A friend recently posted a link on my facebook page which listed answers of various American children to the question “How do we know whom to marry “with many intriguing responses. This took me down memory lane to the time my eldest had posed the same question to my wife.
I listened in for a while to the very sensible discussions between mother and child as to knowing the person and following the heart and kept having visions of my little child growing up and meeting all kinds of undesirable lumpens and following the very unsound advises of her heart.
I could also for the first times sympathize with my poor father in law, whom till now I had considered an unreasonable ogre for his vehement opposition to his daughter’s selection of a perfect boy like me for a life mate.
The venerable gentleman’s objections were based on our different religion language and caste, and not on my qualities character education or socio economic standing as a suitable groom for the apple of his eye, which I found unreasonable. I suspected that my pigmentation may also have had a bearing on his decision. I had cheekily offered to stop shaving and grow my hair if it helped matters, as a full flowing beard and unshorn locks were the hallmark of the community he belonged to
What I realize now is that it was his natural caution as a doting dad of not losing his little girl to a smart-alecky stranger from an alien culture. Combined with this would be the very natural fear of the traditional middle class patriarch, “what would people say?”
Unencumbered by any such wisdom or scruples and armed with the arrogance of absolute certainty that is the prerogative of youth; we eloped and got married ignoring his veto, no doubt bruising his ego, but also breaking his heart.
Now visions of Karma floated before my eyes and life flashed before me in fast forward to the background scores of ‘Sunrise….Sunset….’ I could visualize being introduced to young men in dreadlocks with piercings and tattoos or with orange hair, or perhaps someone darker than me with an afro hairdo, or maybe a skullcap and beard. Scenes from ‘Guess who’s coming to dinner’, ‘Father of the Bride’, Meet the Parents’, and ‘Kanyadan’ flashed before my eyes and my sympathies were all with the beleaguered dads. I could totally understand Topol’s anguish in Fiddler on the Roof as he watched his daughters leave without the aid of the matchmaker to impecunious youth, radicals and even a Russian! Now objections on grounds of race religion colour or creed didn’t seem so outlandish.
I couldn’t hold out any longer. Ignoring all homilies on good parenting, I interjected –“No, No! Don’t listen to mummy, she doesn’t know, I will tell you how you will know whom to marry; ASK DADDY! DADDY WILL TELL YOU WHOM TO MARRY.”
Years later, when such discussions were close enough in time frame for a potential selection of a suitable boy to be serious, we joked about her childhood query and my response. I tried to establish my liberal credentials by declaring that I don’t believe in race religion or nationalities, but adding a rider for safety that socio economic and educational and cultural compatibility leads to happier relationships, and asking whether I should take my dressing gown out of mothballs and get a pipe, in preparation of upcoming interviews with young men ala fathers of brides in old bollywood. But the GenY lady’s response had me completely stumped and reevaluating my perceived liberalism. She asked me, “Does it have to be a boy? Why this gender specification?”
I guess the young will always teach their parents new lessons in tolerance and adaptability