My dad has been trying to convince me to get married for the last…well, I’ll just say for a long time. In the beginning, I was very patient and understanding of his reasons. But I think my dear father just didn’t know when to stop.
At age 21:
"Daughter, I think maybe it’s time for you to settle down."
"Let me find you a nice guy so you can get married."
"But I’m still studying, Papa."
"But if I start looking now then by the time you finish your studies we can have the wedding."
"Sorry, Papa, I just really want to concentrate on this for now. Can we talk about it in a few years?"
Papa sighs unhappily. "Okay, darling, if you say so."
A few months later:
"D [for daughter], your loving aunt, my sister, has sent me a letter with a boy’s picture. Look at it, he’s good looking, he comes from a good family…look at his qualifications!"
"What is that? A resume?"
"Uh, I really don’t want to think about this now. And I really don’t need anyone else to find me a guy. But thank her for thinking of me."
Many more conversations of this nature transpire. Parents and brother move to the US a couple of years later, I move to Canada. On a visit to the US, in my parents’ new home Papa and I are having a little chat about a lot of stuff:
"D, I want to grow tomatoes in the backyard."
"Go ahead. I think it’s a great idea…have a little kitchen garden in the back. Mom would love it."
"But it’ll be incomplete."
"Well, grow some other veggies you like too. You’ve done it before. I know that was many years ago, but I’m sure you can do it again. Oooh, I know! Habaneros!"
"That’s not what I mean."
"What I mean is…when I’m tending to the tomatoes I want to have grandchildren sitting on my knee."
"Is that your fantasy, Pops?"
"Right now it is, yes."
"I’m sorry to disappoint you, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon."
"Because I’m not ready yet, Papa."
"I just don’t feel like this is the right time."
"Okay, how much time do you need?"
"I don’t know, a couple more years maybe? I really don’t know."
I hear a dissatisfied sigh. "Okay."
A few months pass. Our little family of four is on a summer holiday in the Catskills. On a beautiful, sunny, warm evening, I’m enjoying reading a book in the cool grass. Papa comes and sits next to me.
"How’s the book?"
"Oh, I love it! I must finish it before we leave!" I had borrowed it from the study at the place we were staying in.
"Well, maybe I can ask the owner to let you take it with you and I’ll mail it back to him. Or I can offer to pay for it."
I laugh. "Then we may as well buy it from a bookstore!"
"That’s true. You’re a quick reader; you’ll probably finish it."
"I intend to!" I smiled, and immersed myself in the book again.
"I was thinking…"
"Oh?" A quick glance at my dad lets me witness an amused look on his face as he watches me. A twitch of my eyebrow lets my dad know I’m preparing myself for the talk. He’s getting predictable.
"Maybe it’s time."
I refuse to look up at him. "Time for what?"
"For you to settle down."
"We can find you—"
"But you are—"
"I don’t care."
"Listen, darling," he says sweetly, "I think you should think seriously about getting married now."
I finally look at him with a smile that is sickly sweet plastered on my face. "I don’t think so."
"But I do."
"I’m not ready for marriage, Pops!"
"But I am."
"Then you get married!" He can see that I am exasperated.
"Daughter!" he exclaims. "You forget that I already am."
"Honestly, Pops, this needs to stop."
"I’m getting old. I need grandchildren."
"You have a son. Please ask him to procreate."
"Why can’t I ask you?"
I have a steely look in my eyes. "Ok, ask me. You will have grandchildren. Marriage, I cannot promise."
"But that’s impossible!"
"Is it? Really?"
"It’s time for a wedding in the family, my darling daughter."
"Ask someone else to get married. Your son, for example."
"Why not you?"
"Because I continue to refuse you," I answer simply.
Papa looks up at the sky as if asking for help and sighs.
Another few months, I think, pass before he brings it up again. This time the situation is outrageous. I am visiting my parents and my dad has taken me to their doctor for a regular check-up. The conversation between him and the doctor, who happens to be from the country as us, goes something like this:
"Mr. S, just for our information, we need to know if your daughter is single."
"Yes, she is." Sigh. "Unfortunately." Sigh. "But do you know of any boys who’re around her age?"
I feel compelled to interrupt. "Okay, first of all, doctor, you can ask me these questions, I’m perfectly capable of answering them myself. Secondly, Papa, I’m not comfortable with this conversation."
It’s like the doctor doesn’t hear me. "I can give you the address of this place where a certain community meets every few weeks, I think. Parents bring their sons and daughters who want to get married. You should take your daughter there."
"Can you give me a phone number too, doctor?"
My dad graciously accepts the Post-It with the address and number scribbled on it. I stare at them ungraciously, my eyes disapproving and annoyed.
We go home and my dad suggests going to one of those get-togethers.
With an icy smile I ask, "Why, Pops? Why do you think I need to go there?"
"So that you can find a boy to marry."
"I take offense to that," I say, tight-lipped.
"I don’t see why."
"Well, you’re basically implying that I’m incapable of finding someone on my own. That it is so highly improbable that someone I meet could like me that I need to have someone help me find a boy."
"That’s not what it means, darling. This will just introduce you to some nice people."
"All these so-called boys there—"
"Darling, they really will be boys, not just called so."
"Ugh. All these so-called boys there"—my fingers make furious little air-quotes—"are going to be the kind that follow every order given by their mums and I’ll be damned if I marry someone whom I know is a mama’s boy!" My eyes flash angrily.
"But you are my responsibility, dear daughter, and as you can see I am getting old, so I must take care of my responsibilities."
I take a deep breath. I use a card that I know will win me the game. It’s a dirty one, but it must be played. "I didn’t realize I was such a burden on you that you think of me as a responsibility that needs to be taken care of. You could have just told me, Pops. I would have been more than understanding about it. You know that. I really don’t want to burden you any more than you absolutely need to be."
My father is dumbfounded. He looks at me for a few seconds, speechless but slightly amused for his daughter has managed to silence him. "Never say that again," he finally manages with a wounded look.
I smile, triumphant. "Sorry."
After that, he hasn’t brought it up the way he used to, but that’s not to say he has stopped completely. I was talking to him on the phone the other day when I told him I was thinking of maybe getting a dog since I live alone and I like pets.
"If I may make a suggestion, dear daughter," he said quite seriously, "maybe you should think about marriage instead."
I couldn’t help but laugh. It’s nice to know, Pops, that getting married is, for you, the equivalent of me getting a pet. For now, I’m still not ready and I pick the dog. But thanks for the suggestion, my loving father.