Marriage Ritual-Two Shots
Swara’s POV started
My father’s phone call at work that morning changed everything.
“Don’t go out with your friends tonight. We have made dinner plans for you.”
I knew what that meant. And there was no getting out of it.
An arranged marriage is not the problem it once was. It has evolved over the years into a meeting of mutual consent between both parties, and my Indian parents, products of an arranged marriage, had set up a meeting for me. Problem was, I wasn’t consenting.
At the time, I was living the high life. I loved my job with a vacation tour operator in Dubai, and I had it good living with my folks. At 24, I had no responsibilities, no rent to pay, no dinner to cook and no laundry to do.
My father told me to be home and dressed by seven. No excuses. He rarely stood his ground with me, but was firm in his expectations this time. I was stuck. I spent the rest of the day hovering between dread and resentment.
It wasn’t like I was against getting married and settling down far from it. What I didn’t appreciate was being steered toward marriage just because I would soon be considered past marriageable age. Whether arranged by them or accomplished on my own, my parents did not buy into my notion that I should marry only when I was good and ready. They worried it was taking too long. My ambivalence about my future was giving them sleepless nights.
I understood the pressures my parents were under. I was their oldest child and their only daughter. They had educated and raised me to be independent and self-sufficient. Now all that remained was their last major responsibility to see me married.
Yet, I resisted. I did not a need a man or a marriage. It made no sense to me to make such a drastic change in my life just because I reached an age arbitrarily consigned by our society and culture after which I would be deemed “too old.”
Aware of their motivations, I could not bring myself to put my foot down and absolutely forbid them to search for a suitable life partner for me. I love them, and would consider that disrespectful. However, I did intend to make their search as difficult as possible. On the surface, I was compliant. I heard them out when a possible match came up. I looked at photos and pored over resumes when they asked. But I sabotaged their efforts, rejecting candidates without compunction, finding every flimsy excuse I could.
That evening, I was outmaneuvered. This time they simply invited the young man to dinner. Apparently he had been in my parent’s sights for a while, ever since they met him on a recent trip to India. He lived in New York, but was visiting his father after heart bypass surgery. Now, he was in Dubai to meet me.
When my parents began the search for a suitable match they asked me for a few guidelines.
I hoped my list would make it hard, if not impossible, to find someone who would meet all my criteria. He should have a post-graduate degree, I said. And because they were looking for a Indian boy in any part of the world, he had to live in a place where there would be no waiting period to fulfill any immigration requirements. They could not list my name on any matrimonial pages in Indian newspapers. I knew that it would drastically reduce the pool of suitors.
The bell rang. I checked myself in the mirror. The perfect outfit to demonstrate my antipathy. One glance and my mother pursed her lips. It was a silent, cold walk to the living room.
“This is SANSKAR” my father said. Fair complexion, firm grip, warm smile, sharp features. He was tall. The prospects for the evening began to look up. Perhaps it would not be as torturous as I had thought. Besides, my mother was smiling again.
Sanskar was laid back, looking comfortable. He shared his impressions of his first visit to Dubai. What they were exactly, I don’t recall, but I do remember that we all laughed. The liveliness and storytelling lasted through dinner. Then it came time for Sanskar and I to spend some time together before I drove him back to his hotel.
I geared up for the awkwardness that would surely come once we were alone.
Wrong again. “Guess it’s time for 20 questions” he joked. What was he doing charming me by asking about my job, my friends, my interests, what I did for fun??? Telling me funny stories about his life in New York??
I had always maintained that I would prefer any other country to the U.S. It was too far from everyone I knew, too familiar and alien all at once.
he finally summoned courage to invite me to have coffee with him. I was little bit surprised, but out of politeness. We both sat in a nice coffee shop, he was slight nervous to say anything, I also felt uncomfortable, waiting for coffee.
I kept on thinking, “Please, let it get over soon, let me go home….” I finally could managed to say.
The coffee was brought, after a couple of cups of coffee it did not seem so inconceivable. This was going seriously sideways. I was actually enjoying myself.
That was a really great date, also a beautiful beginning of our story.
But to decide the rest of my life based on one meeting seemed unfair to me. I was the one who would have to leave my home, my family and everyone I knew. I was the one who would have to change cities, countries and hemispheres.
My mother worried that she had brought me up too leniently. She had encouraged me to study abroad, travel and live a life different from hers. She hoped it wouldn’t backfire now. She was asking me to consider the conventional institution of marriage topped off with the traditional customs of the arranged marriage.
But what about love?? My friends asked. Shouldn’t you marry for love?? It was a legitimate question. If I went along with my parent’s choice, would I regret not having done it my way???
It was my turn to brood late into the night over the choice before me. Love seemed the aftermath of an accidental collision of meeting the right person at the right time and what if that never happened for me?? It hadn’t so far mainly because I had not been able to trust my judgment in choosing someone for myself. Lately too I felt like I was outgrowing the whole rigmarole of meeting, dating, wondering and agonizing over whether “this was it.” Why fight the opportunity my parents were offering me?? I could come to regret that.
But my fears and doubts about Sanskar swung from the ridiculous to the mundane. I had only seen the sociable, pleasant side of him.
What if he was an ax murderer?? A possessive jerk?? What if he did not give me room to breathe?? Expected me to be just a housewife?? What if he was disorganized?? Or too particular?? How would I have to adjust my personality to fit someone else’s??
Will I be able to live with this man? Will I be able to love him??
My parents pointed out that they had met all the criteria on the list. He was a software engineer and an MBA. He had a good job and all the right paperwork. They had met him through my father’s uncle, a close family member who had nothing but nice things to say about Sanskar and his family.
Everything they said was making sense. Adulthood involved hard changes. It was life. There were no guarantees of success or failure. All they could do was give me the best chance within their power with which to take on the future. The rest was up to me.
In the end, I decided to put my faith in the two people who knew me best and had only my interests at heart.
And at last I accepted the marriage proposal because I was sure her parents would find the best guy for her.
Sanskar called me after he heard I had given my assent. He wanted to reassure me, to check with me that I had not been unnecessarily influenced. I found it amusing, as I was the family member considered most headstrong, the one who could not be forced to do anything I did not want to do. I was moved by his consideration.
Still, I wondered if Sanskar had any doubts. He must have certain apprehensions about the way his life was about to change as well. I did not sense this at the time but, in retrospect, it must have been hard for him as well.
After getting engaged officially, we certainly made calls,
And finally after one month of engagement…..
Time passed quickly and the day of my marriage arrived. My lehenga was so heavy I could not walk in it without someone holding me and heavy gold ornaments dangled from my neck, hands and ears. After my wedding and after the marriage procession was complete, I was exhausted. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to get rid of my clothes and jewellery.
It was 2 am when my sister-in-law Uttara took me to Sanskar’s bedroom.
When I saw the bedroom decorated with red and white roses, I shivered with fear. I knew what would happen next but I was not really prepared.
The smell of roses nauseated me. I was sitting at the edge of an unknown huge bed, unlike the smaller one which I slept on back home.
Now this would be my home for the rest of my life. This is where I will live my life and give birth to my children. I wouldn’t be seeing my mother, my father every day. There will no longer be my mom to make my breakfast.
I was not be a Miss. Swara Gadodiya anymore. I am Mrs. Swara Sanskar Maheshwari now.
It all seemed so intimidating and strange. I started crying. I wanted to go back home, back to the comfortable life I’ve come to love.
I heard a slight knock on the door that was left slightly ajar and my skin crawled.
Obviously it was Sanskar, I quickly wiped my tears. He locked the door and came to sit beside me. I was in a room with a stranger, elder to me by 4 years and I had no idea what I was supposed to do.
My mom had instructed me, “He will be your husband. Whatever he will do to you, don’t worry. I have also been through it. You will love him Shona, Just hold yourself together.”
I noticed through corner of my eyes that Sanskar was sweating profusely although the air conditioner was kept at a low temperature. He was nervous, I could tell it right away but so was I. Plus, if I didn’t remove my earring, my ears would bleed.
He looked at me and then looked away. Then he looked at me again. He didn’t know what to say. He was shy. If the night went on like this, I would never get to sleep. So I initiated the conversation.
This gave him some confidence and he started to make me feel comfortable, Then we played the game we were supposed to, he finding his name on my mehendi-designed hand. We relaxed a little and started talking. The only thing he repeatedly told me was to feel at home, to feel free.
We were going to have a wonderful life together, that I was sure of.
Swara’s POV ended.
Sanskar’s POV started
On the day of our marriage, I was way too excited.
The ceremonies took longer than I had expected and I saw how tired Swara looked.
I wanted to remove that load of jewelery from her tiny body. I wanted to free her of all that and look into her eyes and talk to her and make love to her.
She looked stunning. We were going to spend our wedding night today,
When I went into my bedroom, she was sitting on the bed with her knees drawn close to her chest. She didn’t look at me when I entered.
I locked the door, but I was nervous related to handling all things which will going to be somewhat awkward for both of us, then to my surprise she started conversation then I also gained confidence and started talking to her freely. She replied to me in one or two words. This was not working properly. I knew she was nervous but this rude behavior was hurting me.
I told her, “If you are very tired, you may go off to sleep. I won’t touch you. We have to live our lives together and I don’t want to spoil the beginning.”
She smiled at me coyly like I removed all burden from her.
She told me she needed time to adjust with all the things.
We changed our clothes, and without looking at each other we went to sleep, unfortunately without her, me on couch and my newly wedded beautiful bride on bed.
and after an hour or so, she was fast asleep due to all day tiredness. But I couldn’t sleep all night.
I was staring at her glowing face in the light of moon and stars which was coming from window, I could managed to see and admiring her fairy, prettiest face, her slender features, her juicy ,rosy lips and her shiny hair in that scanty light.
And as I promised to her, I was going to give her time as much she wanted….
After only some days of our marriage..,
I fell in love with that girl knowing there is no chances to get her love back so soon as she needed time for all these.
Whereas she has been started to accept the reality, she was started to moving on with me, she is so spirited, open minded, intelligent, beautiful in a way I can never describe.
At first we were so distant from each other and I didn’t realize that I love her only a week after of our marriage, so I started getting little bit close to her as I couldn’t control myself to get close with I was in love,
I even switched my remaining office work load to do at from home to sit in front of her, then we became close after little chit-chats between the daily routines.
She started to trust me and tell me some of her secrets and after a while she almost told me everything, she was so funny and cute, she was always spirited, I had a strange feeling towards her and I knew it was the most beautiful feeling of world, surely it was LOVE only…,
I was going crazy for her day by day, I started to see her everywhere, wherever I go, I find her, besides I couldn’t able to switch my work which I could manage to do from home coz for her glance only, and then the worst, or I could say the most beautiful thing that had ever happened in my life, she started attending my dreams, I had the sweetest dreams with her but whenever I wake up I realize that I am only dreaming.
I am not always that kind of romantic person but I had very romantic dreams like once.
Once I dreamt of her in pink silk sari, she was too beautiful to describe and I was there, invisible she was crying I don’t know why but I wanted her badly I stepped forward to her and I removed the tears from her face, by my hand, then I hugged her, I didn’t want anything as much as this dream to last as long as it can, POP!!!
Her sweet, melodious voice “Hey, Sanskar Wakeup you will be late for ur office”
I soon get dressed and went to office she was there in front of a market near the office, so I pictured her once again in the dream, and once again back to the real land “Earth” and I reached office I sat in my cabin thinking of her,
I had a pen in my hand and a file and lappy on the desk table, without knowing I wrote down a simple love letter telling her about my love and wrote two poems and finally signed my letter with the word, “YOUR LOVER”.
I left it in wardrobe at the home then went for office, at that day evening I came back from office I found her reading it, I asked her in a foolish way and told her what is that trying to grab my own paper from her hands, as if I didn’t know what was written, she drew it back and continued reading it I wrote another couple of letters and the last one, she tore it and threw it in her desk, then she started to cry, as soon as she did my tongue slipped with a low voice “I am the one who wrote it!!!”
she raised her face in a begging way “say that again please”, I told her once again clearly in a loud voice “it’s me I am the one who wrote, I don’t want you to say any word, all I want to say is that I love you, and that I am crazy about you, and I loved you from the first moment I saw you, I am sorry if my letter bothered you, I won’t write you once again, I promise to take care of you, either if you loved me back or didn’t”
Then I left the home…,
Precap : hot romance coming on the way..