Sumati Huber covers this all-too-familiar incident.
WATTHANA – Wails and bloodcurdling screams could be heard from the gilded walls of a house located in a mooban within Soi Pridi. Alarmed neighbours contacted police about the incident which occurred around 8.27pm on Tuesday night.
Upon entering the scene, officials and news reporters observed gold balloons in the shapes of numbers ‘3’ and ‘9’ hanging at the entrance, and a family in despair. Slumped against a velvet sofa still covered in plastic was Pariniti Chopra (not her real name), who was heard mumbling something along the lines of, “Seriously, what’s the big deal? I’m happy.”
On the coffee table were six burned out candles still inserted in a birthday cake which read, “HBD PARINITI” with remnants of wax on top. The chocolate cake was unsliced although serving plates and utensils were stacked alongside it.
Chopra’s mother, Padmavati, was sitting in the home’s mandir praying. When an officer questioned her about the commotion she replied, “I just realised Pariniti [my daughter] turned 39 years old today! I thought she was turning 36 and the ‘nine’ balloon was mistakenly put upside down. It hit me that she was on the way to being 40 and is still unmarried.”A fresh set of tears emerged from Padmavati’s eyes as she continued praying. Relatives were seen trying to hug her and console her about her dismal fate.
A woman in a light blue, flowery kurti sitting next to Padmavati, who refused to be named, was heard telling her, “You must book a pooja tomorrow. There is definitely something obstructing her stars and destiny. I’ll also pass on the number of a good astrologer from India who set up so many people I know.”
One elderly gentleman with glasses and white hair announced loudly, “I’m so lucky all my children got married in their 20s. I can’t even imagine what people would say if they were still single. We matched them with the best families. We even have a doctor son-in-law! The gods really smiled down on us.” When he noticed a reporter jotting down his quote, he asked, “Are you from the newspaper? Take down my name, we have the best Indian restaurant in Bangkok with really tasty food. Can you include that in the article also?”
“I gave her too much freedom,” Ashok Chopra, Pariniti’s father, was heard saying over and over with his head in his hands at the dining table. “I thought if she was able to complete her education and get a good job, she would see that she wouldn’t be fulfilled without a wedding. We come from a good family and her skin is fair enough, why hasn’t anyone wanted to marry her?”
A reporter asked Mr Ashok why marriage was so important and he replied: “It’s our most sacred duty as Indians, something we have to do. Everyone gets married, how can she live alone for the rest of her life?”
A well-meaning auntie was seen sitting with Pariniti and gently telling her, “Beti, just learn how to make roti. Go in the kitchen and start now. Having a career is great but what good is it without a husband and children to give real meaning to your life?”
Officials noticed another man standing near the cake and cutting himself a large slice despite the turmoil going on. He said he was Pariniti’s 45-year-old brother. When asked if his wife and kids were present he replied, “Oh no, I’m not married. But it’s different for me, I’m a guy.”