It’s always the same… it’s never the same

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People are always often categorised by the books they read/carry. In this I-am-a-more-intelligent-person-and-this-book-proves-it world, Marrying Anita gave me a lot of grief. I’ve had to come with many a answer… especially to those who, despite its obvious title, would ask ‘What is it about?’

I don’t judge people on the books they read (except maybe those who read Chetan Bhagat) because books do many things for me, and only one is, perhaps, an overall improvement-like goal. Most of the other after-effects of reading are frivolous and fun. The same author or a single book doesn’t always do all of it.. everyone reads some light and some serious … really… get over yourselves. But that apart.

Reading this book in any and all my breaks got a few raised brows and some even tried distracting me, “it’s chick-lit,” they said. So what, I fired back. What’s wrong with chick-lit — it’s light reading and always has a happy ending. (I hate the word chick-lit, so goddamn feminist). But this book cannot be categorised so… it resonates far too much and there is no ‘feel-good’ factor that one tends to associated with light, frothy writing.

The book is very obviously about the author and her trials to get married — it doesn’t matter whether she goes the ‘love’ way or the ‘arranged’. I say trials because that’s exactly what they are. Under the guise of educating women and creating a modern society, a girl/woman can’t be caught dead admitting she wants a husband. What’s so unmodern about romance, really?

As I read the book, and its glibness fell away, I remembered one evening at GK II restaurant-cum-bar, talking (or rather listening) to this financial journalist who was also working on a book, about her man woes. She went through a few vodkas for company and went home, leaving me wondering. I distinctly remember thinking (not without a certain amount of smugness) I won’t (don’t or certainly, can’t) be like her. I was 27 then and she must have been 32 or 33.

Today, three years later, am not so smug anymore, reading her book, made me realise that even three years ago, I knew how close I was to becoming her five years later.

With men who are completely ‘honest’ when they say all they want sex without the trappings and women pretend, for some time, that they don’t mind this arrangement. It, of course, never lasts. And the men move on, the women move to newer men, determined to, this time, be ‘cooler’.

At odds with parents and the clan who think it’s your duty to everything possible to net a man. Gods are working overtime with old aunties who have made it their life’s ambition to get this thirty-something ‘girl’ married and introduces them to “37-year-old-boys”. Help!

Reading books like these makes you feel as though you have gotten a peek into the future and it all looks the same. Who creates all these ideals? Perhaps the happy-endinged books I mentioned earlier? Most friends who would be perceived as settled, constantly look for reasons to reaffirm their commitment, knowingly or unknowingly and certainly, kids nothwithstanding.

Then the single ones in your bracket, who are meeting men on the arranged marriage circuit (???) but pretend a studious indifference to the whole process. And when they find their match, avoid answering questions that could lead to them questioning their very choice. But hey, it’s your choice so at least there’s nobody else to blame. Or so I hope.

By the end of book, I was melancholic, sad and wishing I could meet Anita just once more. I am sure the conversations, over vodka, would be very different this time.

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