Free of 'Cost'...

Sahil woke up stretching his body. He knew it was 3 in the afternoon and he still had no mood of getting out of the bed. After all, you rarely take a 7 day off from work and he knew this one was important. He had to disclose the fairly colossal fact that he was in love, to his parents, before they started looking for a girl for him. He loved being in a second tier city of the country – they were comfortably eased out about daily routines, still there were branded showrooms, there was a perfect blend of history and future and there was less traffic above all. But there were certain things that also disturbed him about these cities – the conventional and middle-of-the-road thinking of people, which pulled India back every now and then.

He dragged himself to the washroom and washed himself up. He wore the stupidest clothes he could lay hands upon. It was still time for his dad to return home so he could probably wile away this time in Playstation games or some other stuff which he rarely got to do during his working days back in Mumbai.
 He was about to barge into the living room to meet his mom, when he heard voices from other side of the door.
“Sarita, your son is such a grown up now... It is time you get a daughter-in-law now...”
Sahil immediately knew it was one of the aunties from the colony. The aunties who criticized each other behind backs and became extra sugary in front of each other, they could actually play the diplomatic official between India and Pakistan. But he realized, there was more than one. He could count 4 aunties other than his mom, from the voices that came from the living room.
“Of course! She is right, Sarita. What are you doing, sitting at home all day at such a crucial time? It is time you make a free account on ...” Sahil knew it was the auntie from the red house, 4th from the left end of the colony. She always bargained for free tomatoes from the vegetable vendor.

“And oh! Our Sahil is an IIT-ian, Sarita...” And here went the “our” Sahil. “You should charge at least Rs. 50 lakhs this time.”
This sentence woke him up all of a sudden and all his loaf and laze flew away in a jiffy. His ears almost stood up in attention. After all not every day you are charged in the marketplace of Indian marriages!

“You have only one son... you should definitely not miss this opportunity. It is time you take a trip abroad...” One of the two horribly fat aunties said and they all guffawed like it was the best joke ever.
“C’mon Gauri ji, 50 lakhs is not the right price for our Sahil... It should rather be 50 lakhs and a car at least, I would say. If I had a daughter, I would give that without a second thought for a man like Sahil.” Another one said with pride and smugness in her voice.  Sahil could not contain any longer. He banged open the door and barged into the living room obstinately in embarrassingly low shorts and a black vest.

“Sorry Auntie, but I couldn’t help overhearing your remark about my dowry...”
“Dowry? What dowry?” The auntie he had addressed interrupted him looking aghast as if he had insulted her character. “We are not such kind of people.”
“Oh, then I must have heard wrong... your remark about me deserving to get Rs. 50 lakhs and a car...”
That is not dowry, my son... That is what you are worth... We are not asking for a car. The girl’s father will give it himself if he is not a shameless person, we can just tell him our preference of the brand...”
“Excuse me!” Now it was Sahil’s turn to interrupt. “You really think that is what, I cleared IIT for... FYI, oh sorry, for you information, I earn 45 lakhs per annum and I can pretty much buy my own car.”

All the aunties now looked at him. He had suddenly gained everybody’ attention with his lack of guile and forthrightness. “I have had close friends who are girls and I have sisters in my family... I would kill that ass ... umm... whatever... huh!”
His anger had no boundaries. He knew this evil was deep rooted in the country, but he never knew he would witness it ever. He felt disoriented suddenly. Looking at his heavy breathing and uncivilized attire, the aunties got up and bid farewell. His mother looked at him after everyone was gone and thankfully not with anger.

“Mom, I love a girl...” He said as she was clearing the table. She suddenly stopped and looked at him as if she had expected this already.
“Who is she?”
“Garima S**** ... works with me in Mumbai. Her father is an executive director in an MNC and her mother works with an investment bank. She is an MBA from Australia.” He tried giving the maximum details in one sentence.
“So, she is a...”
“Yes mom... she is not of the same surname, same caste, same gotra, same familial roots... But she is exactly who I want to be with all my life, and I don’t think anything else should matter.”
“I don’t know... this will never be accepted in your father’s family. There will be an outrage; I never wanted to lower my eyes because of you...”

“Do you really care?” Sahil said holding his mom lovingly and looking into her eyes. “I will be happy all my life... I would not have cared even if the same girl was from a different religion”
“Yeah, this is the problem with your generation. Is this the result of your high-fi education? Is this for what we spent so much money on your education?”  She sounded close to tears.
“Look mom...”
“No... Just ask your dad... You will know his reaction...”
“I will mom... I love you guys... and I am sure he will understand...”
“What? That you are going against the family tradition... that you will be destroying the respect and image that we built in all these years. You are just disillusioned by the shine of a metropolitan.”

“No mom... what are you talking about? I really want to do this and not just for myself, but for the good that I will be doing as a youngster of this country. Do you realize, mom, that how deep rooted this problem of dowry is? Did you look at what those aunties were saying? I will never be demanding a single penny from the girl’s parents. I will prefer having a marriage with 50 people rather than spending someone else’s money for my marriage. I will never hesitate in raising a daughter. I will be a proud father of a princess, by God’s grace. I will never be making my wife feel guilty for not having extracted money from her parents or not having demanded n number of sarees from her parents for my extended family. I will be ashamed to drive a car which I will get by exploiting a father. Think about it, mom. Please. This is my chance of playing my part in building of a stronger nation, free of these evils.”

Sahil’s mom looked at him. She had a feeling that her son was on his way to join politics. She just nodded and went back to her task of clearing the table.  Sahil, however, did not give up. He continued with convincing his mom for the rest of the evening. He felt tired with the discussion and conferred the task of disclosing the ‘news’ to his dad, to his mother. He had his dinner mostly in silence, where his mom kept thinking about the fury and insult she will have to face and he kept pondering over the reaction of his father. He had imagined everything ranging from a slap to being thrown out of the house.
He went off to his bed with the hope of meeting his dad in the morning at the breakfast table. He dozed off with the thoughts of his future life and a simple smile on his face.

Next morning, he woke up to an eerie silence. He went to the dining table almost shivering where he knew his dad would already know about the news and will be ready with his reaction. Although Sahil was very confident about his feelings and absolutely clear about his thoughts. His dad looked over his newspaper at his son and continued with his cereal cynically. This scared him even more. He sat down on the chair opposite to him, out of the reach of his hands. Nervously he said, “Morning dad!”
His dad folded his newspaper and looked straight into his eyes.

“So, Am I invited to the bachelor’s party, dude? After all you are doing your part for the country; give me a chance to do mine...” His dad said with a smile and a wink.


Supreme Court of India says that inter caste 

marriages will 

remove the difference of our society.


Anonymous said...

Seems like a personal experience

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