There comes a time in every bachelor’s life when a face in the crowd pops the million dollar question – ‘so when’s your turn’? Until now, the dignified reply has been to scratch my beard and respond with the cricket score. When there isn't any cricket being played, the discussion is deftly steered toward when Sachin Tendulkar should call it a day. And if he retires, all talk will revolve around his retirement and the question will die a natural death, albeit for a little while.
It's a moment that takes a leaf out of Saint Paulo Coelho’s evergreen quotable quotes – except, in cases like these, the universe conspires to help you get what they think you want. Until that point, your days are lived in relative obscurity, with all cares in the world relegated to how to feign illness next Monday, where to get wasted on Friday and how to look busy in the intervening days. And just like that fateful day, many moons ago, when you lost your innocence with a bunch of magazines that were handed to you, growing up is thrust upon your unsuspecting shoulders.
The bolt from the blue occurs when your friend casually tells you he is getting married. Somewhere in all the inseparability that only close friendships can afford, he has managed to allow someone to capture his heart. Though you don’t show it, your feet sink into the ground, wondering who will join you in your life changing quest to kill time. If only you were more vigilant and had stopped to reconsider that you probably couldn't spend the remainder of your days coasting through the streets trying out new eateries with your buddies in tow, this moment won’t arrive in the garb of a 1000 watt shock.
Here’s a brief analogy of how the marriage bug runs its course. In any party, people mill around spewing cheap talk at each other as the food is laid out. Everyone’s mind is on the food, their eyes stealing glances at the appetizers while pretending that the conversation is more appetizing. Then one weary soul tires of all the silicone coated conversation and heads to the dinner table. Suddenly, it’s acceptable to eat. Marriage follows the similar pattern. Someone gets hitched and suddenly, everyone around you starts falling like nine pins. Your inbox is flooded with marriage invites and the first thing you see when you open your facebook page is a marriage album of a classmate grinning from ear to ear. Not to forget, the modern trend of wedding photography where people suddenly decide to jump into a swimming pool in their carefully chosen wedding attire to re-affirm their love for each other and garner 500 (at last count) likes for it.
You tense up when you tell your parents about the impending nuptials of a friend for they somehow manage to steer every conversation, even those on bad traffic and mutual funds, toward marriage. At first, the folks seem genuinely happy for your friends. By the time they are informed about the fourth wedding you have been invited for in the last 5 months, the seeming joy dissipates into concern and frowns. Every visitor takes pleasure in your unmarried status and their uncomfortable questions seem to make them more comfortable.
The days of rambunctiousness are quickly dwindling as you find yourself in a sea of invites, fiancés, wives and discussions on in-laws. Buddies are quickly fading away into a haze of wedding bells, chants, mehendi ceremonies and cocktail parties. Very soon, you will be a minority, and in momentary lapses of reason, you will seek inspiration from the movies where finding love occurs so seamlessly. You will look at the pretty girl in the railway station and pray that she will be seated across you in the journey and that happily ever after will begin as soon as the train journey ends. You see a girl sitting in a coffee shop and just when you are about to send a message through the waiter, she gets up and leaves.
So unite o minions of the single clan, don’t flinch at advice, astrology charts, photos of prospective brides or the taunts of uncle, aunty and their irritating son whose marriage was fixed because his bride saw his salary slip first. And when you choose to cross over to the other side, remember to look back and realize what you have just accomplished.
You just found the answer to the million dollar question. You’re a rich man.