The Matrimonial Saga

On a Sunday afternoon, when the sun parched the land, I and Perumal sat under the swirling fan blades that made an unbearable hissing sound.

Perumal tilted the wine bottle in all possible angles and remarked that the wine was adulterated. On my third Beer, I wasn't in a mood to mind him.

"Monk, it is just sugar syrup bottled up" he said.

He couldn't take anything without a complaint. Perumal was a Teetotaler. He was considering drinking, upon his failure in forging a matrimonial alliance.

Mani was roasting fishes on the induction stove. The stove had the remnants of the curries and fries cooked on it since it was bought. Mani emerged out of kitchen, caressing the hairs on his chest, as if to douse the rising passion.

Mani, Perumal and I were into social work. We roamed around the city, its adjoining villages holding dear to our hearts, the hope for change. When we were not out of office, we stared at the laptop. Around 6 we went away to our respective dens. We ate and drank away the Sundays

Mani had achieved reasonable success in finding a woman through the XXX matrimony, which rendered online services for men and women wanting to get hitched. Mani suggested Perumal to register on the same website.

"Peru, you can get the contacts of 110 women for 4000 INR" Mani announced. Perumal immediately registered using my laptop.

Perumal realised that he had to pick and communicate to one contact every day. To pick one contact, he had to carefully go through 10 profiles. From then, Perumal sincerely browsed through the daily matches; expressed interests; messaged asking for horoscope.  He picked contacts, called and communicated his earnest desire to marry. He did this with utmost sincerity and rigour.

"Monk, I lose focus hunting these daily matches," said Perumal under the Rain tree outside our office.

He was blown away in the initial stages of his seeking, like anyone, seeing the damsels in his 'daily matches'. He jumped with joy and used the following adjectives to describe the various women: Super, mind-blowing, charming, delightful.

Nothing worked. Those who expressed interest never responded. Those who responded, did so only to decline Perumal's interest.

On the next Sunday, Mani and Perumal reworked the strategy. Mani advised Perumal to give bulk interests, so that he can reach out too many women.

Perumal felt that interest should be send only to women he liked. Mani suggested Perumal to compose a common message and send it to 200 women on the XXX platform. Perumal composed the following message: "I am Perumal from Vellore. I have worked hard and borne life's hardships, of many kinds, to reach this position. Now, I seek a companion to walk with me through the rest of my life. I am interested to marry you. If interested, please contact me at 9362421536". Perumal forwarded this to 200 profiles not even looking at the photographs.

As a month passed, Perumal grew restless as he could make no success. He ended up conversing, over the phone, with women; their fathers; mothers; sisters; friends; brothers; and even grandmothers.

Once, in a conversation with a mother of a daughter, on learning that Perumal belonged to a different caste, she exclaimed,

"We see cassette very seriously,"

It took the flummoxed Perumal a few moments before he could understand that she was referring to caste.

"These buggers neither know English nor Tamil. All mediocre middle-class rascals" Perumal fumed, after closing the call.

Perumal found that some 'Men' were showing up on his daily matches, and when Perumal took up the issue with the customer care executives of the XXX matrimony, asking them, whether they facilitated Gay marriages too, he was told that the Matrimony cannot do much about it, but he was free to follow up with the profile and encourage to deregister or pursue a Gay marriage with them.

Among the few interests Perumal received, one came from a 27-year-old lady named Vaidehi Iyer, whose profile announced that she was a doctor in Paris. Gleeful Perumal accepted her interest and the very next day  received a message asking his bank account details to be send to so that the bulk wealth of 15 Million USD of a Syrian war Victim could be transferred to Perumal.

Perumal also raised this issue with the XXX customer care asking them, "Is this the quality of your profile verification?". XXX compensated Perumal by offering him 2 more profile contacts.

After all hither and thither, Perumal saw himself staring at the end of his 'Premium' membership. He was left with, around 30 contacts to explore in just two days.

"Monk, do you want to see some girls for you? I don't think I could finish my contacts. I am exhausted "

"Peru, I just got a hard slap for presenting a love proposal. Women do not delight me anymore", I said in dismay.

Perumal motivated me by sending some contact numbers and pics, he said, "Ask your Mother to talk, you don't talk"

The XXX guys motivated Perumal to become a 'lifetime' member on their site by paying just 10,000 per year. They also informed that they have caste-wise matrimonial websites, which could increase the probability of finding a partner.

"Peru, this is a heartless business...How can one be a life time member on a Matrimony website? Isn't that contradicting the purpose itself?"

"Those guys are just puppets. They do what is told to them. They are driven by algorithms. They too have a stomach to fill and for that they do what they are told. Leave it, Monk"

Perumal continued to live his life immersed in his principles; he fetched water from the municipal corporation taps; drove his bike at 10 kph on the fourth gear; and, laughed innocently at life.

Johnny English was with us as we clicked our glasses on one of the gloomy evenings. Johnny was a young man of twenty-five, with the energy and passion that youthfulness was home to. He roamed around with the air of a hero.

Perumal felt that the 30 profile contacts should not go waste and narrated the entire Saga to him.

"Johnny, do you want to check out some for you"

Johnny was excited. The idea of daily matches seemed to stimulate him. But he lost interest when he knew that he had only 6 hours to pick up the contacts, and the option of daily matches will not exist after the expiry of the account.

"I believe in direct approach. I want to meet girls and set them up. Also, I loathe the word 'cassette'" explained Johnny, not wanting to pick up contacts.

"Johnny, When I was your age, I too roamed around, like you, folding my sleeves roaming like a lion" said Perumal, looking at the tattered ceiling.

After Johnny left, Alex entered. Alex was another member of the Hunter Gang, and occasionally lit up our Sunday communions. He invariably involved himself in making Egg scramble for the communion lunch. He was an expert in the egg scrambling process.

Sometimes Alex came with his three-year-old daughter Sarah. Sarah was a cute little bundle of joy, but also a keen observer. She kept a close watch on her father and reported all his misdemanours to her mother.

"Your approach is wrong. You can't marry by just click and flick Perumal. It is about building relationships and following up with sincerity" said Alex, disapprovingly.

"Alex, yours is a love marriage. you can't feel my pain. There is no dearth of approaches. I have tried multiple approaches." sneered Perumal.

"Love marriage is not that easy. One in ten proposals gain acceptance. The conversion ratio of acceptance to marriage is also low. Do you know the difficulties that I faced in marrying? Once again, I say it Perumal, it is about building a relationship. It should start at the personal level. Think of the girls you have known in your life –from your village; school; universities. There is some level of 'knowing each other' and you have to build upon this"

Perumal sat in solemn silence listening to Alex and left home after sometime.
Nothing much happened. Tomorrow repeated today in somber monotony. The frequency of the Sunday communion came down as Mani's marriage was fixed. He helped me clear all the bottles rolling up and down the house. We packed them off in bags and took it to a scrap dealer in Ariyankuppam. Forty-seven bottles fetched 25 ₹.

One morning, Mani gave me 1000 ₹ to buy any drink of my choice. That evening, Mani and I boarded the train to Bangalore, as Mani was getting married in Coorg.

On the night before Mani's marriage, I sat with Mani's friends and brothers drinking RC Gold sinking into coldness. Mani's friends were sculptors, businessmen and government employees. They shared their life's stories and I shared mine. In drunken stupor, I realised, I liked, more than the silence of the valleys, the restlessness of the waves.

I was in an acute mental and financial crisis at that time. I couldn't gift Mani anything; instead borrowed 500 ₹ from Mani and left wishing him well.  After a back-breaking journey of 18 hours I reached Pondicherry. Mani came back after a week and kicked me out of the house. I found space for myself in dingy lodge full of bachelors, sharing a room each. I found one for me and squeezed myself into it. The disintegration of the Hunter Club was full and complete with my separation from Mani.

Perumal’s seeking on the XXX matrimony continued. One man was looking for a well-settled life partner who is suitable to their daughter. One girl dressed in yellow metal wanted a groom with an income between 10 lakh and one crore. Sneha, a profile from Coimbatore, said that her expectations were simple, just an air conditioned own-house, a car and nothing else.

Perumal was dismayed, chasing phantom profiles on the XXX matrimony. Perumal had caught on to what Alex had said and started exploring personal contacts. This is when Perumal realised that there are sane women on this Earth. Unlike those profiles who sat on Perumal's interest, neither accepting or declining, here the response was fast. Perumal took everything in his stride and moved on.

On a Sunday morning, when I was hanging over, Perumal knocked at my door. "Monk, I do not know how it happened, but it happened. My marriage is fixed. It will happen in Odisha". I remembered that Perumal had the reputation of studying in four universities for three degrees; one was in Odisha. I understood the sketch and did not enquire further.

Madhumita Sahoo, Perumal's fiancée, taught Hindi at a local school near Jajpur. The wedding was to happen in their native village near Jajpur.

I reached the village near Jajpur, when the evening Sun lit the dusty streets in a faint orange glow. Perumal called me saying that he was busy in wedding preparations, but everything was well arranged for me.

The wedding procession progressed towards the bride's home. Women and men danced to songs like 'eskool ke piche pipal ke neeche Tera Intazaaar…'.  Women dancers were carefully separated from drunken men by a group of sober men. The boot of a car served as the mobile bar. Men took breaks to refill themselves and reinforce the inebriation.

Inside the Pandal, around 3 am, Perumal sat chanting the Mantras that the panda murmured in his ears. The marriage was solemnized around 4 am.

I met Perumal before leaving.

"Monk, do you need anything"

"No, it was great Perumal. There is Rum in my tum and the food was good. How do you feel?"

Perumal stared at the floor in deep silence. I knew what was coming.

"Why should life be such a struggle, Monk? Why are we still fighting for food and mate, spending all our time and Energy on that. Then, what is the use of this modern society? When will this society begin honouring human endeavour to rise beyond eating and mating? The stress on external superficialities nauseate me.

I have poured over pages of wisdom, pondered over the nature of life, developed a humane vision for my existence and I follow that. There was not a soul to honour me, but to insult, came many," Perumal poured down his agony.

"I do not have such nuanced sensitivities like you Perumal. I live a life like a dog of the street. Anyone can stone me and I just howl and groan in pain. When they come with food, I lick their feet"

"Anyways, Peru are you not coming back?" 

"No, not to the land, where majority, are mediocre; and do not have an iota of sensibility. I will teach here at a local school and will make efforts to establish a center for well being where men and women can focus on life’s purpose rather than wasting energies in trivialities. That's it for this life "

I held Perumal's hands fondly. I wished him all the best and took leave. I walked back to my room thinking of the next day's journey to the land, to which I belonged, and the land which Perumal had forsaken.
The Matrimonial Saga The Matrimonial Saga Reviewed by Naveen on 22:42 Rating: 5


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