One of the girls in the neighbourhood was getting married and all the homemakers were excited. They wondered about the bride, her bridegroom, the dowry he might have asked, his job, his salary, his looks, the gold the bride’s parents would load on her, the character of the bride, her education and many more things. Their husbands were pleased at the chance of getting some free liquor. They thought nothing more.
But the wives were interested in a dozen different things. They whispered outside their gates. They gossiped in their kitchens. When the day of the wedding dawned, they knew more about the bride than the bride herself.
The lady of the biggest house twisted her lips in scorn. She was more educated than the other ladies. Besides, she had worked in Kuwait for a few years till the Gulf War had driven her back to India . She was proud of her education, experience and what she considered to be her unconventional views. She chose her friends carefully. She, too, was invited for the wedding. “But,” she thought, scornfully, “I don’t have the unhealthy interest those women have. I have the decency not to gossip about the girl whose wedding I have been invited to. I shall wish her all the best; enjoy the buffet and come back home. I am sure these uncultured fools will gossip in the reception hall too.” And she tossed her head and went off to the kitchen to see what the maid was up to.
The maid was waiting for the milk to boil and was thinking about the wedding. “What are you doing?” said the mistress, sharply. “Don’t you know that the master has to go to the office before going to the wedding?”
“Breakfast is almost ready, Ma’am,” said the maid. “Ma’am, do you know, people say that the bride will wear a dozen gold bangles in each hand, a huge diamond necklace, a long pearl chain, another plain gold chain, her mangalsutra, long diamond earrings and three diamond rings. Some say even the anklets are made of gold. Ma’am, how much would the gold weigh in all?”
“Oh, shut up!” the mistress scolded. “Get the breakfast to the table!”
Over the breakfast table, half hidden behind his newspaper, her husband asked, “Are we going to the wedding?”
“Yes, of course, we are,” she replied. “I will come with you to the office first and then we can go to the wedding together.”
Her husband grunted. She brooded for sometime, breaking an idli into small pieces on her plate.
“Listen,” she said, finally. “The bride’s father is an ordinary clerk. He tried to borrow money from us once. How do you think he can afford diamonds for his daughter?”
“Maybe he robbed a bank,” her husband suggested, after a long pause.
“Oh, be quiet!” said the wife. “They can’t be real diamonds. These people are fools. They can’t discern real diamonds. They call any white stone that has a glitter a diamond.”
The husband grunted again. The wife put a morsel of breakfast in her mouth, still bothered that the bride’s father could afford diamonds.
“Moreover, diamonds wouldn’t suit her,” she continued. “She just doesn’t have the complexion. Last time I saw her, her face was covered with pimples.”
“Don’t worry,” said the husband. “She must have gone to the beautician and become a real beauty by now.”
“How can those people afford it, I wonder?” she put some breakfast into her mouth and sipped her tea. “They can’t even afford a full time maid. They can’t furnish their house tastefully. His house needed painting so badly and he couldn’t afford it. Now, look at the way he is spending on his daughter.”
“Well, he won’t see much of her again,” her husband’s voice floated from behind the newspaper, “Maybe he feels obliged to spend because she is marrying into a rich family. I know the bridegroom. He is the rich son of rich parents.”
“There you are!” she burst out. “He must have loaded her with all that gold. It is an unequal match. That girl is not worth much. She would make a good homemaker and that’s all. She would never be able to satisfy his intellectual and emotional needs. I don’t think this marriage will give him any satisfaction though she will live like a queen. People marry like fools.”
He laughed and folded his paper.
“Aren’t we gossiping?” he asked.
She was shocked. “How can you say that?” she demanded to know. “I am not a cheap, uncultured, uneducated fool to gossip. I was only making an intelligent analysis of what I feel is a hopeless union.”
Later, in the reception hall, she looked at the bridegroom with pity. “Poor young fool! These young fools always fall in love with the wrong person! His parents would have chosen a lovely girl for him who would’ve been his match in looks, intelligence, culture, education, social and economic status. And he goes and falls of this clerk’s daughter! And she isn’t even good-looking!!”
And she tossed her head and walked toward the buffet.