I just got a plot of land, my own do bigha zameen. Don’t ask me how now. It’s in UP hinterland and no body asks any questions there. I also got a black bag of money as a gift alongside. It’s a bottomless bag quite like Santa’s sack. I was told – Banao beta, whatever you want to. Set the foundation of your dreams right here. Build karo gallows pillars of steel, or sangmarmar. Right here!
I spent an evening downing spirits and raising mine further, planning all the time – What will I build on this plot of land divine? And then I got it.
Why, a Finishing School for Men.
No no no! Not the kind of fancy school which will teach them those manners. Sit thus and stand on both feet, not tilting your behind like an ass on one side. Open doors to passing ladies, and stare not at their retreating behinds. Don’t wear flat-fronts and if you do, some binders inside please. It’s a metro rail car, not a sleaze fest on wheels. My finishing school will not get into superficialities of polishing the Hallo Maim to Heylo Medem.
My school will only admit men who smilingly accepted a good chunk of their father-in-laws’ wealth in the name of Shagan aka Blessings. Why admit them? Well, to finish them, of course!
Why the serious face? I think you are confused. Wait, read on first.
Say for instance the lethal combination of IIT IIM. Techie MBAs apparently garner the biggest loot, or so I see. Soon as they call home to inform their parents about their selection in some of the premier engineering colleges and then management institutes in the country, the father boasts ‘Ladka kisska hai’ and the mother, after a whispered prayer to God, starts calculating her son’s marital worth with her best friend. On top of that, if God GMAT-willing, the son reaches foreign shores for $-making, the shagan ticker suddenly goes on an over-drive, like a flea infested dog’s tail. IIT tic tic tic – IIM tic tic tic – Goldman Sachs tic tic tic – Condo in San Francisco – tic tic tic … till the ticker itself asks for mercy and stops at a number the father and mother know not how to pronounce. And the guy, in a week’s time, flies home with his accent, picks a bride showing off his fat wallet, turns his face the other way when mummy ji daddy ji do the deal, and to the tune of drum beats sits cushy in his sasur’s gifted limousine and decides to permanently move to India. Why? Better job prospects, and much better inflow of shagan envelopes for occasions and non-occasions, complete. No matter that the woman is equally qualified too. ‘It’s just Indian tradition, babes. We can’t question it. We found trew love, now let the parents do their thing. Yo!’ Such a condition of tradition-al custom-ary matrimony needs redressal, and a good school, no?
Okay, you seem shocked. Well, here’s another example.
Every village has a Pappu who passed his UPSC and is now a glorified sarkari babu. Every town too, just like every city has a handful with IAS, IPS, IRS written in font bigger than their names, outside homes they no longer stay in. You clear that exam and out comes a little booklet – Directory of Civil Servants. Servants to public but masters of their own ceremonies. A million Xerox copies with their details and passport sized faces spread all over the nation, like wild fire. And then come suitor-seekers much like the ‘we three kings of orient are, bearing gifts we travel afar’. Yes, parties with marriageable daughters knocking on every hostel door. ‘Hello, I have one daughter. Susheel. Will you marry please? Um, what caste do you enjoy?’ There is no ticker here. Just a SALE painted in red on most doors. And Ma ji Pappa ji’s ageing backs waiting to be scratched. One marries a trader so his export-import is easy-breezy. What is a few trees when woods will be saved for sasur ji? Another revs up his Merc, dusting the lanes of his hamlet. He went for three crores. Even his cows moo a regal mooo, reserved-ly of course. Off they go straight from their baraats on their Bharat dharshan saying ‘We will travel the world, but we cannot do it side-stepping ancestral traditions. This is how it happens in my family. Chalo, you are Mrs. Babu now. You will live like a queen. By the way, how many clothes for the rishteydaars?’ Again I say, such a serious condition of tradition-al custom-ary matrimony needs redressal, and a good school, no?
Just two samples of candidates who may apply to my school. To be finished. Of course, you may know many more. Once I am done with all the sessions of this die-ploma course, their pictures will be hung in the Hall of Shame Fame, depending on their past performances. Please note, full respect will be given to their insistence on the idea of “traditions” and all their cousin “customs”, in whatever attire they strut around and no matter how old. The hanging … of the photographs, will all begin with a puja to Saraswati maa, the deity of those books upon books which helped them enter their temples of learning. Followed by lighting the lamp and finally garlanding these martyrs heroes of Modern Day and Age. After all, traditions are important, they themselves insist!
Admissions open now. Aa jao! Why are you hiding your face? Ab sharmaana kaisa?
Disclaimer – Resemblance to any person living or married is not my fault. The intention is not to hurt, but to show a bitter truth. I still see this sad reality all around. And more kinds than the two I pointed out. A lot goes in the name of ‘customs’ and ‘traditions’ and I speak particularly to the men here. Old has to make way for the New. It is time they, if not everyone else, stood up!
[Wordpress Prompt – Breakdown – Tell us about a habit you’d like to break. Is there any way it can play a positive role in your life?]