Finding a suitable matrimonial match remains a challenge in our society. A popular topic of debate among people, irrespective of their vintage and status in our country, is love vis-a-vis arranged marriage. An arranged one is a gamble and the other one a calculated gamble. I am a victim of a gamble, if I may confess, a 'so-far-so-good' gamble. I presume the same holds true for my wife, if her body language has anything to go by!
My father had a strong conviction regarding marriages 'within the clan'. As a bachelor, this constraint was always at the back of my mind. Therefore, an odd fling was shortlived because of my forthright confession at the start of any perceived relationship. Being an ardent fan of the old man, I imbibed a similar mindset.
The kids grew up in a cosmopolitan society of the army, thereby inculcating a pan-Indian outlook. Notwithstanding, I, but not so much my better half, faced the uphill task of scouting around towards the onerous task of finding the right match for our offspring. Sensing my seriousness, children allowed me to proceed ahead with the task at hand.
During one of our light-hearted family gup-shup, I obtained their feedback on their prospective life partners. The son wanted someone like his mother a good home-maker, firm, steadfast on value systems and a lady with huge reserves of emotional quotient. All these were intangibles with no barometer to gauge in my pursuit towards an arranged marriage, but undeterred by the challenge, and having succeeded in my own gamble, I hoped the dice would again go favourably for my ambitious brat.
The daughter, on the other hand, was embarrassingly forthright, "Papa, I wish to marry a fauji... someone like you who is firmly committed to obedience of orders!" I never knew I carried this inherent army trait back home. I felt sheepish with another intangible to confront. Well, the search started in right earnest, though my wife, a conventional lady with a modern outlook, would often brainwash me to instil a balanced approach of a gamble vs a calculated one.
I spread the word around my friends and relatives amidst microscopic scanning of matrimonial columns of dailies. Meetings with presumably eligible matches were utter disasters, since my questionnaire conforming to the wish list of children were impossible to digest by both the interviewees and their parents. Meanwhile, the youngsters were growing up into well-rounded and independent citizens.
Failing miserably in my pursuit and prompted by my better half, I requested them to suggest in case they had someone in mind. They promised to, but on one condition: "Papa, please refrain from asking your elaborate questionnaire!"
Well, the children are married, having opted for a calculated gamble. Preliminary indications do suggest both my kids' in-laws conforming to the traits desired of them. My father's myth, too, was upheld, though by default, and with a pan-Indian flavour. The menu of our traditionally Punjabi family kitchen now has additions of a fresh 'bill of fare' in the form of 'bal mithai', 'jhoi/jholi' and 'roshogolla/machhe bhate bangali'.