What’s one thing adults in India really like to talk about at a family home evening?
If it’s a gathering dominated by men, they’ll rant about the economic crisis in India, and blame the current government for everything, talk about old times when everything was perfect and when you could buy a month’s grocery with a coin that isn’t even minted anymore. While they are busy reminiscing prehistoric times, the women generally brew tea and slip an opinion while serving, which nobody listens to anyway. In these gatherings, no one shares a joke. Everyone deadpans, and nobody gets that. This gives the atmosphere a feel of seriousness, and everybody starts to believe adults are wise or something.
If it’s a gathering dominated by women, they talk about the wealth of their relatives, about marriage, where, of course, salaries of the groom and dowry are the most discussed topics. They also talk about weight loss programs and onions and compare prices of every two things that have a label on them. The men in these gatherings mostly stay mum, fiddling with whatever their hands pick up, or pretending to introspect while they mentally mock the silly conversation going on in front of them. In these gatherings, every next sentence is a hilarious joke, and you are supposed to laugh like you have hysteria.
As a kid or a teenager, you feel like an outsider to these gatherings. But what happens when you try to participate?
“30 Lakhs did you say!!?? “My mother asked, bewildered. Had she stretched her eyes any wider, she’d have torn a muscle. Aunty nodded, and said,
“He’s a surgeon. ”
“Duh! I don’t understand why my boy never showed interst in biology. “She said, a bit disappointed. Since we are poor, 30 Lakhs sounds like 30 billions to us. Although she didn’t say that to invite an answer from me, but I replied anyway.
“I’m not taking any dowry, maa. I think I’ve told you that already. ” She looked at me like you look at muck, and said,
“Don’t try to sound like you respect women or something. Had you respected women, you’d have made me tea everyday and pressed my feet when I’m tired. You don’t even accept my friend request. ”
“One, you own an electric foot massager. Two, I am never accepting your friend request. Three, I don’t respect women, I said it just because I don’t want to take dowry. “I clarified. To be honest, a wife who brings dowry doesn’t seem cool somehow. Plus, I’m not the kind who expects his girl to touch his feet every morning and compare him to Gods, which is what my mother expects her daughter-in-law to do, even though in our house, my father chops onions every evening while my mother watches Gopi Bahu. I like a woman who is a catastrophe – one who makes me chop onions every evening but who does not watch Gopi Bahu. My mother won’t understand that though.
“I gave your father a big fat dowry. “She said. Aunty suppressed a chuckle.
“Well, bad luck. ”
“Alright. But I’m choosing your bride. ”
“Ugh, maa. It doesn’t happen that way these days. Don’t you watch news or what? ”
“Don’t try to teach me stuffs. If I leave it to you, you’ll bring some English speaking towny girl who eats chicken and throws her in-laws to old age home. ”
“Let’s not even have a debate about veg and non-veg. I can give you a million reasons why people shouldn’t be judged on the basis of their diets. ”
That was enough to make her mad. To add to that, aunty confirmed my mother that her boy had already slipped from her hands. She called my father and said I was planning to throw her out of the house. The way my mother moulds facts and spices things up, she should have been on news channels.
I found a solution though. I made her tea and pressed her feet this weekend. She agreed, in return, to let me choose my wife, however, she’s still not allowing chicken consuming girls. English speaking woman is fine as long as she doesn’t call her an old hag and other terms she doesn’t understand. Yeah, and she’s not giving me anything in her will if I throw her to old age home.
Umm…I think she’s overreacting.