Its been a while since I logged into the cozy environs of this page...not because there wasnt much to write about, but there was a surfeit of things happening! And in the middle of all the muddle it was difficult to decide what to write about and where to start from...if there was the terror and agony of the deadly tsunamis that had brought death and destruction of an unparallelled magnitude, there was also a New year that the world ushered in. If nothing, man lives on hope; the natural human tendency is always to pick up the threads and move on with life--resurrect oneself like the Phoenix. Though a collective sense of guilt engulfed quite a few Indians(sensitive and sensible ones that is!)...it hurts to be partying like there would be no tomorrow, when your country has been hit by its worst natural calamity and thousands of your countrymen wander orphaned, homeless, jobless and hungry. Well, we still had a lot of 'page-three wannabes' who would care any less for anyone's agony and went ahead with their indiscriminate display of wealth and indifference! The world, after all, has and needs some variety!
New year didnt mean much to me this time(it never does in any case!)...over three long days we had the first year ceremonies for Ajji--when, as the priest explained, we bid an official farewell to her and booked her seat in the luxury suite in Heaven! And how do we manage to do this? --by making the most expensive of 'daans
' to all those greedy Brahmins who salivated at the very sight of these goodies!
In the middle of the solemn activities of the first day at the Mutt
, we were pleasantly surprised to bump into a family which seemed to have been very close to my great grandfather! An old lady in that chatterati kept reminiscing incidents after another about how she used to be played around and pampered by my great grand dad; kept talking of people and characters about whom i had ABSOLUTELY no clue of! And then the obvious had to happen....
I had gone out to get flowers and incense for the proceedings of the day...and Ma and Roopa had to grudgingly give company...one old lady in this muddle happened to be a common friend and she simply couldnt stop raving about "what a wonderful boy Vikram is"...and so fervent were her recommendations that the 5-6 other women folk of the jamboree were already very impressed with this character they hadnt yet met and simply couldnt wait to behold! When i walked in unsuspectingly, i felt singularly uncomfortable at 6-7 middle aged and old women looking at me with absolute awe with the how-long-you-took-to-come-and-we-have-been-dying-to-meet-you look writ large on their faces! Ma went on and on trying to explain the linkages in the process of the introduction and i sheepishly grinned at them all; intermittently touching the feet of a few elderly women there and trying my best to converse in Marathi(literally my mother's tongue!!)...and my fan looked at the others and said 'see, i told you people, such a well cultured boy...who touches elders' feet these days...one in a million..."bla bla bla bla..
Ma signalled me to sit beside one of them--a seemingly sophisticated middle aged woman, whom i later discovered was a Prof at the Bangalore University- the only one among the group who could strike some semblance of an intelligent conversation. " My God...you have THREE degrees to your name? How wonderful! These days chidlren dont study at all...rare to find people like this..even Deepa, my daughter is like this only...always immersed in books..after BCom, she wasnt satisfied, so she went ahead and did Mcom..now been pestering us that she wants to do an MBA...you only tell me, if she goes on studying like this, from where would i get her a groom who is equal to her in qualification.....?" Ahem ahem...woman, why are you telling me all this; i am anyway not going to be spending sleepless nights worrying about how your sweet little Deepa ends up ruining herself a.k.a. getting married!! But then, my old-fan could have none of such innuendoes, she believed in hitting the target straight, head on; no beating around wasteful bushes...she interrupted the lady, looked at Ma and said' what is this? dont you have any conecern for your son...dont you have any plans for getting him married...". Somehow i knew this was coming...the awe on their faces when i gate crashed gave me some incling of the fact that these jobless women were looking at some prospective groom in my poor hapless self. And then the Professor lost her sanity. She put her hand very endearingly around Ma and said -' My daughter is 21..she has finished her MCom...plans to do an MBA now...she is extremely pretty, she can handle things so well you know--both home and workplace...she cooks amazingly well..she is also like Vikram--very cultured, very respectful of elders....'.
I am sure my mother being the wise woman that she is knew this was coming from the beginning...she looked least perplexed or embarassed--in short nothing of what i was feeling:-) She kept nodding, looking at me, even as i tried looking away--totally at unease with my surroundings! Roopa had to barge in and say "wooow...thats exactly the kinds we have been looking for ...i am sure we would like your daughter..why dont we think about this, what do you say Viky"? and gave me one naughty look...Never before in my life have i had as intense a desire to smash her skull, as i had at this temerity of hers! The progenitor of all this nonsense was delighted--" Oh my God! this is absolutely divine intervention...see, it seems to have your dead Ajji's wishes; we have met after decades at her shraddh and we've clinched such a wonderful deal...' bla bla bla...HELLO? Would anyone care to listen to me? I am not some Futures Contract traded on the Bombay Stock Exchange to be bartered away this away and that too keeping someone as dear to me as my Ajji as a pretext!
But my folks were determined to have some fun at my expense; seems to give them some sadistic pleasure seeing me squirm in my seat. Details of that supposed wondrous girl were exchanged...my 'achievements' of the past few years rattled.."oh he sings so well, classical musician he is' and the old lady almost gave out an orgasmic shreik...all this for nearly an hour before which i decided i had had enough. With a stern expression on my hitherto "respectful-of-elders" face, i told them that this was no place to talk about such things, the occasion is sombre and very frankly speaking i am not interested whatsoever in getting knotted up so early in life, and that too with someone i havent even met or spoken to...that i would study more and wedding bells and the like would have to wait for 3-4 years more. A pall of gloom set in...all the expectant and joyous faces, who, till a few seconds back were excited about having successfully ruined yet another man's life, fell to the ground with utter despondency. "But beta
, studies is not the only thing you know, you need a companion, life is so meaningless otherwise...moreover Deepa also wants to study you see, you could both study even after marriage..we are not telling you to get married tomorrow, right? you can think, take your time....." Somehow gave decorum a go-by...i had tolerated enough of this for a day! Stood up with this gesture of finality--"I told you i am sorry, and thats IT...kindly dont prolong this any longer; else it will sour your reunion with an old time family friend...i dont intend to be disrespectful of any one of you here, but its just that things that you people suggest arent on my priority list at this point of time..and since its MY life, it is ME and not you people who will have the pleasure of deciding about it. I hope i have made myself amply clear..." and walked off to the room where Dad was performing the ceremonies. I could almost hear the looooooooooong sighs behind me, like some after-currents of a tsunami that might have hit these old blokes.
All through the day, Ma and Roopa had a hearty laugh--for a change even dad seemed to join in the revelry....they ended up finalising the entire course of my life and what twists and turns it should take in the next few years:-) However later in the day Ma told me that i shouldnt have over-reacted that way..should have simply sat back like her and had fun...but come on! you cant continue to have fun when the object of ridicule is you, yourself! Ma has had such sadistic pleasures since a long time and her face lights up each time such crap crops up..invariably since people get petrified by Dad's totally hostile and inaccessible countenance, they choose her as their ultimate conduit and she revels in the confidence people invest in her! Its such a pain to be a 'Marketable Security'...Heart of hearts i knew that but for my outburst, by end-of-day, plans would have been made about how many children iam supposed to have and when and which school would be the best to put them in!
Any wonder then as to why i loathe my relatives' company!?