Now some young bride-aspirants are interested, right ?
“Your father would have asked for a big dowry or one of the planets would have come in the way?”
“No, my father didn’t ask for a pie and was not much concerned about horoscopes also. In fact, he was prepared to pay fifty or hundred to the girl’s parents, when he realized that it was difficult for me to find a match.
“You mean fifty or hundred thousand rupees!”
“No, just fifty or hundred rupees but I didn’t want him to spend that much money”
“Like father, like son! Then, what was your problem? You had one hole less in your nose or your eyes were simultaneously looking at opposite directions or closing and opening alternately?”
“No such insignificant problems. It was the comments made by a village woman about my looks, while traveling as a child, along with my mother’s elder sister, the real culprit for my late marriage. When my aunt replied that I was her son, to the query of the woman who I was, she whispered to another woman sitting nearby in the railway compartment, “a prince-like charming kid to a dark complexioned mother!” “Her husband could be handsome”, the other woman replied.
In childhood all are charming, even a piggy. The village womenfolk’s remarks were standard and casual which could be applicable to almost all the kids traveling in that Coimbatore- passenger train or in any other trains, but at that age, I wasn’t aware of this universal truth and the adjectives, ‘prince-like and charming’, left a deep impression in my mind about my physical appearance and I started believing that I was one of the most handsome youngsters in the town.
That false notion, however, helped me during my college days in my extra-curricular activities, to act in any roll during annual-day cultural events or participate actively in literary debates with complete self confidence facing hundreds of students. My Hanuman was so realistic that when I jumped before Sita, sitting quietly under a tree from a high stool hidden behind a cardboard sheet , she ran for life, thinking that I was Ravana , though I had a tail and only one head!.
Head or tail , you win if you act well. In the real life too.
The real problem started when I entered the marriage market and looked for a girl of extraordinary beauty, to match my high standard. They were simply not available within our community and I had no courage to go out of the community and look for one. when a couple of girls, wisely rejected me, as mismatch for them and saved their future, I started realizing that I was not all that ‘prince-like and charming’. However, I went on ‘seeing’ girls and they went on ‘seeing’ me and weighing me by my dress, words and behavior. I rejected some and several rejected me. In that process I crossed half-way to my sixtieth birthday or Shashtiabthapoorthy.
And my father, naturally, started wondering whether I had any inherent deficiencies or motives in rejecting so many girls. Any father will wonder and worry.
I wrote a big letter explaining about my unblemished character and respect for my parents and also stated that I was prepared to marry any girl, selected by my parents. “place a deaf and dumb girl in my front,” so my letter went on, “and order me to marry her. I will obey you”
It was a lie. I was very choosy about my would-be life-partner; otherwise I would have been able to find one, long ago.
I didn’t post that letter. By that time, my father had selected a girl for me !.
One fine morning, I received a telegram. It read: “Your marriage fixed on 25th.october at Thiruvananthapuram. Arrive well in advance.”
That was an order, and so far none in our family had disobeyed my father’s orders.
I had the shock of my life. Who was that girl, how would be her looks? Would she be round, linear, square or rectangular, in shape? fair-complexioned or coal-tar skinned? No hint. At least a photo, standing near a stand like Ravi Varma’s hamsadamayanthi, of the object with whom I was to spend the rest of my life, could have been made available to me.
When I looked at that telegram, on one end, was a que of oily-haired ,dull-faced girls and on the other, the aristocratic appearance of my father with an authoritative look.
This was what happened at Olavakkode, my ancestral home. Having realized that I didn’t utilize effectively the freedom given to me to choose my girl, my father decided to take over the issue and once he takes a decision, no one on earth could stop him. He executed it with the speed and accuracy of a modern CEO of a multinational company.
He sent word for my cousin, Parasuram, known for his abilities in solving complex issues. Along with my father, Parasu also was thrown out of the elementary school, for a minor offence of pasting a national flag on the coat of his class teacher. However, unlike my father, he didn’t choose business, as his career, as there was no need to. He had much better capabilities to make money and they were manifold and hassle free.
Parasu was dare-devilish, like my dad. Courage was the only asset he had, apart from an ancestral house in the village and some basic knowledge in vedas and astrology, acquired from his father. Like any other Brahmin boys of his age, he also could perform poojas and homamas, of routine nature. Like a management expert, he utilized this minimum capital most efficiently and his intelligence and ability in character study, mind reading and communication skill took him to a fairly high level in the society.
Clad in a bright double mull dhoti, his forehead and body marked with the sacred ash at the appropriate places and a rosary of ‘rudraksham’ adorning his chest and a big kumkum mark shining on the center of his forehead, he used to enter into a ‘tharavadu- the house of a combined family- and receive the respect of the family-head along with some milk and fruits. On one such occasion, after sharing a mouthful of betel leaf with the family head, ‘ammaman’, he suddenly got up from his seat, as stung by a scorpion.
‘Swamy, enthu patti—what happened?’ the host inquired, anxiously.
‘Everything is wrong in this house,” Parasu, said, without resuming his seat and looking at a corner as if somebody was there.
“How are you living in here? Saptharishis have cursed this house. One ancestral scoundrel commits some grave sins and for generations, his successors suffer. Che, che !”
Catapulting from his chair, Parasu removed his melveshti, upper cloth, tied it like a turban as if he was going to fight the curse and dashed towards the main gate.