Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Single blessedness

Today I am tired of all the worry and tension of mining and construction and corruption and all the rest of that basket of bad news. I am giving you a break from that. This change of heart happened after a long telephone call from an old friend I have always been envious of.

He has a battalion of friends from all walks of life, who like having him around. He refused to sit for exams which would guarantee promotion because the same promotions would guarantee transfers which he did not want. He lives in Mumbai with his mum, a cheerful lady who used to fling slippers at him when he was young and reckless. He has always been a positive person taking life and whatever it threw at him with a delighted grin, (even his mother’s slippers) because life threw good things at him.

Our conversation came round to how life throws positive things to people with positive energy and negative things to people with negative energy. I asked him if he was happy with what he had. He thought about it for a second and said, well I would have liked to have a wife, but I have had no luck in the girlfriend department.

I told him it could be that, that was an excellent piece of good luck he had. If he had a wife he would not have been the happy-go-lucky person that he is. Never mind that he remains the quintessential bachelor boy. In his mid-50s, he is the same vintage as I, maybe a year younger, but his face is unlined and he does not dye his hair. He still walks like a fairly strong wind was pushing him forward, the way he did when he was a teenager.

He does not suffer from all the worry of high cholesterol, or blood sugar or aches and pains. He has a simple rule. He lives life king-sized throughout the year and during the 40 says of Lent he keeps away from rich meals and strong beverages. I think he even gives up smoking, but I cannot be certain about that. His healthy Lenten lifestyle keeps him free of the pill-popping regimen that rules most our peers’ lives.

Every weekend of his calendar reads like the diary of a busy socialite. It is full of invitations to engagements, weddings, christenings, anniversaries, invitations to be godfather to new born babies, invitations to birthdays and first salary parties, invitations to picnics and dances, lunches and dinners. This is ample proof that he is liked by many. That he goes to the functions, often involving flying out of Mumbai, is that he likes them too.

He laughed long and loud and said he liked my choice of words: “an excellent piece of good luck”. And I said that except for a couple of couples I know, marriage has not turned out to be such a great institution for most of the people I know. Not for the couple and definitely not for their children.

He agreed and he should know because he has had a ring-side view of many families who count him as one of their own. And he quoted his mother who said, courting time is the best time. Both people are on their best behaviour, but you never know what someone is like until you have lived with that person for some time. I had to agree.

He said, but at least you have children who will look after you when you are old and ill. He laughed again, long and loud, when I used some pretty strong language which translates into “uh huh”.

And then in one of those inexplicable coincidences that life is so full off, I received another call from a worried mother, who was looking for a girl for her son. I asked the question why? Why rock the boat? She was offended.
“Because everyone should marry,” she said, “The Lord God said it is not good that the man should be alone. I will make a helpmeet for him.”
“Then why” I asked, “do they refer to the single life as a life of “single blessedness””?
“You…!” She said and slammed down the phone.

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