There comes a time in every Indian kid’s life when their parents pose THE question. “So, when are you getting married?” Unfortunately (or fortunately, I don’t know just yet) that time has arrived for me. Maybe it is that hidden cynical beast in me that promotes the ideology of arranged marriages being a pointless endeavor. I fail at convincing my folks at every juncture of this everlasting argument. My “logical” (in my eyes at least) arguments are met with a cynical scoff. Apparently, I am way too idealistic and have no idea as to how the real world functions. I have a nontraditional view towards orthodox customs. Point noted.
I never bought in to the ritualistic traditions that came with being born in a family of orthodox brahmins. But that’s partly the reason why I grew up to be an atheistic psychopath. I digress. The concept of arranged marriages is a bit of a folly to me. How can somebody base their entire life (that’s how long marriages are supposed to last, right?) living with a person who they did not choose in the first place? I know my parents’ argument and honestly, I can’t fault them. Statistics speak for themselves. Arranged marriages last longer than their lovey-dovey counterparts. Parents 1 Cynical Asshole 0.
Then comes the part about horoscopes. This was a phenomenon that has existed since time immemorial. The stars aligned in a certain way on the day and the time of your birth, and that determines how your life would turn out. I don’t know enough to argue about that. But the fact that a random person, born in the same caste, has to have their stars aligned in such a way that they match your star alignments would lead both of you to lead a wonderful life together. Seems a wee bit too preposterous, does it not? This is another argument in which my parents like to play their statistics trump card. Only because they match horoscopes and get you married (arranged nonetheless) does your life turn rosy and everybody lives happily ever after, much like a Grimm fairy tale. Parents 2 Cynical Asshole 0. Holy crap, I am losing this one.
Then comes the fun part of exchanging photographs of the potential bride and groom.
Dad: “Nikhil, send me a few photographs in which you are not dressed as a street urchin. Ideally, a suit would be fine, but just in case, send a couple with kurta and pyjama (ethnic Indian attire)”.
Damn it. Got to hunt for those elusive suit, that I had last worn for my interviews.
Me: “Here you go, Dad. There are 7-8 of them. Choose the best one and use them with caution.”
Dad: “Here are the photographs of multiple girls. Tell me who you like best.”
Me: “How about her, Dad?”
Dad: “Nope. Her dad consulted the astrologer with your horoscope and it did not match. Also, the father wanted a fairer boy for his fair girl.”
Rejected by a girl’s dad and his minion, the Astrologer. Rejection by a girl is something that I can come to terms with but rejection by her dad and an astrologer. My parents were right. It might actually take 2 years to find a girl, whose stars and skin color are compatible with my own. Parents 3 Cynical Asshole 0.
I can still forgive my parents, who would obviously have my best interests at heart. But, seeing them succumb to peer pressure from the weed called society is what irks me the most. Just because some random maami (notorious for gossiping, I must add), tells my dad, my brother’s second aunt’s granddaughter is getting married.
Random Maami: “When is your son getting married? Oh, he is in Ameeerica… Must have found a girl for himself. This generation boys I tell you.”
Cue a phone call from my Dad.
Dad: “No pressure da.. Just letting you know, that so-and-so’s brother’s second aunt’s granddaughter is getting married. I plan to go and attend the wedding. I am going to take your horoscope and distribute it there.”
Way to pimp me out, Dad. It doesn’t aid me one bit that my peers are getting married themselves and brag about how awesome their marital bliss is. You can only imagine how that conversation goes down with the folks.
Me: “Dad, my friend is getting married.”
5 seconds of silence later.
Dad:”Oh.. Are you planning to come for the wedding? Let me know if you are. I’ll have a few girls lined up for you to see.”
Score…. Speed Dating.. Parents 4 Cynical Asshole 0
At this point, trailing 4 points to none of my own, I have to give up. Maybe arranged marriages are not as bad as people make it out to be. It’s like dating a person from Day 1 and getting to know and understand the likes and dislikes and having the will and fear of social stigma to live together with that person till, as they say, death do them part. All of this ranting just made me realize something. Something, that I was too much of a hard head to realize.
I am a cynical asshole! Peace be with you.