“Did you talk to Tapan?” Mom asks. How the heck does she remember him? And why, after all these years, is she bringing him up? “Who?” I ask and play dumb. I have been single and desi long enough to know, be suspicious. I shift the phone into a more comfortable position, God I hope this isn't a long conversation. “Tapan Gupta, Usha and Prem’s son? Their daughter, Tara, was your friend. Remember? Anyway, Tapan lives in New York, now,” Mom explains. I am pretty confident she knows, I know Tapan’s current location.
“Actually, Tara wasn’t my friend, she was someone I hung out with when the Ahuja’s had dinner parties and we kids were sequestered to the basement while the uncles drank and the aunties cooked. Remember?” I correct and ask. “But why do you bring him up, Tapan?” “Oh, Daddy was saying Desi Refugee (Post 217) suggested the match and Daddy wants to know if you contacted Tapan."
I’m really not in the mood for Punjabi Papa and his Pindu (Punjabi for village) sidekick arranging my marriage to someone I have not talked to in 20 years. More importantly, has anyone told Tapan that I exist? If so, I am certain that an interested man, would put some action steps into place and at least make a phone call. Shoot, I’d even settle for an email that said, “My mom knows your mom, and Desi Refugee passed along your contact details, wanna get married?” And after what I have endured thus far with desi dating, if Tapan is not willing to do anything, I am not interested. Crazy speak for an old maid, I know, but I have standards and self-respect.
“Did Desi Refugee tell Dad that Tapan is ‘die-vorce’?” I purposely pronounce “divorce” like a Punjabi auntie. An uncomfortable silence passes back and forth along the 1,000 miles that separate Mom and me. “Hello? Mom, are you there? I asked you a question, did Desi Refugee tell Dad that Taps is divorced?” Mom says nothing.
“Or is that all I am now? A crusty spinster with a decaying uterus who needs to get married to anything that is still breathing. Hell, why don’t you find a kangaroo and I’ll run out to the Queens temple and find any pandit willing to marry me off. Sound good? I mean as long as the kangaroo can support a wife, who cares about anything else.” Silence. I have done what is pretty hard to do, anger a very calm, easy-going woman. She’d have to be. She’s got me as a first-born and her in-laws are a wacky bunch of out-laws.
I count to ten and say, “Look…I know you’re worried that once you and Dad are gone there were will no one to take care of me…” In an atypically curt and irritated tone Mom cuts me off, “Who said? I never said that!” Oh really? She wants to play this game today? Alright. The maternal side of my family is so emotionally incestuous that there is no separation of Church and State, no secrets are sacred. “Well Mom, do you want me to call your niece in Bangalore and ask her? She told me, that you told her, that you are worried about what happens to me when you are gone.” Mom groans, “Why did she tell you that? She wasn’t supposed to say anything and stress you out.” “Oh, so it’s true. You want me to get married so you have some peace of mind? Who cares if he beats me or makes dowry demands like what that sloth is doing to your other niece…” “Enough! That is not what I said. You take everything I say and twist it,” Mom scolds. “So I cannot be concerned for you? Is that it? Fine, then you do what you want!"
“Fine!” I snap and we hang up. I am going to bad desi daughter hell, I just know it. It takes everything I have, not to throw the phone across the room. The fact that the phone will cost $100 to replace helps sublimate my rage. Slowly I begin to feel ashamed for snarling at my pocket-sized mother whose only crime was to love me.
Gross, I'm a total bitch whose guilt has her desiring potato chips. Some French fries and onion rings would be nice, too. I want to stuff myself full of fried delights, hoping to smother whatever ails me, waiting for zits to freckle my face. The healthier option is to buy stationary supplies. Purchasing pens and post-it notes is a very calming experience for me. But I have no storage space. Damn these small Manhattan apartments!