It is that interview time againThe doorbell announces their arrival
I sigh, in disgust, at my own plight
It is another 'big' day today
The exhibition is on, with me, the exhibit
There'd be an interview too
A series of rapid-fire questions
I walk into the living room
A goodie laden tray in hand
Head down, taking slow measured steps
I dare not lift my eyes, make eye contact
That would break the 'ritualistic' protocol
Yet, all eyes are on me – piercing me through their gaze
I sit when asked to be seated
Twiddle my fingers in anger than in nervousness
It is time for the big test – one that's worse than a job interview
'MeToo', I think, of course from a different perspective
But here I am, up for grabs, in the marriage market
The interview will decide if I am a 'suitable candidate' for the boy's family
"Can you cook?" the boy's mother asks, "our Rahul likes only homemade food"
Ah! That's a skillsets question, I think
"She is a wonderful cook, you don't have to worry", ma retorts
Why is Ma being so defensive? Why am I not allowed to respond?
"Daughters-in-law do the cooking, in our family", says Rahul's mother as she describes the 'position'
I draw a seven-figure salary, says my mind, but don't blurt it out
"We don't allow modern clothes; no jeans, no dresses", she adds
"We allow only the sari, with 'pallu' covering the head"
Quite a dress code there, I think, much like the corporate dress code, at my office
"And we do 'mangalvaar' and 'shanivaar vrats', and there is no non-veg in our house, not even eggs"
This gets better, as I compare all of this to regular team parties and working lunches
Quite similar, in terms of customs, yet antithetical, in an oxymoron kind of way
"We've got many offers for Rahul', I hear them say
"Factory owners, business families, but we're being choosy"
Alright, I'll have to ace this interview, beat the stiff competition
But, is it really in my hands?
Ma suddenly looks fidgety; her mask of confidence falls off
The anguish on Pa's face is easy to read; he shifts uneasily in his chair
"The party from Faridabad is willing to give us a house," says Rahul's mother
"Arey! Have you forgotten the Mehtas? They said they'd get a dealership in Rahul's name", adds Rahul's father
My mind ticks in overtime, that's like salary and perks negotiations
But, isn't it in the reverse?
Maybe they're making a pitch, showing all their cards before closing the deal
They're here for business, not relationship building, aka team building
The interview gets one-sided, they're ruthless negotiators
Looking for the best deal perhaps – will it be the Faridabad party, the Mehtas or me?
They're doing all the talking, laying down conditions and demands
A car, a house, diamond sets, honeymoon in Europe – really!
While Rahul, sits quietly, not a word from his mouth
Is he a pawn in all this, or is he the real strategy planner?
Interviews are fine, I have aced them before
You need to ask the right questions, as an interviewee, you know
So, I straightened my back and lifted my head
And I popped a series of questions and watched their uneasy squirms
Ma looked shocked, and so did Pa
But, I wouldn't let an outsider, come and tell me how to live
And then I asked -
"Do you want a marionette or a partner for your son?"
"Do you want a puppet, with her strings in your hand? No, I won't mould my ways for you"
"I love my food, and I love what I wear; and what's that got to do, with being a bride in your clan?"
"The Mehtas and Faridabad are good bidders, I see – how much will you auction your son for, what price will you fix?"
"Do you know the meaning of marriage? Or is it just a means to get rich?"
"There's the door, please leave, the interview's over, there's nothing more to discuss"
This is my entry for the Topic for the month end -TOW contest for the month October '18