In the wake of a couple of events that have featured in my little life, I have a couple of things to state here. Note that I have used the term ‘featured’. This aint a mere decoration – I am comparing my everyday grind to a colourful Bollywood movie. This helps me get past each day, and hey! The comparison isn’t so far-fetched especially if you knew me personally.
A couple of years ago, when my whole life revolved around school tests and class parties, I was a happy, content child (read pimply plain Jane). No one spoke of dating (this is going to raise some eyebrows, you bet!) and ‘men’ would only go as far as some Backstreet Boy or Boyzone fellow. Parents were grateful that ‘Backstreet Boy’ was only a figment seen on TV, and not a real fellow their daughter had taken to. I can understand – imagine my dad scrutinizing my then crush – “he’s got more piercings than you!”. But then, something shatters all this. You emerge out of the cocoon and your parents freak out–she’s growing.
I am losing focus here – I was talking about something crucial to my social life. Back then, there were no worries – at least not to the magnitude I have at the moment. In fact, not too long ago, there were no dearth of friends and hang-out pals. Movies were almost always seen in LARGE packs. But now, it’s like this – “Umm… XYZ, whatchoo doing this Sat? Oh, someone coming to see you, huh? Too bad, gal!”
Did you notice anything strange in that dialogue? (It’s a monologue! I know that, silly! I aint talking about that!) There is some peril lurking in that sentence. It’s dangerous. This situation spells doom to females who aren’t particularly looking out to marry at the moment. That telephone conversation was made with a poor female dost of mine—she is going to display herself in front of a prospective husband. Of course, this exercise involves testing your many skills – the great Indian Balance trick takes the cake. This act involves carrying a tray laden with sweets and chai for the scrubbed fellow and his already belching retinue. The other trick is where, if you are a Southie, you will be moving about as though you are walking on tightrope – of course, the sari pleats add to the discomfort in your queasy tummy. Other highlights — your communication skills, home economics and management skills will be tried and tested. The boy gets to nod yes or no. You can do that too – but who’s watching you anyways??? They’d probably think you are searching for a lost safety pin somewhere near your left big toe. Sounds gruesome? It is.
Let me explain. It sets in pretty innocuously. One morning while your Pa is sitting by the breakfast table and slurping Ma’s tea and lapping up Saddam’s latest antics from the papers, your Ma decides to bug him – she must be getting back at him for not letting her buy those gorgeous new curtains. But all at your expense! To this day I wonder…. Why me?? The monologue begins.
“…Shantha Aunty was telling me about this boy.. ARE YOU LISTENING??”
“huh?… What is it? I told you we don’t need those curtains, yesterday!”
“Who’s talking about the damn curtains? What sort of a father are you?”
“What’s the curtains got to do with my fatherhood, now??”
“I am not talking about the curtains. Have you noticed something about our girl? She’s all grown up”
“My… and what a sweet darling she is!”
“No! No! I am telling you, if we don’t get her a man now, it will be too late!”
“WHAT??? WHO’S HE? IS HE AFTER OUR CHILD?? TELL ME!! I TELL YOU, THESE BUGGERS!!!…@#$@#$(beep)”
**Ma continues to butter her toast – Bingo! She smiles. She knows that the point has been driven straight into the proverbial home. No garage. No garden lawns. Nothing. Literally, in the living room. She maintains her dignified silence while Pa rattles on something about driving a gun up some boy’s you-know-where… Not breakfast conversation material exactly, and I will refrain from re-producing it here**
**Now, Pa is panting from all the exertion. He forgets Saddam. He even forgets our family favourite Garfield!**
Conversation resumes after precisely fifteen seconds and nine nano seconds.
“See… all I am saying is that our girl is now all grown up. We don’t have to wait long enough for her to become an old horse before we find her a groom. Please think about this matter seriously!”
Conversation terminated and before you know it, it is time to see the photo album. This invaluable album comprises of the best of the best ‘well-settled, God-fearing boys’. When all the eye candy is lapped up, we get to choose who all can see us. Wee, what fun.
Unfortunately, in some cases, this particular process is skipped. The GUY gets to just drop in!
I ought to give more insight on how this guy-girl seeing business is handled all over the nation. After posting this piece, I am setting off to conduct thorough research on the various rites and courtship rituals followed by remote Naga tribes and urban metro folks. I have zeroed in on one conclusion, though (this is even without that research! Man! A’int I smart??). This custom is dying. And responsible elders are striving hard to keep it still alive. Honour killings and boycotting love affairs are the most commonly practiced tactics. Some lenient ones give in, but not before displaying the daughter to at least some fellows of their choice!
While you ponder on the deeper nuances of this seemingly useless blog entry, I will take my leave. I need to get my tickets reserved. For Nagaland, of course.