I always thought I’d be the last one to “settle down” (like chaas in a Gujarati thaali) amongst my friends. While almost all of my girlfriends had, had a sit down discussion about this with their folks. Mine always joked about how they would never “give me away.” Dad, mostly. Mom started entertaining proposals the minute I turned 20.
Still, I pictured myself as a bride with pregnant bridesmaids and a mommy maid-of-honour. So this came as a shocker to me. The topic they chose to discuss whilst celebrating their 27th anniversary at a restaurant. Shocker because dad was in it too this time.
“So Babe, when do you see yourself settling down?” My dad broke the silence while we chewed.
As much as I wanted to pretend I didn’t understand what he meant by “settle down” or maybe unleash the feminist in me about how I’m already settled down and don’t need no man for it. I chose to stick to the point and avoid a long awkward conversation.
“27-28 ?” I said with an expression that couldn’t be put into any category.
“You’re 24 now, don’t you think you need at least 3-4 years to find a partner?”
Wow, how did that answer get me here. I had no response to that ’cause this one time, they actually made sense. But, um wait, did they mean it’s going to be that difficult to find me a match which is why it would take me that many years? (I hope not) Or did they want me to start dating? Like, go hunt down someone. Were they letting me free for 3 years? To go find a mate. Lol.
“We want to start looking.” Mum said trying to judge from my face if it was safe to continue this conversation.
But it also felt like she was mocking me about me not being able to do it on my own.
“Why? Do you have someone in mind?”
Ah, so this is what started all this drama, I began connecting the dots. I knew they were sort of weird the past couple of weeks since the day I was dropped home by him. I obviously didn’t wanna behave like a teenager getting off at the road end and took him home to them instead. As a friend. That’s where all this panic drama started. They wanted to know if something was up. Indian parents have funny alternatives to the word “dating.” “Affair,” “involved,” my mom used the latter one. Yes, I was scandalized the first time she did, now it’s grown onto me. I might even use it on my kids just for the fun of it.
Anyway, back to their question. I had no answer to their question. I had only been dating my present boyfriend for three months, wedding bells were no where in the scene. But how am I supposed to tell them I’m dating someone but I don’t know if I’ll marry him? Hell, what if they ask to meet him? The poor guy! What will I tell him?
*Hey, since we’re dating.. My parents want to get us engaged. Haha, you in? Hah, uh, where’re you going? Staaahp. Come back and give me a ring.*
“No, I don’t.” I said hesitating.
“Good, so we’ll look then.”
“Sure.” I said.
So, guess who’s got some Live Tinder action in store over the next couple of years. Swiping across marriage proposals.
“Anyway, what are you ‘looking’ for?” I asked trying be funny.
“Education, morals, ability to earn and good family.” Came the reply instantly. Like they knew that question was coming.
I get the rest of the so called “eligibility criteria” but the fact that education stands first is just bull shit. My own parents hold degrees, mum more qualified than dad. But both don’t really earn as much as their siblings who don’t have one. So, no, education doesn’t matter to me.
“But what if he fits all of this but doesn’t like to travel?” I said hoping they would loosen up on my upcoming travel plans ’cause I might just end up marrying a man who hates travelling.
“You can put down your requirements, we’ll find a best fit.” Dad said flashing a smile.
I died laughing on the inside. Having spent the last five years learning to write requirements for buildings. Here I am now, doing the same for men.