Thursday, February 20, 2014

Affection (Micro Fiction)

“My generation is commitment phobic Auntie, just look at us! No one wants to marry.”

Simmar gave Guncha a thoughtful look, taking in her merry wise youth, tinged with that faintly fatigued resignation. Driving always relaxed her; put her in a meditative trance. She guided the car, thoughts in tandem with its smooth turns. There was no panic, she told herself, the Kathak performance they were attending was nearly an hour away and there was Olivia to pick up from the Instituto Hispania. She enjoyed engaging with her daughter’s group of diverse friends.

The Honda flowed seamlessly with the traffic until their next stop. “Tell us about Spain Olivia”, she queried of the newest entrant in the car. There was the slightest pause as the Latino leaned back, having made herself comfortable in the rear seat! “Well, it is the women who are ready to set up house and raise families in Spain but the men will not bite. It is as though they do not want to grow up. There are all these rovers, well into their middle years, chasing and winning teenage girls. They see no incentive in committing to one person for life?!”

Guncha was quick to retort, “In India, it is an institution still, in the slow process of becoming elective of course. Most people my age are questioning it big time. More and more, they will not marry just for the sake of marrying or because it is the next stage in life. ”

Marvelling at her luck in finding a vacant parking slot, Simmar eased the vehicle in and the trio was soon enough settled on the red ply chairs over Paneer Kulchas at the Auditorium canteen. “We have a half hour before the curtain rises, let’s wait here for Sonal.” For a while, silence reigned, punctuated by appreciative sounds of gastronomical delight. Simmar resumed the conversation, patting an extra Kulcha down for her daughter Sonal, “So what do today’s young expect of marriage?”

“I think the men in my country are able to meet all their needs outside of marriage. Either that or the unrealistically high expectations of marriage that appear to call for too much effort,” Olivia prised the Kulcha open to peer into the filling. Guncha sighed, turning at the sound of Sonal approaching, “There are times I think arranged marriages were so much simpler.” 

Plaintive strains of the Sarangi began to pluck and nudge from inside the hall at this pensive band.

They waited for Sonal to settle in; she wanted chocolate powder on her coffee. “Ten more minutes,” Simmar announced with that typical parental inflection. “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs,” Sonal leaned forward, warming up to the subject and the reheated Kulcha, “Mum, your parents were happy enough to pool in resources; for you and Dad, it was companionship of sorts but for us matrimony is nothing short of self-actualization. It is about self-expression, personal fulfilment, core growth.”

“There are these endless check boxes Auntie, chemistry, looks, books, music….almost as though…well, let’s put it this way….we either want it all or none at all!”

Simmar sighed, pushing back her chair. Her mind spun in sync with the dancer’s pirouettes on stage. She turned in the dark to gaze over the three young heads aligned next to her. Her heart quaked for them. She bit back the words, chewing them down the oesophagus, “Girls, chuck the actualization, where are you going to find the time for it, will you settle then for plain affection and respect!!”

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