Memories Gone are the days, fortunately in many cases, when the father of a teenage girl, used to carry his daughter’s horoscope, on a selected auspicious day and auspicious time, with the anxiety of a patient entering the surgical ward , to the entrance of the house of an eligible bachelor, clear his throat to draw the attention of the head of the family and place reverently, the yellow-cornered paper which he had brought, at his hands and wait for a favorable reply for weeks, worrying and praying all the Gods known to him . Gone or the days, fortunately in many cases, when the date of the wedding was announced, after discussion and agreement on dowry, the weight and size of the ornaments, the number and size of the brass, copper and silver vessels, clothes and other movable articles to be handed over to the bridegroom’s party, the father of the girl ran like a mad dog, to acquire the cash and materials required for the wedding.

Now we carry our son’s horoscope,door to door and our daughter selects her partner, make all arrangements and invite us for her wedding.

Those who are lamenting about the improvement in the educational and consequently the economic status of the present day girls are perhaps unaware of the mental and physical deprivation the parents of the girls had undergone, as recently as a  couple of decades ago. How will they then be aware of the devastation of the young women of the earlier generations,who were forced to marry widowers of double or triple their age, became widows before reaching their puberty or a few years later , tonsured their head, broke their bangles, discarded all good things and lived like  a condemned prisoner within the four walls of their husband’s house? The ‘athai’ of my Pitchumani story, no doubt is a fictional character but the comments received from the readers of that story was moving -yes, in every village if not in every house there were similar athais or patties, not long ago. Our society was responsible for the tsunami in their life, though we took refuge under the unseen fate’s cruelty or un -protesting  God ‘s necessity to punish them for the deeds of their past life. And now, we boast about the glory of the gone golden era of our community! And  now, when the present generation stand on their own legs and want to live their life according to their own light and direction, we fret and fume as if some one is roasting  Guntur chillies in our kitchen! Our society has suffered enough of poverty and humiliation. Now rejoice when at least some of our families are prospering.

Our children are grown up, educated, exposed to the good and bad things of the world much earlier than us and much more than us. Leave the choice of their life partners to them. If your guidance is sought in the the selection, don’t start your priority list with the horoscope or the name of the Rishy written therein, who lived several centuries ago and presumably started your family in the Sindu or Brahmaputra valley or the sub groups formed as recently as a few  centuries ago when we migrated to the present place. Start with the  boy or girl, who form the core of the marriage. Then your  daughter or son will be lucky to get married, mostly as per your and their choice, before they are 28 or 30. Otherwise, they will curse you through out their life, if they are not smart enough to find their own partners. And please, don’t tell your daughter-in-law, when she enters your house for the first time that the main purpose of bringing her there is to hold a few blades of dry grass standing behind your son to sweep the path of the ancestors when they ascended the celestial citadel.   That is not the  purpose of having a wife and your son knows that. And you also know that.

And when your children prepare architectural sketches to develop colonies in the Moon or Mars, don’t talk to them about Rahu or Gulikan. The journey to other planets, you will agree , is much more arduous and risky than your visiting the cloth shop or native village and Rahukalam is not definitely  one of the items in their check list, before commencing the long journey.

I presume that our interest should be only in having a naughty and healthy grand child and I am sure that our children know how to make that gift to us. So, Leave it to them.

Baltimore,

May 29th, 2008

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