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Hitches in getting hitched
Kishore Singh |
July 12, 2005
he other day my daughter asked, "Are you and Mama divorcing?"
"Ohmigosh," I said. "She and I had a scrap over the unmade beds, but I didn't know she'd taken it to heart."
"She must have," butted in my son, "which is why she's studying the matrimonial classifieds in the papers."
"You think we're splitting just because your mum's looking at the ads?" I laughed in relief.
"Well," said my daughter, "she is circling some of them, and has made a few calls asking people how much they earn and so on, which can only mean she wants to leave you and marry someone else."
"I've also spotted her on the matrimonial sites on the Net," added my daughter, "and peeped over her shoulder to see her writing to ask someone whether he was tall or short?"
In the face of the mounting evidence, it did look like my wife was hatching something, so we decided we'd humour her with a bit of pampering. My daughter insisted on accessorising her clothes, my son kept her in wine and pasta, even I took her out shopping, much to her astonishment. But we could see she'd grown addicted to the matrimonials.
The phone rang in the middle of this family bonding and my wife picked it up. "Ah," she said, "finally I get to speak to you instead of your mom. Tell me, are you a mama's boy?" We all listened avidly.
"No, no," she said after a pause, "you can't expect to live in a joint family after you're married, you must move out with your new wife." And, again, "Well, if that's the way you feel, then I can't help you, and you'll probably remain a bachelor."
To say we were astounded was putting it mildly.
"What will you do now?" whispered my daughter.
"Will the cook stay with you or Mama?" asked my son practically.
I waved them into silence because my wife was still on the phone: "Who am I?" she was saying, "I am her aunt, that's who I am."
"Phew," I said, the penny dropping into place, "I think she's trying to set up an alliance for my niece."
"But shouldn't my cousin find someone to marry herself?" my son demanded to know.
"If she could have," my wife hung up on the caller, "she'd have done so by now. But seeing how no one seems the least bit concerned, I've decided to find her someone nice to get married to. Only," she sighed, "it seems very difficult to find any nice boys at all."
"That can't be true," I said, "for India is full of well-qualified young men from good backgrounds."
"I'm sure that's true," said my wife, "but I haven't found them yet."
She then proceeded to tell us about some she'd been in touch with. One asked if she looked like Aishwarya Rai, another said he didn't want a working wife, a third said she must live with his mother in the village.
One boy's mother said she wanted a religious daughter-in-law, another demanded dowry, while one prospective groom's father wanted to know what her inheritance was. A would-be groom wanted a wife who had been trained at a call centre to speak with an American twang. One insisted on a vegetarian bride, another specified a preference for someone with hair streaked blonde.
"What do they think I am," she protested, "a female-order catalogue?"
We hastened to assure her that she meant well.
"That's true," she agreed, "but since I have now decided not to search any more for a groom for your niece, and no one else seems interested in the task, I'm afraid she'll have to find herself a husband on her own."