the final girl

I decided that I would see one final girl – no more arranged marriage business for me.

So yesterday I met a very interesting family to see a girl (for arranged marriage) – she was strongly recommended by my close school friend Sanjeev [name changed] (since over 15 years), and the girl is the daughter of my friend’s dad’s school friend (Mr. Mallikarjuna) since 40 years.

The mother told me about how they fight over TV channels when he comes home and all kinds of other simple things. The family was overall really wonderful – so peaceful and hospitable, so open and outspoken, and most importantly – so simple. It reminded me of my home maybe a decade ago before my sister got married. I think this is one of the key advantages of going through an arranged marriage, one gets a valid excuse to visit and freely talk to people like these.

The girl was actually least interested in marrying. She was just out of college – I felt bad – I felt she was a really young girl. Actually Sanjeev’s Dad is very much obsessed with his son getting married, so much that he’s spread it to Mr. Mallikarjuna so he starts looking as well now itself. So I was the first candidate.

She just sat there fidgeting and then answering anything and everything I tried to say very monotonously. I tried to assure her that forget about marriage, just think that some family friend has come home, but nothing worked (till the end I rarely noticed her smile 🙁 ). Anyway I asked about hobbies, etc and she had none in any aspect, and I started to wonder if I was making her feel inferior or something. Her father came to her defence in a very subtle and sensitive way once in a way. I continued more warily – my intention was more to make her feel happy about herself, to find the one thing that she liked talking about. I asked her which subjects she liked, and there was a momentary smile – a sudden burst of energy that I’d been waiting for – “programming!” she said – but it died out soon enough. She added that she’d even been attending C and Unix classes, and then I asked her a question in C which my friend had asked me just the previous day – she didnt know and I started explaining the answer – a very bad idea because I realised in 30 seconds that I was the only person in the room who knew what I was talking about, so I cut it short.

I eventually asked her the 9 dot puzzle and she gave up after just 20 seconds. I assured her it was not an interview, and that I myself hadn’t been able to solve it. Her younger brother just finished PUC was very keen about it, and took it up very seriously, eventually he gave up and I told him the answer.

Trouble brewed when I explained the signinficance of the puzzle, the idea of coming out of known constraits, assumptions, etc. Suddenly – something got triggered in the dad. He went from casual conversationalist to a charged energetic man!

If there is one thing I love to do more than anything else in life, its to see people suddenly come alive!

He started talking about his days when he had gone against all traditions, questioned all beliefs, gone completely out of the mould of society. He said he had failed, too many people even close to him had pointed fingers at him, he had suddenly ended up becoming too isolated. And then he gradually came back “inside the mold” and became an ordinary man again, and he said he was very happy now. Thats it, he had life all figured out, thats all there was to it.

At first wisdom prevailed, I counter pointed his arguments the minimum possible. But soon the tempo picked up – suddenly he commented with delight to his wife “yel sikthaare jana intha vishya maathaaDokke”! This unfortunately triggered my ego a little bit, and I lost my caution once in a way. Every now and something inside me warned… “you’re talking too much… take it easy” so though he often contradicted himself, I let them pass, I didn’t really take him to task. I realised every now and then his whole family was a witness, and it was the wrong time to prove my intelligence, even though he seemed to be such a wonderful gentleman as to not really mind.

His whole point was that one who breaks away from society’s mould – who “takes the road less travelled” becomes a misfit to society – therefore he must come back and live within the limits again. My point was that one who goes out can come back and live within mingling with others, provided he uses great tact and diplomacy in hiding what he knows.

Once my mother suddenly said I’m a very honest fellow – so I said I prefer to be honest even if we were to lose something. He replied that in Mahabharatha, people do anything and everything to get what they want, even Yudhisthira himself lies – and thats the way to survive in this world. Then I referred to Harischandra, where the man goes to the very end just for his honesty, and he replied that that was some other era… only after that Mahabharatha was written! Hmm this I didn’t know…

He said some things that really surprised me, because I’ve rarely heard people of his generation acknowledge such things. He said – when people of the younger generation say something better, people of the older generation dislike it and reject it whether it is right or not. Everytime a child raises a question, he is subdued by his parents or his teachers. He said in his times his family had been very orthodox and had kept getting some sanyasis home to perform some rites, but he had refused to fall at their feet just like everyone else at home. It is such a strong rule in society that elder people are to be respected irrespective of whether they do the right things or not. That’s why there’s the song “doDDavarella jaaNaralla, chikkavarella kONaralla” that questions this.

He said all those munis in mythology – they did sadhana for 300 years (as for me, I never mentioned anything so deep) and at the end what did they achieve, nothing! I said, what did householders achieve then. So he replied “exactly the point, there is nothing to be achieved!” The man was completely on fire – though he had a reputation of being a very soft-spoken man, he was speaking very strongly (and yet gently).

I gave him examples of the times I myself had gone out of the mould – to prove that there was really no harm. For example in the initial years of work, people highly revered foreigners and most of them sort of kept their distance from them, yet I used to go and chat with them during lunchtime, and I told him that even now I visited the person I had spoken to so many years ago – going beyond conventional norm had definitely benefited me.

He appreciated me for it, but still said that now he has “come back within the mould” – now he falls at the feet of any holy man, and asked me “that man has gone and done some sadhana and come. So there’s nothing wrong with falling at his feet anyway, right?” I said nothing – maybe one time where I was being over-cautious.

In a debate like this, its very important to maintain a balance of intellect and emotional sensitivity/compassion. With intellect alone, its possible to keep arguing forever. It becomes a dry worthless effort, no different from two servers negotiating in binary over the internet. It becomes like a mere contest where even the victor as well as the vanquished can only lose. Its only using one’s sensitivity that gives life to such a converation – where one senses whether the conversation is becoming counter-productive, or whether the other person is feeling overwhelmed and in the given circumstances, he better be allowed to win. But using one’s heart alone, one can kind of compromise one’s own principles and self-respect a bit too much. So a balance is definitely key here, and I must say I might’ve regained my balance a bit too late. Of course, once a person knows the other very intimately, then caution can be thrown to the winds. Its easy to become intimate with people of the down-to-earth likes of Mr. Mallikarjuna in a very short span of time, but still I had to excercise a bit of caution atleast considering that it was just the first time!

However there was a lot of consensus as well – we both agreed to the conclusion that open discussion was the best kind of resolution to any problem – and that after exploring the whole world, one can then live in accordance with society as well (which is why I tried out the arranged marriage system in the first place).

Because Sanjeev later on told me that they had felt “intimidated with my intelligence” – this is exactly what I’d wanted to avoid! But still they are enquiring about my background. I think they’re a really nice family, but I’m not very sure I want to marry such a young and innocent girl. I would like to know her, be her friend and well-wisher, but not have her depend on me or look up on me. Still I haven’t totally written it off – its better not to take a hasty decision. But my sincere advise to her as a wellwisher would be to really “find herself” for a couple of years – before considering marriage.

My mother is extremely optimistic about it. For once, she didn’t complain that I “spoke too much” (even though I felt so myself!) though its been her consistent crib so far. I’ve maintained my stance that I’m not going to restrict what I want to say just because I’m afraid of gettign rejected. I’ve often wondered really how much of tact I need to use after all.

But for me overall it was a useful lesson in humility and the need for reduction in speech which I hope I wont forget. Another thing is it also reflects on the fact that my social life has reduced so much ever since I moved to Electronics City, that I seem to be a bit out of touch in interacting with people!

One interesting thing that I said was that I had considered living completely isolated from society, by living completely alone in Germany – in UK atleast I had some friends, but in Germany, I had neither friendly neighbours nor colleagues… and it had proved to be a very lonely and meaningless life. And when I look back to my childhood days, I’d always loved to have people around. In retrospect, that’s one of the key reasons I decided to get married, and live as part of the society.

One Response to “the final girl”

  1. msanjay Says:

    She turned out not to be the final one after all. But eventually, after a sincere attempt thinking that the end is what matters more than the means, I concluded that the fundamental flaws in the arranged marriage system were far too strong for it to ever work for me. I can keep on trying this forever, but after evaluating the situation, I had to be pragmatic and draw the line.

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