The wedding season arrives once a year and all hell breaks loose in our normally peaceful, quiet-to-the-point-of-resembling-somebody’s-funeral household. Throughout the year, much preparation runs at the back of my mother’s mind for how to slam me from my relationship status which perpetually says single-till-hell-freezes-over. And it doesn’t help that my parents were known for their notoriously whirlwind courtship of seven years during which they defied severe parental disapproval, scheming grandmothers planning to marry my mother off, good-looking young men in oh-so-in (by 80’s standards) bell-bottoms with their proportional quota of male hormones raging through their bodies composing lame poems for her, a septuagenarian wack who was also a self-proclaimed psychic who prophesied that their marriage will spell doom for both their families and of course, mutual incompatibility. They were the quintessential Bollywood couple fighting rogue parents for true love from the 90’s Hindi potboilers I grew up watching. By twenty-four she got married and they had been going strong for the past thirty three years and not a day passes when my mother doesn’t wait for his call with the same eager anticipation I save for winter sales in Pantaloons or a new Batman comic book.
Adding fuel to the already-raging-and-threatening-to-char-me-to-human-kebabs fire is the fact that both my idiot of brothers are happily committed for the past four years. I mean, four friggin years, during which I had experience multiple breakups, turned downed suitable future mates (for producing future IIT-MIT embryos i.e.), faked my grandmother’s operation about a thousand times (don’t judge; as god is my witness, I have tried to come up with other excuses but nothing worked) to escape from clutches of well-meaning-but-clueless-about-who-they’re-dealing-with( in this case, it’s me) friends trying to set me up. For four years they had forwarded me annoyingly optimistic (bordering on supreme cheesiness) texts from which I was supposed to get inspiration and ‘jump into the fire of love’. Or something like that. God, these people are such suckers for long texts. I didn’t even bother to read the second line.
And of course, my mother.
For years, my mother and I had come to blows over inter-gender socializing in my life, or the lack of it. She wants me to tread the dangerously fine line between being a good Bengali middle class girl, virginal and docile and not-at-all outgoing and yet get a life that doesn’t involve lurking in my room 24×7 like an ancient house ghoul. She finds me talking to a boy who doesn’t fall under her extremely narrow and somewhat intolerant umbrella of ‘acceptable’; immediately her cinematic imagination bridges the gap between talking and holding hands and doing ‘bad bad things’. She sees me nibbling at Milkybar peacefully reading Batman in my favorite corner of the room and starts rubbing it in my face that when she was my age she had a boyfriend; not the imaginary boyfriends I have, the lust-inducing superhero costume wearing playboy vigilante type. Queen of contradiction, that’s what she is.
So when a wedding invitation card falls on her lap, she reads it at one go and smiles a benign smile at me while I am trying to work out the significance of this exercise. Then come the inevitable barrage of questions and the accompanying guilt trips- see, she is getting married at such a proper age and you don’t even know where you will be in five years to come. Or see, they are getting married after such a long courtship and look at you? OR the worse, they had a long-distance relationship and STILL made it work. (For the record my ex who my mother simply adored and I were in a long distance relationship and for some asinine logic which makes sense to no one except probably god, she thinks my reason for breaking up with him is rooted at my longstanding hatred of male dominance and a cavalier disregard for anything ‘normal’). When I ignore her or say something insanely stupid like ‘okay fine I will get think of getting married by thirty seven’, a creepy cold feeling settles in the house-the same feeling of the fabled Black Breath which one must have felt with a Nazgul around for a long long time. The almost-entirely one-sided conversation comes to an end.
At weddings, she tries to send me non-verbal signals clearly indicating that I must start thinking about doing something about my life while the archetypal ruined-for-good me is busy sending the waiters very verbal and very loud signals to bring the pakodas which they pretend to not hear (given the copious amounts of pakodas I have already devoured putting the high-strung grumpy chefs in a worse mood). And god forbid, when someone pinches my cheeks and says the unavoidable ‘you’re next’ that grates on my nerves!
My mother doesn’t get the thing that it is a bad bad idea to talk someone into marriage when that someone equates marriage with a concentration camp. Or a colonoscopy. Or brain tumor. Whichever is worse. Someone who runs for cover when she hears the words ‘commitment’, ‘marriage’ and her name being taken in the same sentence. It is not that I am averse to commitment; I like it when it exists between two people and neither of them is me. There are other forms of commitment in my life which my mother and the whole world deem too frivolous- Batman, books, comic books, Star Wars, world of secret agent, sleuths and aliens, music, food, movies, did I mention food, shopping, friends, traveling, working (yes, arch eyebrows as you may, do know for a fact that I love working) etc. I like my space. And I *think * I am a little oxytocin deficient. (Go look it up. and yay to me! I have finally made peace with my ninth standard biology lessons. Whenever I have to explain/justify something, I am finding new ways to point a ready ‘accusing’ finger at it!). I am not saying marriage isn’t my cup of tea because that sounds oh-so-forty-and-depressed-ish and I am, well, I still play Darth Vader vs Obi-Wan Kenobi games with admirable gusto with my little nephew so that should give you an idea. It’s only that whenever someone talks about it, it sounds like a death sentence.
Wedding seasons end with ma shouting at me for putting on weight and looking like a pregnant cow while I secretly congratulate myself for having distracted her successfully though I am still the one who gets yelled at. .
I *so* think I am a changeling. Born to Dr. Thomas and Martha Wayne. Or to Anakin Skywalker. I think I will shave my head and join a monastery till Jim Parsons or Johnny Depp comes along or I die and meet Heath Ledger in heaven.