Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Grim Fairy Tale; (with a happy ending)

There lives a princess in a land far far away. She is the apple of her family’s eye. Her entire family loves her a lot and are ready to go to any distance for her happiness. They fulfil her every wish and demand, and no matter how outrageous they sound, they are always fulfilled. She is a hit with the extended family and with the kids too. The kids flock to her, listen to her and follow her like puppies following their mother.

Once she reached marriageable age, her parents and family began the mission of their lifetime; finding a suitable match. Now, being the princess that she is, the top-most priority of her family was to find a match who is completely compatible with her and of her approval. No compromises on this ground. Hence began the most important assignment in the life of her parents. The family and acquaintances were notified and pretty soon 'bio-data' of prospects starting checking in. And these came in no small numbers. No sir, I kid you not. They were falling in by the dozens. The first level of screening was by the parents. If the prospect was able to clear this check-point, it was presented before the princess. Many of them, who passed the first level, were rejected with a mere flick of an eye-brow; some were so unlucky that they didn’t even get the flick of the eye-brow. They directly traversed from the parents’ hand to the dust-bin; and this just from the look on the princess’s face. Whoever was able to survive the parents’ screening and the princess’s approval, were called in for a meeting. Hence, many a Sundays were spent in this dreaded meeting, and no one dreaded it more than the princess’s brother. He disliked them because he had to be on his best behaviour, and secondly, because he would have to shave his stubble and also take a bath, and as usual I see that I have strayed from the story. So, where was I; yes; many a Sundays were spent is these meetings; sometimes more than one per Sunday. Most of them were not able to endure this arduous and distressing encounter. A handful of them did make it through, but then, at the next level they threw in the towel.

Finally, one prince did eventually make it through. He passed the parents approval, the approval nod of the princess and also managed to manage through the laborious and back-breaking assessments and also managed to get the princess’s consent for marriage. In this way, a match was found and the search was called off. The princess and the prince were engaged in a magnificent ceremony, befitting only a princess, with the whole kingdom witnessing it. Now began the second phase of the mission of a lifetime for the parents; planning and executing the marriage ceremony. This is no small feat. Yes, yes, I see you nodding you head in approval. The wedding ceremony was a full three months away. The princess was happy, her parents were happy and her brother was happy too (since he could now return to his ritual of bathing only 6 days a week).

During the early days, the prince fulfilled every wish and demand of the princess (after all, she is a princess people) as if fulfilling her every wish was the sole purpose of his life. This reassured the parents more, since this is the time when second thoughts do manage to creep in. Witnessing the happiness of the princess, these second thoughts were whacked as hard as Dhoni whacks the leather. Thus, they began the ground work for the marriage ceremony. Their plan was to take the bravura to a whole new level. They visited various venues, tasted many a caterers, shopped till they dropped, prepared many a lists (ending with preparing a list of lists) and other nitty-gritty details of the wedding.

As the days progressed, the princess’s smile began to wane and she became reserved. One fine day, the smile disappeared completely and was replaced with a grim look. The eyes that were full of life and shining like a child's were now slumped and distant. This did miss the ever watchful eyes of her parents in the beginning, but in time was duly noticed. The princess, nonchalantly, began spilling her concerns to the parents in small bits, here and there, and on further probing full revealed here apprehensions and trepidations. In fact, she revealed certain statements and observations of the prince which speak volumes about attitude and character and would make even an unconscious person stand up and take notice.

In reality, the prince turned out to be Prince Charming, all air but no balls to back it up. The entire parade made by the prince and his family during the first stage of the mission of a lifetime, was nothing but a gimmick; a charade; their intentions being something else altogether. It is said that a person cannot put up an act all the time, and with due course in time, slowly their put-on character slips and their natural instincts surfaces, no matter how hard they try to put up the act. Post engagement, as the days progressed, layers and layers of character make-up peeled off, ergo revealing the true nature of the prince and his family and the matter of what they really were made of. Even though, there were no major episode from the prince’s and his family’s end, there were many minor snags, which when put together, amount to a hell lot.

Now, the princess, the parents and the brother were in a tight spot. This tough time made the brother to forget taking his bath for more than one day. Their ability of thinking rationally was clouded by the shackles and shams of society. They turned to the elders, relatives and close family friends for some solace. The advice and opinion of all these wise men and women left the family with three choices only. One way was to ignore the thoughts now and pray that the princess does not have to endure anything in the future; in short, to act spineless. The second way was to confront the prince and his family and make them mend their ways; highly un-feasible. The third way was to break off everything with the prince and his family; meaning to break-up the engagement and call off the wedding. The princess and the parents spent many a sleepless nights pondering over these options while the brother snored to glory, albeit spending every single waking moment of his life deliberating over the same options.

Finally, one fine day, the parents and the brother arrived at a decision and went with option three, that is, to break-off the engagement and call off the wedding. Till the very last minute, there were varied amounts of uncertainty in the minds of the parents and the brother, but they did not succumb to their uncertainty and did what they felt was right. They broke-off the engagement and called off the wedding. This, when conveyed to the prince and his family, gave then a bolt from the blue. They had never, even in their wildest dreams, imagined that the princess and her family would resort to this option. There was some backlash from the prince’s family’s end to mend the broken affiliation, but the princess’s family stood their ground. Finally, the prince’s family realised that their labour was not yielding any fruits and gave up, and accepted the outcome. The major bone of contention for them was the reason for the break-up, as the princess’s family had not given them any reasons at all. Though some introspection did throw up some reasons from the prince’s end, but they were not corroborated by the princess’s family.

Now, the storm has passed, the wind is pleasant again and the sun is out once again in the princess’s life. The ever pleasing smile and the sparkle in the eyes of the princess are back. The parents are happy that their princess is happy. And the brother is happy that he can roam around in his torn clothes on Sundays, without taking a bath, of course.

Moral of the story:
The tides have changed. Gone are the days when each and every whim of the groom’s family was treated as if they are tenets from God. Nowadays, it is the bride who is running the show. About time that the tides changed.