Sometimes, going away is the only way to stay close to what matters to you. That's what happened when I went to The Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi, to study for a year. Undegraduate study in India will keep you in college for three years. And me? I went to Stella Maris College, got my BA in English Literature and didn't know what to do with my life after! So, my lovely dad (retd. Col. K. Padmanabhan) goes out and buys a bunch of application forms and filles them out and sends them to universities in New Delhi. His logic? Do your masters, but not here. Stay away from us for a year or two and grow up! I was only too happy to go along with the plan. The secret in keeping the peace at home is this, let dad think it was his plan and his initiative ;). After form-filling and entrance-exam-writing and interview clearing, I was off to Delhi to study. Be a journalist. Change the world (yeah at 19, I really thought I was going to accomplish this!). So Delhi happened and Delhi was the best year of my life. It was too much fun, and my dear father was oblivious to that, because he knew that I was in Delhi, growing up and the methods of said process was really not his concern. I turned 20 in 2004 November and that was another landmark age for this whole marriage process. It was the age relatives had inappropriate things to say about soon becoming ineligible. While I was in IIMC a girl who was in the Advertising course got married. A lot of the girls who were studying with me at the time were planning post-graduation weddings. It was starting all over again, the marriage process.
My parents were alright with letting me study a little more before I started working, and being a humanities student to me meant that a lot more time could be spent on academics before hitting real-time. So, I was at the University of Madras doing my MA in English and a little theatre on the side and some studying and plenty of friend-making and fun-having. In 2005, after three years of breaking up I got back with an ex. I thought it was the relationship that was meant to be. It was supposed to be my forever after. It wasn't. Some things work out, some things don't. We said our tearful and angry goodbyes to each other. I'd started my new blog then, in memoriam of the first character I was on stage, Lizzie Borden! At the end of that academic year, I went to Singapore to visit my aunt and she planned a trip to Koh Samui, Thailand. At that time, I was 22 and more talk in Singapore about whether I have a boy or not and what my long-term plans with said boy were. Yeah, the whole thing was getting exhausting and I wanted to RUN!
It was at age 22, as mentioned before that the whole marriage process took on a new level of crazy. We were on our way to my grandmother's place and my father says, there is a proposal that's come for you. He's 30. His father was an IAS officer. They're based out of Delhi. And so on. There was an accompanying photograph. There was a lot of back and forth between my father and his. Everyone thought it would work out. I had a strange feeling about the whole process. Around that time, a few of my in-their-30s aunts were getting married and telling my mother to please leave me alone (thank god!). My father thought that my getting married early would let him live in peace and only worry about his son's education. Blah. Blah. Blah. That proposal never worked out, but that one photograph snowballed this marriage shit out the effing ceiling! My life and social appearences since the year 2006 have all been centred around one thing, when are you getting married? A girl like you should not be single for too long. You're so smart, why are you single. Blah. Blah. Blah.
More photographs. One of them was photoshopped onto an American looking backdrop! One photo was of a boy who was wearing some polyester pink shirt with straightened hair and looked into the camera like he's doing the world a favour by just being! There was another guy who's father called to say that the boy is 5 ft tall and insisted that I'd be getting the best deal out of this. At 168cms, I can safely say that someone who's 5 ft is a bit short no? There was one proposal that came of someone who was 11 years older and who was really rich and so on but he was based out of Kerala. This whole register on a matrimonal website and find a boy and show my daughter a million photos a day and pitch each of those million to her convincingly was taking a toll on my poor father. He thought he'd ever get to pay for a wedding. My mother and her two sisters, the loves of my life, were planning sarees and jewellery and themes and so on, and were telling me "just get married Chinku, we have so much dressing up to do". It was like everyone wanted a carnival and I was the main event!
Since turning 22 and integrating myself into the process of getting wedded to "the malayalee Ezhava boy of my dreams" my life hasn't been the same. It's been one matrimonial site after the other. It's been one hint after the other. It has also been one huge soap opera after another where this first proposal came back and I really thought I was going to get married in true cinematic style... but that's for later! :)