The Eligible Bachelor Conundrum

Disclaimer: This a story specific to some parts of South Asia particularly to Land of the Pure.

There was once a young lad. When he was only an infant, his mother took very good care of him. He was fed and changed by the caring hands of his mother. As years past he grew into a handsome young boy by the very precise account of his loving mother. She would tell adorable stories about her boy. She would chuckle and get rosy cheeked with pride when giving account of her son’s handsome features, white skin and thick hair.

More years past on, the boy of tender age entered teenage. His handsomeness grew tenfold. His mother’s stories and pride about her son touched the heights of Mount Kilimanjaro (Mt Everest is over rated) She could not help but narrate tales of his achievements at school. Later her obsession with her boy’s success turned into even bigger stories. She moved in her circle of friends like someone with a gold medal. And indeed she had worked hard on her boy. She had spent her time and energy into raising her child, now a fully grown man; if I may say so an eligible bachelor — ‘a catch’ if you might add it in his mother’s words.

It was time. It was the right time for him to get a bride. A bride with a pretty face, a clean past, culinary skills to put master chefs to shame, qualification to match her son’s; and most importantly a girl of the right age. Age is a matter of big concern for it is closely connected to the prospects of furthering the family tree. Hence, the right age, the appropriate number is a serious business for mothers. If the bride in question is same age as her handsome son, it is a big no. If God forbid on the wedding day, a neon sign starts to shine horribly bright, letting lose the truth about the girl being OLD. No one wants a girl looking like a grandma!  According to “How to Find the Right Girl for your Son” guide book a girl should be at least 5 years younger; in fact the older the son, the younger the bride to be. What? You are questioning the existence of such a guide book?  Well I assumed there must be a golden rule book that is followed by all the proud mothers of their one in a million sons.

Coming back to the particular mother and son duo, the hunt began and is still ongoing. It has been some 10 light years since the mother set out to find the perfect match for her off spring who has grown into the epitome of a perfect man. And by grown I mean really grown like there is no stopping – no, not just vertically in height, but horizontally in all angels and shapes. The once poster boy for all to follow in all respects, now seems to be losing his edge.  The data, however, remains unchanged in his mother’s mental scrapbook. The records haven’t been updated for years which mean the girls keep aging all around. The eligible bachelor remains alive with that vampire streak of his, keeping him young and handsome and immortal in the fantastical mind of his mother.

Sun rises and fall, flowers blossom and wither, girls are born and then age. But there is a son or sons of marriageable age, forever the eligible bachelor(s) waiting for a perfect match. They all will live happily ever after, after they have lost their hair and teeth, with a young, naïve, pretty wife by their side.

A Summer Night

The dim neon glow of the time piece blinked at her in complete darkness like an admirer in a secret tryst. She twisted and turned on the warm sheets beneath her. The fan swirled a heavy air laden with 45 degree centigrade of warmth down at her. It kissed and patted her to sleep on her cold sticky cheeks. Her flowery kurta swayed against her olive skin. She looked far beyond the solid ceiling above at the navy blue night sky and the smoky clouds. Not a single star in sight but groups of grey clouds hung in the bland canvas giving away vague hopes of a long awaited rain. A sharp hollow voice penetrated through the speedy fans and walls and reached her while she lay there motionless, a statue with eye balls in restless motion as if trying to escape its confinement.

 Maulvi saab’s lips almost touched the rusted loudspeaker as he cleared his throat. His high pitched vocals broke the ominous night silence but delivered only an unintelligible announcement of a man’s death in the neighbourhood. The message lost its way into the thick veils of still air.  

Her dark pupils came to a sudden halt. She thought of the dead man, a faceless, nameless being who ‘strut and fret his hours upon the stage’ in Shakespearean style, in the end only to be consumed by a deadly life.  She let out a sigh and turned on her stomach. Sleep tried to steal away her insomnia. But she was waiting. Until then she would stay awake all the while absorbing the hidden pieces of peace dispersed by the sounds of fans and air conditioners. Just then the moment arrived. She put the twinkling thoughts in her mind to a hush. The fan above stopped rotating, nearby a generator’s hum tickled its way through the window. She took in the sweaty, humid air and went to sleep in a comfort that only her city could offer. 

Unspoken

It was a hot summer day, the hottest of that year perhaps. The kind when sun appears no less than a ruthless dictator and the sky is abandoned of even a single formation of cloud. Only the sun reins. The people below melt.
Not caring an iota about the burning yellow ball above, he peered in at the window. A wandering soul he was, benign at first sight but quite the opposite otherwise. A bead of sweat appeared on his forehead and like a lone traveler slipped straight into his eye. It startled him a little and he blinked for the first time since he had started to keenly watch the movements on the other side of the window. He had been following this ritual secretly for days. No one inside was aware of his existence outside.

In his mind he thought of several ways he could get hold of the beautiful display that sparkled his eyes. He mapped his break-in and successful escape when the owners would not be inside. While he devised the best of his plans, his sweaty palms and fingers stretched farther apart on the huge glass window. The grip of his hands grew stronger and stickier as a wicked curve of smile invaded his parted lips.

Inside a young man, unaffected by the blazing sun suddenly took notice of the tanned face clinging onto the clean glass. The vibes of the man inside reached the boy outside. In an instant he felt a pair of intense eyes piercing into his soul from inside the shop. The boy stared into the intense gaze of the man. Two pairs of resolute eyes focused onto each other unaware of the crowds of people around them; the hustle and bustle muffled into the background.

The boy awaited a reaction from inside while the man tried to decipher the look on the other’s dust ridden face. He studied his features with deep thoughts. The furrow of his brows started to relax and his stern face gave away the softer side to his personality. In what seemed like an eternity, their eye contact broke at last, like a witch’s spell coming to an end.

The young man moved from behind the counter and walked towards the door. It was hard to believe that his feet were not fixed into the floor and he could actually move. The boy realized his time was over and he needed to think of another plan. He might try his luck another day he thought. Just then a group of giggling girls came in his direction. Busy in their chuckling and mischievousness, they didn’t notice the boy glued to the window. As he turned onto his heels to escape his fate, the inevitable collision took place. With the tiny bell coming to life as the shop’s door opened, the young man came outside. The girls soon disappeared leaving the boy on the ground. He dared not look up, guilty conscience of having stolen things in the past clouded his face.

Still lying on the ground like a defeated and injured football player he saw a hand coming towards him. He forced shut his eyes to feel the strong hold of it on his neck. Instead he heard a whistle, a casual hello. He looked up to find an amiable face tainted with an amused expression looking down at him. In his other hand he had the colourful selection of brownies, biscuits and pastries in a plate awaiting his acceptance.

Nonexistent Existence

I see her from where I sit and I know that she consciously avoids glancing in my direction.Days and days go by and we communicate rarely. It is disappointing to me for I begin to feel like a loser; a piece of shit with no use to anyone. Every day as the sun goes up and she draws the curtains to let the sun pour in, I too wake up to the bright sun shine though I’m not a big fan of nature. My tragedy is that I was separated from my kin or whatever I belong to some time back by the same person who has almost abandoned me.

The wonderful life full of friends and opportunities that await her every day, she has no time for the unnecessary, nonexistent things. I might just die one day of the brilliant summer sun light that invades the entire room when she hurriedly leaves the room to meet the world. At least she could draw the curtains to block the heat but no humans are such – forgetful.

First she picks me from the roadside while fervidly talking to her peers and says she will keep me safe for I’m a ‘thing of beauty’ and perhaps her ‘lucky charm’. Pfft! So much for the unfulfilled promises made halfheartedly.

Oh God there is a hot wind coming in through the half open window. Perfect! She even forgot to close the window. Oh oh oh, no no! What a terrible day! There, there I fly and slip on her unmade bed. Sometimes I hate being so light weight.

Who is there at the door? Darn I can’t even see who is entering the room from here. Oh, why is she crying? And back so soon? Hmm serves her right, she’s been making me feel lonely. Aw I feel sorry for the poor thing. I wonder what’s making her cry with such intensity. Maybe she’s failed her exam or been grounded.

She stormed into the room and paced up and down while wiping away her tears and muttering something under her breath.

Now there is another thing to worry about. She is upset, crying like a baby which means she is angry. I hate the days when she disrupts my life with her anger. Though I remain nonexistent but there is a lot of noise anyway and I have nowhere to escape. Well at least there will be a good show of her reaction to whatever has distressed her and…

BANG

Then with a new wave of anger she threw her hand bag on the bed. Unfortunately it fell exactly on the lonely feather whose fate is destined to be that of a doormat and forever nonexistent.

Ahhh! This bag is so darn heavy. I will die. A nonexistent feather now lifeless too! 

Once upon a Wall

There was a wall. A wall that we all love to build around us but pretend there exists none. But the two of them knew. They built it with mutual consent and never talked about it. In fact they hardly talked about anything of significance. It was a wall of words that had been exchanged, the emotions that had been on display. Knowingly to one and unknowingly to the other, it was in the aftermath of all that she had said; the wall began to appear, little by little, day after day. All the words that she sent and he didn’t pick, kept falling unheard of until there were so many of them that a wall could be built out of it. She was right, so was he. She was human so was he. She was aware, he was not. They each had a pet and pampered they were. In the study of human behavior, the mind scientists called it ego. 

The Jump

I thought I could do this. I was so wrong, I should have known. Everyone’s right I’m always thinking about myself. Just look at how many times I have used ‘I’ within a few seconds. This is ridiculous. My mind cannot betray the decision I took after a lot of contemplation. I’m not going to back out now. A decision has been made. If I go back on my words the bouts of depression and hopelessness will start to engulf me again. I need to end this. Okay I’m ready…

After repeatedly thinking about her action, she takes a deep breath and looks down from the roof top. A sea of people are floating like rhythmic waves. Its midweek and early hours. Everyone is going on about their business. Some are running to catch the bus, others are walking to their workplace after parking their vehicles nearby. Their walks are varied. Some are slouched while others are braving their temptation to run back to their warm beds. Even though it looks as if they can all see each other; the people down on the road and the street are living in their own bubbles, passing by, oblivious to one another’s existence. Such is life in this big city.

From up so high the morning crowd seems like ants. A gush of unexpected wind suddenly takes her petite body by surprise. She is brought back to her own bubble. The wind has unsettled her further. It seems as if the change in weather from warm sunny morning to cloudy and windy has weakened her resolution. Her heart beat is so fast it seems like it’s a runner in the Olympics focused on the trophy.

I think my vision is blurring. It’s this skyscraper. These modern structures of human creativity is rubbish. They make twisting and twirling, zig zagging, needle like, oval shape weird architectural designs and think themselves creative beings. It is buildings you are making not candy for the kids! GRRR.  What happened to the good old times that Mama tells me about, when life was simple and building used to be straight blocks standing to an average height.

 The height is nauseating. The people down there on the ground look so surreal. The wind up here so unnatural. My feet are all sweaty. My forehead is damp despite the cold breeze.  Maybe I should not take such a drastic step. Maybe I should wait. The fruits of patience are juicy, ripe and sweet says Mama. Perhaps she is right.  

Once again she is having second thoughts. The laughter, the fun, the jokes, going out for hunting, meeting new families – all the good memories slipped into the folds of her chaotic brain. There is a  tall tree standing odd along the building where she stands. The leaves dance to the breeze. The birds perched on the branches are twittering and fluttering their wings. They are busy bodies gossiping away about their lives. They are unaware of her tiny existence and her life changing or so to say life ending decision.

Time is flying, it is slipping like good quality silk. Either its now or never. I cannot take this anymore. I have to free myself from this caged life. It is definitely better to just go. Forever. 

In a matter of a tiniest second she let it go. She gave in to her numb feeling and slid her tiny foot towards the edge of the roof top. If someone was watching her from a distance, it would seem like an unseen supernatural force pushed her over the edge. It wasn’t the case. It was what she wanted. Something she had been planning on for weeks. The day she was born, it was known to everyone that she lacked the swiftness, the intelligence and quickness are clan is famous for. Everyone knew, she would take her time. She was not ready like her other cousins. If anyone from her family had seen her now, at this moment of unusual bravery, they would have gaped and gaped until their jaws felt sour.

OH MY GOD. I CANNOT HAVE DONE THAT. WHAT WAS I THINKING. I HAVE JUMPED. I M FALLING. OH MY GOD. THIS REALITY IS A NIGHTMARE. IT CANNOT BE TRUE. MY DREAM SHOULD END NOW. MAMA SHOULD WAKE UP ME FOR SUPPER.

The speedy windy jostled her entire frame. She fell at a speed of a fierce meteor. She screamed at the top of her lungs. Her throat went dry like the Sahara dessert. For a second she felt her heart had torn out of her chest, falling down behind her on its own pace. But she was alive. Through her beady eyes she looked down and gasped. Nothing was in focus.  It was the blue sky and fleecy clouds surrounding her.

I’ m alive. I have to get a grip on my senses. I’m falling but I haven’t fell. I haven’t yet crashed and squished to the concrete ground where all the busy people are walking and running and driving their cars. I cannot fall in the midst of the egocentric human beings who I’m sure would not even give me a second look when I m sprawled there on the road. I will not let the fake pity in their eyes haunt me. No I have to stop falling. This was not my plan. I was not standing there on that ugly skyscraper to fall ungracefully like a bozo. I have to enjoy and live the moment. Yes I’m crazy. I will live til I die. I need to recall the lessons Mama gave me each morning. Maybe I won’t die after all. It’s all in my wings.

As if hit by a random epiphany floating in the cloudy sky, she opened her wings and held them out with all her might. She tilted herself slightly, keeping her wings outstretched against the powerful wind. Her flight began to turn steady. She wasn’t loosing her balance. The wind was not against her anymore. Below her the people, cars and houses appeared bigger than before. She was gliding downwards gracefully. She flapped her wings once and then again beating with the rhythm of the music around her. A warm placid sun ray peeked out from the mass of clouds. It shone in her eyes and hugged her as if celebrating her first flight. She swirled at this point and nose dived towards the busy city, heading towards her nest.

It was time to go home.

The Heels

It was an intense summer day; the kind when sweat beads roll down your spine and your clothes cling to every inch of your body. Bashir sat under shade of the parking lot with his back to the busy corridor. His friend who worked as a ticket collector started bringing him to the university premises for little help and a cheerful company. Despite the sunny bright day with sun blazing at its prime, he could see nothing. It was one thing in life he didn’t miss. The sounds around him filled the vacuum for what others thought he missed on.

There was the usual hustle and bustle in the students’ corridor; students chatting loudly, some were rushing to their classes and university staff going on about their business. The noise from the generators, fans, phone bells was an addition. The distinct click clack of a female pair of shoes lured his interest amidst the everyday chaos. He smiled every time the click clack crossed the corridor. It was like music to his ears.  Suddenly the intense summer heat stopped having its effects on him. He seemed to have forgotten his sweaty back, his torn slippers, and his ruffled hair. He was dreaming about a beautiful, well dressed, charismatic successful woman he had heard from those around him. The lady who wears matching heels and carries expensive bags on her shoulders with her dupatta carelessly dancing behind her as she walks ambitiously.

There were many girl students on the campus but the sound of these heels was different. It was new and beautiful. The frequency of the heel clad steps increased. The first time they were relatively calm as if someone walking at a normal pace. After a few minutes the same mystery woman started to pass through the corridor again and again. Every time the urgency in the steps increased. All the sounds and clatter around his dull darkness faded away and the steps grew louder and louder. He shifted on the broken wooden bench under the parking lot shade. His curiosity tickled a fancy and for the first time in years he wanted to see. He desired a glimpse of a woman he so often heard about.

Bashir’s friend noticed the unusual smile fade in and fade out on his friend’s face, who also kept shifting left and right on the ancient broken bench. The ticket collector walked towards Bashir. Before he could inquire about the secretive smile despite the rising temperatures; Bashir himself blurted out the question he first thought would draw unnecessary attention towards his otherwise quiet self.  His friend’s attention quickly shifted to the busy corridor Bashir referred to. His eyes searched for the charming lady whose presence had aroused his benign friend’s senses. Just as the exact click clack entered the corridor, Bashir exclaimed, ‘Look look here she comes, describe how she looks…’

Bashir’s friend stared at the figure rushing through the passage into one of the offices. He burst out laughing so hard that it startled his friend. His friend’s sudden comical behavior was a surprise for Bashir, it even made him a little restless.

‘Would you stop laughing and tell me what you saw? It seems like the lady in heels is in a bit of a rush, she wasn’t running at first but then I heard her hurriedly making her way through the corridor’, said Bashir in an awkward voice.

After choking on his laughter his friend replied, ‘That is because it’s not what you think Bashir. The reason the footsteps are in a rush is because the person is a personal secretary to the Post graduate’s Dean and he is running errands. There is a meeting of staff with the Dean and the PA is rushing around making arrangements for chai biscuit. It’s not the lady’s heels that click clacks; it is the PA’s shoes with a thick sole that produces the sound. You have surely been deceived Bashir.’

In a few moments all the bright dreamy descriptions that formed in Bashir’s head came crashing down like an avalanche. The sweat on his brows that had frozen a while back melted under the sweltering heat. His friend’s laughter still teased him and he realized that his curiosity killed the cat.