This is a candid no-nonsense account about candidacy (is that a word?). Candidates. Wedding candidates to be precise. A wedding candidate is often referred to as “rishta” in South-East Asian culture. A rishta, is not about boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. A rishta is about introductions, potential spouses, by friends or family. You can even present yourself with a rishta, doesn’t every girl upon meeting a man weigh up all the pros and cons and ask herself the inevitable question inside her head “Could I marry you?” Perhaps this is why women are so different to men, but they didn’t used to be. Girls used to be ladies. Boys used to be gentlemen. Incase you’re wondering, frishta pertains to ‘angel’.
I wonder if he really is wandering the jungle with a broken tom-tom; maybe I should switch on my GPS so he can find me through the tiny shard of satellite piercing his chest. I offer the gods a brief collection of accounts sourced from many of my girlfriends, beware, it ain’t pretty…
I was 11 years old and completely in love with him. We would walk around the playground holding hands. I thought we would be married, everyone thought we would be married. I wanted to grow munchkins with him in a crocus garden. I imagined the wedding. It was perfect. Everything was white, including the horse-drawn carriage, Cinderella-dress flowing in the summer’s day. Disney had given me an identity crisis. He was my best friend’s brother. His younger sister loved me more than she loved her own sister. Rumour had it, the dimple in his cheek derived from his mum smacking him in the face with the sharper end of a stiletto when he had been slightly naughty. His mum loved me though, and I already had dimples, so I was safe. I was at their house for my best friend’s birthday party, and got the doors confused leading off from the lounge, I have blotted out the memory so it is pretty vague as to how the doors could have been confused and for what purpose the doors were confused. I remember being insanely embarrassed. I now have a fear of closed doors.
I was 13 years old, he must at least have been 23 years old and he lived in Pakistan. He was my dad’s sister’s son. There was no way this marriage was going to take place. Never in a million years. And he looked like a baboon’s ass. Really. Not. Going. To. Happen.
I was 15 years old. He was 15 years old. I’d known him since I was 7 years old. He proclaimed his love for me, one day, quite randomly outside my place of work on the main road in a very traditional Asian community, my family lived and worked close-by. My brothers were a stone’s throw away, do not dishonour or disgrace me, you could end up beaten and bound and tied-up with rope and masking tape unconscious, upside down, in a skip. Muslim-Mafia. He presented me with a gold ring with a flower in a little red box. I thought people were going to think the wrong thing. I told him we were only friends and friends we would remain. Sweet, sweet boy. I think I could have saved him.
I was 16 years old. He was 25 years old. He worked in a Chemist, full time. He wasn’t a Chemist, or a Pharmacist. He wanted to go for coffee. I told him No, go away. Leave me alone. I’m too young. I worked at the Chemist part time. Every Saturday I told him No. It was like Blind Date, without the blindness. He wanted to take me on air balloon rides. I said Look, mind the age difference. He bought me a teddy bear for my birthday. He wrote me love letters. I reiterated the brutal truth, he was wasting his time. I was not going to give up my morals, especially not over a coffee. This was before coffee shops were coffee shops. He cursed the day I was born. I think I sent him into a spiral of misery. He told me I would never find happiness in the arms of the one I truly love. I think he made a voodoo doll in my honour. He left the Chemist.
I was 16 years old. He was 16 years old. He was beautiful. He knew about the dark side. He was the dark side. I was at a friend’s house. Attention was turned on to me and I lost the ability to speak. I was tongue-tied. I had never been so embarrassed, not since I was 11 years old. My face was a tomato. And then the tomato exploded. The untimely moment pulverised me into an insignificant speck on his radar. I have never again blushed to this day.
I was 17 years old. He was 17 years old. He was my best friend in the whole world, ever. We were in an empty lecture theatre, he wanted some advice. That was the pre-tense. I didn’t want to destroy our friendship. I wanted to cry through sadness as things were never to be the same. His eyes said a thousand words.
I was 18 years old. He was 18 years old, older by four months. He was my dad’s brother’s son. Sorry. Have I got Deformed Genetics stamped on to my forehead.
I was 19 years old. He was 19 years old. I was still a kid at heart, he was all smart and posh and lovely and intelligent. I refused to see him. That was a stupid idea if ever I had one. The list of stupid ideas was somewhat increasing. With hindsight.
I was 25 years old, he was 28 years old, I met him at my best friend’s wedding. Family were hopeful. He was very tall. He had a goatee. Everybody loved him. He was a secret smoker. What else was he hiding. He had horrible feet. He clipped his toenails infront of guests. That stamp on my forehead must still be visible. Must try harder to rub it off.
I was 27 years old, he was 34 years old and he had no hair through balding, not choice. Some millionaire that lived in Narnia. Open top Bentley with a private plate. Apparently. He was wearing shades, in a suit. Mmm. I thought precociously, even Danny DeVito would look sexy in shades. Clicked to next photograph. No shades. Pretty big fail. After much ado, he opted for the single life. Attended a community function some time later. He saw me, so did his sister, they fell in love with me instantly, or so I like to think, and he asked about me. Realised it was me. What an idiot.
I was 30 years old, he was 31 years old. Property tycoon in London. Up his own arse, if you ask me. How would anyone take you home to see the parents, don’t you think you should grow your hair. How about don’t you think you should pull your pants down to see what is stuck up there and then kindly retreat to the tall tree from whence you came.
I was 31 years old, he was 35 years old, fused grey and black hair. I have never even laid eyes on him. Some sort of teacher, he looked after his elderly parents, the youngest of two sons. I presume. He has worked in India for three years. His best friend told me to grow my hair. To at least shoulder length. I would like to shove her face into the turka she has bubbling on the stove.
I am not sure which universe you have been residing in for the last million years, the most fundamental fact of life seems to have escaped your attention. It’s about who we are, not what we appear to be.