There was no letting up. It was only a matter of time the deluge started again-
“We’ve found a perfect gal for you in the US. In fact, the mother called us and pleaded that you add her in FB. All you need to say is yes!” my father conveyed the prospect beaming with smile
“If it all works, we should start planning marriage dates to give your siblings enough time to take holidays” My mother joined in the skype, of the certainty of the latest prospect.
Hold on a minute – I protested “I don’t even know who u r talking about!”
“You will – she’s the only daughter. You don’t want to lose out on this one” echoed my sister from the back.
It was the super-full moon night in August. We chatted frivolously. We exchanged numbers. We called and talked through the night – about family, career, childhood, and everything in between that may lay in the future. It seemed natural. There seemed a connection. The stars seemed to be aligning in my favor in a long time. Or so it seemed.
The next day, she sent me a note that she was going to be away and may not respond for a while. A mere three weeks into this note, I saw pictures of her engagement in FB. Rather perplexed and slightly angered, I sent her a note on why she had not told me as adults? She responded by unfriending me. Next, I took my anger onto my parents, who also seemed equally perplexed.
“Poor Mom. She had no idea her daughter had a BF in USA. She called this morning and apologized” A familiar theme of disconnect of parents from their children in the foreign land. It really was nobody’s fault. Well, except her's :)
My parents may have stopped bothering me for a while, but the calls about someone’s “amazing daughter, niece, friend, sister, colleague, and acquaintance who is a perfect fit for me” continued on. Sometimes I’d just get CVs of random girls and asked if this is the right fit. All I could say is relationship- especially meant for life has to be gauged through more than the piece of stellar paper right?
Still I talked and learned a lot. About women who wanted to travel around the world. About women who didn’t want to be tied to family. About women who wanted to climb Kilimanjaro and do all the trekking. About women who wanted to go on safaris. About women who wanted to run a big business. Or even become a singer and/or an actress. All noble dreams indeed – yet no one seemed to have given the thought of settling down. And most were only talking to me as they were coerced by their families, just like me.
“How come you haven’t done any travels?” “How come you just started working?” “You don’t have Instagram?” “Why haven’t you updated anything on FB?” “Why didn’t you go to Adele’s concert – it was there” Came their quizzical replies. It seems to me that, as we grow older, the expectations from our potential partner exceeds those of the very potential partners. We live in a world where no one wants to compromise, perhaps the reflection of spike in divorce we see more regularly among our friends and families.
“Maybe you can also check out the girls while you’re in Nepal? After all they are all educated these days and much beautiful than the ones in US!” My mom suggested a solution one day trying to make up for her failed attempt earlier in the year. Why not? I shrugged.
“Love at the time of fuel crisis” I weaved romantic notions once more when I landed in KTM. It was only a matter of time I met a doctor in electric pagoda in Thamel, a place I loathed once but a quiet sojourn amid the crisis. Sipping hot rum punch, the doctor conveyed with a smile “You see, my seniors suggest, if I marry someone like you, my career will stall. I am already giving my USMLEs, and I don’t want to wait here for years.” If for nothing, I enjoyed her candidness, and for that matter picking the tab more than in Manhattan.
Next, at the posh Le Trio in Jhamel, amid the who’s who of the bygone era sipping their lattes and cappuccinos, we ordered jhol momos which took two hours, but we were already finished with our talks. “You see, I really don’t want to go to the US. I don’t want an apartment life like yours. I don’t want to work so hard that we have to eat lunch at our desks. I don’t want to work weekends. I have a decent job in the INGO here, and I have a lot of fun, and I get to travel. I think I want to marry someone from here. I have heard enough from friends about the hardship in the US” The theme resonated on the next two set-ups, be it in trendy café in Baluwatar or the Jazzmandu in Lazimpat. Things may seem like a lost cause in Nepal, but among certain circles of Kathmandu, life is beautiful!
“No one can marry without the right lagan” My mom tried to cheer me up, on a cold November evening, wrapped in the blanket watching me pack. “Just ask Shankar. He saw at least 50 girls. And when it happened, it took a mere three days!” I stared her down, packed my suitcase, and headed back.
For the first time in years, I felt a tinge of loneliness in my apartment. We do have an apartment life here. I mostly have to eat at my desk. I haven’t traveled anywhere in years for the sake of saving my status and career. I don’t see my friends regularly. Family seem so distant.
I lied in the rug in the floor and longed for a life back home – at least the social life. My phone pinged. An email from an old friend-
“It’s been ages. How are you? Did you marry your gf?”
“No. we broke up. How about you? Are you married with kids?”
“No. we broke up a while ago.”
“Why are we emailing like this? Don’t you use g-chat?”
“No – common this is fun. I don’t have g-chat”
“I didn’t know you were single. Maybe I can flirt with you?”
“Yes sure– but do you know how to?”
“I don’t know, but I’ll try!”
“You’re so stupid- you know. I have always known that”
“Indeed – I have been very foolish. I have the wisdom to prove it”
I remained in the floor that night emailing back and forth, charging and recharging my phone- hoping, wishing, and contemplating the unknown future with my fingers crossed. And best of all, talking freely without any coercion in more than a year. It felt great.
You see friends, it has been the best of times. And the worst of times!