CASTEing Aspersions

18 Jan

CASTEing  Aspersions

The new bride was undergoing an interview with her grandmother in-law. It was their first meeting. They did not share a common language so a bevy of eager aunt in-laws were acting as interpreter. Favourite grandson had brought home a bride from a different community, and she was being magnanimous and getting to know the girl.

‘Are you a Brahmin dear?’ ,  was the opening salvo to break the ice

‘No’ her frank admission brought the chill back in the atmosphere.

Visions of the unthinkable unnerved the fond grandma and excited the eager aunts.

A nervous follow up query from the matriarch – ‘ Um, are you, err..  a, a Muslim?’.

There. The unthinkable was out in the open. The M word was out. Was a scandal about to rock the conservative bastion of the Ballygunge Brahmins? The aunts hoped for Breaking news that would enliven the kitty party for months. Grand mom feared the worst and only good breeding kept her from shifting away a little .

‘Oh no!’, her reply dispersed the tension in the room. The old lady relaxed visibly. The aunts tried to hide their disappointment.

“Oh, so you are a Christian?’ grandma asked, considerably relieved. Having been the wife of a Civil Servant in British India, she had seen a lot of Englishmen, who despite being Christian, were quite acceptable. Moreover, most of the family had studied in Christian schools, so they were not so alien. The previous generation who went to England for higher studies occasionally brought back an European wife, and although tut tutted at, they were tolerated. Basically, Christian was passé.

‘No, I’m not’, the bride replied.

‘Then why did you scare us unnecessarily?’ the beaming grandma retorted.’ Not a Muslim or Christian means Hindu. So what if you are not a Brahmin, marrying one makes you one.’

Feeble protests about Sikhs being a distinct community were lost in diffidence and translation.

Relief, disappointment, vague frustration at sudden loss of identity were the various emotions flooding the room.

It wasn’t till a generation later that members of the not be mentioned community were at a wedding reception of the Ballygunge Brahmins as respected in laws.

Unfortunately, the matriarch did not live to see this day


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15 responses to “CASTEing Aspersions

  1. sharmishtha basu

    January 18, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    society is changing, for better or for worse.


  2. simple girl

    January 21, 2014 at 5:10 am

    oh wow!!!… I can well imagine the scene to be happening today ….


    • wiseguy from the east

      January 21, 2014 at 11:08 am

      thanx a ton simplegirl. doubt if this still works.nowadays we are happy if the bride/groom is of the opposite gender.have written about it in another post called Suitable check it out.


  3. Seeta

    January 22, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Now, this is something that happens even today. Rather sad state of affairs I say 😐


  4. TTS

    January 22, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    very well written!


  5. Anonymous

    January 23, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Really Nice Soumya – my Mother-in-Law was visiting us recently and the topic of her grand-daughters marriage came up and her only advice was “Marry anyone American, Black….but not a Muslim’ …….the times they are a changin……but not completely


    • wiseguy from the east

      March 24, 2014 at 8:06 am

      reminds me of the line from bend it like beckham – white-no, black – nooo! muzlim- zik(imitating throat being cut)


  6. Jyoti Arora

    December 7, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    a lot has changed, but much remains the same. I suppose, the scene would be much the same even if it occurred today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • wiseguy from the east

      December 8, 2014 at 1:52 am

      Not so much. Most marriges I see now are cross cultural. Our family has spouses ranging from West Indies to Indonasia 😀
      Sent on my BlackBerry® from Vodafone


      • Jyoti Arora

        December 8, 2014 at 1:40 pm

        Maybe, but I have heard parents in my family caution their kids with warning that ring much the same feelings as the women in your story. Marry anyone except…


  7. Him Krim Ice-Cream

    November 29, 2015 at 8:59 am

    what exactly was the occasion on which “the community which should not be named” made their appearance and what followed?…Courtesy a curious reader…

    Liked by 1 person


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