Sujata was in a meditative mood. She was chopping crunchy carrots, and green tender beans into small pieces and putting them into a crystal glass bowl in front of her. She was thinking, if she could have arranged everything in her life, as methodically as she was cutting the vegetables, it would have been so simple. She tried to be a good wife, and a perfect mother. Her husband had requested her to prepare Continental dishes for lunch. He was trying to lose weight, and he felt that something light, with minimum oil, would be an ideal lunch for him. Spinach soup, chicken roast, boiled vegetables, and watermelon, were to be on the menu. Though she was a dedicated housewife, she was always solicitous for her children’s welfare. Now as she was shredding vegetables, her one thought was, whether she was doing all her duties by her children, as she was expected to.
Both her girls were now adults. They had taken after their mother in looks. Though Sujata was not ravishingly beautiful, she was very attractive, having chiseled features and wheatish complexion. Her daughters, Sunita, and Kavita had similar features, but they had inherited from their father, the sea-blue color of their eyes, and auburn hair. Their Indian features coupled with foreign fusion gave them a doll-like appearance, which was very appealing. Their dad had an Armenian father, but a Bengali mother. He had settled down in India after he had started a lucrative business in Kolkata.
In her heart of hearts, Sujata was apprehensive about the future of her children. The elder one had crossed thirty years of age but had not managed to choose a life partner for herself. She had been busy acquiring educational degrees and had managed to become the top executive in an International Firm. Sunita was happy as she was, and the thought of getting married never entered her mind. Sujata felt if she did not get a life partner at her age, she would surely “miss the boat”.
Sujata was now contemplating fixing up a match for Sunita through the marriage bureau, but she had her reservations, as there were many problems in mixed marriages. Conservative families would be reluctant to take a bride from a family with Armenian blood. They were too particular about the caste and lineage. Some would also ask for the horoscope of the girl, and see whether the horoscopes of both the partners were tallying, if not, the marriage could not take place. As for her daughter, Sunita, in particular, there were many hurdles which she would have to cross. A big impediment was that Sunita had acquired the highest educational qualifications, and held such a high post. Normally Bengali males liked their wives to be inferior to them. They were not able to tolerate a woman’s status, at par or superior to theirs.
With a lot of difficulties, Sujata got Sunita to agree to have a look at the prospective grooms. After she had managed to overcome her reluctance, Sujata started contacting the would-be bride-grooms. Her first selection was Ramesh Nandi. He was a FRCOG from the U.K. In Kolkata, he was attached to a Government Hospital and was the Head of the Gynecological Department. He was just thirty-nine years old, the right age for Sunita. The family waited with anticipation for the candidate to arrive, with sweets and snacks to welcome him.
Sujata dressed in a steel grey silk sari, looking down-right sophisticated, opened the door for him with a welcoming smile. After the gentleman had taken a comfortable seat, he introduced himself as Doctor Nandi. Sujata noticed that he pronounced his name with an accent. She wondered why he had started talking in English, which was not necessary, as both the parties were Bengalis; Though he was supposed to get his degrees from the UK, his knowledge of the English language was far from desirable. He was translating from Bengali to English and was saying “As I couldn’t find the place, I was rotating on all four sides”. But for the Sujata language was a minor issue. What was bothering her was, whether the gentleman had been truthful about his qualifications and position as doubts had seeped into her mind. At that moment, her husband came in with a plate full of delicacies and began the conversation in Bengali. The two daughters brought in a glass of water, and a cup of refreshing tea. Doctor Nandi started eating with relish. Then Sunita noticed his teeth were moving up and down with every movement of his jaws. She realized to her horror that he had dentures, and not his natural teeth. She also noticed that as he took the cup, his hands were shaking. She wondered how he could operate when his hands shook. She surmised that his age must be sixty-five up, if not more. The age mentioned in the matrimonial form must have been incorrect. Her decision was made! She would not marry a man who was false.
Sujata then contacted the candidate who was also in his thirties, having a good business and was supposed to look like a film star. It had been mentioned that he was very handsome. When the family looked out, curious to see what the prospective groom was like, they found a smart, handsome man sitting at the steering wheel. They were relieved that at least what was mentioned, did not prove to be false. The gentleman was indeed good looking! Then the figure alighted from his car, and the family’s expectations collapsed like a house of cards. The man was only four feet in height!
The next candidate was a gentleman who seemed to be more appropriate. He had a roaring business in Kolkata, was also in his thirties, and was the owner of two multi-storied buildings. But to their frustration, it seemed that perhaps the gentleman would not be able to keep his appointment, as it had started raining, with very strong winds. Eventually, the family was surprised to see him arrive in his posh car. They saw with satisfaction that this time they had not been deluded, for a young handsome man stood there, trying to decide whether he should venture forth, or take refuge again in the shelter of his car. But then the unthinkable happened. On his placing the umbrella over his head, it turned inside out and got inflated like a balloon, with the force of the wind. Then without any warning, the wind struck him with the ferocity of a 600 miles per hour typhoon, and his wig went flying like a kite, exposing a shiny bald pate. The rain too came down with an unrelenting vengeance. In no time his immaculately done-up face from the saloon got drenched and exposed the wrinkles of an old man. Thereupon the prince charming drove off in utter embarrassment.
Sujata’s next selection was a candidate from Park Street. She was impressed by the details of the prospective bridegroom, which described him as being dedicated and attached to his parents. She felt that an individual, who cared for his parents, would also care for his wife later on. On the appointed day, Timir Ghose arrived. His parents were sitting on either side of him, on the back seat. They came in, and the family greeted them with their usual cordiality. Timir’s parents confided, without any prevarication that they wanted to get Timir married, as they considered that it would be a remedy for his problem. The parents were worried as they would not live forever. Their son had the Peter Pan syndrome. Though he was thirty-six years, his mental age was that of an eight-year-old. He clung to his parents, and would not let them go. He insisted that he should have them with him all the time. At that, Sunita asked Timir, whether he would take his parents along when they went for their honeymoon. He confessed that it had to be that way, as he could not do without his parents. Timir’s father then went on to say that it was because their son was not growing up mentally, they were hoping marriage would make a difference. Sujata felt that it was a very selfish thing to do. She wondered how anyone expected that any stranger should take on herself, an encumbrance for all her life. Sunita felt sorry, but she told them that she sincerely felt she could not be of any help to Timir.
The Davidian Family had enough of their trying to get a life partner for Sunita. They told Sujata to give them a respite, which they needed badly. So she promised that she would not get into touch with any more candidates, but as she had already contacted a particular person, they should be patient for a little longer.
The gentleman’s name was Harry Lopez. He came on his motorbike. He seemed to be just the right match for Sunita. He was professionally very qualified being a Chartered Accountant. He had got foreign degrees and had made a name for himself as an Accountant. As he took off his helmet, he looked to be a dashing young man. He entered with a cheerful smile and greeted everyone politely. At once he impressed everyone, and Sujata’s face lit up. She felt that finally, she had achieved what had seemed to be impossible. Even the frown of irritation had disappeared from her husband’s face. Kavita also seemed to have taken to him, as she was carrying on an animated conversation. It was then a Police Jeep came to a halt in front of the entrance. Three Policemen in their starched, milk-white uniforms jumped out. With them was a lady, crying loudly, and pointing her finger towards Harry Lopez. The Inspector asked him directly, “Why are you here?” Harry started stuttering. Then the Inspector told him that he had been charged previously for marrying several times to different ladies under different names, in order to fraudulently rob them of their wealth. Harry was now contemplating to repeat the same crime once more. His wife Wendy had put in an FIR against him at the police station, so they had come to arrest him. As the police drove off, with Harry’s wife still creating a pandemonium, the Davidian family looked at each other in mutual commiseration. All their efforts to find a suitable life partner for Sunita had proved to be a regular farce!
Sujata’s heart went out to her daughter, and she stroked her head tenderly saying, “Don’t take it to heart Sunita; we will get you somebody, who will be a perfect match for you”.
Sunita felt guilty that her mother was doing so much for her, but she on the other hand was just keeping quiet, despite their expectations, and efforts. So, with a solemn face Sunita put in, “Mama, I have been thinking of telling you something for a long time”. Her mother coaxed her into coming out with it, “Yes Darling, what is it?” Then Sunita tried to mellow down what she was going to say, and lessen the impact, “Mama, It will be a tremendous shock for you.” “Yes Darling what is it?” her mother said encouragingly. Sunita hesitatingly continued, “Mama, you see, I don’t want to hurt you or Papa.” Kavita was listening to what Sunita was saying with a lot of patience, but being young, she could not curtail her curiosity anymore. On behalf of her sister, Kavita came out with the suggestion, “Sunita must be in love with some guy.” Her mother realized that there was something in her daughter’s mind, which she was finding difficult to say, so in order to make it easy for her, asked a direct question, “Are you in love Sunita?” The girl’s face became suffused with crimson. She then said lightly, “What a thought Mama!”
Sunita looked at her parents anxiously, to assess whether they could bear up the sudden impact of what she was going to say. Then very cautiously she divulged her secret, “You see, I have made up my mind to become a Nun, and I shall be leaving home and joining The Ram Krishna Ashram next month”. Her Family looked at her dazed.