Sunday, March 08, 2009

Notes on matrimony and other grown-up matters

Last week, for a few moments, i found myself in a state of restricted motion and unable to react with anything more than a few incomprehensible syllables. And this, when there was not a hint of alcohol anywhere around or in me. The incident that caused me to enter such a state of immobility was the sight of an old friend staring away at me from a photograph with a tired yet glowing smile on her face and a slightly more conspicuous live infant in her cradled hands. Now, said friend is one i have known since she wore school uniforms, so the sight of her in a maternity gown had roughly the same effect on me as a well-aimed wooden club at the back of the head. And did i mention the baby in her arms? Thud!

Of course, once the stun-ray effect had worn off, i was all smiles and warm with good wishes for the newly-mommied friend, the sweet little baby and the new pa, who in another pic had that look of slight belief which seems to suggest, "Did I do that now?" - so perhaps a few extra wishes for the hubby-slash-daddy. What also occurred to me is how suddenly i seem to know an ever-increasing number of people who have just been married, or are in the last few laps leading to matrimony, and of course this friend already bearing offspring and what not. A college friend i am very fond of got herself bound in matrimony last month and at least two more good friends and a small army of cousins, close and distant, are scheduled to walk the proverbial aisle before 2009 sets. The only aisles i've been walking - and will be walking for some time to come - are those on buses (there was that one occasion when i got to walk the aisle of an airplane last year but the mind-numbing in-flight 'entertainment' ensured that that was no experience to store in memory).

The age at i am is one where the elders in a regular Indian family start assuming that it is their duty and service to society to hitch every human young and single and rid society of the evil that is the unmarried youth above the ripe age of say, 28. The first wave arrives in the form of the generation two levels over - the grandparents, the great-uncles and -aunts and of course the Seniors' Special - the unidentified, crotchety relative, generally found in family weddings, who pinches your father's cheeks, then yours, comments on how much weight your mother has put on, launches herself into a serious discussion on how it is vital for today's kids to realize the importance of an early marriage set up by the family elders and proceeds to rattle of names of families in the community who house eligible single members of the sex opposite to yours. The second wave, the mom-dad generation, joins forces with the first soon - more orthodox the family, the sooner the amalgamation of forces.

Thankfully, my family seems more relaxed in these matters. Either that or they are resigned to the fact that this son of theirs is what is not so kindly known as a lost cause and they should focus instead on rearing the younger son for matrimonial bliss. Not that i am opposed to marriage, really. Or am i? Weddings are fun, come to think of it – free food, lots of it, happy people everywhere. But then i pass this judgment based on the weddings i have been to, none of which were mine. It’s the parts after which seem to be what i am averse to. To be specific, i am referring to the parts from the next morning onwards, lest you comment harshly on my sanity. But maybe the daily dribble of marriage won’t be too tough either, will it? At least it did not seem so when i played house with my neighbour at age 7.

Eureka! I know exactly what i need to do. That’s what’s going to get everyone happy – me, the family elders, the guy who sells crockery articles which are gifted to newlyweds and which end up lying unused for the first 16 years of marriage when the couple decides to pass on the same unopened gift to another unsuspecting marrying twosome in an act of typical middle-class thriftiness. You know what i’m thinking about. Yes, that’s absolutely correct. I need to find myself someone to play house with.


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