A Suitable Boy

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Our humourist, Soumya, travels down the memory lane and talks about the apprehensions of parents about the choice of a life partner for their child(ren), in the weekly column. A Different Truths exclusive.

A friend recently posted a link on my Facebook page which listed answers of various American children to the question “How do we know whom to marry?” with many intriguing responses. This took me down memory lane to the time my eldest had posed the same question to my wife.

I listened in for a while to the very sensible discussions between mother and child as to knowing the and following the heart and kept having visions of my little child growing up and meeting all kinds of undesirable lumpen and following the very unsound advises of her heart.

I could also for the first times sympathise with my , whom till now I had considered an unreasonable ogre for his vehement opposition to his daughter’s selection of a perfect boy like me for a life mate.

The venerable gentleman’s objections were based on our different religion, language, and caste, and not on my qualities character education or socioeconomic standing as a suitable groom for the apple of his eye, which I found unreasonable. I suspected that my pigmentation may also have had a bearing on his decision. I had cheekily offered to stop shaving and grow my hair if it helped matters, as a full flowing beard and unshorn locks were the hallmarks of the community he belonged to

What I realise now is that it was his natural caution as a doting Dad of not losing his little girl to a smart-alecky stranger from an alien culture. Combined with this would be the very natural fear of the traditional middle-class patriarch, “what would people say?”

Unencumbered by any such wisdom or scruples and armed with the of absolute certainty that is the prerogative of youth; we eloped and got married ignoring his veto, no doubt bruising his ego, but also breaking his heart.

Now visions of Karma floated before my eyes and life flashed before me in fast forward to the background scores of ‘Sunrise….Sunset….’  I could visualise being introduced to young men in dreadlocks with piercings and tattoos or with orange hair, or perhaps someone darker than me with an Afro hairdo, or maybe a skull cap and beard. Scenes from ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’, ‘Father of the Bride’, Meet the Parents’, and ‘Kanyadan’ flashed before my eyes and my sympathies were all with the beleaguered dads. I could totally Topol’s anguish in Fiddler on the Roof as he watched his daughters leave without the aid of the matchmaker to impecunious youth, radicals and even a Russian! Now objections on grounds of race religion colour or creed didn’t seem so outlandish.

I couldn’t hold out any longer. Ignoring all homilies on good parenting, I interjected –“No, No! Don’t listen to Mummy, she doesn’t know, I will tell you how you will know whom to marry; ask Daddy! Daddy will tell you whom to marry.”

Years later, when such discussions were close enough in the timeframe for a potential selection of a suitable boy to be serious, we joked about her childhood query and my response. I tried to establish my liberal credentials by declaring that I don’t believe in race religion or nationalities, but adding a rider for safety that socioeconomic and educational and cultural compatibility leads to relationships, and asking whether I should take my dressing gown out of mothballs and get a pipe, in preparation for upcoming interviews with young men a la fathers of brides in old Bollywood. But the GenY lady’s response had me completely stumped and reevaluating my perceived liberalism. She asked me, “Does it have to be a boy? Why this gender specification?”

I guess the young will always teach their parents new lessons of tolerance and adaptability.

©Soumya Mukherjee

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Soumya Mukherjee

Soumya Mukherjee

Soumya Mukherjee is an alumnus of St Stephens College and Delhi School of Economics. He earns his daily bread by working for a PSU Insurance company, and lectures for peanuts. His other passions, family, friends, films, travel, food, trekking, wildlife, music, theater, and occasionally, writing. He has been published in many national newspapers of repute. He has published his first novel, Memories, a novella, hopefully, the first of his many books. He blogs as well.
Soumya Mukherjee

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