It's love, on demand


It's love,  on demand
Mrs Jain of No 64 decided when the girls in my neighbourhood were ready for marriage. And love was definitely a post-marriage thing.

It would begin with a harassed father, deep furrows on his forehead, worrying about his provident fund money and asking, “Which boy do you like?” He would be holding up 3-4 photographs of ‘eligible boys’. Each of those boys would be at various stages of balding, wearing safari suits, or shimmering trousers paired with full-sleeved tee-shirts, and standing genially in lost-in-the-nudist-camp poses — hands clasped over the crotch.

The girls would twirl their duppatta ends around their fingers, torn with dilemma. And  finally make the needed trade-offs, like, ‘So what if he grins like an ape, at least he has a Vespa scooter...’

We DID NOT have boyfriends. If we did, they were referred to as ‘cousin brothers’, and we all secretly hoped for one. Those days, there was a serial being aired on Doordarshan called Chunauti, which was based on campus life. Quite ironically, Day 1 in college was on Valentine’s Day. As we trooped into the hall, we were starry-eyed about the romantic possibilities that lay ahead.

Suddenly, there was a sound of an angry mob approaching the department, shouting slogans. We were told to carry on: there was no cause for worry. Then, we heard a stone being flung against a window and the loud shatter of glass.

We jumped out of our skins, petrified! Vivid scenes from Chunauti flashed in my mind: rowdies coming in and beating the students with sticks; the heroine getting caught in the melee. Then, the strapping, good-looking hero coming and shielding her with his body, taking all the blows. My fear was now tinged with hope.

The slogan-shouting group entered the department. The session was discontinued and the professors went out to address them. But some of them managed to enter the hall, yelling their demands. There was an alarmed rush for escape. Chairs were kicked away and a mini stampede ensued.

We looked around for the strapping, good-looking hero. There were none. All that I could spot representing the male gender were skinny, fearful boys hopping around like cockroaches post a spray of the dreaded repellent. They were jumping out of the windows in panic. I would have to wait a few more years before I found true love. Thankfully, my pool of choices widened when I got a job. And, soon I landed myself my own ‘cousin brother’.

This year, someone, probably unaware of my current status, told me that true love was waiting for me. I received an email from a matrimony portal that told me, via ghastly poetry:
Love does not need a reason.

Pure love will come from the heart, And it’ll stay every season.

How? Well, it has a sophisticated algorithm that will help me find the best-matched candidates. I’m glad there is so much technology working 24/7 these days to fetch us true love. The choices, just as in ice-cream flavours or television channels, are many. Take your pick, choose your mode, order a replacement, ask for a makeover — the complete works! On-demand love is here. Right at your fingertips.

The tough part, I guess, still remains keeping it alive in your heart. All those young couples celebrating love today, I’d exhort you to think about the times ahead when your WhatsApp message-exchanges would change from ‘Mele shona ne kaa khaaya?’ to ‘Mixie not working’. Would your heart still skip a beat when you spot him/her unexpectedly?

Mine does. And, it’s not because of that diastolic dysfunction.
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