AS vivacious Kriti Sanon enticed Kartik Aryan into a live-in relationship in Luka Chuppi just for the experience, it took me back to the Assam of the early 90s. Many young ULFA extremists had given up arms in response to the government’s call, giving rise to a rebel culture that didn’t scoff at such relationships. It was probably the feeling of alienation that made them form a community of their own.
Bollywood filmmakers are not known for thorough research, but I gave the director, who would have us believe that the trend now has spilled to smaller towns like Mathura, the benefit of the doubt. I would have forgotten about the movie had I not met a 24-year-old painter from Moradabad.
He came to whitewash my flat. When I told him about my Aligarh Muslim University connection, he warmed up. A few hours on, he was confident enough to show the picture of his fiancée on his mobile phone.
I looked at the young girl, head covered with a dupatta, and a face too serious, almost stiff. No way, that is a picture a girl should send to her would-be, I thought. But instead I said, ‘She is very pretty.’
‘I left it to Ammi to choose the right wife for me.’
I felt a tiny bit jealous of this mother who could have the final word in her son’s life. The feeling came for the fact that of late, after our only son left for Bengaluru for studies, my husband and I often joke whether we should adapt our tastebuds to imli-based curry instead of tomato-based gravy to ensure a comfortable old age. Just in case!
‘But you must have liked her to say yes,’ I kept up the conversation.
‘I haven’t even heard her voice,’ he said.
I was aghast. ‘She does not have a mobile?’ I couldn’t think of anything intelligent to say.
‘Maybe she does. But if I talk to her, it will be seen as a love marriage.’
I tried not to roll my eyes!
‘Would it be so terrible if love seeps into a relationship which already has parental and societal sanction?’
‘You married outside your religion and culture. How did society accept it?’ he countered.
Well, I got married in the pre-Yogi era when inter-faith, inter-cultural marriages were not labelled as love jihad, but hailed as a mode of national integration. But yes, to please both sides, I had to go through the tedious process of three weddings — anand karaz, nikah and a court marriage — to the same man!
But I didn’t have the heart to bring all such social and political complexities of a relationship to the canvas of his mind, which seemed to be as spotless as the wall he had freshly painted. I said nothing, letting him hold on to his belief that a mother would instinctively know what is best for her son.