Lest you all complain of my having abandoned you here goes. I was recently reminded of an event from pre-matrimonial website past but no less scary for that.
I've always known how people keep a hawk-like lookout for prospective brides and grooms for various people whom they know except I always assumed that this happened to others. Now call me paranoid but I'm one of those people who sees a stranger smiling at them and thinks 'oh no!' So when middle-aged ladies whom you don't know from the Goddess Durga start smiling at you when you go for a walk or run in the neighbourhood park you should get out fast. As you can guess this woman smiled at me. Two days in a row. On the third day she almost started speaking. I looked the other way and walked faster. On the fourth day she walked almost straight into me and short of turning tail and making a run for it I had little choice but to stop. And put on my good girl face. This is always a trial because I don't really have one but still...
She: Can I ask you something?
Me: (I know what the question is and 'no, you cannot') Sure (in saccharine sweet voice, but omitting the 'Aunty-ji')
She: Are you married? (I knew it, I knew it, I knew it! I should have run when I had the chance)
Me: Um... err... no (putting as much of a suspicious tone into my voice as possible)
She: I knew it! (I could see her pumping her fist in victory) I'll walk with you.
I was cornered and now short of fainting I couldn't do much.
She: So my nephew is coming from the U.S. and we haven't been able to find a girl for him because he is too tall- six feet you know... (I do now). So you will be a good height for him (She assesses me clinically) and you will be intellectually compatible and the right age (And you know all this how? Through ESP?). So he's a physicist and he teaches at a university in the States, he earns a very good salary, he studied in (Insert Delhi's most in-demand college here) and we are are very good family from...
Somewhere before she reached this breathless point (Yes I mean breathless) I had stopped paying attention and decided instead to focus on my breathing. I looked around the park and wondered if nobody had seen me being accosted by this woman.
She: So what do you think?
Me: I'm not ready to get married right now.
She: But you are at the right age, when will you get married? (Grrrr- this is MY life)
Me: That's my problem.
She: But soon you will be too old. (Oh no! And then what will the world come to? This in the same week that a friend's older brother had quipped, and not facetiously mind you, that I was past my 'sell-by' date!) Anyway, he's coming next week so you tell me and I can come and meet your parents- where do you live?
I waved vaguely in opposite direction from which my house lies.
She: So I can talk to them and the two of you can meet. He lives in U.S.
Me: Yes, I heard that. I actually don't want to be in the U.S.
She: Why? (More grrr) Everybody likes it in the U.S.- life is much easier you know. So you think and tell me.
So off I went with the injunction to think about it. I avoided the park the next day. And the next. And the next. On the day after that I skirted the edges to see where She was. No sign of her so I returned to it. I should have known better. She accosted me just as I was leaving.
She: So what did your parents say?
Me: Well actually it's not for them to say. It's my decision. And no I still don't want to get married.
She: But he has a very good job, earns well, has his own house, a nice car and he now has a permanent job- he has tenure (Okay, so she knew how to pitch it!) and he has two patents and a third one pending with the U.S. government so he will be getting (here it comes) LOYALTY for the rest of his life.
Me: (Really? Loyalty? You don't say!) Thanks, but it's not the right time for me to get married.
A year later...
Having been gone for work for many months I had been an infrequent visitor to the park but now that I was back I met her again. And she saw me. And she smiled. And she stopped to talk. You'd have thought the paragon of a nephew must be married by now what with all his loyalty and stuff. But no. Repeat conversation.
Yours in (what else!) loyalty,