo of the girl his parents wanted him to marry. ?Nahin Yaar,? he said with some irritation. ?That photo is yet to arrive. Instead, that girl’s uncle from Vizak has arrived here last night. I have not been able to sleep since then. And you know, the funniest thing is that my parents are jubilant over this old man’s arrival.?
?Really? That’s crazy,? I said, provoking him to divulge more details.
Ravi yelled, ?Not only that, my parents.. don’t know what has happened to their brains. You know they keep on discussing the possible date of the marriage. I have heard them talk about the venue and even the menu for the party. Tonight I got to speak to my cousin in Vizak who started all this fuss. He had suggested this girl to my parents.? His face was livid and he was trembling with anger.
I asked him, ?Why are your parents so much after this girl? I mean why there is so much excitement? Is it the only girl who has shown a matrimonial interest in you as if she is the only respectable bride for you in the entire universe?? I tried to match my pitch of voice with the intensity of his anger!! But this time he was calm, unprovoked, solemn and reasonably subdued.
He explained, ?Okay, let me make this episode clear to you. We are a close community whose members have to marry within the clan itself. Most of the young people of my community, after finishing their education here, go abroad. There they land with some kind of cushy jobs. After working for a few years in countries like USA or UK, they come back home to build or buy expensive houses, buy their parents a trendy car, catch the best girls in the matrimonial market and fly back with lumpsum that come as dowry. See, for example, all my cousins are in the US. I’m the only one left in India now. My parents keep harping about my poor exercise of wisdom. This is why they want me to marry this girl, lest I lose my power of choice.?
Days passed. The photo of the girl never came. He still looked tormented. Ravi again had an emergency call from his parents from Chennai and he had to take a weekend off to see his family astrologer.
I was busy watching my favorite hero on “Kon Banega Karodpati” he entered my room. Ravi was back from Chennai with a wide smile playing on his pencil thin lips, his eyes glowing. I immediately knew there was some good news. I casually asked him, ?So what happened, man??
?Arrey yaar, I am relieved now,? he said. Silence followed.
?So, you are marrying the girl??
?No. In fact, my parents have dropped the idea for sometime.?
?How did this miracle happen?? I asked.
?Very simple. An astrologer came to our house. Looking at my horoscope, he declared that this year was not at all auspicious for my marriage,? saying this he laughed. He looked totally relaxed. I could believe it for I knew his parents were religious-minded.
?How much did you pay him?? I asked with a wink.
?Two grands,? he said and started laughing. And I joined him in his laughter!
Author: Jeevan Pinto- USA