We are officially in the month of February and the fact that this is Valentine’s Day month is not lost on me this year. In previous years, Valentine’s Day was just like the Good Friday before Easter. It was a day when I avoided wearing red and waited with bated breath for the resurrection of half price chocolate so as to indulge my fat face in all its forbidden sugary goodness. February 15th was Diabetic Coma day, a far better excuse for “a holiday” in my opinion.
This year though is different. My mother has already informed me that she’s praying for me to find a ‘good man’. This year her good man prayer surpassed my immigration prayer on her prayer list. I wondered at why this phenomenon had come about all of a sudden. And then I knew why: This year, I’m 25.
You see, 25 in regular girl years equals 35 in Indian girl years. For all my older Indian aunties, to be 35 and still single can only mean that you’re either not “fair and b’ful” enough to find an eligible suitor or your family struck some kind of shady deal with Satan when you were born.
There’s no pressure from my mother at all though. Just worry and anxious curiosity.
I did not have the heart to tell her that from the way my life is going right now, her good man prayer might not be answered till I’m 35 (which in Indian girl years means I’m dead). So I put on my best fairy god mother face and Meryl Streep voice and said: “Don’t worry, it will happen when the time is right.”
To which she answered, “You know, your father and I will be more than happy to help if you need. There’s no shame in it.”
She meant arranged marriage and a little piece of me died. Now, I don’t mean to be a killjoy about arranged marriage but the first images my ignorant brain conjures up when I hear those words are nasty shocks and surprises on the wedding night and having to spend the rest of your life with a balding 45-year-old teetotaler (who is some sort of engineer no less) with a penchant for dramatic Bollywood music and curry-stained wife beaters. (key word here being beater)
But long gone are those archaic days of 17 chicken and buffalo dowries and your mother-in-law picking out your wedding night trousseau. These days arranged marriages work differently. There’s Facebook stalking prior to the meet and city bylaws against hoarding chickens and buffaloes in your backyard. And if I thought I had very little true knowledge of arranged marriage in my parents’ generation, then I knew absolutely nothing about arranged marriages in this day and age.
In a nutshell, how arranged marriages work now (from what I hear) is that your parents, relatives, cousins, nosy neighbours and their dogs bring it to the attention of your parents that they may know an eligible man suitable for their daughter. The suitor is then introduced to the daughter and they are allowed to date LIKE REGULAR PEOPLE. If it doesn’t work out, no worries. It’s just a case of an unsuitable match. You subsequently move on to the next eligible suitor that Aunt Bossy throws your way.
You can expect the usual awkwardness that comes with dating someone the rest of your village knows more about than you do. But let’s be honest, when is it not awkward?
Does this sound familiar at all? No? Okay, well then let’s pretend your Aunt Bossy is Chris Harrison. And instead of the whole world being up in your business about your second one-on-one with Bachelor number 3, just your whole village is minding your business. Yes, girls. This maybe what they now call arranged marriage in India. But really, you’re on The Bachelorette.
The best part about all of this is that the work is done for you. These guys (I would assume) (hopefully) are devoid of contagious diseases, pedophile tendencies and/or previous incarcerations. How terrible can it be….right?
Let’s face it. I’m
25 …err 35. In five years, I’ll be 40 …err barren, and in another five years after that I’ll be 45 …dead. There’s no escaping this. Being a single Indian girl has never looked bleaker. The novenas are honing in and pretty soon, I will have to take matters in my own hands. And by “in my own hands” I mean in my parents’, aunts, uncles, neighbours, and village stray dogs’ own hands.
So if it absolutely has to be and fate deals me a cruel hand by not opening up the heavens and throwing down the perfect man at my doorstep, then I will (very reluctantly) let you guys watch my season of The Bachelorette. I might even let the audience vote on who should stay and who should go. After all, this might be the only dating instance where I would know the assholes in the running.