So this guy’s name was Kabir—the one Orange aunty was trying so hard to market. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to try him out. I wasn’t too scared of the prospect either—it wasn’t my first adventure into the arranged marriage market. There had been six attempts, mighty failed ones at that, but if Mom and Dad still had the energy to keep going at it, what did I have to lose?
No, I wasn’t being pricey. I had some reservations and some pretty good reasons why. You see, my previous spate of ‘arranged’ marriage first meetings hadn’t gone too well. Here they are, in perfect chronological order.
Suitor No. 1
I was never really a big fan of the ‘family bijness’ types, but I had somehow convinced myself to give this one a go. The meeting had turned out to be pleasant enough until the topic veered over to college and education. He asked me where I went to college and what I did. He, like most people I met, didn’t seem to understand what graphic designers did, so I gave him a mini tutorial of sorts. “And where did you go to college?” I asked, thinking there had been too much talking about me and my job already.
“Actually, I didn’t. Never needed to.”?“What do you mean?”?
“It was always clear that I would join Dad in his business. I failed in my 12th boards and I realized that all this degree- vigree is not my thing.”
“O . . . kay. And then?”
“How does it matter anyway, yaar? I’m earning money, no? That’s what matters. And look at all the toppers from school . . . they keep struggling till they are middle-aged.”
“Can’t argue there,” I smiled and was well on my way to becoming a fake-smile specialist. Why couldn’t we just call people smug jerks and be done with it? That evening, Mom and Dad got a generous dose of my temper. That should have taught them to check out the guy’s CV before prancing over to me with a proposal.
Related reading: Why chasing after marriage is not a good idea
And then came Suitor No. 2? I was kinda beginning to like him. He was sweet, gentle, and soft-spoken. “A PhD in Physics,” he said, so I reckoned he had a better-than-average stock of grey cells. Said he didn’t have many friends—most nerds didn’t, and that was totally justified.
It turned out that he was not as friendless as he made himself out to be.
His only real friend in the world was his mom. He worshipped her. Would never do anything unless she gave him a go-go. She was, is, and would always be the most important person in his life. He would blindly choose her over anything and everything else.
No, I’m not making this up. He said it! I knew I stood no chance against supermom so I gracefully bowed out of the competition.
Suitor No. 3
I never really understood what the term ‘chemistry’ meant or why it was made out to be such a big deal, until I met this guy. We sat opposite each other in a restaurant staring hard into our plates. There was nothing to talk about but he was kind enough to throw an awkward smile my way every few minutes.
Communicating with an alien would have been a cakewalk compared to this. I was so sure of it. I could almost see the metaphorical icicles hanging between us with no hopes of ever melting. It was chilly and the full-blast air conditioner only added to the misery. I wished I had not stayed long enough to order lunch. We gobbled up our food, mostly without chewing, shook hands, exchanged cold—nay— frozen goodbyes and hurriedly scuttled off in opposite directions.
Related reading: Arranged marriages and the interesting men I got to meet
Suitor No. 4
This one had instantly reminded me of Cal, Kate Winslet’s slick-haired, suave fiancé in Titanic and I told him as much. It made for a great conversation starter too. His bank balance screamed out loud from the Rolex, yummilicious cologne, the limited edition iPhone, and the dapper Gucci jacket he had so unsubtly flaunted. My awe lasted less than three seconds after which I could only see him as a walking designer hoarding with a distinct Haryanvi accent. Not the best combination, by any standards. Then he spent an hour narrating vacation stories until I went green. With nausea, not envy!
This couldn’t wait—I had to tell Monika right away. I got into my car and speed-dialled. As we giggled over the story, I saw him hop into an auto-rickshaw looking rather sour- faced. Something didn’t quite add up. Fake? Rented? Stolen? Borrowed? I’d never know. Nor did I wish to!
So in conclusion, these were pretty much the reasons why any guy volunteered to marry a fat girl. It sometimes amazed me that this string of disastrous rendezvous, all within a span of one year, had done little to dampen my spirits.
I still believed in true love, albeit a little too much for comfort, and I was optimistic that it would sweep me off my feet one day.
After all, had I not soaked myself in years of Mills & Boon and was convinced that Hope Springs Eternal?