(This is a story written by me long back in 2010 on my old blog. Somehow this post got archived and while I was compiling the short stories written by me on one page, I decided to edit and republish it here.)
“But how will I survive this man ma??” Noyonika screamed at the top of her voice, “He loves onions- cooked, boiled and raw- in every other thing. ”
“So? what?? you know I hate onions. I can’t even stand the smell of them. They are plain and simple obnoxious!”
“You should have never gone to law school you know. Now you will reject this proposal for an onion right?”
“No! am just saying that the implications will be horrendous if I have to spend the rest of my life with this onion loving fella..”
“No further questions, you add him up on gtalk, talk to him. You guys get that option, remember in 1980 when I got married at the age of 22, we did not even go out for a formal date. We just spoke in front of our elders. Now, you need to know, analyse and then decide if you can marry that person.”
“Ma, it may have worked in your case but imagine this- in case you find that you and your life partner have nothing in common to talk about or may be to even dream about, how will that work out?”
“Not again! you are being given the option right! besides you people have all these online matrimony sites with people listing out their interests and all….our newspaper advertisements never had that much space.”
“I always told you ma, cyber squatting should be made a crime.”
“Nothing, give me his gtalk id.”
Noyonika knew that she had not much of an option other than following her mother’s instruction of adding up this onion fanatic on her gtalk list. Off course not on her regular id, but the matrimonial one that her mother had insisted on. This guy seemed perfect for her. In fact quite the perfect match for her. He had degrees from the best of the schools in India, went for an M.S. abroad on a full scholarship from one of those ivy league colleges, earned quite a bit, had a nice family background, was a bangal and most importantly looked forward to settling down in Calcutta. His pictures also looked pretty normal, though Noyonika knew that a few years abroad and every geek turns in to that F1 lingo spewing hot hunk every mother wants as the prized catch for their daughter.
Noyonika knew she had the option to choose. Her family was not averse to the idea of a ‘love marriage’, though they will prefer an ‘arranged’ one more. She also had been into relationships which her parents always scanned from the marriage angle. But none worked actually and now she was single all over again with a bruised heart to nurse and curse.
On a much more philosophical note, Noyonika hated her life right now. She was twenty-five and had finished her law degree from a very reputed law school, had a decent job which paid her good money, was above average in looks, had some intellectual fervor which Bengali guys in the marriage market termed as “brains” and a very very big mouth. Her parents wanted her to settle down and so did she, but the compatibility quotient held her back. Online matrimony seemed to have worked wonders in her family and so when Mishtumashi asked her mother to post her profile on one of those sites she did not even bother to ask for her permission. When she asked the reason, her mother sounded curt and logical- “If you can have your profile posted on so many of those social networking sites, then why can’t you do this for us?”
Now when your mother asks you that question all teary eyed, you can never refuse. Her latest “perfect match” Mr. Onion hunk was one of such suitors who jumped out of the virtual window to kill all her childhood fantasies about the perfect cross between Mr. Darcy and Amit Ray. Noyonika always presumed they were onion hating people. But her oh so prim and proper Mr. Ganguly does mention his onion eating habits which he describes as, “up for anything with spices and onions in it” in the cuisine column of his profile. How uncivilised, thought Noyonika.
“Hey”, Mr. Onion Hunk’s gtalk window popped out. Noyonika had mailed him about “her” being interested in striking up a conversation with him virtually since he is stationed in Vienna right now and when can he catch her online considering the time difference.
“so, we finally meet”
Noyonika’s facial expression darted from a suppressed laughter to irritation. She had been subjected to these cheesy modes of impressing a girl before also, but never expected this literature loving, Chaurasiya listening onion hunk to be in the same league.
“Yeah, virtually actually :-)”
“Right! so what did you like about me?”
Now that was something that Noyonika never expected. she was about to say “nothing actually” but refrained. She felt like blurting out, “Actually, I had a problem with your eating onions”, but said “generally.”
“Lol, you know you are the first girl to tell me that. Interesting!”
“Ok! listen enough of being cheesy and asking what did you like in me questions..in fact am very uncomfortable with all that.”
“Oh!so…as in you understand that right?”
“Yeah, of course! now I know that you will be thinking that why did I begin with that so we finally met line..actually it was my friend’s idea”
Noyonika was on the verge of a nervous breakdown now. Well! almost. First this guy comes up with cheesy opening lines and then puts the blame on his friends! This can’t get worse-She is definitely not marrying this guy and she preferred to keep silent.
“What happened?? did i cause a big turn off?”
“so, Ms.Guha, you must not be contemplating marriage with me ever..right!”
“Is that even a question to ask?”
“Ha ha ha”
“Turn Offs- Cheesy and corny pick up lines, blaming others for your own fault and farting/ burping in public.”
“You know what, you are actually cyber stalking me.”
“Hey chill! I just thought of checking out your profile on Facebook before striking up a conversation.”
“Oh! yeah! and you tried to follow it so hard.”
“actually not..In case you realize, I thought of trying the other way round…”
“Yeah! and am so happy that this conversation is virtual.”
“Right! I don’t have the scope of moving to the 3rd option.”
Noyonika could not resist a chuckle now. She did not know how to respond to that.
“Umm!so I guess we are on track Ms. Guha?”
“Call me Noyonika.”
“Ah! yes! and thanks for the smile (am not being cheesy now)”
“this was kind of weird”
“I know..actually I thought that you must have been bored to death by now by having such numerous conversations with strangers. In fact, that’s the case with me. so I thought, why not just spice it up a bit. At least a little bit of research on your virtual self showed that you will be game for it :-). sorry in case you mind.”
“Absolutely no! In fact this was quite interesting.”
“So do I move on to being Mr Interesting”
“Tch Tch, Now you are being cheesy!”
“Yes! Mr. researcher on virtual selves of prospective brides.”
“Lol. How do you know that?”
“Just the way you know that I will be game for the joke! come one accept it, that you have done that with all your prospective bride like species.”
“so there you go”
“checking people online! sheesh! am not going to marry some one who checks other people out.”
“But I am definitely in awe of one of them who just called me a kind of creep.”
By the end of the conversation that nightNoyonika and his Mr Onion hunk were discovering common interests of photography, travelling, reading and food, albeit minus the onion.The first thing in the morning Noyonika’s mother did was to inquire about last night’s conversation. She was herself awake to take a feedback from her but slept when she understood that they plan to chat for quite sometime.
“I kind of liked him Ma. Let’s see.”
Her mother jumped at the mere thought of her “liking” someone. None of the other conversations lasted this long.
“so let’s fix up a meeting next week when he is coming back to Calcutta. what say?”
“Ma, he is coming back only for 5 days and that too, to attend a cousin’s wedding. Don’t you think it will be too much of an intrusion?”
But what is predestined is bound to happen. Mr.Ganguly who blinked as Onion Hunk on Noyonika’s regular Gtalk list was now used to being addressed as Neel, his first name. Needless to say Noyonika’s phone often vibrated during office meetings with a distant country code flashing.
“so, lets meet up then.”
“Next Sunday may be.”
“But isn’t the Odhibaash scheduled on that day?”
“Well, I can definitely make up an excuse and don’t you think this Calcutta trip this time won’t be worth it without meeting my ms. big mouth. I swear am not being cheesy.”
“shut up Mr Onion hunk.”
So they decided and met. The venue was not the regular Barista or CCD. Noyonika detested them and Neel hated them. The Metro railway seemed to be a wonderful option for both of them. Needless to say Rabindra Sadan was the chosen station.
“Ouch! I think we got down from the same train” Neel smiled.
“Yes! considering we are both very punctual and nothing in this city runs as punctually as the Metro. ” They were both running 15 minutes late.
“Am sorry am late because of all the functions at home.” Neel knew he was making a lame ecuse.
“Its Ok! I just happened to read an old issue of Anandabazar somewhere, where Bipasha Basu advises people to be deliberately and fashionably late for their first dates.”
“So did you try this one on your ex flame…Ronojoy”
“How do you know?”
“You seemed to have told me so much about him… I think I even know which deodorant did he use.”
“Can’t help it, I still have a huge crush on him.”
“I don’t mind actually you know. I like competition”
“Geek! typical geek you are.”
“As you wish!”
“You know, you are so not like Mr.Darcy”
“But am like Amit Ray”
“Please don’t be! I kind of hate him now”
“Generally, I was re reading Shesher Kobita that day. Amit was a loser.”
“Erm, Labonyo was herself being the turn off and pushing him away..he had no other option.”
“Yeah Katie was the most convenient choice for her. I just hope you also don’t turn out to be like that.”
“In case we can have all these random dissection of Tagore’s creation of ultimate female fantasy am not going anywhere.”
“Is that the way you define commitment?”
“Kind of yes! But more so in giving a relationship its time and space.”
Confetti showers would have been a suitable option right then, because Mr. Neel Ganguly had pulled off something right there which many of his counterparts could not. Noyonika just shrieked out a very effeminate and oh! so cheesy “aww!”But moments are shortlived, just like the romance in them. It was just near Mohor Kunjo, that Noyonika discovered her favbourite snack of Ghotigorom (mishmash).
“Hey Neel, you want to have some of those.”
“Ok Dada, make 2… you want jhaal? and please without onions” she smiled at the vendor.
“Hey, one without onions and one with more of it.”
Tragedy had stuck Noyonika right then. How? how! How on earth could she forget Neel’s fascination for Onions? Also, they had never talked about her onion aversion, the main reason she was not even willing to talk to Neel in the first place.
She looked blank eyed towards Neel.
“Noyon, what happened?”
“Something must be the matter..tell me?”
“You really like onions right?”
“Really!, in fact I deliberately mentioned that in my matrimonial profile you know. In case anybody has any objection. I mean i love my food with an extra dash of onions, makes it spicy.”
“That reminds me! you can cook that very delicious mutton chops you mentioned that day..the ones you make really well.”
“Yes and green chillies”
“Ohk! Neel, I suppose you should know something about me”
“what? another guy..no! wasn’t ranajoy enough for my boredom?”
“this is serious neel..I hate onions..in fact I hate anything with onions in it..I hate the smell of it..cannot even tolerate it in my vicinity.”
“allergic to it?”
“No..generally hate it.”
A deathly silence enveloped the situation. Both of them returned home taking separate taxis. Nobody was in a mood for a romantic metro rail ride.
“So how did it go?” Noyonika’s mother pounced on her the moment she returned home.
“Arey tell, you were so excited to meet him.”
“Don’t lie, I could see that on your face.”
Noyonika hated this. Mothers seem to know everything. she retired to bed. Though the urge of giving Neel a call was all-encompassing, but still she resisted it.
she was getting ready for office the next day when her mother entered the room.
“Noyon, what’s the matter…you don’t seem happy after yesterday’s meeting with that Ganguly boy.”
Noyonika did not want to share, but mothers can be the perfect nest to tell and share everything stupid.
“Ma he loves onions and I dont.”
“Bas! that’s it?”
“What else Ma….I thought that onion thing on his profile is just a joke, but he was pretty serious. In fact he was being honest.”
“That’s very nice actually. But this is a very minor thing noyon. are you sure there isn’t anything else.”
“What else ma? we have so much in common excepting this very fundamental thing. Imagine food, and you know how much a foodie I am and so is Neel, will be the bone of contention. This marriage will not work out anyways.”
“Hey Bhogobaan! Noyon you guys hyperventilate.”
“Ma, don’t start that start that please! I am seriously upset.”
“Come here Noyon. Let me tell you a story. When I got married to your father we hardly knew each other. When we were on our honeymoon, we discovered we had nothing in common. He loved reading books, but only those which related to law…and I loved all the finer things in life..as you people will call it.”
“But that’s not about food…this is fundamental”
“Listen to me Noyon….You guys have so much in common to talk about, discuss about and as you say..conversations are such a big aphrodisiac. think of us 30 years ago. we did not have social networking sites to share our personal interests. We did not know what to talk about. do you understand that.”
“But we still have a very successful marriage Noyon and you know why? Not because we judged our relationship on the parameters of what’s compatible and what’s not. Your father never even tried to mould himself the way I would have liked my ideal man to be. Nor did I ever take any interest in his law books. But still we survived. Actually we lived through this relationship…ups and downs, decisions- everything..together. When we fought over interest issues like I want a painting up on the drawing room wall and he being dead against anything being put up there…we were reliving the relationship that we entered by the testimony of the fire.”
“What? am I sounding cheesy or what do you think..I never had an Amit Ray in mind?”
“Oh! please Ma, Amit was such a loser.”
“Am glad that you realised that Noyon, because Labonyos always suffer. Amit Rays are meant to be part of your fantasy/ dreams…I may sound unromantic to the hilt but that’s true. All of us have to take a decision when we marry, probably the most important decision of your lifetime. There is no gender bias in that. Marriages are decisions of a lifetime. It’s about the space and time you give to a relationship. It’s not a mere coffee-house date.”
“Ma, though you sound like the big granny in the movie who hams and give lectures about marriage..you actually make sense you know….”
“I know that noyon. Marriage is also about adjustment. It’s also about compromise which may be termed as colouring your self as the other person may like it…somebody has to take the first step.”
“So you mean I start having onions?”
“No!, never, that’s you…but you can cook the way he wants..and he also can go without onions once or twice a week.”
Noyonika thought over the matter the entire day. she was not sure about calling up Neel right then. It was the day of his cousin’s marriage and he might be preoccupied already. Besides he might not think as she perceived the issue. It was just then that her cellphone beeped. “Hi! I needed to talk, may I call?”
In stead Noyonika herself called.
“You know what? I think I can make those mutton chops.”
“Yeah! and I also can go without having onions on special days..besides there are always mouth fresheners.”
“Yeah..Wait a min..WHAT???”
“Soorryy!! don’t kill me and please don’t change your decision now.”
“Meet me in 15 minutes near Maidan Metro.”
“You are insane, you have a marriage to attend in half an hour.”
“Please be my perfect wife and suggest what should I wear…erm!I need to buy some clothes you know!”
“You are incorrigible!”
“By the way, who did the brainwashing?”
“My mom…they know everything I suppose….like creasing out basic differences..”
“Yes! and solving fundamental problems…wonder why it is told women can be wonderful world leaders. anyways see you in 15 minutes.”
“Am already there dear. :-)”