A few years ago, there was one thing that drove a cousin into an uncontrolled grit-teeth, flared-nostrils rage. The prospect of marriage. He was 24 then. When the issue of marriage first arose, he quickly learnt that a smile and an empty promise were good averting tactics. But with every inquiry from a well-meaning relative, the pressure on him to 'at least look at some girls' grew. His promises slipped to logical explanations for staying single, and these explanations slid to exasperation before, finally, one day, he cracked.
Our family grew bigger soon after. Late night visits with friends to Jabal al Noor for a burger and the decidedly pink Titanic drink were more filling with this new addition. A human whose home once travelled at 120kmph with techno bursting out the boot finally found peace in suburban life. Good for him. Bad for me. He’s so chuffed with the idea that he’s convinced I should try it soon. W
Why did he not want to marry? I was too young to understand then but my guess is, awareness dawned that this would be it. A lifetime of sobriety was hurtling towards him and, before impact, he wanted more time to live. The rage was a way of buying time. Terribly late nights - among other things - ensued, and he slowly tired himself enough to fall in with the inquiries and the feelers pointed his way by unrelenting relatives.
'Cricket writing has late hours' is met with the well-meaning suggestion to change country, career and mindset. The lack of earnings excuse is cheerfully tossed away with the optimistic assumption that we will earn together and grow together. There is one relative who tries the emotional blackmail route. Two have the good cop-bad cop routine going. One predicts disaster if I do not marry soon. It’s the most charmingly coordinated attack on bachelorhood.
I now feel a kinship with that nostril-flaring 24-year-old cousin. Marriage, then as now, is unsettling because it seeks to settle; because it feels less like settlement and more like displacement. Sigh. That life of sobriety is hurtling my way. Late nights – among other things – are in order.