A few months ago, I turned 30. Anticipating what that number could ordinarily mean about a guy – single, unmarried and with no plans whatsoever to settle down in the near future, I was expecting a big showdown that day with my inner conflicts. Some days were filled with nausea. I did not know how to cope with it. What thoughts could be affecting me this much? Yes you guessed it correctly – the only thing a 30-year old must do now – shadi!
I had assured myself that this shadi business is not my cup of tea; that nothing affects me at all, till some very close friends and siblings started calling me with their sagai dates. Aana hi padega tumhe!
Day after day I went through shitloads of happy and not-so happy faces smiling for the camera, surrounded by their friends, relatives and the like. Perhaps the malai tikka and rasmalai were very good. Later came the trip photos – Kerala backwaters, Hongkong skyscrapers, beaches from Pattaya and Bali, churches from the Vatican City, even the Eiffel Tower. Some were sailing, some were taking bungee jumping lessons.
Press the ‘Like’ button I did.
The birthday came and went – none of those deep exchanges with my soul actually took place. It still was a day of resilience, of memories I had made till date, with friends I loved meeting – like all birthdays. I thought – maybe it isn’t so bad. I still had real-time heroes and heroins in front of me, who had rejected this paradigm of love and romantic relationships altogether. Some time went by, many got engaged themselves. I was worshiping false gods. Such a tragedy!
Ever since – my family and (most) friends, like all caring people, have adopted a mission-mode project to get me married off. No, I am not exactly young anymore. I am not exactly old either. I have slowly started running out of arguments to evade these conversations. Now I simply listen to try to wear the other person out. After a while, everyone gives up. In effect, I have re-negotiated the right to find my own mate, and settle down so they all can see me happy. I wonder why they feel I was sad – I was laughing the entire time at how the discourse had progressed in a short time. I was thinking if I could simply bolt out then I would catch the neighbour halwai uncle ji making hot rasgullas.
This idea of imposed choice is untrustworthy. How do I run the risk of finding a soul-mate, love them and even marry them – all in a year or two-year’s time? How do I tell myself to no longer chase relationships which did not really exist? How do I gather myself over failed or faltering relationships and simply move on to the next person I have a crush on? What do I tell them? How do I deal with the panic when someone says they like me? Read them a story? Write them a sonnet? Naah. Too cliché.
But the clock is running. And I am supposedly being left behind.
I know many would share these concerns. I could point out hundreds of people being hassled everyday simply to pursue their happiness. Perhaps some would mock me for being unstable, for not diligently chasing a bangla and gaadi, or not planning things which are all very normal – falling in love, for instance. And getting married, eventually!
I do not mind when my mom sits me down to have a chat every now and then, ask me what is up! I do not mind if I have to go through many tatkal bookings to simply be with a friend on their wedding day. I adore all of their children. I love them when they go to school for the first time, remembering my days as well. I am glad I am connected enough to be able to see their pictures, or a video of when they first walked. It warms my heart to see how many friends have changed their ways in so many ways, and moved on to embrace a very different life altogether. I love them all, yes.
But, I also see sore eyes of the parents from not sleeping ever. I know many are irritated of being forced to choose, what they essentially did not anticipate. I know the toll child-care takes on an individual. They love it, maybe. I know how cutting potatoes and doing laundry become primary conversations for people who are so much in love. They say love soon flies out the window. Why would I even leave the windows open then? Why should I, or anyone not get to choose if we want all that, or want it in parts?
I do like someone. I am also not waiting out to tell her that. It will be years before I know what it could mean for both of us. Or a few weeks would give more food for thought than many coming years. I would never know. You would never know. I could be stuck in a loop of eternal hopelessness, or I could take an avatar myself and post pictures from Zurich or Gol Dakhana. Or I could continue doing what I do best – procrastinate.
Till then, hold your horses, mate. I have a life to live in the meantime.