Karma- The Quirky Match­maker!

Storizen Magazine - - What's Inside - – by Mamta Joshi

Not only in the qas­bas and mo­fussil towns, but in met­ros too, al­most ev­ery girl reach­ing a mar­riage­able age, is un­der sur­veil­lance. It could be a close rel­a­tive, a nosy neigh­bour, a vi­va­cious friend’s mother or a pro­fes­sional match­maker, try­ing to set­tle a per­fect match for a nu­bile nymphet with a suit­able boy.

Pinky Bha­tia too was in the midst of such a mael­strom.

“Do you like the boy?” Ev­ery­one in the liv­ing room was wait­ing with bated breath.

“Yes, I do but!” The news in af­fir­ma­tive spelt such re­lief that no­body both­ered to no­tice the in­co­her­ent ‘but’ of Pinky in sheer ex­cite­ment: no more rest­less nights for mom, no more ten­sion for dad, the neigh­bor­hood Romeos, high on testos­terone, would not trou­ble Bablu, her younger bro for an ‘in­tro’ with his pretty sis­ter, no more rounds of tray­laden- with- snacks in front of prospec­tive grooms for the in­fu­ri­ated girl. A very pop­u­lar IBM i.e. Ideal Bahu Ma­te­rial, Pinky was tall, with peach and cream com­plex­ion , ro­bust health, waistlength hair , am­ple bo­som and a sway­ing der­riere in short, a nat­u­ral beauty, with­out any dent­ing -paint­ing of sorts and no sil­i­con en­hance­ments. Even the smile she flashed was non­metal­lic, the row of teeth be­ing even and pearly.

A very pop­u­lar IBM i.e. Ideal Bahu Ma­te­rial, Pinky was tall, with peach and cream com­plex­ion , ro­bust health, waistlength hair , am­ple bo­som and a sway­ing der­riere in short, a nat­u­ral beauty, with­out any dent­ing -paint­ing of sorts and no sil­i­con en­hance­ments. Even the smile she flashed was non­metal­lic, the row of teeth be­ing even and pearly.

The moth­ers of el­i­gi­ble boys swooned when Pinky made her en­trance into a gather­ing. They all wanted this very ap­sara(ce­les­tial nymph) –the very in­car­na­tion of a pop­u­lar hero­ine from cel­lu­loid , for their son. She will mes­mer­ize him with her beauty, forc­ing him to leave his wan­der­lust and set­tle down. Once their be­sot­ted son mar­ries her, they will have him live in the same house, next to them and take care of them in their sunset years; an idea ab­hor­rent to their free-spir­ited son.

The match­maker, Amma ji , was a balding, short­limbed, round eyed wo­man of sixty: tied in a frame of lim­ited area, with a mouth full of tobacco and rot­ting teeth. Her sari was al­ways well starched, em­pha­siz­ing her short height and round­ness. Amma ji was ec­static that Pinky had ap­proved of the match. Af­ter the fi­nal fix­a­tion of the match of a pretty girl like Pinky, she will hike her rate, no less than Rs.3001 for fu­ture ref­er­ence.

“Nahin! Kabhi Nahin!”(No ! never!) Amma ji’s com­fort zone was shat­tered by the shrill shriek of Pinky. “I like him very much but like a bhaiyya(brother).” How could Pinky have mar­ried Tunnu ji! She had known him since child­hood. Her feel­ings for him were purely sis­terly. Be­sides, the fam­ily was too down­mar­ket to match her gos­samer dreams. Her men­tal block was the ‘at­tachakki’(flour mill) that was housed in their base­ment. Ev­ery­one knew the fam­ily not by their name or sir- name but by the suf­fix

re­fer­ring to that wheat grind­ing ma­chine.

“How ob­nox­ious that this old hag, in the whole wild world, found Mr.Chakki’s son suit­able for me”, the in­con­solable girl mut­tered to her­self. “Hey Bhag­waan!(Oh God!”), wailed the match­maker from deep within. There slips an­other match from her hand. “Why couldn’t this bird brained chokri (lass) say it frankly in the be­gin­ning? Fanning my hopes, Bah!”. Now she will have to trudge with the pho­to­graph of Mr. Chakki’s son to other houses. With el­i­gi­ble girls as fussy as this one and the mush­room­ing in­ter­net phin­ter­net mat­ri­mo­nial sites, she will have to wind up her match mak­ing busi­ness. Her knees be­came aware of the end­less jour­ney ahead and gave her an elec­tric jolt in re­turn. “Ouch! I curse this girl. She will never get mar­ried with­out my marzi(will).” The sharp sear­ing pain in her joints made Amma ji's venom rise in ex­po­nen­tial quan­ti­ties. A fierce bat­tle­ground was set be­tween two war­ring fe­males--the girl on one side and the match­maker on the other. If curses could ill, both would have been dead. Karma smelt a de­light­ful sit­u­a­tion. It lurked pa­tiently to do proper per­ma­nent dam­age. If pos­si­ble, on both lives! Grab­bing eye- balls acted as a drug for Pinky. Ad­dicted to male at­ten­tion, she knew how to make her provoca­tive moves in public. When all her cousins came to a wed­ding, coyly draped in a sa­ree, she would move se­duc­tively in a tight churi­daarkurta. When the cousins de­cided to wear churi­daarkurta ap­ing her in the next func­tion, she would turn-up de­mure and pretty, in a sa­ree, of course!

Dur­ing the mar­riage sea­son, she had to be care­ful about her wardrobe, ac­ces­sories and make-up. Para­noid about her skin, nails, hair and of course, her pearly smile,

she prac­ticed all the an­gles of her pro­file in front of the mir­ror, look­ing crit­i­cally to see whether she looked better from right, left or frontal view. Life is so tough for the beau­ti­ful. To look pretty all the time is not easy, mulled Pinky. Pinky loved be­ing a prima donna at so­cial gath­er­ings, teas­ing the poor ado­les­cent vic­tims in­fat­u­ated with her; the young men, with faint traces of hair on their up­per lip, their voice-a curly mix of hoarse­ness and shrill twang: Pinky, like a fe­male Pied Piper, would lead the pro­ces­sion, fol­lowed by these love-sick lads when she made umpteen trips to the buf­fet ta­ble, espresso cof­fee booth , ice cream cor­ner or the spicy chaat stall. Their im­me­di­ate neigh­bours, the Varsh­neys, were to have a big fat wed­ding that sum­mer. They were a very pros­per­ous busi­ness fam­ily, be­ing the fifth gen­er­a­tion in­volved in sell­ing uten­sils and brass ware of all kinds. They had fixed their only daugh­ter’s match to an­other well to do busi­ness fam­ily but their prospec­tive son-in law was an en­gi­neer from the pres­ti­gious I.I.T, Kharag­pur. The deliri­ous Varsh­neys were bent upon mak­ing the event so lav­ish that the grand af­fair would be re­mem­bered for a long time. Mrs. Bha­tia hadn’t re­cov­ered from her daugh­ter's re­fusal. She didn’t dare to face the throng­ing in­quis­i­tive crowds at the mar­riage venue, all ask­ing the same ques­tion, “Mrs.Bha­tia, ho gayi twaddi Pinki di kud­mai ?”(Has your Pinki got en­gaged?) She wrapped the do­har (light blan­ket) around her tightly, bat­tling in­ner de­mons and de­cided against at­tend­ing the wed­ding. Better to sulk in­side the air con­di­tioned room at home then to be bom­barded with awk­ward probes which would spike her blood pres­sure. Mr. Bha­tia, Pinki and Bablu, each hav­ing their own agenda, left Mrs. Bha­tia to nurse her grief alone.

The brother, Bablu, was a car­ni­vore. He knew that all the best non-veg­e­tar­ian dishes would be served as his friend's fa­ther was the caterer. With­out his mother freak­ing out, he could gorge on un­lim­ited ke­babs, tan­doori chicken and biryani. The fa­ther was drool­ing about the sin­gle malt since the in­vite had come, a def­i­nite nono when his wife was around. The daugh­ter was plan­ning to wreck ado­les­cent hearts, which she couldn't have for her mother cum body­guard’s keen an­tenna would have scru­ti­nised her moves so closely that her amorous ad­ven­tures wouldn’t have dared to ger­mi­nate. Hav­ing dressed with usual care, in a peach flow­ing lehenga-du­patta, with in­tri­cate zardozi work, Pinky was rest­less. The seat­ing ar­range­ment, with women on one side of the canopy and the men­folk on the other, was sti­fling her. Miss­ing her usual fix of at­ten­tion, Pinky de­cided to glide over to Bablu's friends. Ah!so re­fresh­ing to feel the ap­pre­cia­tive glances of males.

There He was! Her hero in flesh and blood! The man in front of her was a per­fect chis­eled cre­ation of God. She met his eyes. Pinky felt her hair rise; her scalp stiff­ened. She felt her blood drain­ing from all parts of her body and rush­ing straight to her heart in a vi­o­lent gush. She sud­denly felt cold and clammy when she saw him look­ing at her. Dressed in tight fit­ting stylish black bund-gala and cream jodh­purs, her dream man looked like a male model from a sleek fash­ion mag­a­zine. Boom! Boom! Sud­denly there were fire­works and loud mu­sic or was it Pinky's heart­beat go­ing berserk? The baraat

(mar­riage pro­ces­sion) had come. Ev­ery­one was rush­ing to the gate to have a glimpse of the dulha (groom) but Pinky stood trans­fixed.

She came to senses only when there was a burst of cheer and the jaimal (the ex­change of gar­lands) was tak­ing place. Where was he?

Her hero was on the stage lift­ing the groom, not al­low­ing the bride put the gar­land around the groom's neck. How strong he was! Those rip­pling mus­cles un­der his coat! Ooh! Pinky went to find her fa­ther so she could show him her choice in life and blood. Her fa­ther was in a cheer­ful mood, hav­ing downed his fifth Pa­tiala-peg. The tim­ing was per­fect, thought Pinky. In his tipsy mood, Papa would gen­er­ously agree to what­ever she asked for.

"Papa, can you see that guy. Papa, that man on the stage with the groom!" "Yes, Yes. I am not so drunk. What about him?"

"Oh Papa, isn’t he good look­ing!"

"Bah! A man should be earn­ing well. What are good looks if he doesn't have a de­cent job?”

"Then, Papa, why don’t you find out about his job?

Papa, please!" Pinky's Papa melted at his beau­ti­ful daugh­ter’s plea and quickly downed an­other peg, happy that his fas­tid­i­ous daugh­ter had fi­nally liked some­one. These fussy chil­dren should find their own match. If par­ents in­ter­fere in ar­rang­ing mar­riage for them then the blame falls on them life-long. The hand­some one was also mak­ing inquiry re­gard­ing Pinky; this news was con­veyed to Mrs. Bha­tia by Mrs. Varsh­ney with a wink and a warm hug. The re­spon­si­bil­ity fell on Bablu to find out the de­tails and he took his task se­ri­ously. Bablu found out that the hand­some one was serv­ing as a me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer in the Dig­boi re­fin­ery, As­sam. It was a gov­ern­ment job, well paid and safe, with pen­sion and very good perks. In­deed, for the first time, Cupid had thrown its darts on both sides and the aim had been bang on tar­get!

Ev­ery­one was ec­static. The hand­some one was ap­proached through Mrs. Varsh­ney, to meet Pinky and her fam­ily for­mally. The hand­some one was clear that he would like to see the girl with­out fan­fare .He will be ac­com­pa­nied with his wid­owed mother at Varsh­neys’ home; nei­ther in some fancy five star ho­tel lobby nor in Pinky’s home: Pinky’s fu­ture should not be in jeop­ardy in case things didn’t work out am­i­ca­bly. The guy sounded grounded and ma­ture. Pinky's fam­ily ap­proved of his wish for a low key af­fair. Giddy headed Pinky would have loved to meet her Prince Charm­ing at a fancy place, with a loud DJ and a psy­che­delic dance floor but she was too ex­cited to feel up­set about the or­di­nar­i­ness of the ar­range­ment. A cheer­ful Pinky sought an ap­point­ment with the lead­ing hair stylist and beau­ti­cian. Her en­tire be­ing was tin­gling. The man of her dreams was to come in the even­ing with his fam­ily. She kept pinch­ing her to make sure it was not a fantasy.

By late af­ter­noon, the en­tire fam­ily of Bha­tias’ was at the Varsh­neys’ man­sion. A rest­less Pinky could not con­cen­trate on any­thing. Ev­ery now and then she glanced at the clock, the time would not budge .Why was the clock so slow? It was get­ting dark. Maybe they will not come! Maybe they had an ac­ci­dent! Maybe he balked at the last mo­ment.

Just when Pinky's fer­tile imag­i­na­tion was go­ing hay­wire, she heard a car screech to a halt in front of the gate, the doors slam­ming. She heard them com­ing in, her fa­ther's de­lighted guf­faw and her mother's nasal high pitched ner­vous laugh­ter fanned her panic. The Hand­some one was com­ing in flanked by her fa­ther and mother.

Fol­low­ing them were Mr. and Mrs. Varsh­ney, Bablu and a fem­i­nine sil­hou­ette trudg­ing cau­tiously be­hind in the dim light. Pinky peered from in­side but it was too dark out­side to see the guests clearly.

The com­pany moved into the lighted pa­tio. The gait of the fe­male fig­ure looked too fa­mil­iar.

It was the match maker!

“Is ssshe the mother of the bb­boy???” A vis­i­bly shaken Pinky whis­pered; stut­ter­ing into her mother’s ear.

“Yes!” said her un­fazed mother. Noth­ing mat­tered to her, as long as her stuck up daugh­ter was get­ting mar­ried. “Oh no! Not her! Never!” shouted Pinky. “Hey Bhag­wan! Yeh kya kiya,Beta?” (Oh God! what did you do?) wailed the match­maker.

“Oh Yes!” shouted Karma with glee. No one messes with Karma, the pow­er­ful, the po­tent, the ul­ti­mate match­maker.

Mamta Joshi did her Masters in History from Al­la­habad Univer­sity. Her po­ems, re­flec­tive es­says, prose pieces and short sto­ries have ap­peared in na­tional dailies and in­ter­na­tional emagazines. A free spirit ,she works with equal ease in Hindi and English.

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