If you ask me, I love being a spinster, especially now that I have come to better accord with the world but truth be told, this freedom of mine rests on a precarious balance, for I am very near my appropriate age of marriage. Here are my facts; I am 24, I have a university degree in Pharmacy (no job yet), fair, 5’3, fluent in both Urdu and English, from a upper middle class family, and overall of a good family status, forefathers wise. No, this isn’t my narcissism convention; I am telling you how hard that makes me to be a spinster. So, every other month, there is a suitor for me. This is where things go haywire, for my family is known for their hospitality, which translates into,” Of course we would like to meet you and your son!” which means, there is bound to be a oh so heavy tea-tray –walk for me.
So there is this tradition at my place. The girl who will have to take the walk (of shame, if you ask me) must never be told this might as well be a walk down the aisle. Why? So that she doesn’t feel like she is a commodity being haggled over in a heated debate. However, if you are smart, you can forecast the descend of potential husband upon your serenity. For me, there are two red blaring sirens. First, my mom asking me “Honey, are you sure you can’t see a thing without your specs, if you tried? Don’t worry, I shall order another rimless pair for you (I have six already, and counting)” and the second, mostly when I am on the prayer mat, “Baby, pray that whatever is in Mom’s heart may come true.” To both of which I have only one response,” Who is he and what does he do?”
This is how it goes; my brothers would greet the family at the main entrance and if the boy is there (I pity him), he is rated immediately on appearance like so; “this guy is definitely a doppelganger of some Orc from Lords of the Ring.”, which then changes into pointy fingers at me with a sing song voice, “An Orc for you, witch!”. Happens every time with variation of the character- If he is Shrek, I am Feona (the ugly one, mind you) and so on. Now imagine being told you look like a green, rotten potato when the ladies in house have spent hours trying to make you presentable. Yes, exactly that.
There is never one dress. In eight parts frenzy and two parts mommy love plus the fear I might get married before she realizes it, Mom always takes me on a shopping spree for clothes. This is the good part. The bad part comes later, when the same clothes are nicked “ proposal clothes” and your family has a helluva memory too. So the clothes would be designed, stitched and ironed to perfection and then would be a little cat walk. The pink is too bright, you look anemic or the blue dupatta (stoll) will slip from your head and mess up your hair. This lasts an hour but I have just discovered the answer to this solution. Don’t have more than two dresses ready at a time, less competition. There is a quick trip to day spa, eyebrows neatened, face cleansed, all done to make me less tomboyish. This time, the hair straightner was a murder, that savage beast. One hour of burning my ears, and fingers, the hair still looked like the waves in the sea. Frustrated, I asked if it was necessary, and as irritated as I was, Mom ruled in my favor. An hour wasted, though.
Ready? Not quite. The contact vs spectacles issue. Mom is pro contact, dad is pro specs so I patiently facebook while the two argue over what is more appropriate. As of now, the score stands thus: Contacts 6/10. Specs 4/10. This time, contacts won, they seem to be on some lucky streak. Face washed, then washed again, teeth brushed, Kajal applied to make my eyes appear human and not boiled, I am officially ready. Quick inspection form the ladies in the house, and the forever uttered, “Eww, she looks horrible, I feel sorry for the guy who will marry her!” from the boys, let’s get the show on the road!
So when the door bell rings, there is a familiar holler of “Aaa Gaye! (They are here)” and everyone rushes to their places. Food trays set, Pepsi poured and chilled, crockery and cutlery polished to serve as a mirror, if the need arose, there is a moment of silence for me. In my room, I practice smiling, without showing all my teeth, walk without bending over, and sit without slouching. When it is time to be presented, my sister (who is through this phase, tying the knot this September) would check out which tray is the least heaviest, and hand that one to me. This is simply role reversal; I must have done this a million times for her. There is one other rule to such events: Only the girl who is sought after by the family shall be allowed in the room, no other bachelorette shall enter, until otherwise spoken for. So my sister comes along with me but I never went for her. My entourage consists of my Mom leading the way, me, head bowed, trying to make no eye contact with my rascals of brothers, lest I should laugh and bare my full teeth, followed by my aunty or sister, to ensure I don’t swoon. Just kidding, nothing so theatrical. My aunty would quickly say, “Speak only when spoken to,” in my ear, every single god damned time this happens. To even think that by this time I would know the protocol is sacrilegious.
There I sit, all pretty and perfect, head bowed, and there is a million things rushing through my mind. Where is the wretched napkin holder? These soup bowls, where are the new ones? Holy Shit! Has anyone bothered to inquire if any of these guests is Diabetic? Nobody choke, please! Or trip over! You see, it is very difficult being made to sit and just be, while for several years now, you have been on the managing end of such events. I remember, the first few times, I had dressed up, practiced being polite in my room, come out and barked orders at someone to set the trays right and then duly thumped by mum to shut up. So here I squirm in my seat, and every time I steal a glance around the room, my brothers are glaring at me, with this half corner smile and I curse myself. There is going to be hell to pay, these nutters would drive me insane with “Oh you looked!”.
The whole drama lasts couple of hours. Then there are days of follow up inquiries about the credentials of the boy. Is he educated enough? Is he spiritual? Is the family good? Were the in laws pesky or were they quiet? Will I be asked to work? Do they have an aversion to my hijab? So on and so forth. Easy to assume none of these have gone through, hence the whole piece of writing but the days that follow are very uncomfortable. There is always the question looming on my head,” Am I ready? Who will take care of Mom and Dad? Who will shop for the family? Who will…?” and when things don’t go as hoped for, I have try to cheer up my mom,” Come on! there loss! I am so pretty, aren’t I?” which breaks the tiniest of smiles on her lips. This marriage affair is like a big cyclone, it sucks you into the vortex. Its not always bad, this tea walk as I call it, but then again, I know it can be very unnerving. Girls tend to launch into a whole new world of self esteem issues, if they are presented again and again, to no avail. So far, I am not one of the lot, but then ever so often I wonder, how long will I hold on? but more importantly, I ask myself, how long will Mum? I hear, there is no such thing as spinsters in peace but a shout out to everyone who has this phase upon them,” Courage, Lassies! God makes no mistakes, you are all beautiful in your own way.” And a pat on back to the boys who vow not to put their future wives through this. We will make your lives heaven, regardless (with a little bit of hell, we are no saints!) =D

Sign In to know Author