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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Briddhasya taruni bharja (বৃদ্ধস্য তরুণী ভার্যা)

Yesterday, a 50-year old Tunisian man drove our cab from San Francisco airport to home. Among other things, he told us that he married a 28-year old girl in his native country in May. I congratulated him a bit too soon. He lamented how ungrateful the new generation is. He sends $1,000 each month to his new bride (which is almost 2000 in Tunisian Dinar, more than a PhD earns in his home country), but she never thanks him. If he sends her an iPhone 3, she asks for an iPhone 6. Last time, she wanted a $250 jeans from True Religion. Her extravagance has led him to have second thoughts about bringing her to the US. He opined: 'Now she spends $1000 a month. Who knows, once she is here, she might end up expending $10,000. I bought her a $10,000 Renault. Next thing I know- she might want a Ferrari!'

The first thought that came to my mind was- does she know that he is just a cab driver and not a Bay Area billionaire? The demands seemed excessive for a 28-year old. You'd expect more maturity. Then I considered what could be the possible incentive for a young girl to marry someone almost twice her age when it is not love. She probably expected to be taken care of like a queen. What followed was rude awakening. I have seen separations that stem from unfulfilled financial expectations. It is especially sad when it happens in a love marriage where you ought to know what to expect. Nothing should come as a complete surprise.

Even a generation ago, some parents obsessed over an NRI groom, with no particular concern for a background check. Whether he is an alcoholic, a gambler, a womanizer, or plain old wife-beater- who could tell? We had a joke in the family that a suitable groom for some parents is an 'onion cutter' in America. But parents ought to make more informed decisions in today's connected world.

My father told me a story that was published in The New York Times some years ago. For fourteen years, a man worked hard to save enough to bring his four sons from Ghana to the US. When he became a US citizen, officials suggested that he took a DNA test to establish the relationship with the boys. But results showed that only the eldest of the four boys was his biological son. Now besides struggling to accept that his wife had been unfaithful and the children he loved as his own aren't his, and he might have to give up on the dream he had been working on for years- he had the added onus to prove that the boys are of his deceased wife. He didn't  want to abandon the kids that weren't his. My father wondered if our friendly Tunisian cabbie might suffer the same fate. I hope not.


amitabha said...

The OC (onion cutter) got a promotion as DC (dish cleaner)

Aparna Ganguly said...

That is a demotion actually in most restaurant kitchens 😀