“I shall not take NO for an answer,” with hands folded around the arms, my seventy-year-old girlfriend stood in front of me. Her feet firmly set on the ground; she had made it a point to block my pathway without giving me any chance to cut her talks or vanish into thin air.
“What’s the big deal, Grammy?” Clearly upset with her verdict, I searched for opportunities to avoid the subject before she came up with another file.
Oh! By the way, ‘file’ didn’t mean some sort of paperwork. For a bachelor, a ‘file’ is a synonym for a marriage proposal. Moreover, of late, my seventy-year-old grandma had resorted to becoming a marriage bureau.
The woman who has been surprisingly surviving on one kidney for close to two-and-half decades had made it a point to coax me, cajole me and if necessary, reprimand me to get her wishes fulfilled.
‘Why am I being treated as a suspect? I am not even planning to steal a few cookies from your jar, right now.” I said.
“Ssshhhh.” She gestured me to place my index finger on my lips and asked me not to move from the couch.
Ours was a simple home. Grammy, along with Grandpa, left their ancestral home in a remote village of Goa and shifted to the concrete jungle of Paris, in a bid to earn few bucks. Grandpa lived his life king sized and died the same way. He left his adorable wife, a fortune in exchange for her kidney.
She waited as I settled down uneasily on the couch. Every second of silence seemed to be an aeon for me.
I hesitated and spoke again. “I am not ready for this, Grammy.”
“Are you gay?” Her question struck me like a thunderbolt out of the blue. She continued, “No. In case you are interested in men then do let me know. I am sure the society of today is more understanding than the one during our days. Also, the men of today’s generation prefer men with muscles over women with…”
Her chuckles and gestures made my face go red with embarrassment.
“It’s nothing like that.” I quipped without letting the intensity of my voice drop low. “Marriage is an institution meant for few. And all I know is that I don’t belong to the few.”
It took her a few moments to digest my words and decided to call quits but not before firing another salvo from her linguistic arsenal. “Marriage is not just an institution of copulation. One does not marry for the sake of it. Marriage fills that void inside us and gives us a sense of completeness.”
“Whatever, Grammy.” I said, “Marriage is not my cup of tea. It’s just not meant for me.”
“And who are you to decide that?” She stood in her trademark posture of hands on hips and demanded an answer for me.
You can never do anything when she stands in that manner. Consider that as her signature move. She may intimidate her opposition and compel them to lay their arsenal. No. Not me. Not this time, I thought.
“The Indian Constitution.” I quipped.
“Section xxx of our constitution allows an adult to decide about his/her marriage once he/she has reached an age of 21 or more.”
“Sweetie, you sure you’re alright?” She asked as she placed her palm on my forehead.
“Oh! C’mon Grammy!” I felt irritated, “why would I be unwell? I am hale and hearty…”
“… Like a bottle of Bacardi!” she jested.
“Stop joking. What makes you think so?”
“What’s xxx? A random number or a code word for…?”
She could make anybody go pink with embarrassment. At times, I wondered whether she was my grandma or an adult behaving excitedly like a teenager. On another day, I would have laughed out my guts at their one-liners. Not at the moment. Because I was the roast and she was the host. I took a step forward to leave.
“So do I take your answer affirmative?” She blocked my way.
“Sorry, sonny boy. It’s either my way or the highway.”