It's Not Right...but It's Okay(2)

By: Anuj Tiwari

Today he is visiting Bareilly, his hometown, before he heads to a book event in Kolkata. He informs his mom of his whereabouts, in fact he does so even when he is in Mumbai, and she notoriously keeps track of his social media updates on her cellphone. His mom is loving and possessive. His father, like most Indian fathers, follows his mom’s lead in life.

Arjun is from a Brahmin family and this family is planning to look for a girl with whom he can spend the rest of his life happily. They are worried about him because they think he’ll take years to choose someone, but in fact, he is really not choosy at all. He does not believe in being selective when finding a life partner. He feels if he keeps in mind a few well thought out life principles, the ideal woman will walk into his life on her own. Moreover, he claims that true love exists and hopes to find love someday.

His views always have a logic to them that cannot be ignored. He believes there is always a right time for everything. One cannot have sex before the age of fourteen because one will not enjoy it. One cannot have babies at the age of eighteen because they’re too young to be a good parent. In the same way, one should not get married until one actually feels like getting married.

‘You can’t be so serious about these issues,’ his friends tell him. He simply smiles during those moments.

‘So how is the food in Mumbai?’ his mom asks him while grating carrots in the kitchen.

Arjun is accustomed to royal treatment at home, including delicious home-cooked meals which lead him to the kitchen, where he spends time talking to his mom.

‘I miss you and your food, of course. What do you put in halwa by the way?’ he asks while peeling green peas.

‘I put nothing special in it, and stop eating while you peel the peas,’ she says and softly pats him on his head making him drop the peas back in the bowl.

He feels good when she pats him on his head, it shows on his face.

‘I wanted to discuss something with you,’ she says, wiping her hands with a kitchen towel.

‘Is this about a girl?’ he asks, still munching on some peas.

‘I am not joking.’

‘Yes, my father’s boss, say. What happened?’

She grins.

‘I feel that you have grown up and you need someone to spend your life with. You live alone in Mumbai and you come home for a week or two after months.’

According to her, if one is a grown up, they cannot live alone.

‘Are all mothers playing a big role in raising the Indian population?’ He laughs while questioning her. ‘Mom, I just turned twenty-six in November, and I don’t want to marry till the time I fall for someone.’

Arjun understands that his mom wants to keep a check on the mischievous life he has in Mumbai.

‘I am just asking you to find a well-educated girl for yourself and that too after your sister’s marriage. I am not saying this on the spur of the moment. You live alone in Mumbai, so far from us. So at least there should be a girl who can take care of you and manage things for you. I am getting old, you know,’ she says as she opens the fridge and takes out a packet of cashew.

‘Mom, I will marry a girl not an air hostess or someone who can travel with me.’ He holds her from the back. ‘And I really don’t want an arranged marriage.’

His mom’s frown is enough to show that she is not in favour of love marriage.

Every secret conversation between mom and son takes place in the kitchen. It’s a practice which has been going on since Arjun was a child. He always sits on the slab and helps her prepare the salad or chop chillies, or sometimes he washes the rice grains before cooking. Times have changed and he now debates over topics like love and arranged marriage with her.

‘Your views are absolutely correct and I respect them but times have changed. How can someone marry without even knowing the person?’ he asks.

‘Hmm…’ is all she says in response.

Her Hmm does not satisfy him and he continues to convince her of the validity of a love marriage.

‘Listen, marriage is not just about making your sex life…’

‘What?’ She suddenly turns towards him leaving everything aside.

‘I mean, marriage is not just about making one’s affair official on a legal document. It involves a lot more responsibilities. Moreover, to tie two families with such high expectations and that too for a lifetime is demanding. Look at my father.’