My great aunt calls me out of the blue. I haven’t spoken to her in years. She leaves me multiple missed calls. I listen to her voicemail, and it says something like ‘Call me back, it’s urgent.’ I immediately think someone died. I call her back. She tells me about a family friend that lives on the west coast, that reached out to her about finding a match for their daughter. Great! Not this nonsense again. She gives me their phone number and insists that I call them. Why the hell should I be the one to call them? Regardless, I write down the number and share this story with my parents. Mom knew this family friend quite well. My parents urge me to give it a shot, just to see what happens.
I had an idea of what was coming. I had some background knowledge of the girl. She was a high academic achiever. After some research, I discovered that she was a doctor. But not just a doctor, a specialist. Here we go again! The same questions kept coming to mind: Why are they looking into me? How desperate must they be? How much do they even know about me? The following conversation was an easy one to predict. After enough rejections, I had developed enough armor. What harm could another rejection do? Regardless, I moved forward. Mostly, so I could say to my parents, ‘I told you so.’
I grabbed my phone, and made the call. The father picked up. Just like all conversations it started off casual. He mentioned all the praise he heard about me from my great aunt. We covered all the usual topics: how long have I lived in America? what did I study in university? am I an American Citizen? (This is a big one by the way). Apparently, it’s common for Muslims, especially Desis, to marry for immigration purposes and divorce soon after. After enough investigating, I could tell the conversation wasn’t going in the right direction. After a few ‘hmms’ and awkward silences he asked for my Biodata (a.k.a Marriage Resume): that wonderful document that outlines your worthiness for marriage.
At this point in my life the mere request of a biodata was becoming a pet peeve of mine. Regardless, I had one just in case. He asked me to send a picture of myself along with it too. So, I threw a curveball at him. “Uncle do you have a picture of your daughter?” Cuz, damn it if I’m going to put myself out there I better get something in return. “If you could kindly attach that to her Biodata, I’d appreciate it.” As a side note, the custom is that the guy provides his picture and biodata first. The girl’s parents go through their whole approval process, call your parents, invite you and your parents over for dinner, and IF you’re lucky maybe you’ll see the girl. In rare circumstances you’ll get a chance to see a picture of the girl in advance. But that’s only if your parents insist. You’re better off asking for the keys to Fort Knox. Anyways, back to the story.
I knew this wouldn’t sit well with him, but I didn’t care. The guy was interested in ME. Not the other way around. And these were MY terms. He responded by saying “I’ll see your picture and Biodata first, talk to my wife, and let you know.” I wasn’t going to let this go. I remained respectful, but firm: “Uncle, you asked for my picture and Biodata. And to be fair I’d like to see hers.” He resisted, and essentially gave the same vague response. The conversation ended on a bit of an awkward note. We said Salaam and hung up. I had a decision to make: I could send the picture and Biodata, and hope for the best. Or, just drop this whole thing. Because let’s be honest, this thing wasn’t going anywhere. I talked it over with my parents. They insisted I follow through with it. I emailed my Biodata and picture to him. Needless to say, I never heard from him again.
There are certain things in life we can predict: work, sleep, school, etc. These proposals became another one of those predictable things. At this stage, it was becoming more like entertainment than frustration. The frustration came with the pressure that in order to get married I’d have to choose a more lucrative career. Regardless, this one cemented a few things for me: that your self-worth will always be tied to your income, and that it’s easier to get married if you sell-out. And I wasn’t ready to sell-out. At least not yet. So, I closed this chapter and moved on.