In my dream last night, I was talking to my grandmother. Probably because I had marriage on my mind, seeking as I was a son-in-law, I had gone back in time to when my grandmother had been married off at the age of fifteen to a man she did not know. I have some vague recollection of a figure with salt and pepper hair saying something indistinguishable, the only words clear being marriage and Facebook – sort of like marriage through Facebook. Could my grandmother actually have been talking of matchmaking in my dream? Naah! The dream was a hodgepodge of my own thoughts and dinner table conversation and nothing more.
But what if the conversation really happened? I permit my thoughts to wander to what if granny were alive. The dialogue would probably run something like this:
Me: Mini is 25…I have to find her a young man. She’s almost on the shelf.
Granny: No she’s not. She’s young and has her whole life in front of her. Don’t rush.
Me: Rush? I have to start looking.
Granny: Arre! These days that’s not your job…
Me (aghast): Granny!
Granny: Be sensible. You can’t push your opinion down your children’s throat these days. Matchmaking is not what it used to be. Involve her in the search for her own husband.
Me: Next you’ll be telling me to become her Facebook friend.
Granny: And what’s wrong with that? If she wants you to, why not? I am her friend, Facebook or not.
Me: But Facebook matchmaking?
Granny: There’s a difference between marry Facebook and marriage Facebook.
Granny: Offoh! I mean marriage through Facebook. Where there is an app that brings relevant information like work. education, interests, location, home town, relationship status, age, photos – all of which the person choses to share – from Facebook into the app
Me (disbelievingly): And how do you know all this?
Granny: Because I keep my eyes and ears open. You should be doing that. There’s a real generation gap here.
Me: You and Mini have a greater gap than you and I and you understand each other pretty well! What generation gap?
Granny: Between you and me, sweetie – you and me. Mini and I understand each other.
Me: What’s this got to do with Mini’s marriage?
Granny: She is the Facebook generation. Use it. Let her be part of the whole thing – it’s her life. She should get to know the man first. She should be able to decide.
Me: Will she then marry of her Facebook friends?
Granny: Don’t you understand simple things? And you being closer to this age than I am! The app takes profile information but friendship is permitted only once both sides have liked and mutually accepted each other.
Me: I’m scared for her.
Granny: I know. But I’m sure there are precautions that are taken. No person from the app can visit another’s profile. Mini will decide who she wants to explore as a prospect and no one else. She can bar you and me too.
Me (with a pang of jealousy): You she won’t.
Granny: That’s because I am learning to talk a language she understands. Can you imagine knowing and finding out for yourself before marrying someone? We didn’t know anything about the home I was going to or the man I was marrying except what someone told us. I was just lucky that your Granddad turned out fine for me.
Me: What are you saying?
Granny (with her typical frown of exasperation): Without mutual consent, even if Facebook friends sign up and are compatible they won’t be visible to each other. Friendship and sharing of details will happen only after she is satisfied if one is alright for her. I’m not exactly asking you to open her details to everybody out there. At least find out about this way of getting yourself a son-in-law.
I come back to earth with a start. Has my mind been replaying the dream? I smile to myself. I may not know what is the dream and what is reality but what my mind does know is Granny. Married off at fifteen, she was home schooled, a voracious reader, an accomplished singer who drove her own car. She completed her graduation after marriage and may have gone on to an MA except she chose to devote her life to her three children. And what an education – formal and informal – she gave them! Yes Granny, you love my Mini. And had you been around, you WOULD have been her Facebook friend and the two of you would have giggled like school girls at marry or marriage through Facebook – whatever little secret code you developed between yourselves!