The beginning

Arranged Marriage.jpgA phone call woke me up at 8.34 in the morning on a typical Saturday. Tired from the late night movie session I initially  thought of not turning around to pick my phone but the voices in my head knew it was family calling and not picking up would mean a long lecture on how I should change my lifestyle and wake up early and anything and everything going on in my life.

It was my dad calling from his phone. It meant only two things, I have done something I was not supposed to do or I am in for some serious life changing lecture. I sat on my little bunk bed and picked up, dad said, “Good morning, You just woke up isn,t it?”.

“No No Papa. Good morning and pranam. I have been up for quite sometime now”, I said in a very alert voice not to leave a little trace of sleep in my voice.

“Can you send us a couple of your pictures “, he said. There were little background noises which i could imagine my mom making trying to tell dad some non important things while he was on the phone, just a habit.

There was an awkward silence after I heard him and I knew it wasn’t what I thought it is about, it was worse.

“Ok papa”, I said its funny how I have always been very scared of dad when there isn’t anything so scary about him. I have always said yes to any he has ever asked me to do without questions and dad knew it.

“Talk to your mummy”. Somehow it has always happened that when it comes to explanations it has to be mom. This was the time when i talk more than ok. I ask question, I raise my voice, I get angry, I cry, I show happiness and a hell more than what i show to my dad.

“Hello Beta. actually day before yesterday Madhu bhabhi called us to tell that they are looking for a girl for their nephew and she thought you could be a perfect choice and by evening the mother of the guy called and asked for your birth date and… hello are you listening?”, it was as if she has memorized these sentences and rehearsed them a number of times before calling me.

It was very funny because a few days back I was told that sitting in such an isolated place which is Calcutta, irony!!!  I have become very content and comfortable in my a job barely giving me 27k for working 11 hours a day while others who were with me are playing in good money, good firms , good places and I should do something big, dream big and with all that I should come back home. All the while she was speaking I really wanted to ask her, this is what you all met by big.

“Mummy, you couldn’t even call me once in two whole days about this whole thing. I mean bhabhi called you day before yesterday we talked yesterday about how curd shouldn’t be eaten at dinner because it can hurt my throat for an hour. Literally an hour!!”,  I was pissed, very pissed. But then I am a 24-year-old girl who doesn’t want to study more, may be switch to a better job and finally marry. Being raised in a very conservative family in terms of marriage and relationships I had already made up my mind to not fall for anyone and let my parents do the selection so I really wanted to hear what my mom had to say.

“Ya then what happened, you would have given my entire bio data so far and certainly they would have identified me on social media why do they need a picture”.

“No stop it listen first then make your assumptions. They matched the horoscope through computer and it matched nicely and also they are very good Brahmins. Family is really good. Madhu has assured. We really like it”.

It’s so surprising that the idea of arrange marriages isn’t about love at first, it isn’t about the guy or the girl but its all about the family. I guess that why people say in India marry is more about family than individuals

“The guy? I don’t think it matters what is family is until they are taking adopting me”, I was angry for sure. Why? I really had no answer to it.

It was pretty interesting that my mother went on very smoothly on this one and said, “We have to understand the family first that whether it is worth talking or not. it’s not like we will get you married off without knowing about the guy. The guy works in an MNC in Gurgaon. He is decently educated, avid traveler and does make good money”.

As per my stubborn, rebellious brain i just said,  “I don’t know any of that how could you just not tell me when it’s my marriage you are talking about. I don’ feel like sending the pictures.”

“Yes it is your marriage and we can’t tell you everything before knowing  the possibility of a situation.  We have seen so many guys, with few your kundali doesn’t match,few are so elder, few families are such that you can’t settle in. Don’t be foolish, if we tell you about all the guys as soon as we hear them you wouldn’t like it, either”. It was here I draw a line. I didn’t ask for any answers because I knew she was sort of right but I was unhappy about marriage may be because I have failed to believe this is how a typical arranged setup work.

“Can I see the guy? how old is he?”, I tried showing some interest. 

“Send us your pictures recent ones and I am asking papa to sent you the pictures of the guy. serious suggestion, Dont overreact on everything bacha. Bubye”

“Bye Maa”.

All trough my teenage I wanted to get married in a typical Bollywood way which goes on like i will meet the guy, we will fall in love, tell our parents, we will have an amazing wedding but this was different I saw that how an arranged setup is driven up mostly by  logic  and not by general emotions like love at the very beginning.

With endless thoughts and weird feelings I got down from my little bunk bed and waiting patiently for that one mail from dad to see who it might be.

to be continued..

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It was not us.. It was just me…!!

It was not in your arms I felt secured…
It was your eyes I tried to see my safe world…

It was not your lips I craved for…
It was your words I lost my soul too…

It was not in the hugs, you gave me the warmth…
It was in your smile, I felt the chills down my spine…

It was not the time you touched me I went mad…
It was the time when you took my name made me go insane..

It was not the time I scribbled our names together..
It was the time when your name flashed on my phone screen…

It was not the time when you were close…
It was the time when you were away but my eyes searched for you in the empty spaces…

It was not the future I was worried about…
It was the present I was living into…

It was not love I was falling in…
It was an experience an unnamed, untamed leaving me unconscious at all times..

It was not you I was ready to die for. .
It was your essence I lived with…

Keeping Up with the Virtual life

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It was nine in the morning, his mother had just finished washing utensils after an early breakfast of poha. He came to the kitchen and stood close to his mother who was wiping her hands with a kitchen towel and said, “Maa, I need two thousand rupees. I want to go out with my friends”. She turned towards him looked at him and said in a sarcastic voice, “two thousand rupees!! Isn’t it too much for a 10th class student and that too for a random outing” and went to the drawing-room. He followed her and sat next to her in their 10-year-old sofa where she turned the pages of Danik Jagran. He said in a very humble but sobbing voice, “everyone is bringing this much only and I have to go this time don’t say no please”.

They belonged to a middle class family and he was the fifth child of the house. He had four elder sisters three were married and the youngest was pursuing her B.Com from DU. They lived in a rented house in Mayur Vihar, Delhi. A small two bedroom apartment cost them almost 15k a month. For a retired man, it was too much yet years of planning made it possible for his dad to stay in Delhi and give good quality education for his children.

Being an aggressive and strict man nothing came to him directly, it had to travel through mom. From decisions on how and where to spend money, going out, career related almost all of them, it was her job to convince him. So getting mom in confidence was the first thing to do.

She wasn’t listening or maybe she was but pretending not to. Noticing the arrogance and ignorance of mom he began to raise his voice and in not more than 10 mins the request became a list of complains on how students of his age are chilling out and having fun and how he is stuck in has never demanding anything etc.

After an hour long one-sided discussion, she said “We are not like others and you better stop complaining. You have been given the best of resources a 10 grade student should be given”. Her words were dripping with exasperation and firmness.

He stood up and left.

She took a long breath and went back into the newspaper thinking it was an end of the conversation although it was the beginning of a something very big.

He came back to the room with his phone which his sisters gifted him after his repeated request. He sat very peacefully and opened Facebook and then the said, “Maa, have a look” and turned the phone to her.

“These are check-ins of Ishaan. Look where all he has gone and you know maa his papa works at a very small company and doesn’t earn very well”.

He kept on showing pictures and check-ins of people and finally took the phone to open zomato and selected a very expensive restaurant in hauz khas village.

“This is the place I wanted to go in, and not just me all of us”, he said with glittering eyes.

She didn’t know what to say. She didn’t had an answer but still she tried explaining and said “look son, people often go to eat out but your parents are pretty old to enjoy such delicacies and then it is useless expenditure. We often go to eat out may be not at such high-profile places but we give you the best we can”.

His eyes start to water and he said “Mom, they think I am not as well off as they are and I don’t have anything to say when they comment on each other pictures and suggest places. Sometime I read from internet and just to show that I know places too I take names of good places but now they say show us or upload a picture”

“Who are they“, she said. She has never seen her son cry and it was all very new to her. She could not understand half of the things he said and even if she did, she failed to understand their significance in a 15 year old’s life.

“My friends, schoolmates”, he said with tears flowing through his eyes.

“We aren’t poor, look we are given you the best of education. We eat so well and healthy. We have all facilities at our place. You have successful sisters. Facebook and Instagram are not parameters of deciding anything”, she said very softly.

“I know mom but I don’t want people to see me so low. I will show you my instagram it has pictures of momos and homemade food and pizzas but no picture of a very nice restaurant. Mom I also want people to talk about me. I ask for nothing give me money this time please”, he said.

She thought for a long time and said, “I can’t give you 2000”.

She didn’t say a word extra but she wanted to say a lot. It might have been a regular incident for his son but not for her she realized that how much social media has impacted their lives. She could see that how definition of happiness has changed so much. She saw an irony between how social networking sites are meant to bring people closer but has divided them so much, she could see her son struggling to keep up with the virtual life and how that virtual life has become the matter of respect among his peers.

He yelled at her, “Why did you put me such good school when you can’t give me money. Had I been in a school of low standard I would have never made such a demand. When I can’t be one of those people at school they will never consider me a friend.”

There was complete silence in the room.

She got up, took out her wallet and gave him 1500 and said, “if you say all that to your dad he will be heartbroken so I am giving you this money on my own without his consent. Spend it wisely”.