With a lazy Saturday morning ahead of me in Suva, I decided to go old-school and read an actual printed newspaper. The headlines of the Fiji Times were the usual mix, but the Classifieds caught my eye.
Eleven advertisements for life or marriage partners; eleven life stories only hinted at in the short couple of sentences about a gentleman, lady, male, female, man, woman, girl or boy.
I am used to the use of ‘girl’ being debated when referring to adult women; it can be infantilising, belittling, sexist, etc. But here I was struck by the use of ‘boy’, which in my variety of English is only used for male children or young men, or to show mateship (particularly in rugby teams). In my extensive teenage reading of romantic fiction the heroes were definitely men. Sometimes gentlemen.
In the Fiji Times ads some of the ‘boys’ are into their late 30s, so I wonder if the use of ‘boy’ may be to emphasise his youthful energy, and possibly the equivalent emphasis for a ‘girl’ in her thirties? I remember Vikram Seth’s ‘A suitable boy’, and see that he has a forthcoming sequel ‘A suitable girl’ set in a modern India. Originally scheduled for 2016, the bookseller websites say it is now due out in 2025, when even online match-making may have been superseded. Meanwhile, the real-life quests go on via newspaper ads in Fiji.
Fiji Indian family in Melbourne invites alliance for 36 years old, well educated Christian boy. Looking for a partner, between 28-33 years, honest, fair, kind hearted.
39 year old Indian female from NZ currently in Fiji looking for a life partner. Prefer non smoking and non drinking boy.
40 years old Fiji born Australian Muslim man seeking a woman for marriage. Preferably widow or divorcee.
A handsome boy, fit body, 31 years, Educated, views for marriage.
Family of USA citizen, single, graduate, Indian, 32yrs old male seeks suitable female for marriage.
Indian boy looking for life partner to settle.
Indian lady looking for a life partner for marriage. Age 48years over.
Man looking for a lady between 38 to 43 in Suva.
Parents from Australia. Looking for a boy for Hindu girl view of marriage age 33-37. Tradesman or Graduate.
Indian Female, 41, Aust citizen, professional, looking for suitable partner for marriage. Only degree qualified and above.
Long term relationship sought, I am a 55 year old ex Fiji Indian gentleman separated with no dependents living and working in Australia in a professional capacity. I hold dual citizenships for both Australia and New Zealand. Ideally I’m seeking correspondence from females in similar situation both personally and professionally. Also interested parents or relatives may contact me too.
(The Fiji Times, Saturday 7 July, 2018)