(Continued after the roommate's story)
There is a proposal and the father liked the boy. Silently, he had put in a paper on her table.
“here's the password … you have to key in this to see the photo of the boy. Give one more try, let's reach out,” he left her to that.
Once again she should dress up for a stranger. Once again she should feign ignorance and look at a distance when that pig should look at her breasts in the pretext of wiping the beads of sweats from his face. Once again she should discuss about 'their future together' which should end at 'adjustment' being the key word and not 'compromise,' 'respect for each other' be the golden phrase rather than 'love for the spouse.' love in an arranged marriage happens, one of her married friend, now a mother of two, told her – in a way that you end up loving the sugarless tea that you started at the advice of your doctor. There is no way escaping love in an arranged marriage. You fall for the habit of smelling each other's farts and continue trying to get a sleep without irritating your nostrils. That is precisely the love in a married life … you cannot ignore the habit of each other. In all married lives, you develop this habit to survive. Only that in arranged marriages you survive cause you don't blame yourself, but your parents. In love marriages, you commit suicide, if you can't muster the courage of a divorce. You can't forgive yourself, can you?
and she will keep quiet knowing fully well that the person sitting opposite her is devouring every bit of her flesh. He is looking for that slight hint of the cleavage whenever she is moving her body a bit, to figure out the size of her assets and the deepness where he should hide his sweaty face after office – to get the refreshing smell of, as poets say, some kind of a flower or some such shit. It is accepted if he flirts a bit, it is against the rule if she does that, at least in the first day, first show.
It is forbidden if she speaks her heart out. She is not a 'bombshell' so she cannot afford to talk lose. She has to make good the lack of a sex-goddess look with her intelligence, although, always careful that that penicillin dosage is weighed carefully and delivered as per the patient's capacity. Bit more of it, as she has seen in the past, the patients die, some immediately and some in the long run.
She should gracefully accept that even as she ranked as the first in her university during her graduation and post-graduation it was achieved by her sheer memory and because she had nothing better to do in life that time other than studying. All toppers always do that, especially if that person is of fairer sex. The average scorers, of course, have a host of activities to take care of and education and exams are just one of that. The reason why they are now a 'wholesome' package, irresistible to girls of all hue and colours, and brains (if they have any). And in the arranged marriage market, all men are such wholesome packages, their parents will vouch for that and the would be bride's parents wholesomely would endorse that.
How she wished this business of arranged marriages be abolished from the society. How she wished this business of marriage be abolished altogether. How she wished there be no men in this world … and no women too. Only neutrals and animals.
She doesn't think she is a feminist. In fact, she hates feminists who declare their equality by burning their bras and wearing a man's dresses and staying filthy. She loves her skin, she loves the shape of her protruded and arrogant butt. She loves the uppish nipples of hers and the mysterious cave of her naval. When she is in her elements she runs her hand gently on them … she can't believe these are her own.
Equally, she can't accept these are for somebody else's pleasure!!! the right to destroy these flowers has been vested to some arrogant little bastard who is yet to come in her life but will come for sure. She can't believe she has to surrender this beautiful kingdom of her to a tyrant attacker who believes in blood, butchering and might. One day she has to surrender and hand over all her jewels to the person who just happened in her life. Just as accident happens, just as that middle aged man who traveled with you for eight hours in a train and talked about the world suddenly groped you in the pretext of stumbling upon the suitcase. Just as the pillion rider of the motorcycle that passed you just now did a nasty thing to you. You don't even get the time to react, accidents happen so fast. You can't even cry because many others will laugh seeing you sad.
Arranged marriages and the consequences thereof are one such accident. Only that you are okay to undress in front of the stranger and it is okay if he undresses you to 'consummate' the ritual and start a 'new life,' which again, is the happy name of a big, nasty accident. You suddenly find yourself surrounded by hundreds of strangers in different roles who wish you give them their due.
How she wished she was not a woman, not a man, not a eunuch, but a neutral in the world of neutrals.
She doesn't want to marry. But she will, in search of a different life and for the sake of her father. Her father, the only normal and respectable male she has ever come across, wants to see her married before he succumbs to the charm of his “secret second lover,” as he puts it – a rather fancy name for lung cancer.
It's more than one year that they have started their search for a 'suitable groom,' only to discover the real value of women in this world – that of a neglected, humiliated, tortured commodity.
After the latest round of marriage talks were called off as the daughter told the prospective groom, in a rather over the top voice, at a rather crowded, fancy restaurant to “fuck off,” after the boy suggested that she should join grooming classes to know how to come properly dressed and behave at a good restaurant lest his prestige and reputation as a rising high court lawyer goes for a toss, the frustrated father had to confess that he had no idea that human beings have become so shallow and hollow. He had to confess that remaining single is better than marrying one of such characters who believes human beings should behave as per the rules laid down by a certain bunch of jokers. But still, he wants the daughter to get married, at least try and reach out … many a times people just don't reach out and many a gems are lost forever.
“LET'S REACH OUT” is the poster her father has put in her bedroom, apparently to charge her up.
“i would not have insisted if you were not in this country,” he says. “It's very hard, almost impossible, for a single woman to have a decent, safe life here, in his opinion.
“crows won't spare you if they know you don't have a strong wing to fly off or a sharp claw to defend with.”
“who are the crows? Why can't I fight them”
“can you fight me?”
“what do you mean?”
“are you sure I am not one of those crows in search of a weak small birdie? What do you know about me really? The other side of me? I am talking about crows like me. The raven though, is the society.”
“and I don't want to know your make believe world. You don't have the heart to kill an ant. You are the weak birdie here, not me. I am a career woman.”
“so you need a career man.”
“but why do I need a man?”
“as I said, every woman in this country needs a body guard and well, biotechnology has not yet overcome societal norms I guess … you want to have them for babies may be?”
“but why do I need babies?”
“so that you can curse yourself why you had them because years of adulation and love won't make them listen to one plea of yours.”
her father has these nasty habits of blackmailing.
“i cannot stand men, they are pigs.”
“i would have agreed with you almost had I not been one of them and if I only had grown up with piggish men.”
“but they are, aren’t they?”
“I wish we could put different human beings in two three boxes, everything would have been damn easy. But damn everybody is so different than the other. Why, it's a scandal that we ourselves don't know what we are until that particular trait comes out in front of us. You wave your hand … hey buddy, you were here with me? All these years?! in disbelief once you see your unknown side.”
she could'nt help but smile. Papa is such an animated character.
“what's your opinion about women?”
“ah! Very easy. They can be categorised as two: bimbo – as in your mother and would be bimbo – as in you.”
“that's such a sexist comment. Wait, let me tell mom.”
“no. no. please don't. That was only for you to know. I didn't tell this to her in the last thirty years. You can't give this critical feedback on my behalf. Only I can. It's my feedback. I am her lord and master, I mean actually not, but at least on paper.”
“then explain yourself.”
“why should I?”
“hold on. Hold on. She is a bimbo because she left her father's palatial house of opulence to run away with a junior doctor, me – all for love. And you are an would be bimbo because you don't want to experience what it takes to love a person that makes you leave your parents.”
“but I want to fall in love … only that I can't stand men. You have no idea what I face everyday. Almost everyday I cry for a few seconds ...”
this is not the first time they are discussing the same issue and this will not be the last time either. But whenever she says this, her father tightens his fist, his eyes get red with anger and helplessness.
“that is why you should marry and fall in love or fall in love and marry, which can't happen unless you meet people. Listen girl, hatred is good cause when you are tired of it, you move towards love. But don't seal your doors and windows and die of those toxic gases.
“but I can't really love a person, can't court someone.”
“if you have loved your parents, your friends, your dogs and your dogmas, you can love a man too and trust me … a man can love you too! Yes, there are enough cranks in this world to do that. You have to just get your madman. I promise, I wont treat him out of his disease."
“okay okay okay … I have a good news and a bad news for you. Good news is that once again I have got an email from a boy's father stating that his family is interested in our family and that the boy wants to meet the girl first outside somewhere before families get involved. So that's the good news.”
“and the bad is ...”
“that he is a journalist!!!”
“ha ha ha ha ...” both of them started laughing.
She put the password to open the photo of the boy, much after her father left. This is getting so tiring, but she doesn't want to hurt her father. However, increasingly but strangely she is realising a certain vacuum and an urge. she doesn't know why, but she can feel the call to build a nest of her own. She can't believe it too and definitely don't want to acknowledge it even to herself. But everywhere in the air she could feel the call that makes the she-bird look for twigs. She wants to collect her twigs too.
Hey, hold on! Whoa! Isn't it the same one? She has seen this man in television! He is the same guy who throws in cheeky and snide lines during news sessions and on air flirts with his co-anchor. He has definitely got a character and audacity to do that. May be her father is right that male journalists are “bimbo among men” but “very interesting characters” and that “they don't know that they know they are bimbos,” “which is because most of them have come to the profession after becoming spectacular failures in whatever they undertook and they have no place to go, not even to politics.”
the intelligent ones among them, usually, become columnists. But again, they are not journalists. But yes, all of them are different and they are interesting, is how he sizes up journalists.
She must, she must meet this man.
For the first time in her numerous matrimonial visits, she got a bit excited. Excitement of meeting a man gave her goose bumps for the first time in her life. Excitement of almost a blind date swept her in. But the foremost of all, excitement of seeing a man in flesh and blood who comes on television every day!
She knows she has a 'sexy' body. Her friends have told her how jealous they are of her. She could feel the jaw-dropping awe of experienced men in private meetings or when she is walking down the road. She secretly compares herself to whosever's photos she comes across on magazines and newspapers and gets ashamed seeing she scores highly.
she wanted to show all of it to him. She wore a low cut blouse, rapped her saree really tight giving the impression of her curves clean and clear. And ah! She put on that red lipstick that she bought two years back in Hong Kong. “You can kill any man in this world with that wet-red Madam … beware, use it well and only when you really want it,” the saleswoman had packed the cosmetic with these words giving that all meaningful look to her. It made her blush and ensured she never could use that.
Decked up, she took a long look at her reflections on the mirror. She couldn't help but feel sorry for the lawyer she insulted at the restaurant. He has no idea what he has missed!
“Smokin hot bitch you are,” she told her reflection.
She doesn't know why she turns a witch sometimes. 'slut' sounds so sweet at those moments.
To be followed by "the meeting" (if you are not bored already)