Friday, August 24, 2012

Where Love had to Be Arranged

“You had to put it in Facebook?”
“Sorry honey. I was just letting the world know they still had a chance with you.”
“Thank you so much SISTER. But why didn’t you do the same? Didn’t see anything like that a coupla years back.”
“I had a guy back then Bozo. The one I didn’t marry.”
“No. Not him. Zack, the guy from Forward Magazine. Couldn’t let the world know about mom and dad’s plan to marry me off.”
“Nita, you are married to someone now!”
“And I thought you were my brother. Like they say hon, marriage’s just a license to have something ‘extra’.”
“Nita! Are you out of your freaking mind?”
“I was just playing you with playboy. So any luck with the girls?”
“Yes. But they are all a bit shy. Wolf’s facing some difficulty. Have to work with those super-zooms that completely ruin the beauty of the portraits. Anyway, please be a sweetheart and take it off facebook. You have had your fair share of likes and comments.”
“Yes Bechu. By the way, a certain ‘Shruti’ liked that on my profile. Maybe you should give her a call lover boy.”
“She has already ‘broken free’ Nita. It’s still good to know that she’s alive. Anyway I have to go now.”
“Stay safe.  They aren’t always nice to normal people.”
“Nita. Don’t stereotype!”
“Have it your way gay boy. Love you.”

Don’t be deceived by those ‘Complan’ ads about height being everything. Six feet 3 inches, a column in one of India’s most unconventional magazine and 33 summers have not fetched me a girl friend yet. Quite ironic really, considering the fact that I was preparing a documentary on “female communities” at Gully No. 1 of Shuklaji Street, inside what has always been called the ‘Eunuch territory’.  I could track women in one of India’s scariest environment but could not get one for myself.
It’s not as if I haven’t had girls in my life. Back in school there were three girls. The first one had large breasts and therefore she had no trouble getting guys. The second girl was probably school’s best singer and chose to be with her accompanist, Bobby. The girl I really loved, Sruthi, eloped with a senior of mine while she was in class 12. And I’m not exaggerating here.  They had wanted to ‘break free’ from their ‘materialistic lives’ as per her note. And ‘so’ she stole her mom’s gold. Atleast her parents must have had a far lesser ‘materialistic life’ afterwards
Merin was never my girlfriend. She was my muse during the college days. And I, her slave (according to Imran). She’d constantly keep changing boyfriends and I’d faithfully follow her like a Poodle , expecting her to ‘open the eye’ someday and ‘see’ the true love.
One day I got a text on my mobile which read, “My eyes have been opened.” ‘I still remember rushing to the terrace with a bulging pants and a pair of shivering hands to call her.  There was to be a twist in the tale though. It was God who had ‘opened’ her eyes. She had joined St. Jude’s seminary.
For everyone else I was either ‘too tall’ or ‘too good’. Later on I started suggesting to these women that maybe letting go of ‘too good’ would be a mistake. But they always smiled and moved on.  ‘Too good’ and ‘too tall’ didn’t make you feel as bad as ‘you are like my brother’ though. That was always the worst.

2 weeks prior to the conversation- In the kitchen helping mom with ‘palada’ payasam
“Mom, I’ll be 33 in a week. Don’t you …err…think it’s time?”
“Huh? Time for what beta?”
“To get me married.  I know you and dad have been secretly making plans. You can really try harder now.”
“Your dad and I never make plans! Go marry your girlfriend. People like you won’t get any girls from our place. Photographing ‘Eunuchs’ for a living. Try saying that to the family of a girl. You are 33 and we believe you are very capable of finding a good wife. So spare us.”
“Mom! I’ve been brought up by you two. I can’t possibly fall in love with a girl. Arranged marriage madhi(is enough)!”
Dad walks into the kitchen.
“So your son can’t get a wife. Why don’t you ask him to find one from Mumbai? He was hired by the BBC to do the same. Do one thing. You make him a profile in those wicked matrimony sites. And say that your son is an incapable being who expects his parents to get him a ‘suitable’ bride. Ask them to contact us, if their daughter is good looking. I suppose that’s all that matter these days. ”

“Dad, firstly I’m ‘your’ son too. Secondly, I hope you add ‘son of Jacob Fernandez, columnist The Hindu’ in the profile ‘mom’ makes. And yes, it would help if you add ‘intelligent’ among the ‘prerequisites’. “
“No intelligent female would have to search a matrimony site for a man.”
Surprisingly, they did make a profile for me in ABCmatrimony site.  With a photoshopped picture I had taken during my time at college for the placements. Nita obviously got to know about it (sadly) and publicized through facebook. 
On weekends photographers and other likeminded souls would meet at the BARC canteen for our weekly round ups. Last Sunday, Sreenivasan presented a topic that stirred my mind up a little bit.
He believed ‘arranged marriage’ was a sin because man is simply a tool of his own ‘libido’ – that psychic sexual drive. And it cannot be controlled nor can it be tamed. ‘It’ was the master, not you and I. Marriage was an ‘act’, where you tried to suppress those inner desires. Marriage might help keep ‘it’ dormant but it’s never dead.
“Why do you think these fuck’d up religions are worried about this? They try to cover it all up by blaming poor ‘Eve’ for loving the apple? Libido is all powerful and it is present in our genes. Every animal in this world wants to mate and we Homo sapiens are no different. What if we were taught not to hate this desire but love it? Even the Adam-Eve story is flawed. Why did the Almighty plant an apple tree there? Because even He couldn’t neglect the need for ‘libido’. He planted a lovely apple tree in the middle of the garden because He was sure Eve would see it. How very sensible!” 
You Nanthaniel, you are a Christian right? Just enlighten us with Isaiah 45:7. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. So God created ‘evil’. And what according to you Christians is ‘evil’? The Libido? Anyway the point I’m trying to convey is that for marriage to be successful there should be a degree of ‘openness’; a mutual understanding regarding the ways of the Nature. And when you arrange such an ‘understanding’ it’s always like the coalition governments in our country – bound to go wrong. And that is where I leave it folks. So if you are interested in working with me, meet me at Leopold.”
There was an instant urge to raise the hand and join the league. But I decided to call Cosmo’s expert on the topic – Natasha Fernandez (a.k.a my sister) before I volunteered.
“Your friend is doing exactly what the religions did - Misconstruing facts to suit him. What he told you is an old theory, true perhaps, but one often regarded as puerile due to the lack of proper research and the effect it might have on an already wicked society. I’m glad he didn’t talk about the ‘Gandhian Principles’ which is favourite these days. The asshole’s probably sleeping with someone and wants an escape route prepared. Look Nithin, you are too good. Shouldn’t waste your time on subjects like these.”
“Love you Nita. And I suppose I’m better off skipping Sreeni’s offer.”
“You should say a ‘No’. But I can’t love you back Nithin. You are ‘like a brother to me’.”

I got a call from mom an hour later. A 27 year old fashion photographer liked my college photo (or atleast her family had) and had insisted on ‘seeing’ me. I submitted my assignment at the BBC office and boarded the next flight to Nedumbasserry, Kochi.

 A couple of days back, I had gone with a lazy mother (Dad : “The girl must be emotionally unstable. What on Earth did she find attractive in your son!” ) to the Vogue photographer’s home. I suppose you never quite believe in ‘love at first sight’ until you experience it firsthand. With a stuttering tray stuffed with tea cups she walked into my life. Awestruck (or cupid struck), I had smiled sheepishly and thankfully she acknowledged it with one from her side. Her eyes enticed me. So many stories encrypted masterfully in those powerful eyes. I was sure she could see right through me. Fascinatingly her parents, like my mom, seemed very happy by the fact that we were smiling. And that was that. Call it arranged or love but our marriage had been fixed by that humble smile.

Deby and I got into the habit of meeting up for lunch on weekends when we were both free. I took her out to places in Kochi that were less crowded and we would spend afternoons talking about ourselves, our passions (which were almost always the same), family, childhood and future plans. She was the first person on Earth who thought the ‘Eunuch’ story made sense. One of those afternoons she sang Ramanujan’s ‘Love poem for a wife’-

In the transverse midnight gossip
of cousin's reunion among
brandy fumes, Cashews and the Absences
of Grandparents, you suddenly grow
nostalgic for my past and I
envy you your village dog-ride
and the mythology.
Pretty much summed up what we had been doing.

Nita had called me an hour ago. It seems Deby never knew that my name was Nanthaniel . I had somehow taken for the granted. I felt bad and called her up immediately but she seemed (much to my relief) quite cool about the whole thing. She had found the ‘name’ on the engagement card. The event was a shock reminder about how little we knew each other. Was I ready for such a challenge? Would I be able to sustain this feeling I have for her? I am so confused now but I don’t want to confide the secret to anyone. Should I call off this marriage? What in the world is happening to me?
And then mom casually walked into my room as if she could read my mind, ran her hands through my hair (or whatever was remaining of it) and said, “You’ll be a good honest husband one day. Just follow your heart, ‘always’ speak the truth and everything will be fine. That’s one thing 55 years of marriage has taught me and something your sister’s articles might not.”

I got married today. In a little church, with very few relatives to bother, just the way I had always wanted. (It had been Deby’s decision but I wanted that as well). The evening party was not miserable as we had convinced some our friends to take photographs with higher ISO, thereby saving me from the unbearable ‘light’ that followed the bridegroom on his wedding day.

And contrary to local beliefs we made love in our first night. It all began with a small nibble on Deby’s neck. There was an eerie silence about the whole thing though as if someone had turned off the background score. And one other small thing troubled me. Deby wouldn’t look at me. She kept her eyes closed every time we came face to face.
As I lie here mocking sleep, hugging the love of my life, memories from the life so far keep barging into my head. There was so much to say, so much to do. I conjured up some courage, kissed her cheeks slowly and said,” You know, I never imagined my first time to be this way.”

This article was written as a part of Indiblogger's Love Marriage ya Arranged marriage ( click here )competition in association with Sony Entertainment Television.
PPS: If you want to read the story from Deborah's perspective click here.


numerounity said...

Hmmm...well written.

Nevin said...

Thank you nemrounity for having the patience to read :D

N-and-U said...

actually having two perspectives of the same story is quite nice.. i did like the first one, especially its last sentence. the second one is jus as good.:)guess it adds more depth to the whole thing..

Uthara said...

the two way perspective is a great way of approach nev, reminds me of a fast track ad..really cool.
but the content was quite disturbing, as i mentioned already arranged marriage is quite a machiavellian strategy devised by the ancestors to ensure a steady propagation of caste system..sadly we are forced to bow to the maddening 'traditions' sometimes..ignorance is bliss at times.

Nirvana said...

Ok.... is it normal to start a comment with "ROFL I Love you!!"?

I truly did (and the fact that you can make palada payasam has nothing to do with it, I swear!). I thought I stood a chance till I read this post - looks like I'll have to gracefully accept there are better cynics out there! :-)

One word - Fabulous!

All the best! And come by some time-

Nevin said...

Nandu : Thanks mate. Even I kinda like the first one.
Uthara: I had to 'google to find out what you were talking about :) thanks for reading.
Nirvana: Thanks! And ROFL I love you too . But honestly, you are being kind!

Arathi Sasikumar said...

Considering the amount of thinking process that went into this effort I would say Great work. Portraying the female lead in such an unconventional way- that was the best part because I believe there are characters like Deby in our society who go unnoticed just because they are not the typical bubbly Indian girl.Keep writing.

Uthara said...

what did you 'google'? the ad?..:D

Nevin said...

Uthara I had to read about machiavellian strategy actually :)
Arathi, I'm glad there are people who liked Deby. Wanted my lead role to be a little different.

Ghazala Hossain said...

Lazy mother..! LOL
All the best :)

Nevin said...

Thanks Ghazala

manan guju said...

dude, you are gifted! this after reading four blogs back to back, and all of em are a class apart. not one dissappoints! way to go!

Nevin said...

Thanks Manan. Always feels great to know that people are reading your posts :)

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