My apologies to Kim Kadarshian’s behind, but if anything’s going to break the internet, it’s the clamor of newly broken-up Malayalee Catholic men at the doors of ChavaraMatrimonial.com.
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Men do stupid things after a break up. The more serious the discontinued relationship, the stupider the things men do to get over it. Some hit the gym, some hit the bottle, and others hit the ridiculously over-qualified, better-looking guy (it’s always a guy; never a man) who prompted the break up, but it cannot come as a surprise to anybody that what we’re really hoping to hit is some strange.
Not me though. Not this time, anyway. Merely minutes after the most serious relationship I had ever been in had been severed, I proceeded to do the stupidest thing of them all: I scored myself an eighth of primo hash, stepped into my pyjamas and set about trying to figure out what had really gone wrong with us. Forty eight hours of soul-searching and a severe bout of Tinder-thumb later, I called my mother. “Ma,” I told her, “I’m ready, now. Do what you have to do.”
She was understandably ecstatic. My parents had been chipping away diligently at their little project for over half a year now, and she could reasonably consider this turn of events her victory. It had started on the eve of my latest birthday, in the guise of a rare phone call from my father. “Mone,” he started in his gravest voice, “you’re practically a man now. You may not realize it right away but soon your body will start making…demands… of you.”
A little tipsy, I stopped him cold. “Papa,” I said, “I’m not even prepared to start thinking about getting married.” In time-honoured Malayalee tradition, I had always kept my personal life separate from the familial. “And I’m thirty bloody years old tomorrow,” I added, “I’m perfectly capable of meeting my body’s demands.” Credit where it’s due: he gave up almost immediately, albeit after mumbling something about the perils of living in sin. So far, so Catholic.
Little did I know at the time that he was only laying the groundwork for what can only be described as the world’s most ruthlessly subliminal propaganda. You see, long before advertising went digital, before some privileged Harvard business grad came up with the term, Malayalee mothers had been trading and cashing in on that uniquely middle class phenomenon we have all come to know and accommodate as FOMO. Over the next few months, I became the unwitting recipient of a flurry of phone and email correspondences from my mother, all of which attested to one central truth: The longer you leave it, the slimmer the pickings.
I only had to log into Facebook once a week to see that she had a point: people I knew from school and college, guys who couldn’t get laid on a week night in Oshiwara, were getting married left, right and center to significantly younger and attractive women. Mom was right! The good girls were all getting taken! Still, I had already found my girl. I may not have been ready for marriage, but I was getting there. We were getting there.
Feel free to scoff, but I didn’t just figure out what had gone wrong with our relationship in that hazy two-day spell after our break up; I figured out what goes wrong with all committed relationships after a while: the men lose their Game.
I couldn’t remember the last time I had flirted with my ex; I didn’t know a single woman who didn’t think of me as somebody’s boyfriend rather than as a typically full-blooded, perverted, depraved specimen of the male species. It’s all that information — I used to schedule outstation professional commitments to coincide with her period, to plug in the straightening iron exactly ten minutes into her shower so it would be ready when she stepped out — men are simply not programmed to operate in full capacity at such intense degrees of familiarity. Of course the women get bored.
Not an hour had passed since my panic-stricken capitulation to my mother before her emails started coming in. Photograph after photograph of good-looking, educated, presumably God-fearing Malayalee Catholic girls of, blessedly, only the choicest of shapes and sizes. Moan all you want about the Shylockian entitlement of the male gaze, but nobody checks out a girl like a MOFO. That’s Mother Of Forlorn Offspring, for those who don’t know. Unbeknownst to me, my parents had set up an account on my behalf on ChavaraMatrimonial.com — the leading Malayalee Catholic match-making site — months ago, and had been collecting phone numbers and IM handles like it was 2002. Curiosity and libido suitably piqued, I asked them for the log-in details to my account.
HAVE YOU GUYS BEEN ON THAT THING? My apologies to Kim Kadarshian’s behind, but if anything’s going to break the internet, it’s the clamor of newly broken-up Malayalee Catholic men at the doors of that particular portal to Permanence. Seriously, that site is more customizable than the Internet of Things. That site is Sodom and Gomorrah, and 2003-era Mandira Bedi, all rolled into one. You can filter results by age, profession, income, hell even geographical location.
Do you realize what that means in the context of an arranged marriage? It means I can just up and move to Denmark one fine day because NRI Malayalee Catholic parents of nubile young women all over the world would ideally like their daughters to marry a true-blue Malayalee Catholic boy. That’s the equivalent of one of those Club Mahindra holiday packages with both breakfast and sex thrown in, except you get paid to partake.
My mother, venerable tactician that she is, turned out to be not much of a closer though. Like mother, like son, etc. She gave me too many choices, showed her hand too early. You don’t stop at the first watering hole on a pub crawl and go, “right, let’s just settle down here, lads.” Besides, I figure I have some fight left in me yet, even if I have to handicap both my thumbs before I get sparring. But if things don’t start looking up in a couple of years from now — romantic stylez — at least I’ve already downloaded the app.
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Tharun James Jimani is a writer, wanderer, and recovering Malayalee. His first novel, Cough Syrup Surrealism, was published in 2013 by Fingerprint!, New Delhi. He lives and blogs at http://renaissancehippy.blogspot.com. Find him on Twitter at @icyhighs.