After a long hiatus, I wear the gown of the tainted caviar once again. This one is for, and inspired by Faraz, my fellow social analyst. For most of you, this post will seem exaggerated and unecessary, perhaps in some cases even blasphemous. I only remembered Dylan’s fine words in ‘The Times They Are A Changing’ as I wrote this .
'Come mothers and fathers /Throughout the land / And don't criticize / What you can't understand / Your sons and your daughters / Are beyond your command / Your old road is / Rapidly aging / Please get out of the new one / If you can't lend your hand / For the times they are a-changin'.
A word of thanks to Faraz and Sritanu for helping me make the edges finer. :-)
Deliriously scanning the abundant options that lay before her on the dressing table, she began her hour long preparation for hosting her son's soon to be in laws. Garnished in a fashionable maroon sari, Tulsi decided to leave no stone unturned in her efforts to please her guests. After all, this was about a potential family union, and, all said and done, it was important that the guests got a feel of the status of the family their daughter would get married into. Tulsi set about the only task that her parochial and insular mind-frame best allowed her to perform – a fashionable look.
I’d love to write a few words about Tulsi, and as it turns out, a few words are all that I have. She struggled to pass out of high school – failed in mathematics in her board exams – and chose wisely to opt out of college education. Her parents married her off to a wealthy businessman in Gujarat, and since then she has done few more things of consequence than breast feed her five children. Any more words on her, and I’d feel, out of justice, the need to write a piece on a pebble in one of the coasts of Malabar.
Her son, Ram, was twenty five and still unmarried. She had been persuading him to tie the knot with the daughter of an associate of her husband. It was, in her eyes, plain unwise to keep a good rishtha on the hold for so long – the girl came from a noble family with several fat bank accounts, a marble floored villa with ten servants that (as against who) attended to them. Hence, she was a good girl. The only potential stiletto in this affair was the subject of the girl’s looks. Tulsi was yet to see the lovely lady.
Cut to the present. Tulsi dressed her hair in a traditional manner – yes, tradition went hand in hand with religion and race. The maroon sari and the maroon lip stick blended exquisitely. She was ready – ready to gift her son a woman to go to bed with.
She made a quick call to her husband, who seemed to be running late with a series of meetings lined up for the evening. Work is worship – so she did not want to create a sense of immediacy in this matter. Plus in her society, the rich Indian society, a woman simply could not be impudent enough to be telling her husband when to wind up his work. She quietly made a note of this on her laundry list – the girl she would soon visit needed to be obedient, and if need be, ready to subjugate herself to her husband’s emotional and physical needs. The man, her son, would be the bread earner. Well, in their case, let’s call him the diamond earner. Yes, the son should be given enough space to bring home the diamonds.
Although the girl had earned herself a masters degree in economics, and was presently employed with a bank, Tulsi thought it short work to convince her to renounce her employment. In an attempt to be logical, she felt that divorce rates in India were going up because of women choosing their own careers. Not that she had read a report on divorce rates – she’d never read anything except her prayer book – but a fellow member of her kitty party had made this point last week. Kitty parties were often her window to current affairs, and the vaginal dialogues were surely a treat to experience. The new generation was beginning to displease her by the day – women were being educated, relationships of love and romance were acceptable amongst youngsters, religion was not being taken seriously, women had increased tolerance towards the consumption of alcohol – a host of social changes that unsettled our Tulsi. She remained a naysayer, a cynic through this apocalyptic social reformation. Not only were some of her son’s friends atheists, some of them even had Muslim friends. Her good sense had prevailed, and Tulsi never let a Muslim walk past the doors of her house. Krishna, and Ram, and Bhramha, and Shiv, and Lakshmi and Saraswati would not forgive her for it. Never.
Our class conscious woman then makes herself comfortable in front of the television. She would miss her favourite Ekta Kapoor soaps today, because the guests were expected any moment. Yes- Ekta Kapoor was her partner in this contemptuous attack on the changing Indian society. Her artistery, and febrile works brought out the delicacies in our social fabric, a fabric that needed to be maintained, preserved. A culture that could not be compromised with the changing times. A set of values that need to be frozen in time regardless of the changing socio-economic and political situation in the country, in the world. To be fair to her, she has a point. As long as the floor in her mansion remained marbled, why would she take the trouble of engaging herself with a social evolution. I mean, one can understand if one has to change one’s beliefs based on an economic requirement. Even today, she had budgeted for 50 lakhs for her son’s wedding. Actually ‘budget’ is a big word in this context, but if you add the 10 lakhs that came as gifts, presents and other sophisticated words that sound better than dowry, then one had to question the very need of trying to make a social change.
The doorbell rang. The guests were slowly ushered in by the trained servants. Tulsi directed her focus on the girl. Her skin was dark. Darker than her son’s.
Our protagonist needs to get back to work –she has to somehow find a way out of this. Her son simply didn’t deserve this. She uttered a silent yet trembling prayer to Lord Krishna, and slowly set about her task.