Raviprasad waited anxiously for his son to return. He looked at himself in the mirror and felt as if he had aged at least 10 years in the last two years since he started the prospect of his son getting married. He had been confident that there would be a line of prospective brides outside his door. The very fact that there had been none even before he began spreading the word should have rung a warning bell. If he had expected his success story to be repeated in the case of his son, then the absence of one should in itself have been a telling sign.
He sighed. “Sundari,” he called out and heard his wife reply, “In a minute.”
Raviprasad had been handsome in his youth. His father had been clear that he had to become an engineer or a doctor. “Only then we can command a good dowry and a good bride,” his father had said clearly. Mercifully, Raviprasad had been able to achieve that goal and joined a reputed engineering college. That had made him a noted figure amongst fathers of daughters who waited only for him to complete his course and have a good job.
Knowing his value in the marriage market, Raviprasad had also been choosy. The girl should be a graduate, but not an engineer. She should not work, but should speak good English. His father was anyway particular about the wealth of the girl’s family so he did not worry about it. He was more concerned about her looks. She should look good, standing next to him. And she had to be the best amongst the ones he saw.
These were only what he had told his father. When he spoke to each girl, he made his own assessment based on other criteria. After seeing some five or six, he chose Sundari for her amicability and malleability. He had never raised a finger against her, but she did only as he bid. Including when he told her to stop, after a son was born. He did not want to risk a daughter.
He had made sure his son followed his footsteps, studied engineering – not any, only IT – and was in a good job. Subsequently he also completed management diploma, adding another feather to his cap. Prospective brides with hefty dowries were bound to follow.
But no queries came. Shortly, he realized that he would have to seek out, spread the word that there was a prospective groom waiting to be grabbed by the best. But no grabbing hands reached out. Instead, as his son neared 30, Raviprasad had to grope around looking for alliances. They all seemed to be hiding behind corporate jobs or pursuing higher studies. His son seemed just one among a million others. Even when horoscopes matched, many girls’ families did not get back. He had to follow up, only to be told that their daughters were not interested. A few who did, wanted to talk to the boy alone, and ended up declaring they were not interested. Nothing his son said, seemed to be right. He either sounded too old-fashioned, too much of a mama’s boy, or too dominating for their liking. His salary was barely more than theirs, so they didn’t find that any lure either.
In the very few cases where the girls seemed okay with him, they were keen that the parents should not live with them after marriage. His son, the gem of a boy, was firm that it will be a joint family. The one or two who agreed to that wanted to know who would cook.
His cup of woes brimmed. Raviprasad could not believe he would see a day when girls would make the demands and men would have to go down on their knees to agree to everything they said.
Today, his son was meeting his 10th or 11th prospective bride. He hoped the boy would come through the interview with flying colours. Raviprasad had told him, “Agree to her terms. Let’s try and get this alliance fixed. You are not becoming any younger. Don’t make any demands and don’t say no to hers.”
He shook his head as he waited with butterflies in his stomach. God, may this alliance get finalized.