After every prospective groom, she met, her expectations only blurred her dreams. And she wondered if she’d ever find her partner…
Shruti rushed to the washroom to freshen up. The conference ran long and it was 7 already. She had informed Abhay about this last-minute conference. While he was okay with meeting her at 7:30 instead of the pre-decided 6:30, she didn’t want to be even a little late now. She hurriedly brushed her hair and retouched her lipstick while a thousand things ran in her mind about how this meeting would go.
This meeting with Abhay, another prospective alliance, the 26th one actually, for the beautiful 32-year-old, highly educated, career-oriented Shruti. Abhay was a software engineer in the same city which was a positive aspect for both and so they decided to meet.
She smiled at her reflection in the washroom mirror, hoped for a pleasant evening ahead and sprinted towards her car in the parking.
Growing up, the concept of marriage meant having a companion for the rest of your life. Shruti had seen the beautiful bond her parents shared and fancied having one for herself. A bond built on trust and respect, where both were partners in the journey of life. One where they supported and motivated each other to achieve their dreams. A bond filled with compassion and understanding each others’ priorities and staying strongly connected to each other.
But the last five years that were spent looking for a companion slowly blurred her dream. They all claimed that their families were liberal and how they were looking for a similar partner. However, one meeting showed her how crooked these men really were.
Such high degrees of chauvinism made Shruti wonder what era these men belonged to. How can highly-educated and well-raised people say things like these?
‘Why did you study so much? You should’ve stayed back with your parents and learnt to cook, instead! After all, isn’t that your duty after marriage?’
‘I am not interested in marrying right now but my mother wants someone who would take care of me.’
‘My son is very shy, so he won’t be meeting you. But I like you very much, beta. I’ve always wanted a daughter like you, one who earns well.’
‘You will be allowed to work even after marriage. But my parents also want us to have a child soon, so you will have to manage work, the house and raising our child. Also, I don’t want my mother doing any of the household chores, so you will have to make sure she doesn’t complain.’
Professionally prolific, Shruti headed her department and lead several high-profile projects. She was a well-known name in the industry but none of that was ever acknowledged. And despite her affluent background and professional achievements, she was a well-mannered girl, who never came across as arrogant. She would often politely refuse people if she weren’t rejected first.
Eventually, she stopped fussing about their mentality and prayed that the next one would at least be ‘normal.’ That’s when Abhay’s match came in. He seemed like a well-read, reasonably nice guy who was doing well for himself. Even his parents came across as well-educated and cultured people. Hoping for the best, Shruti accepted the meeting request.
She reached the cafe on time and looked around. After waiting for about 15 minutes, she dropped him a text, which was met with no response. ‘Must be driving,’ she thought to herself.
It was eight now and neither Abhay not his reply arrived. Curious and slightly worried, she called him.
‘Hello?’ he answered.
‘Hi! Where have you reached? I am in the cafe, sitting by the window, you should see me when you enter.’
‘You really thought I would come? Especially after you changed the plans that I made without asking me! You really expect me to be there now? Some nerve that is!’
Shruti was baffled when she heard this. She thought he was joking because he’d sounded absolutely accomodating with the change in the timing. Which was why she couldn’t believe the conversation she was having right now.
Abhay had come across as an intelligent and sorted person. He knew that last-minute things do come up at work and she had informed him! But none of the reasoning worked with him. She even mentioned how he’d said that he admired working women and the effort they put into it, despite societal pressures.
A cold stern voice spoke over the phone, ‘Shruti, I said working girls prioritise their family over their work and that is admirable. And that is how it should be. But here, work seems more important to you.’
‘Work is as important to me, as it is to you. And I have apologised for the change in plans. Plus, we aren’t even a family yet!’ Shruti tried reasoning with him. But she was bluntly cut off by Abhay when he said, ‘I am safe!’
‘No, Abhay. I am saved from marrying a chauvinist like you,’ Shruti said before she hung up.
Shruti wondered if, for men, marriage was only about finding a full-time maid who obeyed their orders, cooked for them, produced babies while also bringing in a decent salary.
Author’s Note: Dear readers, this is a true story of a friend with names changed. I can’t even begin to tell you the disgust and humiliation she felt. How do you deal with chauvinism? Do comment below and let me know your thoughts.
A version of this was earlier published here.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Veere Di Wedding
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