It is difficult to get married in India if you are a foreigner, an Italian like me, for example. So, I finally decided to place an ad in the ‘Matrimonial’ section of the local newspaper. I was reluctant to make such a move, because it was going to create “a contradiction in terms”. As plain as that, but finally I did it:
“Italian writer, owner of a Restaurant in Goa,
seeks a SIMPLE woman to marry.”
I just asked for “a simple woman”. And here lies the contradiction – for, simple women do not read the local (English) newspaper, and even less the matrimonial ads on Sunday!
The first bride-to-be who called my number started just the way I had feared:
“Are you Catholic?”
“Ma’am...” – I replied patiently, “Isn’t it a funny question, to start a conversation with a question?”
"I mean, do you believe in Jesus?"
"Ma’am,” – I said patiently – "You ask for it, you'll get it! No, I never believed in Jesus and I will never, meaning never, believe in him...and do you know why? Because I know him! To believe or not to believe is for stupid people...but I KNOW him!"
She had no sense of humour, predictably, and she never called back. Thank you, Jesus!
As strange as it may sound, it went on like this for the whole day, with women asking me "How tall are you? “ – and other inanities of this kind. By the evening I was totally frustrated, and then, she called.
Her voice was shy and tentatively casual… and soft. So soft to be almost inaudible.
”I am sorry... I’ve never answered to a matrimonial ad before…”
“That’s okay, I myself never put one up before!”
“Then... I have to warn you…” she added, almost shameful – “I... I am a Muslim.”
“And I have to warn you that if there is someone on this earth who doesn’t give a damn, whatever religion you belong to… that’s me!”
At this, she sounded much more relaxed and proposed to meet, some time. Somewhere.
I couldn’t possibly wait, so I proposed to meet half way, the very next morning.
“I’ll be wearing a red blouse,” – she informed me.
I was very calm and relaxed, the next morning in front of Calangute fish market. I even managed to buy some fish for the restaurant, while waiting.
Her name was Anju, and she was simply beautiful! I was standing there like an idiot, absolutely speechless, and totally incredulous that it was really happening. And, happening to me.
We looked at each other for quite a long time, incapable of uttering a single word, until I proposed to get out of there, on my scooter.
On the way, I realized that I should drop the fish at my residence, but I didn’t want to give the impression that I was taking her to my home so quickly! So I decided to drop the fish at the house, while
inviting Anju to wait in the garden and enjoy the breeze and the greenery.
I was opening the fridge in the kitchen, when I heard someone entering the house.
"Can I come in?”- asked the voice of Anju tentatively.
“If you can? You’ll have to, one day! And I’m delighted it’s happening now...”
When she stood in front of me, she looked into my eyes and said simply, as a matter of fact:
“I love you…”
These simple words nearly knocked me out! Hey, nobody had ever told me “I love you,” before I
uttered these words… Hey, is this a dream or what?
The next day, I had to go to Panjim and I decided to give her a call. Anju was free in that moment and 20 minutes later she was magically seated opposite me. She was sporting black trousers, red lipstick, and she was definitely quite cool.
I couldn’t resist one of my brutal and abrupt questions: “Your family must be quite a liberal one... isn’t it so?”
Anju’s face became instantly sad: “My family is very traditional, very conservative and orthodox…” (she paused) ...”Would you consider becoming a Muslim?”
“Listen, Anju, I’ll do anything for you. Meaning ‘any /thing’, even go living in Amazonia or Alaska. I’ll do anything for you, except become a Muslim. I simply invite you to be free, not to embrace another religion. I invite you to dare for your love. Nothing can stop love, when it is true love.”
Her eyes were full of tears, while crying: “It is impossible! Simply impossible. They will never, I repeat,
NEVER give me their blessings if I don’t marry a Muslim…. You cannot understand!”
“Anju my love, there is only one thing I understand in life, and that’s enough, more than enough, and that is: ‘no / thing can stop love’. As simpleas that. This is my only truth, my only religion, my only god, take it or leave it! Just trust. How can’t you trust the power of love?”
I hadn’t even finished my sentence (it turned out to be a ‘death-sentence’) when Anju literally disappeared. Simply ran away, gone!
In vain I tried to call her; from that day onwards her cell was eternally off.
In vain I sent specific sms. No answer.
Since that day, Anju has completely and deliberately disappeared from my life.
And I'm still looking for a simple woman to marry!