Enough with the theorizing, and the speculating and the characterizing. The juicy, exciting pages of the urban, single girl’s diaries are coming right up. Now, it’s time to let the tableau play out, in first person.
The stage is set. The pros and cons weighed. Background checks done. Families convinced. The only thing remaining is to see if all that labor will turn into a wedding and marriage or go to waste. It’s time to meet the boys my parents have selected for me. God, or Murphy, only knows what is to come.
The stage – my living room – has been put together with a lot of effort – backbreaking to be more precise – and everyone is on board with how the afternoon shall proceed. Calling people over on a Sunday was just pure genius on my parents’ part. The one day I was hoping I could get out of home and chill out at a cafe with my friends and complain about work and how much I’m not saving, has turned into the day of entertaining prospects.
My grandmother is excited. Her granddaughter is finally getting married and she will be alive to see it happen. How blessed she is! The fact that our family elders have a history of living really long lives is clearly not a point of consideration for her. Everyone’s running around frantically getting food ready, getting the house in order, hiding everything that can’t be sorted out immediately, under the bed or out in the balcony where no one will see it. For just a few short moments, my apartment looks like something out of the pages of Good Housekeeping.
I’m sitting quietly in a room, reading a book, when the guests arrive – the boy, his aunt and the person who suggested this match. Everyone is greeted, and I don’t want to be left out of the festivities, so I walk out to say hello. For a moment, my mother faints internally, my younger brother is too amused, my father remains stoic. Greetings are exchanged and it’s time for my least favorite ritual: Serving the guests juice. Thankfully it was juice and not hot tea.
For a moment, my life was straight out of the scenes of a Tamil film, I was offering a glass of orange juice to a mustachioed stranger, while my family smiled on. After that particularly awkward ritual, it was time to be sent off to a quiet, unobtrusive corner of my apartment where I could get better acquainted with the boy and decide if I wanted to chase my happily ever after with him. The first few minutes are hell on my ever-talkative nerves. If this were another social situation, I would have talked up a storm, but I don’t know what to say to this person.
A few seconds later, I figured, let’s start it with “What’s your name?” It’s the best bet. I look innocent, and he knows the right answer to this question, so he can’t make a mistake! After that, things get a little easier and I begin talking. A few minutes into it, he says “Do you speak Malayalam? I prefer talking in Malayalam.” I mentally roll my eyes, “No, I don’t speak Malayalam very comfortably. But I can speak.”
“Your eyebrows are nicely shaped, do you visit the parlor often?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“How often? Everyday, once a week, once a month?”
“I don’t count.”
“You know, no one talks in my house. We’re very silent people.” (God, no!)
“Do you read?”
“I don’t see the point in reading books. I don’t read anything.”
“No. I don’t read newspapers. They are a waste of time.”
Someone notices that we’ve been talking for a long time and decides to come in and say something supposedly funny. I cannot wait to get out of this conversation. Someone who doesn’t think reading is a good habit cannot possibly be a good match for me.
After a few more minutes of painstaking attempts at communication, it is decided that the time to leave has come. And he leaves. This once, my family, especially my aunt and brother, unanimously agree that it was a bad idea.
A few months later, I met someone else…
[To be continued]
For other parts of this six-part Kalyanam Chronicles series, click on the links below.