At the outset let me give a brief profile of my friend, let’s call her Kavitha—her profile is not for a job interview but to find an eligible husband material !She is a postgraduate who majored in English literature, fairly good-looking – slim, fair, with good features and of an average height. Perhaps if she had contested for a ‘Miss India’ title the only thing that would have disqualified her was her being short by a few inches. In the normal course she should have got married long ago, that is if the bride grooms were not so so choosy and finicky I suppose.
The FIRST man who came to ‘interview’ Kavitha was a young IAS officer who had just got his first posting. I t appeared his parents made it very clear that their son agreed to ‘see’ my friend only after he was repeatedly reassured that marriage was no ‘burden’! He came with the full contingent of parents, two sisters, their husbands and his ‘little’ brother, who chose to stick to him like glue. The youngsters were introduced to each other and the man chose to begin the conversation. My friend looked around to see whether the barrage of questions were coming from one of the ‘ women’ sitting nearby, but noticed none of them so much as opened their mouths!
The conversation/interview thereafter went something like this….
What is your favourite TV programme?
What do you have in the morning, tea or coffee? (was it important, she thought).
I love good south Indian food. Are you good at it? (was he looking for a cook?).
What are your hobbies?
After answering all these questions she was given a sermon about the duties of a wife and mother. Since he was in a premier service and his job would be a demanding one, he would expect his wife (apart from being a good housewife) to know how to socialise, be a good hostess and manage the house and family in his absence, that is, whenever he was away on tours.
“Well, do you have anything particular to ask?” came the question after the sermon. Grabbing the chance , she asked, “Have you any interests or hobbies which you pursue during your spare time?”
“Interests and hobbies, eh! How can you think an IAS officer would have time for all these?” he had shot back.
“Will you have time for ‘me’, at least”? she asked jokingly.
“If you expect me to dance around you, forget it,” he replied ,his voice expressed his annoyance. With that the interview had ended. It was also the last my friend heard from the ‘party’.
The SECOND was a young management graduate. He chose to drop in with fewer persons, just he and his parents. After they made themselves comfortable, the ‘interview’ began. Strangely, the questions were reeled off, one after the other, by the parents (who were taking turns) rather than the bridegroom.
“Can you cook?” asked the mother. “What have. you majored in?” asked her husband.
“Do you plan to work after marriage?”
“Can you sing or dance?”
Numerous other questions followed by the parents. Atlast my friend I ventured to look directly at their son and asked him why he was not taking part in the conversation. The question was answered with a smile.
A month later they came to know the reason for his silence. It appeared he had got married to his Parsi girlfriend of five years after ‘seeing’ my friend.
The THIRD was an engineering graduate working abroad. He had come to see Kavitha along with his close friend and his wife. His questions were a little different, he wished to know if she would be able to adjust to his western lifestyle. She asked what he meant by that.
“Well, I am a strict non-vegetarian and a non-teetotaller. You should learn to cook my favourite non-vegetarian dishes and mix drinks,” he explained.
Though she winced, she had appreciated his frankness and honesty.
The FOURTH was a doctor who had his own practice. He came with his parents for the ‘interview’. He asked just two questions and these were more like a statement. He thought it was wise for doctors to marry doctors if they wanted to be happy.
“Didn’t you know that I wasn’t a doctor?” My friend could not help asking, swallowing her pride and anger.
“Yes, I knew, but I came in order to please my parents,” was his crisp reply.
The FIFTH possessed a Ph.D in psychology and his parents too were highly qualified. He was mild-mannered and from the way he spoke (for once, it was a ‘two-way’ conversation), she had thought he was a balanced and sensible person. They found they had a lot of things in common and appreciated each other’s views.
“If it is okay by you, it is okay by me,” he said, and my friend was pleased and promptly reciprocated with a Yes. The party bade goodbye, saying they would soon write to them.
True to their word they wrote within a fortnight, but what the letter contained was not what they expected. The horoscopes, which were supposed to have matched well earlier, were made the scapegoat! How could the horoscopes have turned a volte face so suddenly, wondered everyone. So much for psychology and high qualifications!
The ‘eligibles’ who came subsequently were no different. Though their qualifications and jobs matched their predecessors’, their looks did not conform to the conventional description of eligibles : ‘tall, dark(why not fair ,thinks Kavitha) and handsome’ , but were to the contrary. Their one-sided conversation only revealed their eagerness to seek a ‘perfect’ wife, a wife who was a ravishing beauty, one who knew how to balance a home and a career, be good at entertaining and, last but not the least, ‘not complain’ if the husband was busy 24/7 with his career, because his ‘career was everything’ to him.
N Meera Raghavendra Rao