Thursday, February 16, 2017

The “Prize Catch” Husband

The “PRIZE CATCH” Husband
A Fiction Short Story

When I returned home from work in the evening – I found everyone waiting for me.

Yes – they were eagerly waiting for me to come home from work – my parents – my elder sister and her husband – my aunty (mother’s sister) and her husband – our neighbors and their daughter – and – of course – our maid – she was eavesdropping as usual for some “hot gossip”…

The moment she saw me – my mother said excitedly: “The Boy’s parents called up in the afternoon – the “Boy” has liked you…”

“I got your SMS…” I said to my mother, rather tersely.

Actually – I called you immediately to give you the good news – but you didn’t answer the phone – so I sent you the SMS…”

“I was busy…”

“I thought you would be happy to see the good news – and – I expected you to call back immediately the moment you saw the SMS…”

“Good News…? What “good news”…?”

“The “Boy” has liked you. You will be getting married soon and going to America. Isn’t that “good news”…? Aren’t you “happy”…?”

“What do you mean by “I am getting married”…? I hope you haven’t…?” I asked my mother.

“Yes. She has…” my father said, “your mother has told the Boy’s mother that you “like” the “Boy”…”

“What…?” I said, shocked.

“We have even fixed up your marriage…” my mother said.


“Next Sunday…”

“Next Sunday…? That’s just 10 days away…”

“It’s a good “Muhurat” – that’s what the Boy’s mother said – and – I checked up on the astrological calendar too – a very auspicious day – and – it’s an ideal day and date – it will be convenient for everyone to attend the wedding ceremony on Sunday – and – we were so lucky – even a good “Marriage Hall” was available at such short notice – so – we have booked the hall too…” my mother said, matter-of-factly.

“You did all this on the phone…?” I asked my mother, feeling flabbergasted.

“Yes. The Boy’s parents are in a hurry – the Boy has to go back to America by the end of this month – so we have got just 15 days for the marriage – a quick honeymoon – and then – the moment your “spouse visa” comes – you can join your husband in the US…”

“Spouse Visa…?”

“You are lucky – the Boy is already an American Citizen – so he said that he will arrange everything so that you can get there quickly – so – you keep your passport ready with you in your purse – the Boy is coming to meet you at 6:30…”

“He is coming to meet me at 6:30 – that’s just half an hour from now…”

“Yes – we have to do things quickly now – you get ready fast – he is going to take you out for dinner – you both can discuss all your marriage plans, honeymoon, going to America, future life etc…”

“What is wrong with you…? When did I ever say that I want to get married to this “Boy”…?”

“Don’t you “like” the “Boy”…?”

“Did I ever say that I “Liked” the “Boy”…? Did I ever say that I wanted to get married to him…?”

“We assumed…”

“How can you assume such things...? I hardly know him…”

“First – you two met at the “Kande Pohe” girl-seeing ceremony here – then – the very next day – you two  went out for coffee to get to know each other better – and – after that – you visited his parents’ house – and – when I asked you about him – you said: “The “Boy is Good”…”

“Yes. The “Boy” may be good – but that doesn’t mean I want to get married to him – and that too – in such a crashing hurry…”

“I told you – the “Boy” has come to India on a month’s vacation – and – he has to go back to America by the end of the month – so – before that we have to finish off your wedding ceremony – in fact – we have agreed to have just a token engagement ceremony at home due to the shortage of time…”

“You don’t worry – we will arrange everything – all of us will do all the wedding work – you just have to be present for the wedding ceremonies – that’s all…” my elder sister said.

“Yes – that Wedding Hall is booked – the Menu has been finalized – I have already paid the advance online – we will go there tomorrow morning to finalize the ceremonies and arrangements and tie up the loose ends…” my sister’s husband said.

“We will finish off all the wedding shopping this weekend – you can visit your parlour too – and – by next Sunday – you will be all set for your wedding…” said my aunty (mother’s sister).

“I will get some sample wedding card samples for you to choose from – so – we can give the printing order…” my mother’s sister’s husband said, “you don’t worry – I will handle that end and see that everyone gets invitations in time – I will email them too – and – your father and mother will take you along to invite the very close relatives…”

“Yes – the wedding will happen smoothly – the Boy’s parents are very decent people – they are not insisting on anything – they said to me: “Whatever you do – we are happy”…” my mother said.

“Okay…” my father said to me, “you go to your room and get ready quickly – the “Boy” will be here in another 20 minutes...”

“And – wear something nice – and do your hair – and touch up your face up a bit also – I’ll come with you and help you get ready for the “Boy”…” my sister said to me.

“Please Please Please Please Please – I am not interested in getting married to this “Boy”…” I shouted, exasperated.

“What…?” everyone said, looking surprised.

“I do not want to get married to this “Boy”…” I said firmly.

“But why…?” my mother asked me.

“I don’t know – but – I don’t want to get married…”

“You are already 27 years old – and – your father is retiring next year…” my mother said.

“You don’t worry – I am financially independent – I will fund my own marriage – I don’t need any money from you…” I said.

“No. No. Your mother didn’t mean it that way…” my father said, “I want you to tell me one thing – you don’t want to get married at all – or – you don’t want to get married to this “Boy”…?”

“I don’t want to get married to this “Boy”…” I said.

“But why…? What’s wrong with this “Boy”…? He is a “perfect match” for you…” my mother said to me.

“Yes – it is such a nice family – and – the “Boy” has such good character – he has no bad habits – he does not smoke or drink – he is a teetotaller – he so well-mannered, polite and soft-spoken – his mother said that he has a very loving and caring nature – he will be best husband for you…” my sister said to me.

“Yes – he is so well qualified – IIT – Ivy League University – excellent career – well settled – and he is already an American Citizen too…” my sister’s husband said.

“You are so lucky that the “Boy” has liked you…” my neighbour said, “if I would had got such a “prize catch” NRI boy for my daughter – I would have married off my daughter to him immediately…”

“Then – why don’t you get your daughter married to him…?” I said rudely to my neighbour.

I instantly regretting my words – so I apologized to my neighbour: “I am sorry aunty…”

“It’s okay…” my neighbour said, “it’s your nerves speaking – you are nervous at the speed at which things are happening. You go up and relax for some time and think about it calmly. This “Boy” seems really good – so you don’t let go of the opportunity. You may not get such a good boy again – especially at your age…”

Suddenly – everyone started hounding me.

“Yes – the “Boy” is really good…”

“You will regret all your life if you don’t marry him…”

“A perfect match…”

“Yes – so brilliant – so accomplished – so loving…”

“He looks so handsome – so fair – so smart and debonair – what a smart personality – and – he has such an excellent physique…”

“He is intelligent, well-qualified, doing so well in his career…”

“Yes – and he belongs to such an excellent family – so – he is sure to have good upbringing and values…”

“Didn’t you see how polite, soft-spoken and well-mannered he was – and – the way he talked to his parents and to us – he has such a loving and caring nature…”

“He is an ideal husband…”

“You will not find a boy like him – impeccable credentials – brilliant career prospects – and – exceptional qualities – you name it – and – he has it – intellect, character, personality, elegance, handsome looks, social graces – everything perfect – not a single blemish…”

“Yes – the “Boy” has such excellent character and qualities – he has no faults…”

“Yes. Yes. Yes…” I shouted, “He has no faults. That is the reason I don’t want to marry him…”

“You don’t want to marry him just because he has no faults…? What do you mean…?” my mother asked me.

“He is too good to be true…” I said.

“What do you mean “he is too good to be true”…?”

“I don’t know. But something seems to be wrong…”

“Are you afraid that he may be a “NRI Fraud”…? You don’t worry on that score. We have checked his background thoroughly – he has impeccable credentials…” my sister said.

“Yes – I have checked up with my NRI friends – one works in the same firm – and another friend lives nearby – and – all of them say that he is an excellent guy…” my sister’s husband said.

“I know his family personally – his mother and my mother-in-law are close friends…” my sister said.

(It was my sister who had suggested this “Boy” to my mother as a suitable husband for me)

“So – you are worried that if I “reject” the “Boy” – your mother-in-law will get angry with you…?” I asked my sister in quite a nasty tone.

“Of course everyone will be annoyed – we will have plenty of explaining to do. First – mother says “Yes” to the proposal – and now – we will have to make a U-Turn and say “No” – and all this – just because of your stubborn attitude…” my sister said to me.

“What do you mean by “stubborn attitude”…? I am not going to get married to that “Boy” just because you want me to…”

“But why…? What is wrong with him…?”

“I don’t feel like getting married to him – that’s all…”

“The “Boy” is so good – and – you are already 27…”

“You don’t worry about me – I would rather remain unmarried than marry this “Boy”…”

“You always wanted to go to the US – didn’t you…?  You will not get an opportunity like this again – you will become an American Citizen straightaway…”

“Please. Please. Please. I don’t want to marry this “Boy” – and – that is my final decision…” I said.

“Please try to understand – this is really a good match for you – this “Boy” is most suitable for you…”

“Stop it – just stop it – you are saying the same things again and again…”

“Please try to think rationally…”

“Rationally…? What is there to think rationally…?”

“Give me one good reason why you don’t want to marry this “Boy”…” my mother said.

“My “inner voice” says so…” I said.

“Inner Voice…?”

“Yes – “inner voice” – “gut instinct” – “sixth sense” – call it what you like…”

“What nonsense…”

“It is not “nonsense”. I always listen to my “inner voice”. I am not saying that the “Boy” is bad – but – I don’t feel comfortable in his presence – he generates negative vibes within me…”

“But – you have met him thrice – at the “girl-seeing” ceremony here – then –you two  went out for coffee to get to know each other better – and – after that – you visited his parents’ house…”

“So what – I told you that my “inner voice” tells me that I should not marry that “Boy”…”

“Okay – you get ready – the “Boy” will be here at 6:30 – go out with him – have dinner – spend some time alone with him – talk to him – ask him whatever is bothering you – clear all your apprehensions…”

“I am not going out with that “Boy” – in fact – I do not intend meeting him again…”

“But – what will we tell him…?”

“You fixed up my marriage without asking me – didn’t you…? Now – you tell him that the marriage is cancelled…” I said to my mother.

“How can we do that…? It will be a big humiliation…” my mother said, with tears in her eyes.

“Why are you acting so “hoity-toity”…?  The “Boy” is a “Prize Catch” – and you should be grateful to me for arranging this match. There were so many girls lined up for him but I made sure that he saw you first. There are hundreds of girls who would jump at the opportunity to marry him…” my sister said.

“Then – let them marry him. I am not interested…” I said.

“You have put us in a very embarrassing situation…” my mother said, “Please change your mind – at least – go out with him for dinner…”

“Yes. Yes. You go out with him this evening…” everyone started saying – trying to put pressure on me.

Suddenly – my father intervened: “It is her life – let her decide…”

“What are you saying…?” my mother pleaded with him.

My father turned towards me – and – he said to me: “You go up to your room and stay there. I will tell the “Boy” – in fact – I will call up his parents right now before he comes…? 

And so – My Marriage to the “Boy” was cancelled.

Everyone was angry with me.

Relations between me and everyone were spoilt forever.

My mother said that the Boy’s parents were very angry and they insulted my father when he phoned them to call off the marriage.

For my mother – my marriage to that “Boy” would have been a “social triumph” – but now – because of my obstinacy – everything was ruined – and – she thought that she would look like a fool in society.

My father remained silent – but – I could see that he was upset.

My sister stopped speaking to me – she never forgave me for creating a rift between her and her mother-in-law (who was a close friend of the Boy’s mother).

My aunty stopped looking for “Suitable Boys” for me.

Our neighbour told everyone what a big fool I was – and – she prophesied that I would never get married and would remain a spinster for my entire life.

The “Boy” got married to his second choice” girl – he had “shortlisted” 5 girls in just one week – that will give you an idea of how much he was in demand – a real “prize catch” – who – I had let go… 

Sometimes – I too felt pangs of regret – but then – my conscience told me that I had done the right thing by listening to my “inner voice” – my “sixth sense” – “gut feelings” – vibes” – call it what you like – I think you know what I am talking about.

I had sensed something wrong about the “Boy” that I could not put my finger on – a sense of feelings that I could perceive but could not quantify or enumerate.

Yes – I am human – and – I did feel a pang of regret at the “golden opportunity” that I had spurned.

But – I forgot about the episode – and – I got on with my life.


Around one year later – a smart girl walked into my office.

I recognized her at once.

She was the “second choice” girl – who had got married to the “Boy” – who I had rejected.

How did I know this…?

Simple – I had seen her profile on Facebook.

A few days after “rejecting” the “Boy” – I wondered who he had married – so – I surfed the Social Media – and – I had seen pictures of his grand wedding and his new bride (who had taken my place).

I asked the girl to sit down.

She had come to submit her resume in person for a “walk-in interview”.

As HR Manager – I was supposed to scrutinize her resume – and – take a preliminary interview – and then – if I found her okay – send her for the final interview with our Boss in the next cabin.

I opened the resume folder.

Her name indicated that she was still married to the “Boy”.

“You are married to XXX…?” I asked her.

“Yes…” she said.

“But – your husband lives in New York – isn’t it…? He is an American Citizen – isn’t he…?”

“How do you know…?”

“Well – you just answer my question…”

“Yes – he is in New York…”

“So – why do you want a job here in Pune…?”

“I have come back…”

“You have come back to India…? Oh – so your husband has relocated here to Pune for work – is it…? For how many years…?”

“I have come back alone…” she said, with a slight quiver in her voice.

“Alone…? Why have you come back alone…?” I asked her.

“I’d rather not say – it is personal…” she said.

“Well – you will have to tell me – this is an interview – and – in case you are selected for the job – we will be doing a thorough background check in any case – so – it is best you tell me everything truthfully…” I said firmly.

“I have left my husband – I have applied for divorce – I am not going back to him ever again – I have permanently left him…” she said, choking a bit.

“Oh – what happened – why did you leave him…?” I asked, curious.

“He was a pervert…” she said, with tears appearing in her eyes.

It was cruel of me – but – I pursued the topic – and – I said to her:

“What do you mean he was a “pervert”…? I have met your husband – and – he seemed to be a perfect gentleman…”

“Yes – for the outside world – he was a “goody-goody” well-mannered gentleman – but – behind closed doors – he was a cruel depraved pervert…” she said – and – she broke into tears.  

“Oh – so he was a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” type personality…?” I said.

She did not answer – because – by now – she had broken down completely – her composure totally shattered – and – she was crying copiously.

I imagined myself in her position – and – I thanked my stars that I had listened to my “inner voice” and not married the “Prize Catch” Boy. 

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This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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