Shyamali, our Girl Friday is from Midnapore is off to get married much in the style of "Halla Chloecchey Juddhey " .
She is around seventeen , tall ,slim,dark and very pretty - her eyes are what Benagli poets call "dagor aankhi". She has a bewitching smile, very nice teeth and is very pleasant unless crossed . . It is easy to picture her as an advertisement for rural Bengal, in a red bordered 'doorey' sari with a big sindur bindi on her forehead .
She is also extremely intelligent and efficicient However , she is not literate and has steadfastly ,during all the years she has spent in our house refused to improve herself , apart from a semi literate signature supervised and perfected by Tani (to some extent - I think Tani's patience , always short wired , gave out ) which she uses on courier's receipts . She is also known to favour all the Midnapuri shopkeepers in the neighbourhood with her custom ( and my money ) and has influenced Babuda the tall one to invest in Diet pepsi,Orbit chewing gum ( for me ) and a Wall's ice cream box so that she need not go to Deepak's shop - Deepak being a non Midnapuri .
I am always accused by my MIL of pampering her, but what the hell ,I tell her, they only live once - . After that its back to the old village and keeping the backbone of gram bangla straight - she'll be working in the fields , harvesting paddy, threshing rice on the dhenki and frying muri in a huge black wok ,apart from hatching little Shyamals and Shyamalis at alarming frequencies, till by the age of 30 she is wrung out by all her labours very much in the manner of all other girls of her background .
Which brings me to the point of this blog.
Young Shyamali like others of her age and background live to marry because for them marriage is freedom from bondage to parents who farm them out to supplement the family income from a minor age and from life as a second rate citizen in somebody else's house . Her father being poor , has failed to get her married off twice .
Therefore , Shyamali , with the able aid of Tapa ,working in the utmost secrecy , has taken care to ensure that she works things out her own way - she has agreed to a match with the nephew of the enterprising Tara and Swayambari ( who works under the alias of Maharani in our house and 4 others and who AG believes , is the ringleader of a gang of thieves and dacoits operating from the South 24 parganas) . She has gone home and worked out the matter with her father . She has ensured that her father in law speaks with her father over the telephone and has wrapped up the whole thing very well .
The boy in question does not look too bright , which,again might suit her fine . The family has khet khamar, duto pukur and some taal gaachh and narkol gaach and the boy assured me he earns around Rs 100/- per day . The rented "ghar" in Narendrapur , apparently has an attached bathroom ,which the well spoilt Shyamali is banking on .
All I can do is tell her our doors are open for her in case she has a tiff with her husband and cannot run home to distant Midnapur , but Shyamali being brave enough to enter into marriage with a "Dokhno" ( community differences at their social levels are definitely much much wider than at ours ) will certainly know how to manage that .
And of course I shall pray that she has a long and happy married life , is blessed with a posse of sons and is able , in her old age to rule over them in matriarchal splendour .