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“Doesn’t husband mean life partner, Ma? Someone you admire, understand and love. A person who wants to spend life with you and follow you to death?”
She cried. I knew not how to console her. She wanted to work for herself, live for herself, and make her own decisions. After all, that’s what we had been taught since childhood. But all of that had changed; her parents no more believed in those words that they had so carelessly spoken to her once. Now, she was just a girl who had to be married off.
I met her a week before the wedding. She had accepted her fate; she even looked happy and optimistic. I tried to tell her that there was still time, and I would support her if she decided to move away from it all. I waited for her to call, but it never came.
Maybe I should have done more? Now, all that I can do is imagine her story.
I do not know him but belong to him. I did not choose him; my destiny bound me to him. I cannot understand him, but I revere him. I do not love him yet cannot live without him.
I am no radical. I do not aspire to act against my environment. I am not opposed to arranged marriages.
“But Ma, how can I give myself to an unknown man – a stranger?”
When I was a little girl, my mother cautioned me about men. As I grew older and blossomed, my mom warned me. She said men are not to be trusted; I am to stay away from them. I have to guard my sanctity and purity. And not let anyone claim me. My body is altar, my soul is god. I have to keep them both safe.
The forces conspired against my belief.
“Ma, even you gave me away.”
I shouted, I screamed, I wept, but no one heard my muffled cry. I was presented as a souvenir. And that is what I have remained. This is my existence, my reality, my identity.
A handsome young man. Does he not resemble the hero in the latest film that I watched? He’s got a house and a car; earns an amount that can buy all luxuries (for me). A dutiful son and a caring brother. And I liked him; the well-mannered and soft spoken man in a shirt and tie. His eyes gleamed behind the spectacles and his cologne smelt good. He seemed strong, mentally and physically? How he stole glances and I blushed. My rosy cheeks as red as the sari I wore. My parents said he will be an ideal loving husband.
“Doesn’t husband mean life partner, Ma? Someone you admire, understand and love. A person who wants to spend life with you and follow you to death? And my teacher said I should only marry the one I cannot live without. But I don’t even know him, Ma.”
Ma rebuked me. She jerked me out of my dreams as she had done with my beliefs. Some laws have been coded by anonymous upholders of the world. I am to follow them.
“But Ma, I just want to know him, talk to him. I want to ask him if he wants to marry me, if he loves me, if he knows me. Ma, do you hear me. Ma, I am saying something. Ma, come back. I want to talk to you. Ma, I need answers. Ma, I want to…Ma… ma… ma…”
Ma walked out of the room and my unanswered questions.
Answers? I must be foolish. Couldn’t I see it in his eyes? He liked me in the photograph they sent to his parents. And he said that I am the girl he wants to wed.
We got engaged. He went back to where he worked. He was happy and waiting eagerly. I received his letter. I stayed back in my home grooming myself for a day four months later. I was to look the best for him to love me. A beautiful bride is the jewel in the crown.
“Ma, to love me, but…or…”
I could see it in his eyes as we exchanged garlands. I saw it in his eyes when we chanted mantras together. I felt it in his eyes when we became man and wife.
“Ma, I go today. Bless me so I may impart to my daughter what is the truth and have the courage to accept it too.”
My body is temple, my soul is god. My temple belongs to him; my god is he from this moment on. My god was so close to me that night. He touched me, he felt me; I melted in his arms. And before I knew it, I became a woman.
“I am no more sacred Ma. Remember, you taught me to keep myself sacred? I have been claimed.”
Someone came knocking at my wee small door,
Someone came knocking I am sure sure sure.
I listened, I opened…
I know him; he is my husband. He goes to work and fulfils my every desire. I need ask only once and I have the world at my feet. He never lets me shed a tear. My opinion is essential. I decide all. He respects me more than ever has. He showers me with his concern and wealth. He truly loves me. I can see it in his eyes.
I am happy. I have been blessed with more than I prayed for. I own what others dream of achieving. I am the envy of town. I am the wife of a respectable, dutiful, sincere, faithful and loving rich man. Could I have asked for more? I dwell in paradise. All is going to be the same always. I can see it in his eyes.
“Ma, if only I knew the man I live with, I belong to. If only I knew the man behind my veiled husband, Ma…”
Image source: a screenshot from the serial Naamkaran
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