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The Matrimonial Advertisement

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The Matrimonial AdvertisementIt was another Sunday morning. P. Srinivasa Murthy sat down in his armchair by the window with The Times Of India. He read all the depressing front-page headlines. 17 gunned down in Kashmir, Economic situation grim, says Finance Minister, Zimbabwe trounce India by 8 wickets, For some comic relief, he turned to not Garfield, Beetle Bailey, Hagar the Horrible and Co., but to the matrimonial page.

PSM (as colleagues at work preferred to abbreviate his name) had just discovered recently that the matrimonial columns could be a source of great amusement. He had always ignored them all these years, having had no use for them, happily married as he was to a girl of his parents’ choice. But, of late, his daughter Sushma’s disinclination to find a groom for herself despite her post-graduate degree in sociology and high-paying job as a market researcher had made him consider them with some interest.

He never got around to dashing off replies to box numbers, however. To put it very plainly, none of the advertisers was good enough for his darling daughter. ‘Having own business’, Must have certainly compromised on his principles. ‘Working abroad’ God only knows what kind of lifestyle he must be leading there. ‘Successful, dynamic, modest’ Hah, as if.

It was this last advertisement that made him change his motive for reading the columns from finding a son-in-law to finding a few laughs. He chortled uncontrollably the first time he read ‘innocent divorcee’. ‘Advertisement for wider choice only’ brought a broad grin to his face. And widows/divorcees with one issue only may also apply, had him clutching his stomach.

‘Appa, coffee’ His daughter brought him his tumbler of piping hot filter coffee. Such a dear girl she was. With his wife away in Bangalore helping her sister to tide over her husband’s death, Sushma had taken over all her domestic responsibilities without a murmur. This despite her own commitments at work.

And what care she was taking of him. Calling up home from office to make sure he had had his lunch. Making tiffin for him, even after coming home tired from work. And here he was, scanning matrimonial ads, not for her sake, but for his.

PSM left his tumbler of coffee untouched by the armchair. With a sense of purpose that account-holders at the nationalised bank where he used to work till taking up voluntary retirement recently would find hard to associate with him, he strode towards the antique writing-table, his pride of possession, an heirloom from a deceased uncle. Inspiration had seized him. He wasn’t going to find her a jewel of a husband in those jokes that masqueraded as matrimonial ads. If he wanted one, he would have to put in an ad himself.

He took out his brand-new Parker pen, a farewell gift from colleagues at the bank, and filled it with ink. He carefully chose a fresh, unspoiled sheet from the note-pad. He chanted ‘Om Ganeshaya Namaha’ and wrote the words on the top of the page. He thought for a while and then began writing.

It took him only a few moments to write it down. ‘Parents of young post-graduate girl, working in reputed company, beautiful looking, pleasing personality, proficient in housework, seeks suitable match’. He put the pen down and gazed adoringly at the framed photographs of his daughter that adorned the shelves of his writing-table. He looked down again at what he had written. That described her, the apple of his eye. He shook his head at his feeble attempt. ‘Proficient in housework’ That read like something he would get a few laughs out of, if somebody else had written it.

PSM tore the sheet away and crumpled it into a ball. He decided to start afresh. He began, ‘Our daughter Sushma is an angel in human form. Beautiful in every way, she has brought us immense joy all these years, but now it is time for her to brighten the life of some lucky man’. His pen moved furiously, scratching a word here, adding a word there, never stopping till PSM was a hundred percent satisfied with his effort.

It’s been more than six months now since that fateful Sunday. Sushma is still unmarried (hundreds of bachelors, widowers, divorcees, parents and family of the above, even some married men willing to divorce their wives for Sushma, responded to the ad, but PSM found none of them good enough). Yet PSM today is a very contented man.

You’ll find the reason on page 82 of the latest edition of the Limca Book of Records. There, under Arts>>Literature>>Miscellany, sandwiched between Most Murder Mysteries Written In An Indian Language (credited to one Shankar Dayal, 1182 in all, written in Hindi and published by Diamond Pocket Books) and World’s Oldest Epic (the Ramayana, written c.2400 BC), you’ll read the following entry.

‘World’s Longest Matrimonial Advertisement. Written by P. Srinivasa Murthy of Chembur, Mumbai, for his daughter Sushma. Published on Sunday, June 17th, 2001, in The Times Of India, the ad consisted of 83,527 words, ran into a little over three columns and cost the advertiser Rs.1,07,350.’


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