A tall man stood above the white Armitage Shanks sink and stared at his reflection. His knuckles turned white as his grip on the edge tightened. He breathed deeply, hoping to avoid the impending anxiety attack. After splashing some cold water on his face, he returned back into the living room and waited for her to enter with the tea. He’d have only a moment to decide, and wouldn’t see her again until the wedding day. His heartbeat quickened as the curtains parted. She shot him the first glance of their meeting and, in that instant they both held their breath.
Such scenes were common back in the day of our grandparents and in some cases even our parents. However, that time has long passed. Owing to the constantly evolving world of technological communication combined with increasingly economical airfare, we are quite literally at each others fingertips. Yet with options in abundance, we still find numerous aging ‘youngsters’ single and searching. Parents are at a loss, wondering why their beta still hasn’t met the right person for them especially when they have so many friends of the opposite sex. I’m sure some parents have sat with their offspring with hopes of identifying the problem, and have gone as far as inquiring; ‘Puta, are you the gay? If so, we have a nice Sindhi family vith the gay child and they are the Bhaiband also.’
Some parents will argue that the youth of today are better off with the old-fashioned arranged marriage approach; in which one gets married to pretty much a stranger and spends years getting to know them. By the time they realize they aren’t compatible, ten years and have passed and its too late to get out. But what was once considered taboo and detrimental to the ‘family name’ and reputation, divorce is now a viable option and continues to be so, as the number of broken marriages and engagements within the Sindhi community grows exponentially.
Hollowed has become the vow, ‘For better or for worse, till death do us part’ and its permanence has been replaced by ‘Its over, I’m out of here…thank God I signed a pre-nup!’ But to be fair, in numerous cases getting a divorce can be the only sane option. Many individuals have gotten involved with the ‘wrong’ sort from the Nino Brown wannabes who, under the radar, peddle drugs and porn, to the Ike Turner clones that feel beating their women makes them more of a man. For the unfortunate souls trapped in such a marriages, one can only hope that they get out sooner rather than later, and that they realize that it’s never too late.
Still, this doesn’t explain why it seems harder than ever to find that suitable match. Why is it that the number of women who are over thirty and single seem to be constantly rising? Why are men who are creeping towards forty, with a whisky gut and a lifetime supply of Rogaine still insisting on holding out?
The ladies can partly blame the old school mentality that a younger woman is easier to ‘mold’, indicating why men and their mothers aim for recent graduates. This in turn immediately excludes the older women that feel their ‘expiry date’ looming. But if you take a step back, you can at least understand (if not agree with) the philosophy especially when you replace the word ‘mold’ with ‘compromise’. The general conception is that the younger an individual, the more willing he/she is to compromise, regardless of their sex. This implies that the older people get the more set in their ways they become therefore making compatibility that much harder.
It is in that term, compromise or rather the lack thereof, where the problem facing the single generation of today lies. In today’s drive through culture, people seem to have developed high standards combined with a lower level of tolerance. Add to that the unrealistic expectations derived from both Hollywood and Bollywood’s depiction of love and romance, and its no surprise how many people are still single and searching! The sad truth is having expectations of a ‘plug & play’ mate only hinders and eventually harms one’s self. Quality people are few and far in between and to find one that you click with is almost like winning a lottery. There is no such thing as a readymade ‘perfect’ partner. Like everything else, time and practice makes perfect, and two individuals need to understand, compromise, and work together to attain unity. Sadly it seems this piece of knowledge has slipped through the cracks of time and evolution.
What makes it worse is that the actual level of quality in people continues to diminish as terms such as ‘morals’ and ‘values’ are almost punch lines. For instance there are females out there that feel it is acceptable for their spouse or fiancé to take a trip to Bangkok and enjoy a ‘special’ massage and I do mean ‘SPECIAL!’ If such is the trend then it is only a matter of time before ‘A Quality person’ will be nothing more than a then a myth. Ok perhaps not that extreme but you get the drift.
So what’s the solution? How does a single 24 year old female prevent herself from turning into a 32 year old woman who repeats, ‘if only I knew then what I know now?’ How does a 28 year old male who is reaching the peak of his youth prevent from turning into a fat, bald 40 year old whose closest companion is his remote control?
The answer is in two parts. Firstly, REALISATION! Realise that a good, quality person is hard to find. Realise that as time goes by, it will only get harder. Realise the number of people you have pursuing you will die down once you’ve passed your peak. Realise that it’s not about the cool guy who has all the connections in the clubs, gets a table and rides in a Beamer or a Benz. Realise it’s not about the ‘video chick’ with the highlights and spanking body who turns heads wherever she goes. Realise it’s about the person who hopes they turn your head! It’s about the person who thinks about you in every decision they make. It’s about the person who respects you and your relationship when they are with you and more so when you aren’t around. The first step is to REALISE what you have in a world that continues to diminish in value, and make a conscious effort to appreciate in a society where it’s only natural to take for granted.
Secondly, COMPROMISE. Most married couples will argue that the first six months to two years are the hardest of a marriage. Throw in some in-laws and you can multiply the intensity of the problems. It’s important to rid oneself of the glorified notions of marriage attained from the silver screen and have a realistic approach. This is not to say that a marriage cannot be beautiful and romantic but like any relationship, it requires work, support, and nurturance. It requires being considerate and thinking about the other person before yourself. Both individuals are on the same side, working towards the same shared goals. It’s the same philosophy as striving for perfection. It’s not about being right and being one up on your partner. Marriage is about being happy together. It’s about compromising, swallowing your pride, surrendering your ego and focus on the person you are in love with.
The truth is that if you aren’t aware of it today, eventually you’ll discover the importance of realization and compromise. The only difference is the sooner the tube light switches on, the better. Look beyond the slick haired guy at the table ordering his ‘Mohit & Chandan’ champagne or past the video chick in her Louis Vuitton thong and you may just see someone special looking at you who would accept you just the way you are.
Now, who is looking at me?
Born in Africa, Chandru grew up between Nigeria, India and the UK. With a Masters in International Business from the University of Westminster, he moved to New York where he worked as a Business Development Manager for three years. In 2002, he returned to Nigeria where he currently resides and runs a trading company. Chandru has been writing for Beyond Sindh (www.beyondsindh.com) since 2004 and has published numerous articles in the quarterly publication. His story entitled ‘The Love Letter’ won the Mirage Book short story contest and was published in an anthology titled Inner Voices in January 2009. His short story ‘Zero’ is scheduled to be published in the anthology Indian Voices towards the end of 2010.
In December 2009, Chandru’s first novel, ‘The Journey of Om’ was published in India by Cedar Books.