All my life, I always found myself doing the exact same thing my friends were doing. They went to some random school- I followed them there. They decided that they needed tutoring- so did I. They decided to play cricket- and so did I. They started liking pretty girls- and surprise surprise, I too started liking girls, the prettier ones. I could have liked the so the called ugly ones- but my friends didn’t like them, and hence, I had to dislike them too. I was just another sheep among the herd.
On hearing this particular “funny” comment of mine, my mom talked me into agreeing to marry some pretty girl. Obviously, most of my self-professed sane friends had taken up the herculean task of marrying- and I had to follow suit. I didn’t find this funny at all!
My mom said that, like I never used to be alone, and preferred combined studies for all the Home-Works the teacher used to give me, for all the exams I used to prepare for; in the same way I needed combined effort to do all the Home-Work of washing vessels and for the all the exams I’ll be facing in my Life- I would need somebody… I needed to combine my efforts with a great girl… Just like the rest of my friends.
But I knew in my heart that I was not like my most friends. I never made quick decisions like them. I was never in a hurry. I enjoyed my food slowly. I liked to talk slowly. I enjoyed slow, old movies, not the new racy raunchy thrillers. I liked playing chess slowly- I hated the rapid chess players more than cleaning my room. I was slow in my emotions- and I was slow in understanding my own emotions. I never immediately knew how to feel in the big moments of life- I was emotionless for the first ten minutes, as I witnessed India winning the T20 World Cup. So you can imagine, I did not know how I should feel or say in one very alien situation like this- meeting some random girl, the village match-maker had chosen for me.
I was quietly sitting, confused, trying to keep a smile on my face and understand the environment around me. I felt charged emotions around me- expectations, anxiety, fear, joy and love. I had only seen the girl’s photo so far and now I was looking at her feet. I was too shy to look straight in her eyes.
My mom stroked my hair gently- “Look at her! Silly Boy!”
Everybody around me laughed, including her. I could distinguish her young lively merry laughter from all the many old dry mirth. There was no ridicule in her voice- perhaps just a little bit of curiosity. She wasn’t worried about this whole situation as much as I was. This may not be her first time, like it was mine, I concluded.
I slowly raised my head, capturing in my mind the dazzling Mysore silk and gold ornaments covering her beautiful body. I never thought about this before- looking at a girl, and looking for a soul-mate. I had never done this. But now in this moment of grandeur, I felt that my eyes were looking at a goddess of grace, of charm, of beauty. She was breath-taking, Love personified- and still she humbly smiled at my mortal gaze on her divinity.
I was looking in her eyes- there was nothing else I wanted to see. I had seen her sweet dimpled chin, her rosy shiny lips, the strange curve of her wicked smile, her long thin nose- I had seen them all- they were all charming- but her big brown eyes- they were teasing me, tormenting me- daring me to break the eye-contact & look anywhere else. And I couldn’t dare. She knew that I was at her total mercy. She realized this- her eyes were smiling- no they were dancing. Why were they so happy? How did I suddenly become so… so infatuated, with a mad rush of wanting to marry her? No, I needed to marry her!
“Well?” my mom asked.
I was too busy staring at that honey coloured goddess of beauty.
My mom held my hand, stood up and said, “Looks like he doesn’t like her. It was a waste of time coming this far… Let’s go son…”
“No! Mom! I like her… I really… really like her, really!” I hastily shouted in confusion.
Everybody laughed- including her. How I loved to see her laugh!
My face turned red immediately as I bowed my head low in embarrassment- this emotion came super-fast!
I soon found myself with her, alone, on a large swing in her garden.
“You realise that I have no say in our wedding?” she told me, frankly and much too quickly.
Maybe her family was old-fashioned, so I asked- “Your father is very strict?”
“If you don’t like me, just say the word and I’ll say no to the wedding…” I managed to say through my disappointment.
“After your display of being infatuated with me? I don’t think so…”
“I can say that there’s some other girl…”
“Is there?” she asked, no, she demanded.
“No!” I shrugged my shoulders. There were probably a hundred one-way crushes in my case- but never did I feel like, what I felt for her- with her, I knew, it was love.
“How can you say that you really like me, after just looking at me?! You used ‘really’ one too many times!!!”
“I don’t… know… ” I was embarrassed. How could I explain to her my emotions when I myself didn’t quite understand!
“You gave into your massive levels of dopamine for me….”
“What… Dopa… what?”
“Dopamine! You Dumbo! It’s a chemical in your brain which gets generated when you are infatuated with someone… you know… it makes everything about the person you are infatuated with, look charming, and glittery and funny and cute and every other good word in the dictionary that you can find!”
“So it is my Dopamine that’s making you look so super-pretty?”
“I am super-pretty, you Dumbo! It’s because I’m so super-pretty that you are generating massive dopamine! Your own brain is fooling you into thinking that you love me… but it is not love. It’s just infatuation. After a few months of being with me- you may find me as repulsive as a sewer rat!”
“My own brain fooled me?” I asked getting puzzled.
“Yes! You have to think about your own thinking!”
“Huh?” I was getting more and more confused!
“You have to think and analyse how your brain thinks & works, and then based on this analysis, you should think properly, you know, ignoring the infatuation related feelings, and taking logical decisions based on real facts?”
“Ohhhh I get it, Ok! That’s profound!” I said, pretending to understand.
“Didn’t you Google?”
“How to decide, who to marry?”
I was dumb-struck! What was this girl saying? I slowly said the correct answer which probably was crime against humanity according to her.
“I… I didn’t… Google that…” I said slowly.
“How stupid can you be? Don’t you Google before buying a phone? Before buying a laptop? Before going on a trip? So how can you NOT Google before marrying somebody?”
Did that just make sense? Or was I just being my usual emotionally-retarded self?
“What you have for me is Dopamine,” she continued her sermon, “And Dopamine is not love! But oxytocin is real love- that comes after years of knowing each other- from trust- from compatibility in many things, in sense of humour- and in love. And I want pure oxytocin, not some, quick, on the spot generated random dopamine!”
I was quiet for a while. I thought I understood what she meant- yet I felt like I didn’t get what she really meant…
There was an awful silence, and for just too long. I had to break it.
“So your father gives you no freedom?” I asked her.
“And that’s why after finishing your studies, you are sitting idly at home?”
“If you were free, what would you be?”
She looked at me- I found her eyes dancing again, “I would be a super great teacher! Teach little kids- those cute little devils- I will give them what I never had- freedom- to think, to hope, to dream, to fly… to be…”
“Yes! And I will never beat them, even if they are naughty… and I’ll teach them how to sing… how to dance… how to play music… how to be happy… science… history… maths, I’m not that good at maths, but they’re kids, right, they’ll never know!” she started laughing in a very different tone- a happier tone. She looked so happy just imagining being a teacher!
How much would she love being one?!
I took out the paper from my pocket and handed it to her. She paused her laughter and read the letter that I gave her.
“This is the Teacher’s License Test application form!” she exclaimed in joy.
I nodded- “Well, If I won’t mind, your father also shouldn’t, right?”
“Hmmm” she nodded her excitedly.
“Your English teacher- the one who taught you from your first grade till tenth, was my English teacher too. I found her. You see, I never make decisions hastily… so I “Googled” you… in a different way. I met our common teacher. Found all your school books- they were filled with your handwritten cute words- your wishes and fantasies and dreams. As I read them, I realized that I liked you… I especially loved those poems about butterflies and rainbows…”
She was turning red and her eyes were welling up- she was going to cry- soon.
“Don’t, please, don’t cry!” I begged her, holding her hand softly in mine- frankly speaking I was just looking for an excuse to hold her hand.
“You read my school books? Those poems? Those essays?” she asked as tears ran through her honey-coloured cheeks.
“Hmmm” I said, handing her my handkerchief.
“And you have a handkerchief! It’s so clean and white!” she said raising her eyebrows. She started sobbing loudly now.
She was crying even more, because I gave her a clean handkerchief? And her parents were looking at us through the window. Oh God!
“Please… your parents are looking!” I asked her, as I tried to block the view of their parents. I stood gently rubbing her cheeks- drying them with my palm. And soon she stopped crying.
“You must think that I’m a cry-baby” she asked finally getting back her composure.
“You’re just being a girl!” I winked.
“Dumbo! So when did you read those books?” she asked me.
“About a month ago… Listen, we’re running out of time… So what do you say?”
“Say about what?”
“Well, you want to be a teacher… and I want to be… I want to be your husband…”
She looked at me. And just smiled at me- no nod of the head was there. No, no wink either!
“Tell you what,” I continued, “the Teacher’s License Test is in 6 months, prepare well for it and take the test, pass it, and take another six months to grow some oxytocin in your brain, for me- I’ll provide the seeds and the necessary sunshine if you want, and then, you decide whether you want to say yes or maybe…”
She nodded with a giggle- “I may say no!”
“To this cute face!” I said pointing at my face. I acted as if I was offended. But I was relieved… I didn’t have to Google “How to decide who to marry”; or is it “How to decide whom to marry”. I’ll have to Google that!