Saturday, October 28, 2006

My version of KANK

Though Though this piece is written in first person it is based on events that took place in two different families. I write in first person to save my own skin as also because the combination of events has given rise to an entirely different story that cannot be solely attributed to either one or the other family.

“I plan to marry Pammi,” Announced my twenty five year old son Manu. “We plan to have a civil marriage next week.”

May we know who Pammi happens to be?” I asked speaking for my husband as well. “ I don’t think I’ve met her.”

“Pammi is a colleague of mine. She joined our company last week.” My son was kind enough to inform me. But this piece of enlightenment was a little too much for me to handle.

“ Don’t you think you’re rushing things.” I ventured to ask in as mild a tone as possible for fear of annoying him. “I mean you hardly know each other. Moreover, I thought you were interested in Vidya.”

“I still am but her mom does not approve of me.” Said Manu “ I want to show her that Vidya isn’t the only girl in the world. I therefore proposed to Pamela Singh, Pammi for short. Moreover you too hardly knew daddy before marriage. If your marriage worked so will ours.”

“But how can you be interested in Vidya and marry Pammi? And why doesn’t Vidya’s mom approve of you?” I was confused.

“ How does Vidya feel about it?”

Manu was beginning to get impatient.

“The problem with your generation is that you ask too many questions. If Vidya’s mom doesn’t approve of me that’s her problem not mine. As for Vidya, she does not have a problem with my marrying Pammi. She was rather nice about it. In fact the very idea was hers. Leave it mummy you won’t understand. After marriage we’ll be moving into a flat of our own. It is closer to our office. It is getting late so let me go. I can’t stand and talk to you all day. By the way I won’t be repeating all this to daddy. Pass on the information to him.”

My head started reeling. My son seemed to be speaking an alien language. In our times people had arranged marriages and the entire family including a whole lot of uncles and aunts joined together to make the function a success. Grandparents supervised the arrangements and one dared not go against their suggestions. Of course there were a few who married a person of their choice but these marriages were not well received.

Later there came a time when children chose their partners and parents got them married, grudgingly or otherwise. Unlike love marriages of the previous generation these were calculated ventures where the head ruled over the heart. I could not categorize my son’s marriage to a girl whom he hardly knew. If it was not arranged by either set of parents, it was also not a marriage that could be called love marriage. My son wanted to settle scores with his girl friend’s mother and the girl was also game to it. I wondered how my son’s fiancĂ©e felt about it. I was kind of sure that she would back out on hearing about Vidya’s interest in Manu. I decided to talk to her.

“Oh yes aunty.” Pammi seemed to be quite at ease on being told about Vidya. “ I know about Vidya and Manish. He also knows about Peter and me.”

“Peter!” I could take no more of it “ Now who is this Peter?”

“ My ex husband” replied the girl “ We’re divorced now”

I tried to be patient.
“Listen child, I have no problem with your divorce.” I said in as sweet a voice as I could manage. “ But don’t you think that both of you are rushing things. Where is the need to marry within a week?”

“ Manish may have forgotten to tell you but let me clarify.” She said. “ Vidya is marrying Diwakar in a fortnight. We want to marry before that.”

“I presume Diwakar has been properly briefed and hopefully plans to attend your wedding along with Vidya.” I was glad to be able to understand the mindset of the next generation. Better late than never!

“I’m glad you get the point. Now if you don’t mind I have to leave for a meeting. Bye! See you at our wedding.” The girl waved a hasty goodbye and sped off in her car.

I went home and conveyed the information to my parents in law. They were somehow able to take the news in their stride.

“ We hear of children living together before marriage,” said my mother in law “ Manu at least plans to marry the girl. All we can do is to put on a brave front and wish them well.”
‘Very practical.’ I thought ‘ Will it work?’ I wondered.

To be frank it didn’t.

The problem was not the usual mother in law/daughter in law struggle to prove their monopoly or adjustment hurdles in a joint family. In fact Pammi got on rather well not only with us but also with a host of relatives including my parents in law. She’d take my father in law to the doctor and drop my mother in law at the temple and they were all praise for her. She visited us regularly and was warm and affectionate. In fact I regretted my earlier error in judgment. Two years had gone by and their marriage seemed to work well enough or so I thought.
One fine day Pammi walked out of our lives very much the way she walked in! Again it was Manu who broke the news.

“ Pammi has left for Mumbai” he announced, “ We are applying for a divorce.”

“But why?” I asked, “You both seemed so happy. What went wrong?”

“Nothing went wrong mummy,” explained my son. “It’s only that we are both very busy and have no time for each other. Though in the same office we hardly meet. Our schedule is erratic and weekends hectic. Rather than live as strangers in the same house we decided to part ways. She’s getting a transfer with promotion and I decided to let go. No ill feelings at all.”

Suddenly the telephone rang and I picked it up. It was Pammi calling from Mumbai.
“Sorry aunty I had to join immediately. So I could not say goodbye in person. Could you please ask Manish to arrange for a nurse to attend to my mother? She is not keeping well and I don’t want her to stay alone. Also ask him to call on her whenever possible. I am rather worried.”

Manu took the phone from me.

“ Hi Pammi! Settling down in Bombay?” he did not sound upset in the least. “ Don’t worry about your mom. I’ll be visiting her as often as possible and as for the nurse I’ve spoken to an agent and he’ll arrange for one. I’ll let you know in a day or two. Take care and be in touch.”

I stood by his side staring into his face with a Zombie like expression.

‘What went wrong?’ I wondered aloud.

“Nothing went wrong,” said my husband who had been listening to our conversation from his room, “ its time we retired gracefully from our duties as parents and let our children lead their lives. They’re under immense pressure and are better off without our interference. They have problems but are equipped to handle them. Have you not heard of Vanaprasthashram mentioned in our scriptures? It is now time to let go.”

And of course he was right!

31 comments:

Srijith Unni said...

I too dont know what to say, whether a quick marriage or a divorce would be so easy for me..! Practically speaking it wouldn`t! I totally seem to believe a lot in the older style.

However, what your husband said, does make sense too.. I`m a bit confused now..

Shall get back to this later, Hip Grandma.. Do remind me..!

With Best Regards,
Srijith.

Hip Grandma said...

srijith:This is a true story where the son made marriage a joke.But luckily such cases are still rare.

starry nights said...

I was totally confused . really dont know what to say, but then I am from another generation.maynot quite understand this situation. I think Marriage has to be taken seriously, not just walking in and out of peoples lives.

The Mango said...

This should have sounded completely ok if it was a 'live in' relationship and was not called 'marriage'. When one is married to 'work', the need for other relationships don't feel important. But then people do come around and find some meaningful relationship eventually, unless they let themselves wallow in an existential morass for ever! I think the society will move toward an open marriage, whatever 'marriage' means. Not interfering in personal choices is the best thing parents could do to keep their sanity. I think the parent children relationship should be dynamic and never taken for granted. I seem to be able to accept this intellectually, but emotionally - not yet but may be soon.

The Inquisitive Akka said...

I belong to "this" generation, anaalum talai suthardu!

V N said...

Karan Johar better take a few lessons in film making from you!

:D

Mosilager said...

I was laughing my head off when I read it... but doesn't seem as funny when I know it's a true story. A little scary, that.

Alapana said...

I belong to the same generation,its five months of my marriage but all along,everyday i tell myself that i am getting attached to everything post marriage,the house,the life,hubby and is it not supposed to be like this? or am also branded as old fasioned? which generation do i belong to then?
But somehow i am not scared or dont feel sad about the situation,things change,world changes,technology changes,so does humans,until and unless it hurts someone let them live the way they want.Donno,i am just not able to convince myself about it,i will leave it for later just like Srijith.

Abha said...

What happened to "...in sickness & in health, in good times & bad, till death do us part..." ??? May be I am old fashioned too, but unless the spouse is physically or emotionallly abusive, the above holds pretty good as per me. there will always be differences but the trick is to work out the differnences, try to accept the other person for who they are and learn to live with them by appreciating there positives. afterall, Nobody is perfect :-)
It will be very sad if even in India people would start making a mockery of Marriage as in the story or apply for divorces on smallest pretexts.

indianangel said...

very nice! im not sure if I can comment anything on this! but i think parents play a vital role in shaping the way children think - atleast until they are out of adoloscence, after that anyway they wont listen to us :)

Hip Grandma said...

Hi all,
I will soon respond individually.Tho' not a vey rosy picture this is happening even in India.I am glad that you all sbscribe to the old fashioned idea of commitment in marriage.The story from which this piece is drawn is abt 12 years old.Those who have adolescent children should try to impress upon them the nee for commitment.Th'written lightly the trend is discouraging and I am afraid Karan Johar & co. are not a good influence.I wrote this 2 years back.

Balaji said...

Well I belong to this generation and I don't subscribe to Manu's thoughts and I don't feel sorry about the same.

If this is what someone feels about commitment, why go through the hassle of getting married at all???

Suji said...

Sad state of affairs.

Vin said...

New generation is impatient ... too fast.. look at short term happieness... their philospohy is who knows if I will live tomm, so let me enjoy today. Good in a way and bad in another way.
But this is what it is ....

itchingtowrite said...

post on retirement and then vanprasthan!! sad and scary people can let go so easliy and give up so quickly- it will not work!! they can work out every problem exept for the ones that matter!

artnavy said...

Sad but i think to each his own.
It takes guts to say quits when needed and move on, of course after investing so much in a relationship I assume they would have tried and thought it through

upali's mom shld be a grandma again shortly- wish her luck from me

Usha said...

Marriage is fast becoming an experiment and not so mucha commitement as it used to be until recently. The good thing is that all the partie involved seem to be accepting these changes without much fuss. I am inclined to believe that marriage and family might soon become redundant as people seem to be switching in and out of relationships and shying from long term commitments.

Inder said...

hilarious!
the concept of living-together is for people of this attitude. that would save them a lot of time and effort. and it is better than making a crude joke of marriage...

Life Lover said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Life Lover said...

I don't know about others in my generation but strongly feel that the bond of marriage is sacred and permanent. It cannot be broken off or tied together by convenience or sudden impulsive decisions. Also, I just cannot understand how someone can get into a marriage just to prove something to a third person. Isn't marriage supposed to be for the happiness of oneself and one's closest ie. parents?

Rajitha said...

Quite an Intriguing post!!
Sad but true, the antiquated set of beliefs that have been instilled in us as children are surely diminishing in today’s times and movies like KANK aren't helping I suppose :) Marriage is always what you make of it.

mizfit said...

*gasp* what is my generation coming to? marrying and divorcing in a hurry...and for what reasons?
unfortunately, i've seen many of such cases happen with close friends and relatives and i'm unable to laugh off the uneasiness...

Has to be me said...

I m too old fashioned to accept these sort of issues when it comes to my life....as for other ppl's life....better not 2 say anything...cos its their life afterall!

Tanilan said...

I came across you blog by way of Words on Water. I read this entry and I already want to hug you. I love your blog and will be back to read more.

Hip Grandma said...

hi all,
i see a few new comers have posted their comments.Thanx.I'm having some problem with my computer.It seems to protest for being neglected for nearly 5 months.I'll soon post an entry in continuation of this one.It warms my heart to see so many 'old fashioned' young men and women.Thanx once more.

Archana Bahuguna said...

Well I found that funny :-). But really, you know what scares me the most? What kind of stuff will we hear when we have children grown up to that age? I think in that case it would be better if we have only robots living and no human beings. :-(

Mahadevan said...

There is attrition in the BPO industry. It seems, the attrition is being carried home, to marital relations too.

What appeals to me is that even after separation, one cares for the needs of the other. They are able to sort out the problems they have recognized. But there are a number of problems which remain unrecognized.

hillgrandmom said...

totally confusing is all I can say! As quite a few people have mentioned, it should have been living together rather than marrying! To some extent I feel that with such attitudes about relationships, living together is better, because one day, even such young people will find someone they would like to marry(with all the attendant commitments).

Saumya said...

This sure sounds like a movie we would dismiss as impractical :))

passerby55 said...

Vanaprasthashram .... true Preeta!

though, not in this version , every home, today seems to be moving to make vanaprasthashram a reality.

But i observe, what lights up and brings life back to her and his face (my mom and dad aswellas, my inlaws) is when i chat about their grandchidren to them.

They find that part so difficult to keep away from. Discuss their grandkids with them they feel loved again. Vanaprasth ashram begins thinking about them, playing and smiling with your grandkids.

Hope you are doing well, ANd must have adjusted to your home, in India.

Anonymous said...

Hi

I dont think this is a problem with "my generation".. every generation takes its lessons from the previous.. their parents.. they vow never to repeat the mistakes their parents made and that skews decisions.. if the parents are open about their mistakes and are realistic about their past lives.. the kids too turn out to be sensible.. if the mum says.." I always followed your dad.. and I have always been happy.." - the kid is not going to understand, relate or respect.. a balanced image of marriage is never given to the kids.. also there is huge pressure from parents to make the marriage "work" from day one.. come on.. marriage - like any other process is an evolution.. it is about two people growing together.. it is not easy.. in any generation.. instead of judging generations.. just let them be.. we will find our own way around and so will our children and grand children.. what was is not the only right way and what will be is not definitely going to be wrong.. it is just the normal human reaction to change..