(Disclaimer: this is a work of fiction and all names, places, incidents mentioned are purely imaginary and not intended to hurt anyone)
My friend Jothivel always tell me, to connect with any girl I go to see for an arranged marriage, beforehand online – through Twitter/Facebook and all the available social media networks, although I really can’t imagine pinning a probable on Pinterest. Anyway, I jokingly tell him that I will give the web-search contract to him next time I go to see a girl- to find the degree of connections between me and that girl. But the problem is- even I don’t know which girl I am going to see, till I actually get there to her house and sit in front of her. My dad keeps the secret guarded like it is the password to the vault at the Reserve Bank of India. The only written document we receive is the horoscope and the rest is purely confined to my father’s ears alone – when he telephones the girls house.
And he never, ever leaks the information even to my mother, for fear that I will somehow coax the truth out of her and then use the info gathered to spoil things up in an idiotic over-eager way. Or so he thinks. Hence going to a girl seeing is always a surprise/ordeal to me- like going to attend a viva, with the subject of the exam to be decided by the examiners on the spot. The only inkling I ever get of a planned girl seeing is when my mother sidles up to me and asks “Can you take leave tomorrow? We have something planned” And I usually proceed to say the mandatory excuses about how busy I am, both of us knowing full well, that I am just posturing and that I will be the first one to be ready and sitting in the car the next day.
So, there was this girl I went to see recently, for an arranged wedding, a proper girl seeing ceremony, arranged by parents on both sides. The girls family had been in talks for quite some time with my parents but due to the absence of available auspicious dates or something, this thing had been kept postponed till the inauspicious month of Aadi (from the traditional Tamil calendar) was over. As usual we got there well in time, my dad being a stickler for punctuality and we were surprised to see that the girl’s parents hadn’t expected us to arrive so promptly and were even then waking up their household.
We sat around waiting for them to settle down and get in their rhythm and like well experienced pros the girl’s parents had things settled in a jiffy and we were soon past the preliminaries like trading bio-data’s and asking who know’s who. At last it was time to move on to the actual reason we had come for, the one which I was waiting for, anticipation building tension. The girl’s mother went in to bring her daughter out to the drawing room and I stopped chewing my nails and sat up straighter, trying to pull in my tummy and wishing that I had gone regularly to the gym last week/month/year. Especially when she turned out to be such a scorcher. Damn. And this girl hadn’t got married yet? Why? Don’t people have eyes in their heads, I wondered as I ogled at her, for after all I was there to do that particular thing and I did have a parental license to do so.
When the girl came in to sit before me, the first thing I noticed was that she had this weird habit of running her tongue over her lips every few seconds. I mean, it is natural for anyone to be nervous and try to moisten their lips, but this girl was doing it too frequently to be natural and I could only suspect that she was doing it deliberately; to maybe taste her new flavored lipstick? I hear that they come in strawberry, orange and mango flavors nowadays. Anyway, those full, luscious, lips were so distracting that I had to stop myself from reciprocating in kind, for I found that suddenly my lips had gone dry too. But the girl didn’t seem to be doing it naturally; she was slowly and deliberately running her tongue over her lower lip and glancing at me slyly, all the time. My inner spider sense started tingling, why would she do that, if it is not natural, what other reason was there to do this?
The only other reason I could think of was (and now my inner devil was really jumping up and down to catch my attention) maybe because she wanted to get rid of me and the easiest way to do it would be to make sure that she titillates me, make me get a boner and become embarrassed in front of everyone- her parents and mine and all the assembled relations present staring at both of us. Besides, on further reflection, I remembered that this girl was no stranger to the girl seeing ceremony as her dad had himself confessed that she had gone through this at least a dozen times before (which made me unlucky no.13?) and hence the final conclusion I came to was, she was trying to get rid of me, that’s the only spin I could put on her behavior of licking her lips when looking at me.
Aroused by the, err, challenge, I put my mind over matter and steadfastly refused to look at her tongue running over her lip. I looked everywhere, her aunt, her mother, her sister, except at the girl. And then she dropped her bombshell. She said she wanted a few minutes alone time with me- for conversation, I hoped, but I wouldn’t put it past this girl to beat me on the head with a stick if she got me alone with no one looking. Full of fear for my safety, I went into the room pointed out to me, which unfortunately happened to be the girls bedroom, and sitting down on the edge of the bed nervously clutching the sheets, I was waiting for her to come in and start the program.
She entered, turned around, closed the door and to my great horror actually locked it, before turning back to face me. I broke out into a sweat. From here on, I was no longer in control of what was about to happen, things had gone far too wrong. So then she walked right up to my side as I sat there shivering and standing close-up, looking at me with an evil grin on her face, she said “I have a boyfriend” the first response which popped in my mind was to say “So what? I have one too” (my inner imp suggesting that flippant answer) and wait to see her reaction, but I bit my tongue told myself “control, control” and wait for her to elaborate and she obliged “He works in a MNC in Mumbai, we are seeing each other for two years, my parents know this but they won’t allow us to marry because of difference in status”.
She stood there, staring down at me steadily, waiting for a response but I wouldnt trust my tongue now, so I bit it hard and waited for her to continue, just staring at her, like a rabbit caught in the headlights (err….wrong analogy, considering where I was seated and what I was staring at). And then, she came even more closer, almost touching me and said “My guy gave me this idea, if everyone who came to see me went away without liking me, my parents would be finally forced to marry me to my guy in their frustration” and stood there waiting for my response to her master plan. I felt tempted to ask her “But what if I said I liked you?” but I knew the answer she would say “I will marry you, take you to Kodaikanal for our honeymoon trip and push you off the suicide point with my boyfriend’s help” for haven’t I seen enough Tamil cinema’s to know what happens to guy’s who marry unwilling girls? As I valued my life more than my wedding, I slowly nodded my head and said “ok. I will tell I don’t like you”.
Mission accomplished, she smiled at me then and suddenly, totally unexpectedly she leaned over me. Holy shit, I gasped, I don’t believe this. What the hell is she gonna do to express her thanks to me? Is she, uh? My fears thankfully were unfounded, for she merely leant over me (as I was sitting on the edge of her bed), leant way over me to the laptop on the bed which had been half closed all this time and opened it to show me a Skype window with a grinning buffoon staring back at us “This is my boyfriend in Mumbai, we were chatting when you came”
WTF? All this time, I thought we were alone, and she had her boyfriend listening to our conversation on Skype? How pervert can you get? And btw, what if I did something to her right now, right this minute, what can this monkey grinning at us on the screen, what can he do, except enjoy a live show on Skype, not that I felt tempted to do anything, just my anger at being surprised like this. I took a closer look at the obscenely grinning face, this hero who gave such brilliant ideas and he was looking like he had never had an hair cut in his life- someone call actor abbas immediately and send him over to this guys place for a quick harpic shampoo wash- and a wisp of a beard with precisely two strands of hair hanging below the weak chin- and I am not making this up, he did look like that- this guy, this low life creep, was voyeuring his girlfriend’s one-on-one private conversations with prospective grooms? How low can you sink, I thought?
If you really love someone, you should fight directly for her hand and not teach her cunning ways to break her parent’s hearts and make them fools. And also make fools of others with better things to do with their time. Somehow, I felt that this creep would soon get his right desserts through fate, so I got up and without saying anything, abruptly left the room and came out to sit in the hall. Despite my best attempts at sign language, my mother didn’t take the hint and we had to spend a little more time there before departing home. And once I got home, I gave my parents just the highlights, leaving out the Skyping part, as I didn’t want to risk giving either of my aged parents an heart attack.
A couple of days later, the mutual aunty, who arranged this alliance, came over and whispered something in my mother’s ears and my mom went all hot and angry and started shouting. I went over to ask what and learned that the girl had told her parents that inside the room I had told her that I had a girlfriend already whom I was planning to marry soon and I had came to see her just for formality’s sake. Plates turned, mission accomplished for the girl. But what an obscene lie. And after I had behaved like a gentleman and forswore telling about her despicable behavior inside. Tell me what do you do to girls like this? Do you punish them yourself? Or wait for karma to come back and give them their come-uppance?
As for me, lesson learnt was to always break the truth out in the open in front of everyone, no matter how embarrassing to the guilty party. Play the perfect gentleman, the sacrificing martyr and you end up becoming the fool, chivalry is outdated nowadays.