Monday, July 8, 2013

LOOKING FOR A HUSBAND - Career Women and Marriage Prospects

LOOKING FOR A HUSBAND
Musings on Career Women and Marriage Prospects
Short Fiction - Two Stories - THE SMART YOUNG WOMAN and THE LADY ARMY OFFICER 
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Disclaimer:
1. Please read this story only if you have a sense of humour. This is a spoof, a yarn, just for a laugh, so please take it with a pinch of salt.
2. This story is a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
NB
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013 all rights reserved

Part 1

THE SMART YOUNG WOMAN

This happened 30 years ago, when I was pushing files in Delhi.

A smart young woman, maybe 20 or 21, entered my office.

She said that she had been asked to report to me.

“Me?” I asked, looking at her appreciatively, since she was very beautiful.

She smiled at the undisguised admiration in my eyes.

Then, demurely, she said, “Sir, you are the administrative officer…?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Sir, I am a new recruit LDC. I have got orders to join this office. I have come for the reporting interview.”

“Oh, please sit down,” I said.

She sat down and handed a folder to me.

The folder had her appointment letter and various certificates – educational, sports, dramatics – I saw that she was a very intelligent, well qualified and talented girl. She had done her schooling in a KV and her graduation from a prestigious college. She seemed overqualified and over-talented for this Lower Division Clerk (LDC) job.

I looked at the young woman and said: “You have done so well in your graduation – a first class with distinction – and you have so many talents and you have excelled in so many extra-curricular activities. You should study further. Or try to become an officer somewhere. Why don’t you give the civil services or banking exam or try for some Class 1 Officers’ post? Why do want to do this clerical job?”

“To improve my marriage prospects,” she said.

When I heard this incredulous answer, I was struck dumb.

I looked at her in silence, not knowing what to say.

“Sir, please don’t get angry – I am not joking. It is the truth. This is the real reason that I am taking up this clerical job,” she said.

“Can you please explain to me how this is going to help your marriage prospects?” I asked, curious.

“Yes Sir. I am the fourth daughter from a lower middle class family. My father works here in the secretarial service. He joined as an LDC and is a Section Officer now. He is retiring next year and wants to get me married before he retires and goes to his village.”

“So?”

“This is a non-transferable job, Sir, and I will remain in Delhi throughout my life. It will be easy for them to find a suitable boy in the same service – some LDC or maybe UDC. Both of us will be working in offices here only. And we will get quarters in Delhi and we will never be transferred. It is all so convenient.”

“Come on,” I said, “You will easily get an Officer husband.”

She blushed at the disguised compliment and said, “I know Sir. But we can’t afford the dowry for a high status match. It is best for us to remain within our class. Here, everyone wants a girl with a secure, easy and non-transferable government job like this one. Besides, if I get someone from the same service, he will be elder than me and senior to me, so he will get more pay than me and there will be no ego problems.”

I looked at her. I had never seen so much candidness before.

I smiled at her and said, “I really appreciate your talking to me so honestly. Welcome to the office. I am sure you will do well.”

Six months later she came to give me the good news.

Her marriage was fixed to a UDC working the neighbouring office.

In fact, it was a love marriage – love cum arranged – she had liked the boy and told her parents and they had fixed the match.

Soon she would be married and her father would retire peacefully, all his familial duties done.

Then she and her UDC husband would get a government quarter nearby where they would probably live for the next 35 years, till they both retired, hopefully as Section Officers.

They could look forward to a blissful married life, commuting up and down to office together, and have a stress-free unexciting secure working life, getting slow and steady time bound promotions, and enjoying all the benefits that come with a government job.

Years passed, I got transferred all over, did so many appointments, met so many people, and this story went into a remote recess of my memory.

Part 2

THE LADY ARMY OFFICER

A few months ago I was invited to deliver a lecture at my erstwhile institution.

In the audience, comprising officers of the army, navy and air force, I noticed a familiar face.

She was wearing army uniform.

She was the only lady officer in the lecture hall.

“Hello,” I said to her, during the tea break, when she came to greet me, “what a pleasant surprise to see you in uniform. I didn’t know you had joined the army.”

“Yes Sir,” she said.

“Tell me, the last time we met, you were doing your computer engineering, weren’t you?”

“Yes Sir,” she said.

“I thought you would join some Software Firm, work in the IT Sector – or maybe go abroad for further studies. So I am really surprised. What are you doing here in the army?”

“I am looking for a husband, Sir,” she said.

I almost choked, and the tea cup nearly fell out of my hands.

Seeing the expression on my face, she said, “Sir, I’ll be frank with you. I have no illusions about how I look. There is too much competition in the Software Sector. In an IT firm, where there are so many attractive “Techie” girls, no boy will even give me a second look.”

“Don’t say that. You look pretty and you are a smart young woman.”

“Beauty is all relative, isn’t it? Out there in the IT Sector, almost 50% are girls, so many beauties – there is just too much competition. Here, in an army unit, I am the only girl. Sir, just look there – see the way all those male officers are eyeing me?”

I looked.

She was right.

She was indeed the centre of attraction.

Most of the male officers were yearningly looking at her with undisguised affection.

I looked at her, smiled and said, “You have a point.”

“You see – here, in the army, I have no competition, and I can pick and choose,” she said impishly.

“So you joined the army for better marriage prospects?”

“Yes, Sir – you are quite surprised, aren’t you?”

“Not really. Yes, initially, I was a bit taken aback. But now I can understand. It seems perfectly rational to me. You know I came across a similar case long back,” I said, and I told her the story of the newly recruited LDC girl I have narrated to you above.

She listened eagerly.

Then we sipped tea.

“So have you found anyone?” I asked, breaking the silence.

“Yes Sir – quite a few prospective grooms. Now I am short-listing,” she said with a naughty smile on her face.

“It’s a good career move too – both husband and wife in the army,” I said.

“Sir, to be frank, I am not a career type of girl. In fact, I want to get married, have children and settle down to a life of cozy domesticity. Once I get married, I’ll quit the moment my tenure is over. Tell me sir, what can be better than being the wife of an army officer? I always dreamt of being a memsahib and living a good life – I love the ambience of the cool tranquil cantonments, the clubs, the parties, the social life, and the batmen to do all your work…”

“Ah – batmen – so that’s why you didn’t join the navy.”

“Maybe,” she said tongue-in-cheek, “but there is one more reason.”

“What?”

“The completion is much harder in the navy – there are so many women officers are in one place – and besides, you have to compete with the chic and savvy beauties in Mumbai – well, you just don’t stand a chance.”

I laughed. She laughed. We laughed together.

Everyone was looking at us. It was quite embarrassing.

Mercifully, the tea break was over, and we all went in for the remaining part of my lecture.

Later, while driving home, I thought about it.

There was a ring of truth in what the smart young lady army officer had said.

Most women officers indeed tend to marry their male colleagues (called “brother officers” in service parlance).

There are so many “in-service” marriages – it happens in the army, and I have seen it happening in the navy and air force too.

Maybe they can coin a new recruitment slogan:

“Join the Army for Better Marriage Prospects”


VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this book review. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:
All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
NB:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013 all rights reserved

Did you like this blog post?
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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

Vikram Karve Academic and Creative Writing Journal: http://karvediat.blogspot.com
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