Mom's Prince Charming Hunt
‘Mom! I just feel he’s not the right guy for me. It didn’t click!’ Veena exclaimed, waving her hands in the air.
‘What’s wrong with him? He’s handsome; he’s tall; he’s earning well… What more do you want? You’re not going to find your perfect Prince Charming that easily. You need to learn to settle with what you’re getting,’ Mom replied as she cleared up the dining table.
‘Well, first of all, I realize there is no such thing as Prince Charming. Secondly, why should I settle for any less? Am I not good enough? Am I not earning enough? Am I not educated enough?’ Veena snapped.
‘Why are you getting so hyper?’ Mom asked.
‘Why are you and Dad in such a hurry to get me married anyway?’ Veena replied as she pulled out the dining table chair and plopped onto it. She let out a long sigh. ‘I don’t know how to do any of this, Mom. And honestly, I don’t know if all of this makes any sense. You and Dad had a love marriage. Why do I have to do an arranged marriage? Just because I’m not seeing anyone doesn’t mean I have to do it the other way around.’
‘Oh, Darling! We’re not in a hurry to get you married. We just want you to settle down in life. You’re almost thirty and….’
‘Okay. At least tell me what was wrong with this guy you met?’
‘He chewed his food too loudly.’
Mom's eyes widened.
‘And he was too fidgety!’ Veena shrugged her shoulders.
‘Seriously!’ Mom said. ‘Are you serious?!?’
‘Well, yes! Okay. Picture this. I’m married to this guy. It’s our first anniversary. We are sitting at some fancy restaurant eating a nice scrumptious meal, and there, sitting opposite me, is this man, my so-called husband chewing on his food so loudly that even the people sitting four tables away would be able to hear him! I want to marry a good, decent guy. Not some nincompoop or weirdo!’
Mom took off her glasses and placed them on the table. She, too, plopped herself on the chair. ‘Up until now, you’ve met seven eligible men.’ She pressed her eyes with her hands and let out a long sigh.
‘Yes, they might be eligible for you, but for me, they are ineligible. I think we need to relax and slow down a bit. It will happen when it happens. Stop worrying so much about all this marriage stuff. Let the relatives talk and think whatever they want. Let the neighbors cook up whatever stories they want. I don’t care. I just want to enjoy this time with you and Dad, that’s all. And I’m so happy at work. I love my job. I just don’t understand why I must get into all this stuff!’
‘Oh, okay,’ Mom sighed. ‘But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop looking. And I’ve already paid a bomb to all these matrimonial sites and the agent.’
Veena rolled her eyes and her head in a circle. ‘Here we go again!’
‘What about Sunny?’ Mom asked, tilting her head. ‘No news from him?’
‘SUNNY?!? Mom! I met Sunny a year ago. We clicked, we gelled up, and everything went well. But then that guy just suddenly disappeared. I think he was too pressured by his family to get married, and I don’t think he really wanted to get married.’
Mom listened silently.
Veena let out a long sigh. ‘You know, if everything went well….maybe we would have worked out.’
‘It’s okay, dear. We will find someone soon,’ Mom said reassuringly.
‘Oh, I’m in no hurry. Believe me!’ Veena smiled.
‘Mom… I feel marriage is not just about two individuals who are supposed to live under the same roof, have children and spend the rest of their lives trying to make ends meet and worry about their problems in life. That’s too messed up. I want to marry someone who I’m friends with. Good friends. Someone with whom I can share my feelings, be myself, and not think a million times before reacting or sharing my opinion. Someone with whom I can enjoy the small moments of life. Someone with whom I can go hiking or trekking. Someone who I can wake up in the middle of the night with if I’m sad or not getting sleep. Someone I can sit beside in silence, knowing it's okay to sit quietly and respect each other’s space. Someone who I can rely on. Someone who I know isn’t going to hurt me intentionally.’
Mom listened and said, ‘You know you have high expectations.’
‘Yes. I know I do. And I live only once; if he doesn’t exist, then I’m quite happy living the way I am.’
The following weekend, Veena had a date with another so-called eligible guy.
‘Every second weekend, you fix me up with some dude. I want to just sleep on Sundays… not go and waste my time meeting some random guy to see if he is the perfect match for me to marry,’ Veena grumbled as she kohled her big brown eyes.
‘Aren’t you going to change your top?’ Mom asked.
‘No. What’s wrong with my top?’ Veena asked.
‘It looks kind of old… don’t you think?’
‘Uff! I’m not some cow who is going to be sold in the market! And…’
‘Okay… Okay. Calm down. I know you’re nervous.’
‘I’m not nervous. I just want to be me. Be myself. Let him see how the real me is. And only then can someone decide if they would like to meet again.’
‘Well, you do have a point,’ Mom said.
Later that evening, Veena entered the house feeling drained and exhausted.
‘So…. how did it go?’ Mom asked attentively. ‘Did you like him?’
‘Why?’ Mom asked.
‘First of all, he was late. He made me wait for forty minutes. Then he didn’t even take off his mask the entire time. When the food came to the table, he took off his mask, ate, and put his mask back on. And at the end of the meeting, he paid the bill. And we left,’ Veena said.
‘Oh.. but,’ Mom said.
‘Wait…I’m not finished. About an hour later, he messaged me and said I don’t think we will be meeting again. Kindly Paytm me fifty percent of the bill. And he sent a screenshot of the bill.’
‘WOW! This is something,’ Mom laughed.
‘You’re finding this funny?!?!’
‘Well, it is kind of funny, isn’t it,’ Mom giggled. ‘So, did you pay him?’
‘Obviously! Next time it’s always going to be fifty-fifty. I’ve never been so humiliated!’
‘Oh, sweety! It’s okay. It’s all a part of finding the right guy.’
‘Mom, I’m done. I need to take a break from all this matrimonial stuff. I can’t go on and on like this,’ Veena sighed, wrapping her arms around her mother.
‘Okay. Let’s take a break,’ Mom said, stroking her darling daughter’s back. ‘But if I find someone really, really impressive, I will tell you, and I will want you to meet him.’
‘You’re never going to give up, are you?’ Veena pulled away and rolled her eyes.
Many months later, Mom continued her search to find the perfect match for her daughter. Unfortunately, there were too many rejections. Mom finally decided to give it a break before she drove her daughter completely insane.
Veena was performing exceptionally well at work and was promoted to a senior position with the same company but in Sydney. Veena grabbed the opportunity and soon started a new chapter of her life. Eventually, she settled in pretty well, blending in with the local crowd.
Towards the end of the year, around Christmas, Veena’s parents flew down to Sydney for a holiday and to meet their darling daughter. They had heard so much about her new life through video chat and had missed her tremendously. The thought of being together on Christmas gave them all that happy holiday feeling.
On Christmas, Veena laid the table for dinner. She prepared her all-time favorite, tomato soup, mashed potatoes, roast chicken, and sauteed vegetables. Her parents seated themselves at the dinner table and looked at each other confused.
‘Is there something special tonight? Why have you prepared such a lavish meal? Usually, we always eat Tandoori Chicken and drink beer,’ Dad said.
‘And why have you got the special crockery out?’ Mom asked.
‘Umm… Well… Umm... I’m expecting someone else for dinner tonight,’ Veena said slowly.
‘Who?’ Mom asked curiously.
‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’ Veena’s father asked his wife, looking a bit concerned.
‘Well …. Who is it?’
Just then, the doorbell rang.
‘I’ve got this,’ Veena hurried to the front door.
‘Who is it?’ Dad asked, sitting tight at the table.
‘It’s the delivery guy. I ordered some Christmas cake and pudding,’ Veena called out. ‘That’s something I’m still yet to learn. How to bake a good Christmas cake.’
‘But who are we expecting for dinner?’ Mom asked curiously as Veena walked back to the table.
‘Sunny. Do you guys remember Sunny?’ Veena asked.
‘Oh, the guy who disappeared,’ Mom said. ‘But what is he doing in Sydney?’
‘Well, I happened to bump into him at a cafe around the block a few months ago, and we got to talking. We exchanged phone numbers and eventually started meeting over the weekends. We just clicked again. I was new to the city, and he had already been living here for the past six months. And it’s been….’’
‘But why did he disappear?’ Dad asked curiously. ‘What if he disappears again?’
‘Well, he said he wasn’t ready to get married. He just wanted to do better for himself. His parents were forcing him to get married, and he said he just wasn’t there yet. It was either his work life or married life. And if I were him, I would have done the same thing. His parents never wanted him to leave India. If he had stayed back, he would still be in the same position with the same salary. But he took a huge jump and is doing well for himself.’
‘But then, why didn’t he say anything to you back then?’ Mom asked. ‘You can’t just disappear…’
‘Mom, it’s all in the past. He said it was tough to leave his parents and take up the job here. He had to really fight for it,’ Veena added.
‘And now?’ Mom asked.
‘Now… we are just going with the flow, taking it slow. I’m not in a hurry to get married. I think I’d rather enjoy the small moments of life rather than run against time or try to keep up with the rest of the clan.’
The doorbell rang again a few seconds later.
‘How come you never mentioned anything about this before?’ Mom asked.
‘I just wasn’t sure how you guys would take it,’ Veena replied.
Ding dong! The doorbell rang again.
There was an awkward silence in the room as everyone looked at each other. Veena held her breath, hoping for a positive response from her parents.
Her father, seated tight, looking pensive, trying to contemplate his daughter’s future.
Her mother suddenly jumped up from her chair and exclaimed, ‘Well, come on. What are we waiting for… Maybe he is her Prince Charming. I’ll get the wine, and Veena, you get the door. Come on; it’s the Christmas season. Let’s all have a wonderful time together.’