No Glasses and a Full Head of Hair

“Why do you want to get married?” asked Dimpy. She did a quick calculation from the birth date he’d given her; he was eighty-one years old. He looked in great shape for a man of that age – no glasses, a full head of hair, and he walked unaided, quite lightly still. Overall tip-top. She hoped that she would be in a similar condition at his age.

“Well, I’ve been single my whole life,” said Jack. “I thought I’d give it a go.”

Dimpy’s Indian culture taught her to respect elders. She didn’t want to give him a hard time unnecessarily, but Lucerne’s part-time Registrar of Weddings had decided that it was her duty to ensure people were getting married for the right reasons. She would grill him like everybody else. It should make no difference that he was a charming old man. Her duty was to witness couple’s consent to marry. But more important was her consent. Without it they wouldn’t be legally wed. No one escaped her validation.

She said, “What makes you think that marriage is for you? Why don’t you just carry on as always?”

Dimpy decided that she would ask the same question of the lady waiting outside, Judy, who was seventy-six. After all these years alone, why now? Wasn’t she set in her ways, inflexible? Wouldn’t she be annoyed at deviations from her decades-old preferred way of doing things?

If Dimpy could talk them out of marriage she would be doing them a favour. She saw it now – the divorce document sitting on her desk in a year’s time when he was eighty-two and she was seventy-seven. How sad.

He seemed at peace with himself. Why change that now?

“I’m getting frail,” said Jack. “I may not be active for too much longer. I have been fortunate in life. I have always enjoyed good health, but I’m starting to fade now…”

Aha! thought Dimpy. So that’s it. He’s not just lonely, he’s also worried that he won’t be able to get around. Rather than a nurse, he wants a wife. If they were Hindu, he would have to walk around the fire seven times, making the seven vows, with the sacred fire, Agni, bearing witness…

He continued. “In a way I’ve been selfish my whole life. I’ve only ever thought about myself. I’ve avoided attachments of every kind – rented rather than bought a house, performed consultancy rather than permanent work, had girlfriends rather than a wife, and nephews and nieces rather than children. Now I find myself alone with many fine memories but no real relationships. While I’m in good health I’d like to make the most of it. It’s my last chance to serve someone else. To make a real difference to someone’s life as…”

Dimpy closed her eyes. It was unprofessional to cry while working. Also, she was then able to imagine Jack in a white tuxedo and top hat, and Judy wearing a white dress and veil.

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