"Hey, mind dropping in at home"
"T, I am coming there on Saturday neway nuh.."
"Uffff...it won't take more than 5 mts...And maybe you'll get a cuppa kaapi too"
"Yayyy..Now you are toking sense"
"Hello Appa, meet Ramki - my colleague from office"
"Ramki nuh ? Ramakrishnan ??"
(a broad smile) "Come in Come in...Sit down in the sofa.."
"Hey, I'll just freshen up. You guys keep talking"
(A stream of sweet words flow between Uncle and T in Kannada)
"So what do you do, Ramki?"
"I am in the Marketing side of Business, Uncle"
"Take some coffee. I have not put sugar since I did not know how many tea spoons you use. "
"Thanks Aunty - I'll help myself"
"And where did you do your MBA from ?"
"I am not really sure you would know of it"
(from yonder) "Appa, he is from SP"
"Of course, I know it. The best B-School in Mumbai, consistently ranked in the top 10. I heard this year's placements have been very good. I assume you are aware that T just came back from their interview"
"Really ? She didn't tell me. Neway as far as placements go, I would not know Uncle. I passed out two years back and I'm not exactly in touch."
(Another rapid exchange of high pitched words, this time between Uncle and Aunty in Kannada)
"Ramki..are you vegetarian ?"
"Yes Aunty.. Not even egg"
"Good...Do you like sweets ? Here.. have some home-made Gulab Jamuns"
"No Aunty...I have to go back home and have dinner..I can't afford to stuff myself so much"
"Rubbish. You mom wont say anything."
"So, who else is there in your family ?"
"Uncle, I am the only child. My parents have moved in with me"
(The first harsh exchange between T and Uncle)
"Good..How old are you ?"
"Aunty, I will soon be 28"
"What ? Why aren't you married yet ?"
(All hell breaks loose. Angry words are exchanged between Uncle, Aunty and T)
"I am sorry Ramki.. I didn't mean to intrude"
"Its OK Uncle.. I am used to being asked this..Neway...."
..and before I could explain, T comes in and Uncle walks away silently with a grave face.
"Sorry da. They always do it when I bring home new friends"
"Hmmm..Btw, wot was all that Kannada talk ?"
"Nothing. They were just checking you out."
"Whatttttttttt...Are they that desperate ? You drag any cat from the streets and they try this... ?"
"Hahaha..Yeah, its been 18 months since they've been sounding me out..."
"Hmmmm..I pity 'em"
"They wanted to know if you were Brahmin and single and such crap"
"Jesus Christ... and what did you tell them ?"
"I had to save the situation and I did what I had to do to stop this line of conversation"
"I told them you just got engaged after a 5 year courtship and that your marriage is due in a month"
"Yeah. And please don't raise your voice"
"Kum se kum mujhse poochna tha na"
"You want them to know the truth ?"
"Noooo.. but still...Wait till I pay u back for this.."
"Uncle, forget me... How old is T ? She's also a single child ? Why aren't you marrying her off ?"
Uncle has now re-entered the room and is eager to take this discussion forward.
"Why don't good friends like you advice her ?"
"T, you really should listen to you dad. See, all this management education is bullshit...Oops sorry Uncle.. Look at me, I am a walking ad for an MBA failure"
(with a stare-to-kill) "Thanks but I think I am smarter than you and will do better"
"See..She is already so old, she's earning so much and on top of it, she wants to do an MBA...Who will marry her then ? She just refuses to listen to us"
"Come on Uncle, she can't be that old.."'
"21st May 1979"
(furious) "Daddy, will you please stop this ? Haven't we been through this so much ?"
"..And Ramki, the worst thing is she has even applied to US Universities"
"T, you are wasting so much time. Look at it this way. By the time you finish your MBA, Preeti and I will already be having a kid."
"So Preeti is your would-be's name ?"
"...surely even you parents want to see their grandchildren..Don't be so selfish T"
"He is right !! Why are you stopping him ?"
"Ma...you don't know..."
"Uncle, I think I should be going... T, maybe you should sit down and have a long chat with your parents and do a rethink about life."
...saying so, UDU JOOOOT.
I know I stirred a hornet's nest that day but coming to think of it, I can't but help admire T and in a broader perspective, the women of my generation. There are a couple of other friends of mine who have also chosen to go the "career-woman" route and marriage, if at all it happens, will definitely be at their own terms and not some sort of a compromise. I admire their guts and the conviction of their beliefs. Yeah, today is Women's Day and this post is a dedication to all these 'women-of-substance'. You gals truly rock !!
PS: Today also happens to be MahaShivRaatri or something like that... In keeping with the spirit, yes, I shall stay awake all night...After all, Chelsea play Barca in the reverse leg at home...Gotta ensure that they win...Go Chelsea Go...And it will be doubly joyous if Man U also lose :-p