Archive for marriage

Tropical Igloo

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2012 by javedbabar

Mixed race couples aren’t strange – we’ll all be mixed race one day – but this one stood out. Dimpy, Lucerne’s part-time Registrar of Weddings, looked at them but not too hard. Her job was to make them feel comfortable first and then to grill them, to discover if they were getting married for the right reasons. Everybody wanted to live in Arcadia and there were increasing numbers of sham marriages that were for immigration rather than romantic purposes.

The woman’s ethnicity was hard to define – either Caribbean or African, or maybe South American, though she could be South East Asian. Her skin was brown but also golden. She had big lips and eyes, and a small nose with a diamond stud. Her eyes were electric blue, but that could be contact lenses. When she smiled, her eyes and face shone. She was a ravishing beauty; she could have any man she wanted.

Then why choose this tall white man with a moustache, who looked like a shabby bank manager? He also looked ten years older than her.

Dimpy chatted to them together, as she always did, and then asked the lady to leave the room. Separate interviews yield the best results.

She had once considered becoming a lawyer. Maybe she would have been good at it. It would have been more money and more regular work. Right now she was doing three jobs just to make ends meet.

The man lifted up the back of his pin-striped jacket in a peculiar fashion, sat down and smiled. His moustache seemed like a caterpillar yawning and stretching, and his ears held small caterpillars too. A small forest sprouted from beneath his collars. She asked him how he had met his fiancée.

“Before I tell you that, I would like to update you on some back story.” He had a faded, but polished, British accent. “My grandfather worked for the Foreign Service and lived in many tropical lands, including Jamaica, Ethiopia, Surinam and Indonesia. However my father started a small business and I followed in his footsteps, and I have never had the opportunity to travel much. I only ever dreamed about these places; they were so lush and exotic. Sometimes the dreams were so intense they made me shake; sometimes they made me cry; sometimes…”

Dimpy didn’t like interrupting clients, but if he carried on like this she’d be here all day. She said, “Thank you for the…”

“I’ve only just started,” he said. “Don’t you want to hear the story?”

“I do want to hear it, but I’m afraid that I haven’t got time. I have to ask you many more questions, and then your fiancée, and we have forms to complete.”

“Okay, I will speed it up. I began to dream of women from those places, bright women with dark skin, who were filled with sunshine. So when I met Susan in the city – you’ve seen what she looks like – she blew me away. It was love at first sight. We would like to get married in Lucerne, as Susan has fallen in love with this place.”

Dimpy wondered if he loved her really. Was he fantasising, dreaming, projecting? She completed her questions and then asked him to leave the room, and invited Susan back in.

Susan said, “Sometimes I think this man is crazy. He literally worships me, and calls me his golden goddess. He says that I’m his dream come true, and treats me better than any man I’ve ever known. Did he tell you about his tropical dreams? He tells everyone. I have dreams too, about the Arctic. I’ve always lived in hot places and never seen more than a touch of frost. In the dreams I am with somebody hairy, wearing furs, cutting blocks of snow to build an igloo. Snow whirls around us like a tornado.”

Alex and Sandra's Teatime

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2012 by javedbabar

“Alex and Sandra?” said Dimpy, trying not to show surprise. Sandra was a tall, red-haired girl, big-boobed and round-faced, with light freckles. Alex was also tall, blonde-haired, with smaller boobs, and a slimmer face and body. Alex was Alexandra. For the first time since she’d started this job, Dimpy was interviewing two women.

Lucerne’s part-time Registrar of Weddings was all for same-sex marriage. Why shouldn’t two people who loved each other be able to join together and create a stable home? God knows that her different-sex marriage had failed.

It wasn’t about gender, it was about adoration. It was simple really – if you adored each other, then things worked out.

Dimpy had admired her husband, liked him, maybe loved him, but had not adored him. When problems started, that was it.

She chatted to Alex and Sandra together, and then sent Sandra out. It was time to grill them one by one, to see if their union was genuine and not some kind of sham.

“When did you meet?” asked Dimpy, fixing her with a stare.

“Online. It was Arcadian Personals.” So she was looking nationally, not just locally. That showed determination.

“Please tell me about your first date.”

“We met for teatime,” said Alex, a little awkwardly. Dimpy hadn’t noticed her green eyes before, how they were flecked with gold. “Lunch is always a rush, you have to get from work to the restaurant, and then back to work. I find that dinner can either be too formal, or a drunken wasted night. There’s always sexual tension, wondering if you should make a move, and if so, how, and when, and whether you’ll regret it.”

She must have had some fun dates, thought Dimpy. Lucky girl.

“At teatime you can just be yourself. There’s no rush, you sit and wait patiently for flavours to infuse. You are participating in a ritual going back thousands of years. It’s different with different cultures of course. English like milk and sugar, Indians use pepper and cardamom, Chinese let the tealeaves unfurl, Japanese admire the cup and teahouse and recite poetry, Russians top up the samovar and sing.”

Dimpy couldn’t help nodding along. She loved teatime too, and hadn’t realized there were so many variations.

Alex continued, the colours of her eyes seeming to swirl and fuse. “So we met up at the Lucerne Valley Hotel for tea. Sandra ordered a Lapsang Souchong that smelled so heady I almost fainted, and I had a Bengali Chai with chilli and ginger. It was delicious.” She looked at Dimpy and said, “Things got hotter after that.”

“What about your second date?” said Dimpy. “Did you manage to have a nice lunch or dinner?”

“It was another teatime.” She beamed at Dimpy. “But this time I was making her morning cuppa.”

No Glasses and a Full Head of Hair

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2012 by javedbabar

“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.

Young Love

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2012 by javedbabar

Dimpy thought she was being too soft on couples intending to get married. Her job as Registrar of Weddings was to facilitate their unions, she knew, but she wanted them to be lasting unions. There was no point in getting hitched, and then abandoning each other two miles down the track, like donkeys running in different directions.

She performed this job only one day per week, but she would make that day count. She would add value to people’s relationships in a way that she had not managed to do to her own. But she had learnt her lesson soon enough, and would be sure that prospective brides and grooms learnt theirs too – but in time.

“David and Ashley?” she said to the young couple cuddling and whispering on the sofa. They separated quickly and looked at her fearfully, and then both smiled. How old were they? she wondered. Fifteen? Sixteen? What on earth were they doing here? The girl looked like a sweetheart; the boy seemed a cad.

She called them into her office, introduced herself, and read them the regulatory paragraphs. She told them that national and local laws were applicable, that they should be of the age of majority, residents of the Lucerne Valley, be of sound mind, and entering into this marital union of their own accord.

They both said they were eighteen and very much wanting to get married, but after that things began to go wrong. He didn’t know her middle name was Joanne. She couldn’t name his place of birth as Golden. He didn’t know the name of her sister Megan. She wasn’t aware that he had visited Peru with his uncle and trekked the Inca Trail.

She was grilling them harder than usual, for sure. Maybe people didn’t know as much about each other as they should. Maybe they should talk less and listen more. But some of these were basic things. If they didn’t listen to each other now, what hope was there for the future? Dimpy sent David out so she could interview his fiancée further, alone. She asked Ashley how they met.

“My family moved to Lucerne when I was sixteen years old and I enrolled at the High School. I was with a group of friends in the… Oh, sorry, it was two years ago. He saw me and walked straight towards me. I was so amazed. Such a handsome guy, I knew he was popular, all the other girls liked him too, but he liked me. He said that he knew immediately. I knew too. Knew what? Oh, that he was the one for me.”

After twenty more minutes of gush, Dimpy sent her out and called in David. He related the same story but less convincingly. When Dimpy pushed him, he said, “Look, Miss Kalash. I can see that you’re suspicious of me. I know why. So I’ll be honest with you. There was a group of girls there. I’d slept with them all. Then a new girl came and I thought I’d try my luck with her. She liked me a lot but not enough to let me – you know – get to know her better. She said that she liked herself more. I couldn’t believe it. No girl had ever said that to me before. She made me rethink everything. I realized that’s what I wanted; someone who liked herself more than she liked me; who was strong that way, not needy and…”

Honesty is a good quality, thought Dimpy. He has passed.