The day starts off normally.. I get up and go for my jog and return. I shower and I get dressed for work. The phone rings. I pick up my mobile and look at the name. Thus the normalcy of the day ends.
It was my father. You could see the dynamic of my household unfold in a few minutes.
“Hello. Good Morning Dad. How are you?”
“Good morning, good morning. I want you to get married in six months son. You are old enough to get married. That’s a deadline”
“Sorry wrong number” *phone disconnects*
I get ready to lock the room and leave for office.
Phone rings again. I check it. It’s Mom.
“Good Morning Mom. How are you?”
“Morning morning. It was not very good of you to disconnect your dad’s call. He felt bad.”
“Son. I want you to get married. I need a grandson or granddaughter to play with”
“You want a grandkid? Just give me nine months. You’ll get your grandkid..Dont talk about me getting married.”
I get into the waiting car and ask the driver to rush off. We need to avoid the morning traffic. Phone rings again.
“Hello. Grandpa. Good Morning”
“Heard you hung up on both your parents. Whats the problem?”
“Have you found someone in Bombay? You can tell your old man. I support inter caste marriages fully. You know it.”
Yes. I know it”
“So have you found someone in Bombay? A memsaab for all of us?”
I can hear him cup the phone with his hand and yell to my parents “ He says he found someone. Yes. Yes. Ill ask him. What…Must be a Hindu. I don’t know. Bombay has a large Parsee population. You think he has netted a milky white Parsi girl.?? I know its too much to hope for. What? I don’t know let me ask him. Let me talk. Reduce your volumes. Better go into mute, all of you.”
I can hear my maid’s high pitched snigger in the background.
“Grandson. My sweet little fellow”
“This girl you said you found, is she a Hindu?”
I can subtly glean my mother mumble something into his ear. I can hear my grandfather’s reply “Its too much to ask for a girl from a thread wearing community. I sincerely hope she isn’t. We have too many priests at home already. This whole house will become an agraharam soon.”
“Is she a Hindu?”
“No. She isn’t.”
“Then? Parsi??” I could almost listen to his heartbeat as it raced to cross a hundred, in anticipation of the possibility of the introduction of some Persian genes into our genepool.
“No. She is a Christian”
“Christian. She is a Christian.”
“Yes. Grandpa. She is a Christian. A cross- wearing, cake cutting, carol singing, bible clutching, Christmas celebrating, non-bindi wearing, saree hating Christian”
The hand goes over the phone again as my folks discuss it “She is a Christian it seems. Don’t start crying now. No… I don’t know. He hasn’t converted, not atleast that I know of. He is far too religious to convert. No. I don’t know if he met her in a church. For all I care, he could have met her in a bakery. Yes. They bury their dead and don’t burn them. Yes. They eat cow meat. I heard it tastes pretty good. Don’t give me that dirty look. Anyway why are you getting into so many details? I have a hosepipe for a daughter. Please stop crying.”
“Is she a Baptist?” I could sense the quiver in his voice.
“No. She is a Roman Catholic”
Again the phone went hush. I was enjoying this. Voices could be hear mumbling over the phone “Not a Baptist. Yes. Those are the evangelical types. This girl is a Roman Catholic. Yes. They are similar to our Brahmins. The original puritans…No Kavita (my sister), you cant marry a Muslim. I know Ali, our paperboy looks very cute. But you have to marry a Hindu. Atleast one of you listen to us please. Now you stop crying (probably at my mother), he won’t change his name for her.”
“Whats her name?”
“Mary. Mother Mary”
He finally discerned my wretched sense of humour.
“Mary you say. And that too a mother already? Let me guess. She has a son called Jesus”
“Yes., and an ex- husband called Joseph”
“Kiran. You will give us all a heart attack one day. Go find me a nice looking Punjabi or Marathi girl and we will get you married.”
“Try for a Parsee if you can… Goodbye”