I’m sitting, draped in my mother’s georgette sari, hands folded demurely in my lap, gaze trained down at my feet like I was told to do. I’m hyper-conscious of everything right now. Who moves, who stares, what they say. I suppose he must feel the same way. This ladki-dekhna (meeting the girl’s family) business gives the jitters to everyone. To the prospective bride and groom the most.
The elders around us are mischievously laughing at their own lame jokes. It’s tedious sitting here this way, unnaturally still and acting unlike myself. But I have to because I’ve been warned of dire circumstances (read suspending my internet account, which by all means for me, is as good as a death sentence).
‘I think the boy and girl should have a moment so they can talk, you know’, Buaji winks at my mother, who in turn responds with a devious smile. These Indian matriarchs and their matchmaking skills! They must know witchcraft, I’m sure.
Suddenly the 10+ people in the room are nowhere to be seen. Oh, I know they must be hiding behind curtains and doors, their curious ears pressed against the wall for juicy tidbits from our conversation. But alas, the boy was born without a funny bone it seems. He talks of such mundane things – things I do, my work, my favourite songs, what I expect from marriage, from him, would I still work if we got married (of course, numbskull).
I decide I don’t like him enough to be tethered to him for the rest of my life. So I bowl a googly at him, ‘Do you enjoy replying to spam email?’ Then without waiting for his reply, ‘I do. The conversations you could have are rather interesting.’
‘Huh?!’ he responds, his lower jaw swings open like an unhinged door.
‘I asked do you enjoy replying to spam? I’ve had a lot of masaledar encounters thanks to spam,’ I titter.
He breaks into a nervous sweat as he sneaks a look at the door. I know his brain can’t decided between signalling ‘mayday’ and ‘abort’.
I decide I’ll be merciful. I whisper, ‘Spam is a good way to find… er… viable partners. But I’m sure a smart guy like you knew that already. Do you know about Rendezvous?’ I wink at him. Rendezvous is just another one of those shady social networking sites I get a lot of spam from for ‘guys interested in being friends with me’, y’know. That’s the first social networking site I could think of. So…
He blurts out, ‘Please don’t tell them about my account there!’
It was my turn to be surprised. ‘Oh!’ is all I can manage to say. But, ohhhhhhh, this sounds good!
I bait him. ‘Well, of course, I won’t, but you have to promise to tell your folks to forget about sweet, little moi. Do we have a deal?’ My eyebrows are waggling up and down in excitement. He’s torn between bolting and breaking down in his seat, bawling for his mommy.
‘Ok. I’ll do it. But please,’ that please never sounded so pleasant, ‘Don’t tell anyone!’ He’s positively grovelling now.
‘Oh don’t you be worried. My lips are sealed’. I’m smiling wide like the Cheshire cat.
He’s out of the door in a heartbeat and mumbling furtively to his parents. They leave shortly, leaving my parents dazed. I pity them for a while. The boy was the result of a months-long, zealous search for their over-educated and over-aged daughter.
‘What is it with young men and women these days?’ My mother’s incredulity is palpable. ‘Do they think matchmaking is Chemistry? That they’ll find the exact quantities of a characteristic they want in their match? Oh, I need maybe an ounce more of humility, and could you take a molecule of intelligence out? ‘ She teased in a shrill, irritated voice.
She threw down her dupatta forcefully like it were her hopes. ‘Well, guess why he rejected you? ‘Too good at technology’ he says. Some software engineer he is! Huh!’
For the first and last time, mother, I agree with him.
In response to the Daily Prompt Word: Viable.
Image Source: Rawpixel at Pixabay.