Friday, March 12, 2010

The hues of marriage

Scene 1

Scene: A high school playground.


Sethu(+2 student)
Geethu( his classmate)

(A song from the movie ‘The sound of music’ is heard from somewhere)
You are sixteen going on seventeen

You need someone older and wiser
Telling you what to do

Sethu: Wow! What a beautiful song! Don’t you agree, Geethu?

Geethu: It is a beautiful song with meaningful lines. But I know why a naughty boy like you likes it!

Sethu: Be a sport, Geethu! I thought you are a modern girl with a broad mind!

Geethu: Of course, I am! But that does not prevent me from suspecting a tinge of male superiority in those lines!

Sethu: But, Geethu, without gender bias, someone older can really guide you, can’t they?

Geethu: I have my serious doubts about it, Sethu! Do the elders always guide you rightly?

Sethu: Can you be a little more specific?

Geethu: Well, in matters of marriage of their children are their actions and motives in anyway praiseworthy? In our still continuing system of ‘arranged marriages’, do you think the elders are behaving with creditable honour?

Sethu: That is rather a big accusation, I should say. You must elaborate your thoughts to validate your statement!

Geethu: Yes, I shall do it showing you some real scenes in life. First we shall visit the green lawn of a posh bungalow where a small family is having tea.


Scene: The garden lawn of a bungalow.


Srinath(an industrialist)
Parvathi( his wife)
Varun( their son)

Varun: Ma, why have you pulled us out of the A/C billiards room for tea on the lawn?

Srinath: (winking) She must be having an important agenda, my dear son!

Parvathi: (grinning) Yes, I do! How well you know me, dear!

Srinath: 30 years of proximity has made me wiser, shall we say?

Parvathi: At last you admit I have made you wiser!

Srinath: (laughs) Yes, I admit I was an idiot in the first place to have married you!

Parvathi: (angrily) How dare you say such things to me!

Varun: Dad, what a pleasure it gives you to ruffle mom’s feathers!

Parvathi: (still angry) Is that not his favourite pastime?

Srinath: (enjoying himself) A favourite pastime which shall soon become a fulltime pastime when I soon retire from business putting Varun in my seat. It is time he took over my responsibilities of running our industry.

Parvathi: (groans) Oh! My good heavens! What a hell awaits me!

Varun: Enough of your banters and battles! Now, come on, ma, tell us why you called for this meeting.

Parvathi: My darling son, you are 28 now and my friends say you are the most handsome, eligible bachelor around, coveted by all the parents with girls of marriageable age.

Varun: Oh!( groans in mock boredom)

Srinath: (to Parvathi) And you have shortlisted the top best bidders, am I right?

Parvathi: Of course, you are right, my dear. Varun is the apple of my eye.

Srinath: Have you spotted a suitable plum for the apple of your eye?

Parvathi: That is what we are here to discuss about! The basket is full with inviting fruits of all variety! How are we going to pick the right one?

Srinath: (grinning wickedly) Not by biting samples of them?

Parvathi: Will you never be serious?(she demands). Here I am standing in awe at the Himalayan importance of a Herculean task. And instead of being of some real assistance to me you are at your clownish pranks!

Srinath: Chastised and subdued stand I now at your service madame!(bows in mock politeness).

Varun: What an incorrigible pair! Ma, shall I go? I think I have no more patience or interest.

Parvathi: Sorry, my dear Varun. I won’t detain you longer than necessary. Let me see what proposals we have so far. My friend Padma’s daughter Neela is good…

Varun: ( shocked) Not that short pumpkin with a loud mouth! I shudder to think of marrying her!

Parvathi: Alright! Alright! Let us leave her out. You do deserve someone chic and slender to match your splendid personality. about Mala? She is tall, fair and soft-spoken..

Srinath: (hastily interrupts) But her father is a small businessman who is too poor to sponsor a Swiss honeymoon for the couple!

Parvathi: (reluctantly) I too am sadly aware of it. We have to eliminate her also!

Srinath: Keep out all the beggarly families. Our son deserves the best!

Parvathi: Do I not want the best for our darling son? (she glares at him)

Srinath: Calm down, sweetie! I know you are aware of our status and our son’s bright career ahead. He with his native talents and foreign degree has the potential to rise to the top ten list of bigshots of our country.

Parvathi: Yes, with the right connections we shall find for him he shall certainly achieve it.

Srinath: Your friend Susheela’s husband is a cabinet minister’s secretary, isn’t he? They have a dark, little princess, don’t they?

Parvathi: (exclaims gleefully)Wow! I too was thinking about her, dear!

(The gardener enters the scene)

The gardener: Mam, will you please have a look at the new petunias you wanted me to plant in front of the portico?

Parvathi: Yes, I will, right now. Hope you have not bungled my idea! I want our prestigious visitors to be rightly impressed!

(Parvathi leaves with the gardener)

Varun: Dad, it is true my marriage should help hoist me high launching my flight to fast success and eminence. But, dad, the chance of being saddled with some stupid, ugly thing in the process makes me quite scared and uneasy.

Srinath: ( with a guffaw) That shouldn’t be a problem at all, my son. In which eventuality any number of belles are available for you to relax with. ( he winks).

Varun: ( screams in mock shock) Dad!

(They raise their right hands to clap in boisterous glee and walk away).

Scene 3

Scene: The same high school playground again.



Geethu: What have you to say about that scene?

Sethu: I am green with envy at Varun’s luck. What a great mom and dad to guide him! I am beginning to get interested in marriage! What an opportunity to enhance one’s position! Geethu, is your father a millionaire? I shall overlook your shortcomings!

Geethu: Can you never be serious, you scoundrel?

Sethu: I am seriously curious to know what future has in store for me!

Geethu: Right now, a good spanking from me for letting your imagination run away with you!

Sethu: Calm down, Geethu! I agree it is a sickening scene. But it is a harsh reality, is it not?

Geethu: Do you want to have another dose of harsh reality?

Sethu: More shocks in store?

Geethu: Yes! Now let us peep into a formal meeting of the prospective couple in the girl’s house.

Scene 4

Scene: Hema’s house


Hema( a young lady waiting to be married)
Ganesh( Hema’s father)
Malliga( Hema’s mother)
Vimal( the young man seeking Hema’s hand in marriage)
Krishnan(Vimal’s father)
Kavitha(Vimal’s mother)
Kavya(Vimal’s sister)

(The empty coffee cups are being taken away)

Krishnan: Mr.Ganesh, I suppose the broker has told you all the necessary details about my son and our family. The horoscopes match perfectly. As soon as we saw your daughter’s photo we were very impressed. She looks more beautiful in person.

Ganesh: I am very glad to hear it.

Krishnan: If you are also satisfied, shall we proceed further and discuss the terms?

Ganesh: Yes, Mr.Krishnan. I am eager to clinch the alliance.

Krishnan: You know, my son’s office is a bit far away from our house. The motorbike he has for commuting is of no use on rainy days. He needs a car for convenient travel.

Kavitha: We have already told you about the gold jewels and silver ware. Let me make it clear right now – after marriage Hema shall give her five digit salary whole to us. You see, we hope to see our daughter Kavya married off well…mm ..I need not tell you, I suppose, brass vessels have given way to modern Teflon-coated, enamel and fancy cookware. Electric rice cooker and a microwave oven will definitely make life easy.

Krishnan: My father-in-law presented a diamond ring to me. I want the tradition to continue in my son’s case also. And lastly, let the marriage function be conducted grandly in the eyes of our friends and relatives.

(They leave after talking for some more time).

Malliga: (sadly) Do you think this will materialize?

Ganesh: (also sadly) We must try our best to make it possible.

Hema: (angrily) Are you both mad? What sort of business deal is this? Paying heavily to sell me off? It is nauseating!

Malliga: Hema, please calm down. It is such a good alliance. You will be happy in future.

Ganesh: Hema, the young man’s job shows promise and security. You shall want nothing.

Hema: (rages) Are you both crazy? How can I be happy in the midst of such greedy, selfish people? How can I enjoy the comforts seeing you both up to the neck in debt? Dad will be retired soon with no pension. If you scrape away all your hard-earned money and property how will you survive? And you are denied a share of my salary- how hard-hearted and unfair a demand! In this age of awareness about gender equality, are the duties of sons and daughters not equal?

Malliga: What you say sounds nice to hear. But, be practical, Hema. It is our duty to see you well-settled.

Ganesh: Yes, Hema. What your mother says is true. Our needs are simple. We never were keen on comforts. We are used to living sparingly. So, please do not worry about us. We can manage very well.

Hema: (shouts) No! Never! I will not consent to marry into this family on these terms leaving my dear parents to suffer in abject poverty in their old age. Nothing could be more atrocious! I am not a heartless being! Or a thoughtless woman!

Malliga: But marriage is a very important event in your life. You must not avoid it.

Hema: I will, if it comes wrapped in such a treacherous package of unreasonable demands!

Scene 5

Scene: The high school playground again



Sethu: How shocking! I cannot believe my own eyes and ears!

Geethu: This is what has been going on for years. I second Hema’s decision.

Sethu: Yes, I too admire her strong will and sane thinking. Even though the selfless love of Hema’s parents and their desire to stick to their choice of a gentleman of clean habits make their stand tenable Hema’s righteous anger and her arguments arising from it thrash them out.

Geethu: Yes, be it out of love or without love, it is sad to note that many parents while seeking alliance for their daughters are preferring marriage of convenience to marriage of compatibility.

Sethu: What makes you think so?

Geethu: How else will you account for the pompous parade of wastrels, drunkards, womanizers, cheats, old, ailing widowers and even impotent men in the bridegroom’s garb marching ahead to marry innocent, young girls making their lives wretched?

Sethu: How horrible! You mean to say the parents turn a blind eye to such stark facts? But why should they?

Geethu: Oh! They have any number of deceptively valid reasons in support of their act. Some people are ignorant, some helpless, some arrogant. They attach undue importance to outdated, irrelevant traditions and values blindly hoping everything will turn out well eventually. It is the girl’s duty to ‘adjust’, to be patient and conceal all shame and suffering.

Sethu: To marry off a daughter at any cost sounds cruel and even criminal!

Geethu: Your eyes have opened now! Do you see what is happening around you?

Sethu: My God! Will the scenario change?

Geethu: It is already changing!

Sethu: Really? That is good news indeed!

Geethu: Now, get ready for a scene of marriage preparations!

Scene 6

Scene: Kamala’s house


Kamala(a housewife)
Sasi( kamala’s friend)
Priya( Sasi’s daughter)
Radha(Sasi’s friend)
Sanjana(Radha’s daughter)

Kamala: Oh! Dear Sasi! Where have you been so long?

Sasi: I knew you would have been puzzled by my long absence!

Kamala: Sure I was. Please tell me who these nice ladies are.

Sasi: Meet my Delhi friends, Kamala. This is Radha.

Kamala: Hello.

Radha: Hello.

Sasi: This is Radha’s daughter, Sanjana.

Sanjana: Hi, aunty!

Kamala: Hi, my child!

Priya: Aunty, we had a wonderful time touring over our southern parts showing our friends all the nice tourist spots.

Kamala: So, that explains why you couldn’t come to see our wedding purchases.

Sasi: Yes, you are right. How many sovereigns did you finally manage to buy?

Kamala: Oh! I managed 20 sovereigns- just enough for the chain and bangles.

Sasi: What about the wedding sari?

Kamala: I’ve bought a very beautiful red brocaded sari for ten thousand rupees and a simple blue silk sari for two thousand rupees.

Sasi: Did you get the new gas connection?

Radha: What? A new gas connection?

Kamala: Yes. What a bore it would be for the bride to sweat day long in the kitchen cooking in a kerosene stove!

Sanjana: Of course, a gas stove is far better.

Sasi: What else have you collected thoughtfully?

Kamala: A table, and two chairs and a sofa are the bare minimum furniture to set up a family.
would have surely thought of!

Kamala: Yes, a three-in-one and a colour TV for the basic comforts of relaxation.

Sanjana: There is not a single household which does not have these items.

Radha: What about a vehicle?

Kamala: Sure. There’s the latest model motorbike.

Priya: Aunty, have you forgotten fridge and washing machine?

Kamala: No, I haven’t, dear. After marriage the couple shall select together those two items. An amount has been set aside for them.

Sanjana: My God! You must have strained a lot to collect all these things!

Kamala: Oh no! These are all very essential for comfortable living these days. As soon as the job was secured savings started and with perfect planning everything was easily acquired.

Sanjana: But, aunty, it is still uncomfortable to bear the load. Do the groom’s people nowadays insist on these household items instead of dowry?

Kamala: Groom’s people? We are the groom’s people!

Radha and Sanjana (in chorus): What? You are the bridegroom’s mother?

Radha: From the list you gave we thought it was your daughter who was getting married!

Sanjana: 20 sovereigns! New gas connection!

Radha: Saris for twelve thousand rupees!

Sanjana: Latest model motorbike!

Priya: Fridge and washing machine!

Sasi: You won’t be so surprised if you had known well my friend Kamala and her family.

Kamala: You see, I love to adorn my daughter-in-law with golden chain, bangles and brocaded sari. She is a happy new addition to my family. And I want to welcome her in a fitting manner. If I get a new gas connection for my son’s new home in the distant city where he works the young couple will have more time to be happy together.

Radha: But all these articles you listed are usually extorted from the bride’s parents!

Sanjana: That has been the custom here for ages.

Kamala: My son, you know, is a proud man. As soon as he got a job and started earning he stopped being dependent on his father. Spending his own money for his needs he also started saving for his future. If he thinks it a crime to ask his own father to spend for his needs, how can he consent to extort these things from his bride’s father?

Sanjana: Wow! Simply great!

Kamala: Haven’t you watched the birds? The parent birds feed and tend the nestlings only till their feathers grow, only till they are strong enough to fly and find their own food.

Radha: But you are a very generous mother-in-law!

Sanjana: So considerate about the happiness of your daughter-in-law!

Kamala: Why, a daughter-in-law is also a daughter in fact. I am proud of being the mother of a son with self-respect who thinks it his duty to make his better half happy. I brought him up that way.

Radha: You are a great model for all mothers to follow.

Sanjana: If such a awareness is created mothers of girl children need not sorrow any more.

Radha: Female infanticides will become a thing of the past!

Priya: Don’t you all think marriage of a daughter should be a really happy event for her parents?

Sasi: It sure will be if the groom’s parents follow Kamala’s example.

Radha: I am very glad to have met such a great trend-setter. Thank you, Sasi for giving us this wonderful opportunity.

Scene 7

Scene: The high school playground again.



Sethu: Wow! That was excellent, Geethu! I see all hope is not lost! It feels good to see such charming families emerging out of the blackness of past indiscretions.

Geethu: Do you still envy Varun or admire Vimal?

Sethu: My goodness! No! I shall very much like to follow Kamala aunty’s son.

Geethu: That’s good. Now you talk sense.

Sethu: Our generation will definitely change the present hues of marriage putting an end to woes of Hemas!

Geethu: Let us hope so!

Sethu: (grins) Geethu, now I think I do not mind your father not being a millionaire.

Geethu: Are you sure you won’t change your mind when you are old enough to propose?

Sethu: Don’t know! Depends on how lucky you are to get a guy like me!

Geethu: I reserve the right to reject, dude!

Sethu: You forget the world is full of belles for the asking!

Geethu: And gems like Kamala aunty’s son to choose from!

Sethu: Geethu, pat come your replies! Must we always be on such a war mode?
Geethu: Yes, so long as you behave like a matador waving the red cloth before me, the bull.

Sethu: My God! An entire lifetime spent in the arena! What a horrid prospect! Geethu, how keen you are to draw blood!

Geethu: I shall rather fight to death than be subdued by brute power!

Sethu: Ah! Do I witness the rise of a new breed of brave women?

Geethu: Yes, you do!

Sethu: Then it is time to bring the curtain down on the unsightly hues of marriage!

Sasi: There must be some other items you

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