MIDWAY: Cruel distance

One of my cousins was in Kathmandu recently to select his bride. All arrangements were soon made and the date for the engagement fixed. I was all het up about the marriage.

On the fated day, our entourage was all welcomed like royalty at the girl’s place. Suffice to say that no formality was spared.

What I remember the most is the variety of delicacies coming from the kitchen: Sweets, wafers, pastries and what not! Soon, I was nibbling away at them one by one. Some dough they must have spent, I kept thinking at the time.

Later that evening, discussions about the marriage continued at home. Everyone had a thing or two to say about the match. But the final decision had been left to the bride’s father. After hours of deliberation on the other side, we learned the old man had finally decided to make my dear cousin his son-in-law. Everything was settled. Or so we thought.

No sooner was the “official” seal stamped on the marriage, the phone started to ring continuously. It

was one of my distant brothers from our village. Without any hesitation, he dropped the bomb: the girl turned out to be a ‘distant’ cousin of my cousin. When we had all done our arithmetic on family relations, we came to the conclusion that both the hero and the heroine of this saga were some sort of brother and sister.

The wedding was promptly cancelled. And my cousin was despondent. But his sorry mood did not last long. He soon started afresh his search for a new bride. He left the town for his village for his new adventure. But I was left puzzling out what all this was about. If we are to dig up non-existent relations and cancel fixed marriages, who knows, some day someone might invoke our rather too-close relationship to the... apes! Some others may reason: As we are all the children of God almighty, we were fated to be brothers and sisters even before our birth.

I can understand why people do not marry near relatives. But nobody has been able to explain to me why a cousin’s cousin’s sister-in-law should be a no-no as a bride. Next time you eye that girl next door or that handsome hunk walking by, beware! H/she might be your relation, however distant. What does distance matter, after all?