“If you’re past 25, forget it, you’ll never get married.” This is unfortunately a shared approach most middle-aged, gossip-loving aunties prefer. ‘Prefer’ now being an interesting word as they can avoid sticking to the thought process or can keep their mouths zipped so as to not discourage girls from pursuing their ambitions.
Inferring the quiet rebellion in me, a dear friend of mine persuaded me to visit a retired army officer running a ‘DHA matrimonial service’ for free. The service tries and arranges spouses for people who are obviously socially too inept to find a partner themselves.
Striking a conversation with him, he piously admitted his own concerns: Beta, yeh Allah kee rah mein hai, shayed iseei mein mujhe jannat naseeb ho. During our conversation, I asked the bearded man – who preferred to be called uncle – a question. Being an educated man, a veteran army officer who was ‘wise’ enough to send his sons abroad for a graduate education, I asked him whether he really believed that the key to the afterlife lay in arranging marriages in this world and whether the best way to do this was by having an Excel spreadsheet on his laptop whereby applicants were assigned ‘standardised’ preferences.
He replied: “Beti, you don’t know where you’re headed with these questions. This will land you in some serious trouble.” Disappointed with my rationale being doubted, I paid my final salam and left the house. Approaching the car door hastily, I tried calming my nerves as I recalled what went wrong in our communication.
Was it not acceptable for me to question a listed, Chicagobased man’s demand for a girl who abhorred vulgar clothes (sleeveless) and who had an IR degree from an all-girls school, or the elderly uncle (with all due respect) who wanted to arrange marriages in exchange for rewards in the afterlife? The said encounter only yielded one regret — no membership chances or meeting ‘educated’ nincompoops.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 20th, 2010.
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