Marriages are made in heaven but celebrated on earth – or so the saying goes. But is that actually so? Most people say that it is.
In actual practice, however, marriages in Kashmir pose unearthly difficulty for families waiting for a match for their girls, asseerat (character) and soorat (looks) figure low on the Suitable Boys’ wish list as compared to the kind of house the girl lives in, its washrooms (and parking space), her occupation and high-end skills like driving – if not actually drinking-while-driving.
The boy had just arrived from London – to find himself a bride, and desired to meet the buchi first.
Nobody objected to the request.
The girl was taken to a beautician to sharpen her brows, and shape her upper lip.
The makeover also included a new suit to suit the occasion.
When the broker called a few days later, he called in with the news that boy-would-meet-girl in a restaurant.
The boy gave the buchi his long top-to-toe look, appraised her companions with a casual glance, and conducted the interview while her brother paid the bill.
The tryst did not develop into a lasting relationship.
It was only later that the boy’s family came to know of his vilayati (English) (miss)adventures, including a memsahib for a bahuwhom he had kept a secret from Mama and Papa.
They ceased to wonder why beta ji had seen around fifteen girls in as many days, and summarily rejected all.
More brokers came, with more proposals for the girl.
Two veiled women were seen in her locality one day, making inquiries. They found nothing adverse, except her father’s single-storey house.
“They must be poor,” the ‘investigators’ concluded.
A few days later, the mohalla received more visitors.
“Their house has no parking space,” they snorted, peeking through the outer door.
It did not stop there.
Two women entered the girl’s house one fine morning.
One of them wanted to go to the washroom.
“It is not aesthetically done,” she whispered to her companion on coming out.
Down-market sanitary ware, down-market girl.
Now the girl’s family decided to add two more floors to their house.
One day, when masons and carpenters were busy with saws, hammers and trowels, a husband-and-wife came sniffing around for bridely material for only son.
“What do they need such a big house for?” they mused aloud. It seems they will force our son to live with them after marriage.”
Earlier the girl had been rejected for her humble house. Now she was rejected for a proud one.
One family refused the girl because it wanted a working wife for their boy. Another wanted her to learn driving.
Still another wanted their bahu-to-be to wear an abaya.
“A woman from a religious family is coming to see you,” the broker said. “Please wear an abaya today.”
When the woman-from-a-religious family arrived at the end of a long day, she was not veiled.
The girl took a good look at her long and painted nails.
The abaya did not work.
The lady-from-the-religious-family, perhaps, wanted a modern girl.