“How can he keep calm and listen to the lies,” M says looking at her hands.
She is talking about her dad, whose life as far as we have deduced is a slideshow of all the ‘keep calm’ memes.
“Who is telling lies,” D asks without interest. He is always on autopilot when talking to M, or even if he is in her vicinity.
“Bhai of course, he and his wife,” M seems to have moved on to examining her fingernails, they are painted blue, but not immaculately. M has never been the type who cared for her looks, maybe because she is genetically endowed with looks that cannot be improved upon. I say this with authority because M and I grew up together, with playing the doc memories and all.
“Oh no, don’t start with that again,” I say when I find her looking at me quizzically because I am examining her nails too.
“You know what your problem is, you cannot be friends with anyone.”
“Especially not women, because you don’t listen,” D says, earning a glare but ignoring it, continues, “you lack the necessary patience.”
“And you listen to me because you are patient?” Under M’s scrutiny D as usual takes refuge in his smile and looks at me for rescue.
“C’mon it’s not like that and I have patience when the topic is new. We all know the reasons why M is upset and why her dad avoids conflict. People get polished as they age, the ragged edges of their thinking or their behavior get sandpapered with the grains of time. I have seen the transformation in my dad, not sure of mom though.”
“Mom’s are different,” D agrees.
“I don’t think so,” M shakes her head at us, “my mom is exactly like him. Sometimes I think they prefer Bhai being devious rather than being honest with them. Maybe you are right, they do seem like they want to avoid conflict. I can’t stand it.”
“Of course you don’t. It’s the optimism, we still believe in the inherent virtues of humanity as we have been taught by others. Life on the other hand teaches pessimism, especially to the ambitious.”
“This is another problem why you can’t get along with women, you say more than you listen, and you say such things that they either have to agree with or risk appearing less wise.”
“D is right, you need more humor and less of pretending to be a philosopher.”
“She means,” D says with wise eyes, “you act like an old man, philosophy when used as a word in conversation is always an euphemism.”
“Yeah I get it, though I think we are approaching my problem from the wrong end. You guys forget I am here to meet a potential wife, not make friends.”
“There lies your third and the biggest problem, more than anything else you need to be friends with a person you are going to spend your life with.”
M is right, D nods.
“Well the evidence doesn’t support your claim, I have more friends than you, mostly women too, including you.”
D nods again.
“We are not talking about your Insta friends.”
“No, he has more on Twitter.”
“Ah Twitter is for the old, the tired or smoothened ones as you say. Why won’t you act your age.”
“A woman on Insta is better than two on Twitter,” D adds seriously.
“Shouldn’t you be on Tinder if you are looking for women?”
“No, not that I tried. Not Tinder but TrulyMadly. Women using dating apps are the ones who are either filtered out of the girlfriend race or are there looking for prospective husbands because matrimonial sites are being handled by their parents, uncles and aunts.”
“Haha I don’t believe that”
“No really, the first question I was asked on TM was where I work and do I have a LinkedIn account. It was such a shock when I had been debating on how much I should fudge the height and length stats.”
“I hope the executives on the matrimonial sites realize their true competition is from dating apps,” M says giving me that knowing smile.
“I hope Tinder executives in India realize their clientele are not sex craving women, but brides to be who want to choose for themselves,” D seems scandalized.
“Where’s this one from, the one we are waiting for. Dating app or Matrimony site.”
“Matrimony, a discovery of Mamaji‘s account created for me. He has called me five times already to give the same instruction. I should behave because she comes from a renowned family.”
“So you could misbehave if she didn’t come from a renowned family? What is a renowned family anyways.”
“Mafia! Bride Corleone.” D likes his joke and goes for his infamous hahaha.
“He means caste, most likely. He was telling there are very few women profiles from our caste on the site, says most women are going for love marriages and why cant I find someone myself instead of giving everyone a headache. I never asked them to.”
“I hate this caste thing, at one point mom said she would be ok with me marrying a boy from another religion rather than that from a different caste. How the fuck does it matter, even Modi and Shah have removed caste equations from politics.”
“Oh, where do I stand,” asks D anxious, “higher, lower or am I from a caste at par.”
“Haha very funny, you stand in the friend zone,” M says acting coy and then adding, “for now.”
She overcomes the awkward pause by turning towards me and asking, “were you not dating that NIFT woman.”
“Two of them. But they don’t want to marry him.”
“Why, is there something wrong with you,” she winks, that knowing smile follows.
“There must be,” D chimes in, “though I guess he over played the boyfriend role, now can’t even cameo as a potential husband, not even in roleplay.”
“Funny, what makes you so sure. In any case I don’t want to get married.”
“Married in June, you mean,” they laugh together.
“I think it is her,” I say pointing to a tall woman who is coming towards us, she fits the photo I have been sent. D and M look at the pic on my phone and at her with suspicion. I am not so sure myself, always been bad at faces.
“She looks taller than you.”
“Yeah that’s what Mamiji said, not a good match. But Mamaji was insistent, he says I can either ask her to stop wearing heels or buy myself high heels.”
“Are there shoes with high heels for men”
“You must not talk about height with her”
“Assuming, he wants to marry her”
“Well if she is tall, I won’t mind her as a friend. Never dated a girl taller than me. Do gimme more tips.”
“Look at her eyes when you talk”
“I am sure he knows that,” M says frowning at D, “my tip would be to ask her questions that have answers in affirmative, if she lets you that is.”
“Ok here she comes”
“And she is not the one”
“What do you mean yes questions”
“When you ask a question that makes the other say no, you are forcing them to commit to something, to take a stand and that makes them critical, and by inference illogical. I read it in a book.”
“So you never tried it yourself”
“No of course not, it sounds too philosophical”
“Hence, applies to you” D adds.
The women in heels takes a U turn and comes back to us, with a question in her eyes. I try to answer her in a yes, with my eyes that I never trust.