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     Volume 4 Issue 32 | February 4, 2005 |

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It is that
of the Year


This is the season to get married, that is, if one had been optimistic enough to have booked a community centre or needen pokkhe an open park last season.

Lots of people are uttering the kalema, swapping saffron garlands and tying the wedlock (lock as in fix in place, fasten and security device) after watching each other informally, then formally, then getting consent of the parents by receiving a ring, then going through paan and chini, and spoiling a beautician's half-day labour in holud ceremony.

We have just received a message from SMS, the Society of Married Spouses. They are asking 'why?'

There is this story of a man who rushed into his house to inform his wife of three years that he has invited his friend over for dinner. The wife was aghast in disbelief.

'Have you seen the house? The bua is not back after Eid. The children need to be given a bath. I need to do my hair. The clothes need washing. The washing needs ironing. I am yet to start a report my boss wants in first thing tomorrow morning. There is nothing in the fridge…' She was interrupted.

'That is precisely why I invited him. The poor fool wants to get married', said the husband.

In many occasions these days, a couple would select each other if the mutual family environments permit. If not, the boy and the girl may pretend to be strangers, and orchestrate their affair as an arranged marriage.

Then there are marriages where the couple have actually never met before. How exciting and perilous too!

You may have witnessed happy, chawley, unhappy and broken types in both kinds, in the union of the known and the unknowns. For ages it has remained enigmatic which is better. In truth neither is. Both are equally good or bad, depending on when you had your last fight.

'In a happy marriage it is the wife who provides the climate, the husband the landscape', so said Maltese-born British writer and novelist Gerald Brenan.

Canadian novelist and critic Robertson Davies said, 'As a general rule, people marry most happily with their own kind. The trouble lies in the fact that people usually marry at an age when they do not really know what their own kind is'.

Often in trying to reach that optimum age people wait. Then they discover they cannot decide on a suitable partner. Within a few years they are paid back in their own coin and no one finds them suitable.

Some people also wait because they are scared of marriage after seeing so many disasters and bruised bodies and ego. They perhaps believe in American writer, journalist, and humourist Helen Rowland, who defined husband as 'what is left of the lover after the nerve has been extracted'. Cruel thought that.

The French are famous lovers, so we hear, and we know why because of the French writer Honoré de Balzac, who explains, 'It is easier to be a lover than a husband, for the same reason that it is more difficult to show a ready wit all day long than to produce an occasional bon mot'.

Nowadays, setting up a marriage ceremony is relatively simple, if one has the means. Marquee, food, décor, flowers, band and service if one is willing to see his bank account deplete. The most difficult and financially unobtainable task is invitation.

Making a guest list is arduous. The list of the bride's brother, who wants to invite even someone he befriended at the shopping centre three days back, is usually longer than that of the father, which is understandable because both know who is paying.

More knotty is to pre-empt who will come and who will not, and for how many the arrangements should cater to.

It is not uncommon to see dyags of unspent cooked food being loaded on to vehicles for taking home or sent to the new beyaee bari. Worse still is the sight of people waiting with wet hand and a pretentious wry smile as the murgee is given the jabai. No one is to blame. The task is tricky and has always been a mathematical wonder.

In these days of traffic mayhem, inviting everyone in person is impossible. But that is what is still expected and inability not easily forgiven, hardly every forgotten. Improvisation, such as a note accompanying the couriered card seeking forgiveness for not going in person despite the best (ha! ha!) of intentions, is to some extent practised and acceptable.

You will be lucky not to find home the people you have gone to invite. That saves time and is easy on the tummy. The skill is to find out when they are not home.

So appreciate the next time you come home and find a card, or if someone invites you by mail, or if you find arrangements are not in complete order. Just pray for the newly weds, seen or unseen.

In conclusion allow me to quote American writer, comedian, and pianist Phyllis Diller as a piece of advice to all people wed, 'Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.'

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2005