(Disclaimer: I might have exaggerated incidences to create a story. My intention is to highlight parents’ anxiety, excitement and obsession about their children’s marriage in our “arranged-marriage” culture )
Eight years ago, my mother had undertaken a task of finding a bride for my cousin. She incessantly muttered, “Why didn’t he find a girlfriend? Is that not easy?” She had been reaching out to all families that had daughters of marriageable age. Some rejected him, some he rejected.
“First you do not find a girl for yourself. When I find a girl for you, you have the audacity to reject her.”
“Please lose weight. I do not want any girls to reject you because of your weight.”
At last, she managed to find an eligible girl. The boy and the girl met, they liked each other, and they got married. My mom promised, “Never ever will I get into this match fixing business again.”
Fast forward eight years!
My mom is once again looking for a bride for her son. Her only hurdle: the son is not ready to get married. Yet, she is determined to find a girl for him.
My brother is approaching 30 in a couple of years. In our South Asian culture, by this time, we are to get married and have a couple of children. My brother is in no hurry to get married. He is a doctor and is still studying.
“We doctors have late marriages. I want to get married when I am 35”. My father immediately retorts, “Yes, by that time, I will be dead. When will I see my grand child’s face?”
Recently, a girl’s family approached my mom. The girl was from the same caste (this is still a big deal in arranged marriages), and the same profession. My mother wasted no time visiting her Facebook profile. She was beautiful, dressed well and an ideal match for my brother (at least theoretically). My mother called all her relatives that she had found a girl for my brother. We all started getting excited about the likely wedding in the family. The only person who was not aware of the wedding enthusiasm was – well- the potential groom, my brother. In all excitement, nobody bothered to ask what my brother thought of this liaison.
All hell broke down in my house when my brother rejected the proposal. I was immediately summoned to inquire why he had rejected the girl. I had to ask all sorts of questions.
“Do you have a girl friend?”
“Are you gay?”
“Are you having an affair with a married woman?”
My brother simply replied, “I am still studying, and not settled as yet. How can I have a wife?” But this simple answer could not convince my parents and our extended relatives. “His father has a big house. He and his wife can take an entire floor and live comfortably. Why does he need to settle down?”
Knowing it was difficult to rationalize with them, my brother decided to take the drastic step- isolate himself from this chaos. He rarely appeared in front of his parents, and ran away from any relative. “Your brother has stopped talking with us,” my mother once grieved about his indifferent behavior, “Maybe I should stop talking about his marriage.” Once my mom assured that she would not pressurize him to marry any one, he started opening up again.
Nine months have passed since this incident. My mother has still not given up her mission. Last month, she found another potential bride for my brother through her cousin. She was checking out the girl’s Facebook profile when my brother entered the room.
“How does she look? ”
“She is cute.”, and he left the room. Mom started jumping in joy as if she had just discovered the light at the end of the tunnel.
“At last he is ready.”
“Mom he just said she looks cute. Nothing more than that,” I intervened.
“Shut up! Cute means he will marry her.”
Next morning, some relatives dropped by to visit my parents . They wasted no time in showing the girl’s Facebook profile. It so happened that her boss was my relative’s friend. He immediately called the boss to inquire about the girl.
“She is such a well-mannered girl. She would make her in-laws happy”, the boss replied.
My parents’ happiness escalated. Within a few days’ time, they managed to approach the girl’s father, who too seemed excited.
“My heart knows this is the girl for my son. Be prepared to come back in 6 months to attend the wedding”
“At least ask the boy and the girl if they are ready,” I intervened again.
“Oh shut up! I know my son more than you do. They will be ready”.
A few days later, I called to inquire about this liaison. “Well..! ”, and there was a long pause…., “This time the girl said she is not interested in marriage.”
My mom was visibly upset for several days. Nevertheless, she decided not to give up so easily. She is on a mission and she has to finish it. She has now come up with a new theory.
“Because both the girl and the boy are saying that they are not ready to settle down at this moment, I think they are made for each other.”
Her next mission is to get these two “candidates” to meet at least once before they reject the proposal.
“But the girl has rejected. Maybe she has a boyfriend,” I intervened once again.
“Shut up, no. My heart says it will work. I will give my heart and soul to make it work.”
This is when I decided to bow down in front of all those mothers who cannot be dissuaded by logic or reason when it comes to their children’s marriage. They are so bound and determined to find a spouse for their children that no hurdles can stop them from accomplishing their mission.
As per my mother, her quest for finding a bride for her son will continue for some time..!!