Have you ever been in a situation where the conversation takes a turn of its own? It usually starts with an innocent enquiry, you reply with an equally thoughtful answer and then suddenly, without anyone knowing how it happened, the person jumps to the wrong conclusion. Or, worse, it becomes horribly embarrassing.
This sort of things has happened many a times when people asked if I was married. I am not. But the truth is people don’t tend to believe or understand that a young person with my kind of personality is single. And when they believe, this happens to be more awkward.
This incident happened in 2005. I was visiting the General Manager of some Tata Group company in Jamshedpur. The moment I handed over my business card the person jumped from his seat, ‘you are coming all away from Delhi?… Jharkhand is a backward area, you must know by now’. I politely replied that I belong to Bihar (Jharkhand was once part of Bihar). ‘Your surname doesn’t reflect the same, there’re very few Punjabis here, and, by the way, are you married?’ In next couple of sentence, GM sa’ab briefed me about his family & relatives like ‘memorised sermons’, tried to hand-over ‘bio-data’ of his daughter which I generously declined on purpose. My corporate decorum doesn’t allow me to do any personal deed while on a business call. Yet, before I could get back to my office, a packet containing BHP of one of his daughter reached my home in Patna.
It’s the sort of thing most people always asked. I guess it was a natural question. So, to avoid this question I had decided to reply in a satirical way. Whenever the question popped I said, ‘my family thought I would marry a girl of my own choice and I trusted them for the same’. But the problem didn’t end there.
It was the start of a new problem. I’d get all sorts of offer then. Some of my friends asked a couple of their female colleagues to call me and sell the mutual funds their bank was dealing in. And when I declined advises came why didn’t I bought the product. I could have got a chance to escalate and establish further relations! I felt as if I got the bid of a lucrative offer. Buy One Get Another Free – A wife with ‘Mutual Fund’. I wonder if the word itself has not been derived considering the same concept.
Things are a lot different for the friends who knew me since college days. One fine day an old classmate suddenly called on my mobile and asked me to invite him for lunch. He wanted to taste foods prepared by his ‘Bhabhiji’. The other, a bit more close to me, met me for lunch; we had few drinks and dinner together and while I dropped him at the airport he offered, ‘you come to Kolkata I will do the ‘setting’ for you. Bengali ladki chalegi na (if a Bengali girl would do)?’ Tell me, in my position what would you say? I have toyed with several answers but didn’t help.
A distant friend even understood silently that I am not marrying because I am a heartbroken kid having some serious affair during early days of my life. Alas, if that has been true I would have got relieved of this embarrassing question – Are you married?
Now, I think I will have to face this question for some more time. At least by the time I get a hang of my own future life or by the time I get reptilian lines on my face. Even then, I am confident, I will not be spared. Perhaps people will then ask – Where is your Wife?