An indecent proposal
Like most middle-aged, bored and unemployed aunties of all religions, castes and communities, the Bohri Aunty’s favourite pastime is matchmaking.
Let me familiarise you with this species of my community. The Bohri Aunty lurks in weddings, mosque meetings and third cousin gatherings, sniffing for fresh, young and unmarried Bohri blood. She picks her prey after a regimented interrogation of the victim’s relatives. She extracts their age with the subtle “my god, she has grown so much…she was only a baby when I last saw her”, their occupation with the clever “I heard she’s doing very well for herself”, and their marital status with the blatant “So, have you started looking for boys yet?”
Once The Aunty gets all the vital statistics, she uses the most important weapon in her arsenal – the telephone. She constantly networks with her ‘clients’ – desperate mummies with single sons and daughters – and appeases them with oral resumes of newfound prey. She then follows up with all concerned parties, pushing her propaganda of “once they get older, they won’t get such a good proposal.” (According to The Aunty, girls beyond the age of 25 turn into old hags unworthy of suitable boys.) F.Y.I, in the Bohri world, a suitable boy always possesses three essential qualities – good looking (which is often open to interpretation), well settled in the US (generally having an unimaginably boring job such as a data analyst) and from a very good family (whose surname will undoubtedly have a ‘wala’ suffixed to a product/place/trade).
At the ripe marriageable age of 24, I have duly suffered at the hands of The Aunty. Fortunately though, I have incredible parents. My dad doesn’t broach the topic of marriage at all, perhaps because he still thinks of me as ‘nano’ (‘small’ in Gujarati). My mother, having succumbed to persistent Aunties on occasion, approaches the subject rather warily but stops as soon as I give her my prized “don’t-even-think-about-it-look.” As you can tell, I am not a big fan of The Bohri Aunty and her sneaky agenda.
Recently however, I came across someone who makes The Aunty seem like Santa Claus. A few days ago, I was at the mosque to accept condolences for the passing away of a very close family member. At the end of the assembly line of suitably subdued visitors, a lady introduced herself as my mother’s long lost acquaintance. She said the appropriate words of comfort, albeit with a disturbingly beaming smile. I nodded and waited for her to pass by. However, I don’t think she was familiar with the workings of a condolence service, i.e. to say sorry and move on.
She proceeded to enquire about my job and after I told her I wrote for the Hindustan Times, she went on to enlighten me with tales about her newspaper subscription routines. She then spoke at great length about her own business, and even handed me her visiting card. I stood there, puffy-eyed and disconsolate; inserting perfunctory aah’s and oh’s while waiting for her to vanish. When I had had just about enough, she played her trump card. “I was wondering whether so and so* has told you about my son. He is a so and so* with so working with so and so* firm. But he’s 30…” she trailed off, looking at me with unbridled hope.
Shell shocked at the woman’s audacity, I managed an incredulous “errrr”. Sensing my discomfort, she hurriedly muttered, “Of course, you must be only 25.” “Actually, I’m 24,” I firmly corrected and looked away. She got the hint and at long last she disappeared. To be honest with you, I pitied her to an extent. Desperate times call for desperate measures and all that. But to proffer her offspring’s hand in marriage to my face, at a funeral service for heaven’s sake, is unforgivable. The Aunty maybe pesky, but at least she’s got tact. What say?
*Details have been omitted to protect the person’s identity