January 2016, first work trip in the New Year, going home from airport
Driver from Punjab, in his late 20s, married with a baby girl.
I was lucky this time as a taxi was literally waiting for me in front of the airport. It was getting late and not much traffic was on the road, which meant a short drive and my dinner would be just 30 minutes away. I mistook the driver for a Pakistani, since he was wearing a small white hat. Apparently I was wrong and his headpiece was an inner part of the Sikh turban.
We started to talk. My driver had been in Australia for the last 8 years. He came here to become a cook, but straight after getting his permanent residency he left that job. (I’ve heard the same story so many times that I’ve lost count). Anyway, after living here for 4 years, his parents “requested” him to go back and get married. This guy went to India for 8 weeks to look for a wife and could not find the right girl. One was too fat, another one too ugly, somebody’s parents did not have a proper house (?), a father of another girl was a drunk, and Hindu girls were out of the question, because his mother had a big fight with a Hindu neighbour a long time ago. So he came back here still single.
– So, how did you get married in the end?, I asked him.
– You would not believe it, but in the most traditional way. I met my wife at our wedding. My parents sent me her photo, and I said OK. I did not really care anymore.
– But it’s such a big decision. How could you do it?
– My parents checked her family, she was well educated, and they liked the girl. That’s enough to get married. It’s not as bad as before. Listen to what happened to my uncle 40 years ago. It was very strict then and the husband would see his wife for the first time in their bedroom. So, when they were alone at last, he found out that his bride had a glass eye and was fat and ugly. He hated her all his life, but what to do?
– How did it happen?
– When his parents came to check the girl out, her parents showed him another sister, who was pretty and smart. Both parties agreed and the wedding went ahead. But for the actual ceremony they brought another daughter, knowing very well that it would be too late to change anything.
– You lived in Australia for a few years before the wedding. You had noticed that people live here in different way. Why didn’t you try to find yourself a wife?
– Oh, but I had lots of girlfriends before marrying. But those girls were for play and sex. You don’t “marriage” them. I could “marriage” only a virgin girl. I could not tolerate if she had “boy-girl” relationship before.
– Just a minute. You told me a second ago that you had a few relationships yourself.
– What is OK for a man its not OK for a girl.
His chauvinistic attitude was totally outrageous. I was so very angry: after all his little sexual adventures, he demanded a pure girl, because that’s ok for a man.
But he was going on and on. After the wedding he came back here, while she stayed with his parents waiting for a visa. It took a while, but finally she arrived in Australia. She fell pregnant straight away and they had a baby girl ten months ago. His mother came here to help, because “those young girls are useless and they can’t raise a baby.” After a little while, his mother was tired of “silly Australian life”, so she decided to take both of them to India with her.
– But maybe your wife wouldn’t want to deal with your daughter on her own, to find her own way. She probably would prefer you to help her with a baby.
– No, my mother knows better. She raised me and my brother. And to tell you the truth, who cares what my wife wants? It’s better this way. She has got help with the baby, and I can work and rest properly.
I was was sitting in a car completely stunned. I honestly did not expect this turn. And I believed that he was back to his old tricks with “not for marriage” girls, while his wife was stuck with his parents.
I usually enjoy talking to my drivers, but this time I could not wait for the end of my trip.
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