“I don’t …I don’t want to marry.” After prolonged silence and uneasiness I blurted.
“Then don’t. Who asks you to?”
“Parents, relatives…even my friends.”
“Hmm…and what do you tell them?”
“I stay silent in front of my parents. Smile to my relatives and laugh it off with friends.”
“Silence, Smile and Laughter-three perfect ways to say no!! You are facing it well, Papermate.”
“I feel I am betraying my parents. I am not giving them the joy they deserve-the joy of seeing their son getting married. They gave me everything I asked for, accepted me the way I am. Now, when it’s my turn, I feel like I am pulling myself off from my duty.” I said.
Thomas Smiled. He sipped his coffee, and then looked deep onto my eyes.
“Then…you must marry, Papermate. To fulfil your parents wish…isn’t it?” But Papermate who will marry you anyways?” The Old Man of Attic laughed hysterically.
“You think it’s funny?” I was at my helpless worst.
“No Papermate. It is not. It is the single most serious decision of your life. Take it with caution. Almost everything else can be mended sooner or later. But this one is gravest buddy. ” Thomas got his familiar gravitas back.
“I understand. But society doesn’t spare my parents any peace. They keep asking them about my marriage, which bothers them, disturbs them. “
“Papermate!! It was Harivansh Rai ‘Bachchan’ who revealed the greatest secret on how to take your decisions-“Listen all, Obey the Soul”. My advice to you is same. Now listen carefully you dumbard! Don’t get into it until YOU don’t want to get into it. Cometh Mamma, Cometh Pappa, Cometh ruler of the skies Himself-Don’t budge. Don’t seek it if you don’t want it. The society-with all due respect has been like this since forever. How we deal with it, how we keep our beliefs intact will determine who we become. Don’t carry any guilt. Not at least for not marrying when you don’t want to.”
“But what about Ma Papa? Will they understand?” I expressed my main anxiety.
“Understand? Papermate…are you alright? They understood you even when you could not speak that you wanted to pee. You think they are so naive that they would not listen to you? Just communicate it the way you have communicated to me. And be true to yourself. You’ll see your doubts and guilt are subliming. You are getting hold of your emotions. You will grow stronger, mature, and then my friend you shall be ready to cherish the charm of this institution. It’s beautiful- but like all the beauty in the world, it demands efforts, commitment and enormous pain. And like all the beauty in the world, it is worth of all the pain it involves.”
Thomas was getting late for his Violin class. I left the attic after the coffee. I understood that what can’t be escaped, can be postponed!! The evening underwent enormous introspection and ended with a call back home.
Later in night, I pondered what Thomas asked me in jest. “Who will marry me anyways?” And if at all one does…will she read my poems the way my friends do? I wrote 3 romantic poems with zeal that night.
By morning I tore them all. They were the world’s worst 3 romantic poems ever written.
Papermate is just another face from the maddening crowd.
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