I Tell Ma How It Went
Ma called within five minutes of my reaching home.
“You’ve reached home, ma?” she asked.
“Just reached, mom,” I said.
“How did it go, Miki? Did you like him?”
“No, Ma, I did not like him.”
“But why not?”
“Isn’t it enough that I didn’t? I didn’t. Not at all. He was rude and obnoxious and boring.”
“Stop bothering me, mom, okay?”
“I’m sorry, ma,” she said quietly.
“That was mean,” Mandakini protested.
“Ma, listen, I didn’t like him at all. He says he wants someone who can take care of the house, and all that nonsense. He didn’t listen to what I was saying, he was going on about himself…”
“Are you sure you’re not expecting too much, Miki?” Ma asked.
“You don’t find perfect men in the real world, my love. Don’t keep your expectations so high that no one can match up to them. Don’t expect to meet one of the heroes of the books you read.”
“I can’t believe this!” fumed Miki. “She makes me meet this rude, boorish guy and then she tells me my expectations are too high!”
“Come on, Ma,” I said aloud – and less irascibly. “It’s not that…”
Ma interrupted me, speaking fast as if she wanted to get it out. “Are you sure this has nothing to do with Raghav, ma?”
“What?” I cried. “What do you mean?”
“Raghav and you have been close for a long time…”
“Ma, Raghav’s engaged. He’s getting married soon.”
“I know, my love. But you… he is your best friend, isn’t he?”
“What, now she suspects I’m in love with Raghav?” exclaimed Miki.
“You can’t deny she has some cause,” said Mandakini.
“Ma, I’m not in love with Raghav, okay? I’ve never been. It’s not that at all. But Raghav is loads better than this Kaushik, and I’m sure there are other nice guys out there. I’m not going to settle for a jerk.”
“But Miki, are you sure you’re not being hasty? You’ve only met him once…”
“That was more than enough, Ma. What’s your hurry with getting me married off, anyway? I’m only 24, it’s not like I’m getting old…”
“I had Damini by the time I was your age, Miki.” Unlike me, my sister had no qualms about being known by her given name.
“That was a different time! It doesn’t mean I have to do the same.”
“And it wasn’t like she was happy,” whispered Miki.
“I get so worried about you, Miki. You live all alone, so far away…”
“I’m perfectly fine, Ma,” I said gently. “I like living alone. I enjoy my independence. You wouldn’t want me to marry someone I don’t like and be unhappy, would you?”
“Of course not, but…”
“Please, Ma, stop worrying. And you promised you wouldn’t ask me to do this again if this attempt didn’t go well…”
“I know, Miki, but…”
“What’s the matter, Ma? Don’t you trust me to decide for myself?” My throat hurt as I said that.
“Miki, you have always been smart enough to make your own decisions, and I’ve never forced you into anything…”
“And I’ve never made a serious mistake yet, have I?” I asked.
“No, ma. You’re right, I trust you. I won’t mention this again.”
“Just… just tell me if you change your mind, won’t you?”
“I won’t change my mind!” said Miki furiously.
But aloud, I merely said, “Of course I will.”