Fiction: The Right Match
Sangeeta Sharma

- Sangeeta Sharma

45-year old ailing, but at the same time, eager Sharda stepped into the hospital and inquired for the physiotherapist. She had undergone physiotherapy for 20 days intermittently. However, this time she was extremely inquisitive. The reason was the wish to see the physiotherapist physically. It was her name that had drawn her to this hospital. First 10 days she had taken the treatment at home, next 10 days at the world-renowned Wockhardt and the third was this multi-speciality hospital which was much closer to her home. Rather it was on her way to her BSNL office.  

She had a son of marriageable age and she had been quite anxious about his marriage for the last one year. She used to pour over for hours on online wedding sites like, Hindu Matrimony and many more in her search for the right girl. “Rahul,” she used to often bark in her excited voice. “Come here. Look at her. She is pleasing enough. She has just one brother and her parents are professional doctors. Excellent family, isn’t it?”

One after another many such proposals came her way online and were rejected for some or the other reason: either the girl was not of the academic profile being looked for or the parents didn’t belong to the right social class or if the prospective match crossed these two criteria, the party did not show any interest.

However, while entering this multi-speciality hospice, Sharda was very expectant. Because the surname of this physio was the same as hers and in their caste, the custom was to marry in similar-name families. Only the gotra needed to be different. She had decided that even if this physiotherapist does not turn out to be very beautiful, she will fix up her son’s marriage with her considering her high qualifications. She boarded the elevator and reached the second floor. As it was a prior appointment, young and ‘still unmarried’ Pooja, too, was expectant. As Sharda entered her chamber, doctor Pooja got up and greeted her very warmly. “Come Aunty, tell me your problem!” Sharda was touched by the warm, soothing voice of the doctor. Unlike other doctors, she sounded very humane. Snehal, the doc, was skinny and petite.

Otherwise doctors in this age consider themselves to be no less than demi-gods, recommend various tests and fleece money out of the poor and rich alike. Snehal, however, was sneh manifested for Sharda. She made her lie on the bed, mounted up on one side of her feet and started lifting them slowly. She did this to both her feet and then got down. The exercise alleviated Sharda’s pain. Rubbing her neck, she asked, “ Does it pain here?” Sharda was amazed to see that she had touched the right spot. She answered in the positive and was impressed by her diagnosis.

She put the USW pads beneath her neck and started eliciting more details from Sharda about her illness. Even Snehal was aware of the name similarity and was behaving appropriately. Gradually, Sharda started probing. Questions like “ How many siblings are you?” “Is your mother a home-maker?” “Where do you live?” and “What does your father do?” evoked lot of interest in the young therapist who had got some inkling that the lady is interested in her candidature for matrimonial alliance. She gave her TENSE and Ultrasound treatments and then manually pressed the affected points. All this gave lot of relief to Sharda. The therapist was highly courteous and was paying attention to her every need and query.

She also prescribed appropriate exercises to her and instructed her to take precautions. “No bending and no lifting strictly!”She also let Sharda know about the physiological variations her body might have undergone as she was on the wrong side of her forties. She tried to make Sharda understand that the problem is not going to be eternal. “It’s just a matter of few months. Soon it will disappear and you will not even remember that it had happened to you ever. Just continue with the prescribed precautions and recommended exercises,” instructed Snehal. Through all this she tried to impress the senior woman with the deep knowledge of her subject. That day Sharda  discussed Snehal over dinner with her husband, Jeetesh, and about  Snehal’s possible candidature for their only son, Utkarsh. 
However, on hearing that Snehal’s father is a  railway guard, Jeetesh, a knowledgeable man in his domain, tried to dismiss this idea which Sharda was so enthusiastically placing before him. It was not that he was not worried about his son’s marriage. On the contrary, he, too, had often harked out for Sharda to show her some girls on the FB but even she had always rejected those because she invariably detected the forged pictures pasted on the FB sites were not of the profiled girls but of some actresses which Sharda never failed to mark out.

 “A railway guard will not do,” he proclaimed. “We will marry our son in an equally educated family as our own.” However, Sharda’s visit to the hospital went on and with that the chatting with the therapist went on and as she revealed more and more about herself, Sharda started losing interest in her candidature. One day when she reached, Snehal said, “ It’s a very heavy machine. I will not be able to lift it. I can’t lift heavy objects.” Sharda was puzzled. “A physiotherapist cannot lift the machines she’s meant to operate?” she pondered. The other day, when reference of food occurred, she said, “ I don’t take anything for my breakfast and even when I return home at 3:00 pm , I  rarely eat. I have to reduce my weight. My waistline is increasing these days.”

Sharda, who was till now, mentally visualizing her as a right match for her son, started rethinking. 
“This girl who has no stamina at such a young age and who, even then, does not pay attention to proper dietary habits is worthless for her family,” she mumbled to herself. “A woman has to first remain fit herself only then she would be able to take care of her family.” She also recalled Snehal saying that she does not like cooking. This was another point for which she was negatively marked by Sharda. She wondered how the family and especially her mother allowed Snehal to go to work without breakfast. And what bewildered her the most was that she did not eat anything even after returning home. She did not want to marry her son in a family where people were so indifferent towards nutrition.

Today she paid special attention to Snehal’s appearance. A beak-shaped nose, sparse hair, wheatish-complexion, very thin arms, worn-out dress and what she was aghast at- the most-  were the type of sneakers she wore daily to the hospital.  The shoes lent her a masculine look. In an age, where women spend their salaries on their appearance, here was one example who cared the least about her looks. She seemed not to care about herself at all. Thickly-oiled hair tied up in a thin plait, made her look below average. In fact, she was never impressed by her looks right from the beginning but she was trying to pacify herself with the fact that she has impressive academic credentials. That thought had solaced her till now.

But today she could not think anymore of her getting married to her handsome son.

Next day was her last day of treatment. During her conversation with Snehal, she casually inserted, “I don’t know when we will meet next. However, look for some good match for my son. Now you know what kind of a girl I am looking for Utkarsh.”Sharda had already divulged her preferences in the prospective match for her son as she had the gift of the gab and had never been quiet throughout her treatment. 

Sharda knew that it would be a great bolt for this doc who has been probing about her son’s whereabouts with great interest and had been secretly judging herself as the right match for him. On hearing that her son is an NRI, she had shared her secret desire of doing her research somewhere abroad. This was another hint to Sharda from Snehal that she did not mind settling abroad. On the contrary, she preferred this option.

Today’s statement left Snehal’s dreams shattered. Literally, she heard the glass house of her dreams collapsing downwards as the ultrasound machine slipped from her hands and fell on the marble floor with a clang.

She was unable to react or respond. On the day when the poor doc was expecting a marriage proposal to come from Sharda for her son’s marriage, she had faced a rejection. 

Nevertheless, she behaved normal and did not allow her shock to show. Concealing all her emotions of disappointment and dismay, she continued instructing Sharda in the same tone:  “Don’t forget to put a rolled towel dipped in hot water beneath your neck, Aunty, and whenever there is relapse take enough rest and use ice pack….” Her voice trailed.
Setu, October 2017

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