If you were thinking of letting your daughters marry into an Indian family, beware. (Of course, if your daughters want to marry Indian women, or your sons Indian men, then it’s a different kettle of fish altogether. Extra beware!)
This is the conversation I overheard this morning between a two huffing and puffing women at the morning walkers’.
Woman in faded red and yellow cotton print saree: Ei! Did the boy’s family come yesterday?
Woman in white-on-blue flower motif saree, catching her breath: Did they come! Do not get me started! Sitting in MY house, lapping up everything we put before them like eager dogs [“kuttar moto”], and then daring to dictate the terms of the wedding to me!
Red&Yellow, shaking head: What can you expect, they’re the groom’s family, that is how they always behave.
WhiteonBlue, venomously: Such bastards! Telling me, ‘The plates and bowls you’ll give should be silver, not steel, otherwise our reputation with our extended family will be tarnished’. Silver! As if! If I can buy silver I will instead buy GOLD for my daughter, and keep it in OUR locker, you greedy pigs. If I give it to your family my daughter will never see hide or hair of it again, that sly grasping sister- and uncle-in-law of hers will whisk it out of sight so quickly!
Large woman in faded mauve salwaar-kameez, hurrying up: Ish, so the groom’s family-visit was a fiasco yesterday? I told you before also, there’s still time. It is the question of your daughter’s whole life… if you don’t like the family break off negotiations!
WoB: “Didi, if I only could! You know it was decided between him [meaning her husband] and the boy’s father when they were posted together in Purulia. The father toh is no more. Now if he [=husband] breaks a pact made with a dead friend, can you imagine the talk it will cause against him? I cannot push him into that.
R&Y, hesitantly: But this marriage will push your daughter into misery…
WoB, philosophically: Well, you know, daughters are born with their own luck. No matter how carefully you select a boy, no one can guarantee she will be happy with him. Since we have to get her married anyway, and since my husband had already committed to this family… I said let us carry on. At least people won’t get a chance to talk behind our backs. We did the right thing! We fulfilled our promise! As for our daughter… her destiny will fulfill itself no matter how hard we try. Still, if something goes wrong, she has us, and her gold jewellery…
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the lesson of the day. If you must deliberately sabotage your children’s lives, make sure she has some gold to make up for it.