I should have married rich

Am I the only Punjabi aunty who thinks that Rishi Sunak’s rise to prime-ministership is a function of marrying rich? I mean, maybe he worked hard and all and faced a lot of racism and all, but that is the story of every brown man living abroad. His real genius lies in zeroing in on Narayan Murthy’s daughter at Stanford as a ‘good match’ with ‘lots of property’, first wooing her, then British corporates with daddy dear’s ‘not dowry, just gifts for your future together’.

 Meanwhile, I spent years courting books in the college law library under the weight of thick moral spectacles pinned to the nose by my daddy dear. There is no shortcut to success, he told me, you have to work hard. With every passing semester, I shed lighter spectacles for thicker ones like a snake sheds skin, motivated by inspirational interviews, biographies of famous lawyers. Good lord, that book by Fali Nariman, ‘Before Memory Fades’. I was convinced I had to be a host of things to be a successful lawyer. Clever, well-read, well-spoken. I thought I needed to become him.

What a waste of aspiration. What I really needed to become, was likeable to his progeny in the appropriate generation. It would’ve taken a bit of effort to blow-dry the hair and get out and about, but if I’d landed the mark, I would’ve achieved my career goals in two good years. Four, if I’d missed a close relative for a distant friend. Still, a far more profitable proposition than 15 sweaty years at the bar and hollows in place of eyes. Add to that a mop of dust-ridden, sun-bleached hair that no amount of blow-drying will now fix, and what you have is a doddering 30-something, who could’ve been a successful 20-nothing, if only someone had given her the right memo.

“Just focus on finding a good match, you idiot!”, the memo should have said, “now run along and have some fun”.

I know people who got the memo. I knew them back in law school too. Their hair was perfect in the midst of much outery and aboutery. They had no idea what was going on in class, nor the least inclination to find out, and it bugged me no end. They are crazy, I told my rankled sense of purpose, they don’t care about their future.

 Now I watch them wow courtrooms in cases handed down by their spouse’s famous uncle, also a senior counsel, also the second nephew of the third sister of the fourth – or something? – law minister, and wonder if I’ve been living under a cave. All privilege lies with a handful of people, one tiny stick of candy floss. Everybody who wants to be anybody just spins threads of sweetness around it, slowly coagulating onto the same stick, the same people.The nepotistic theorem of success is clear as day. Become rich = marry rich. Become famous = marry famous. Become smart = kick the brooders who told you to work hard on their backside.

Not I, it was the out-and-about folks who had clear career goals all along. It was them that worked hard, fraternising with the politician’s son despite his strange sense of humour and the judge’s daughter despite her absurd fear of dust particles. They knew back then that books don’t beat looks, or hooks. You know ‘hooks’, right? If you know, you know.

Today, I know so many such – shall we call them? – “indirectly successful” that I wonder if it is more than just a coincidence. Maybe I belong to that class of people who like to be in the ‘know’. They always know someone, who knows someone, but are never, themselves, the someone to know. Or, maybe, real success is still the old school concept Nariman preened about in his book: hard-earned and slow, and I am too young to have met someone truly successful yet.

Fancy that! The old, saggy-eyed, truly successful, looking on a tiny bit enviously at the much younger indirectly successful, thriving in the reflected glory of their life’s worth. While we, ordinary people with schoolbook morals, stand around holding inexplicable grudges about right and wrong and the worth of becoming something meaningful. Our own lives, like bars of a wi-fi icon in a place with shitty network, oscillate in confusion as we chase the elusive reward of honest labour: something, then a little more, then again, nothing at all.

Maybe it is time to drop our grudges and raise a toast instead. To the worldly wise, from the victims of parental lies. May you lead the world into a glorious future of Punjabi aunty wisdom. Where people are late to bed and late to rise, yet healthy, wealthy and wise. Nobody marries for love. And there is, in fact, a shortcut to success.

Published by midlawcrisis

Lawyer, Entrepreneur, Professional, interested in whats going on around me- socially, politically, culturally-, restless, active

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