It is one of those pleasant evenings and you are sitting with your parents and you are teetering on the downslope of the shelf life of single bliss (girls plus 21 and boys plus 28) and your mother will say, beta….writes Bikram Vohra

Strong family ties can cut anxiety in kids...
Strong family ties can cut anxiety in kids…

The moment you hear the word beta (son) said in that special emotional fashion you know there goes the evening, you are in for another round of ‘we are not getting younger anymore and why are you not doing the right thing, not that we want to force you.’

Mum will then co-opt Dad and say he doesn’t show it but he worries a lot and you know he is retiring soon and who knows what the future holds, see even the Rao’s daughter has settled down.

The Rao’s daughter settling down is a sort of pre-flood high water mark in the marital stakes, like what’s left but catastrophe, even she…

As you are drenched in liquid blackmail remember that settling down is a major goal of Indian parents even it reminds you of that sludgy black gooey residue in the test tube in chemistry labs when you were in school. Why marriage and settling down are synonymous is a mystery since wedlock is the darwaaza to complete chaotic upheaval, but that’s the way it is.

Since no child can turn to their parents and say, hey you are in the pink of health and you are not likely to kick the bucket any time soon so can we just freeze the thought, I am perfectly happy living by myself, finally a white flag is waved in abject surrender and the band begins to play and Mum and Dad are in fine fettle as you watch your independence shrink in the wash and you cross the great Indian frontier of marriage.

Then there is another evening and you are sitting with your parents and your mother will say, beta…
Now what, I have settled down, what’s the new deal. And she will say, sab theek hain na?
Well, it’s not as if the heavens are ringing to the resonance of celestial cymbals but as marriages go this one is tootling along.

And Mum will say, we have only one wish (parents always have only one wish in a warehouse full of them) and that is to see our grandchild before we go.

You cannot say, go where, because you know exactly what they mean and again Dad is co-opted and his ageing process nicked into the conversation and Mum will underscore how he would love to dangle a grandchild on his knee, who knows how much time we have left (said with obligatory sigh) and you are not getting any younger yourself.
Settle down, did you say…



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