Quirks of the Indian system of arranged marriage.
"I met Mrs. Ghosh at the park today." Baba announced at thoe dinner table. "She said she knows of a prospective bride for our Babu."
My elder brother who was sitting next to me, sighed. The ordeal started over a month ago, on the fateful day he turned thirty. My parents were suddenly struck with the realization that he had entered the third decade of his life and was still a bachelor. No wonder, they were appalled! They were sure that somewhere, deep down, they had failed as parents and hence, his marriage became the topmost priority of their lives from that moment onward.
Some eight girls had already been seen and rejected. This was, of course, routine. My mother took pride in it. Apparently, the more girls you rejected, better was the chance of finding a good bride.
"Mrs. Ghosh, who? A colleague?" Ma asked as she served the rotis.
"Yes. She works at the bank," he said. "She sounded very positive. More importantly, the girl is also a Datta. Well, at least we won't have to worry about her caste and gotra."
Both Dada and I rolled our eyes.
"That is brilliant!" Ma exclaimed in delight. "What more could we have asked for?"
"Let's not get our hopes up, yet. We need to meet her parents first."
"I have a good feeling about this one. I think she is going to be our elder daughter-in-law."
"She is going to be your only daughter-in-law, Ma. Not the elder one. I am not going to marry a girl," I laughed. Three pair of eyes glared at me. Promptly, I went back to my roti.
"Speaking of Mrs. Ghosh," Ma said. "A Mrs. Ghosh shifted next door just yesterday. She came to visit in the afternoon. She seemed like a very cultured and well-mannered woman. She is throwing a party tomorrow and she has invited the entire block. She doesn't know half the people and yet, she took all the numbers from me and called everyone up. What a nice lady! We must go."
Mrs. Ghosh, Ma and I were busy chatting when Baba joined us.
"Mrs. Ghosh?" he exclaimed when he realized who his new neighbour was. "I did not know that you lived here!"
"Partho? What a co-incidence!" Mrs. Ghosh exclaimed. "I just moved. I did not know you lived in C.R.Park yourself! Otherwise, I would have told you yesterday."
Both of them laughed. "What's your house number?" she asked. "Oh and by the way, these are my new neighbours," she said pointing towards us. "Mrs. Datta and her daughter, Rita."
Before either Ma or Baba could politely tell her that we were from the same family, she continued.
"Oh and Partho, do you remember the girl I told you about? You told me you were looking for a bride for your son, right? This is the girl I had in mind!"
My jaw dropped open when I realized that she was pointing at me. My parents looked dumbfounded while Mrs. Ghosh beamed at me with pride.
"She?" Baba said, trying to control his state of shock. "She is my daughter!"