The Swayamwara continues…

Its 18th April and I was hoping that today was the day I met the guy of my dreams. Today was my 15th ‘pennu kaanal’ session, and alas, no, the swayamwara has to continue.

I have come to office to complete the dirty assessment that I was supposed to finish yesterday. But before I do, let me just try and sort out my jumbled thoughts. I find that writing helps in that, or of course arguing with a friend does. But since my roomies are sitting somewhere in Koramangala, I might as well update my journal.

Where do I start? There was this time when I was a naive 19, that I wanted to get married desperately. But time has moved on, and so have mallu men, and strangely I have developed this aversion to thick kutti meeshas:-)

Two years back I was having a cup of tea with my father and he suddenly declared that my daughter has ‘grown up’. I choked over the tea, gasped and then settled down to hear more. Its weird how you wish for something so badly, you get it and then you realise that it is not what you wanted. I was 22 now, earning quite well, living with a set of girls with whom I could relate to, flaunting my independence to all and sundry, and totally in love with my best friend. And now I could do without an arranged marriage. But of course I was part of a very conservative family, and I adored my father, and coudnt imagine hurting him. And the best friend was of course not in love with me, and he quite nicely, but firmly told me that I should meet up with these guys, and maybe I would meet someone who would make my heart flutter! I sulked at his cheek, and decided to be perverse. I had no choice but to meet this guy, but I had already formed a prejudice against him. Quite unfair on him, but thats the way it was.

My father had asked him to come to my office. (he doesnt approve of baristas and coffee days!) I had confided to a friend that I was having a ‘pennu kaanal’ in the afternoon, and she was quite kicked about it. She went on giggling and was quite amused with the term ‘pennu kaanal’. Irritated, I decided to used the term ‘blind date’. It sounded more hep and come to think of it, it was actually like a blind date. I had no idea about what he was like, how he looked, how he spoke or what he did. All my father had told me was that his name was Suraj and he earned 30 grand a month.

The D day arrived. Why is it that my heart was beating hard. I mean, I had no intention of marrying him, forget liking him, and I should have been so cool about the whole thing. Instead I was nervous and tense and dreading the whole ordeal. And it did turn out to be a ordeal, thought for no fault of his. We were sitting in reception of my office and pretending that it was a normal day’s conversation. I was alternatively staring at my fingers and fingering my chain, and he was trying desperately to stare into infinity. And then started the questions…now I know them by heart. It starts with..So hows work?..what do you do?..and then graduates to..where exactly do you stay?…and then finally..what do you on weekends? oh you saw that movie? So did I…and so on. By the time, both of us had asked each other these questions alternatively, it was a solid 15 minutes, and both of us were running out of steam. There were those gaps in conversation, with those highly uncomfortable silences, during which we distinctly avoided eye contact. After a few false starts, he finally managed to say bye and I waited till the lift doors closed to breathe a sigh of relief.

And so ended that encounter, but which was the beginning of many such ones. Anyway Suraj didnt like me, and I didnt have to say no. And I soon found a new weapon. I have extremely short hair, and a number of guys asked me to grow it. I went up into a rage of righteous anger(for the benefit of my folks!) and declared that my man would have to accept me for what I am, and not ask me to change my looks even before I got engaged with him. It worked for a while, but not for long. Unfortunately I discovered that there are some Mallu guys who find a short veg cut quite cute. By this time, I had managed to seduce the best friend, and outrightly refused to meet any guy. My parents were shocked, but they decided to give me time. The Swayamwara stopped for a while.

A year later, the best friend realised that I was just a best friend, and broke things off with me. I raved and ranted and sobbed and shouted and finally settled down to bitter silence. And then decided that I wont be a loser and marry the first guy my parents chose. After all, if I live with a guy, the caring and the trust would come right? If it did with my parents, why shoudnt it with me? But things are not so easy now. It is not just the fact that I had a relationship, but more to do with the fact that I didnt want to marry a guy who had to marry me because of societal pressures. I wanted somebody who chose to marry because he wanted to. And I wanted somebody whom could I tease, with whom I could argue about john Grisham’s latest book, with whom I could watch Nadodikattu and laugh away, who would laugh at my antics when I got drunk, with whom I can curl on a sofa with a mug of beer and cheer India. Someone who would hold my hand while we crossed the road, who would be as outraged as I am about communalism, who would have opinions and more opinions, and …someone who would need me, as much as I need him. I guess I could go on and on. And I wish I could find about all this when I meet a person for 15 minutes.

Anyway today is going to be a marathon sesssion with my folks. Meanwhile I wonder when the swayamwara will end.

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