I agreed to go the route of an arranged marriage, but I was in for a shock when his educated family based my integrity and worth on something really shallow.
You’ve hit the age of 25 already? And you are still Single? How? Come, let us all start looking for a suitable match for you! Welcome to the Indian way of finding love, friendship, and a life partner – The Arranged Marriage – #Terms and Conditions applied.
The arranged marriage platform made me realize a dark and shameful side of our society. That how there are still people in our society, well-educated people, who objectify a woman who is ‘in the market for marriage’. I am not saying men do not have a hard time finding a match, but given the fact that we live in a patriarchal society – the additional baggage of being ‘good, homely, submissive, sanskaari, traditional etc. etc.’ still lies on the woman.
So just like many women, I too went on this online matrimonial platform and stood there looking for my ‘equal’ (oops I mean ‘Pati-Parmeshwar’ – as the society says).
I was never fully convinced of the idea of an ‘arranged marriage’, but the possibility of finding ‘love’ by any means was equally elating and exciting. Until the day when my self-confidence was shattered, and my heart was broken into pieces.
Anyone reading this post and is a part of this process, knows well how exhausting and frustrating the entire process of Indian matchmaking is, considering the superficial, unreasonable, and illogical expectations and demands of the people.
All that ‘looking for a bride who is homely, submissive, fair, slim, tall, beautiful, well-educated, engineer, doctor, architect, CA, someone who must know how to cook, someone who does not party, drink, smoke, talk, someone who has no opinions, whose family should spend on the entire wedding because our son is spineless and blah blah blah’!
I did not really have any hope that I would ever get married or find a suitable match. Until the day I stumbled upon a guy’s profile, who happened to be a perfect match to me. It was surprising to me to see the compatible ratio between us (65%), I had never matched so high with anyone on the matrimonial site before.
Just to give a brief idea of what I am talking about – the matrimonial site had a questionnaire which shows your compatibility ratio with the match. So there was a ray of hope, I believed. And just like any other time, I gave a shot of accepting his request and talking to him, and decided to go with the flow.
It was long distance- he was in Europe and I was in India. I was not sure how conversations would go as I had not been comfortable speaking with guys earlier. But to my surprise, our conversations were just lit, and they went on for hours and hours, and he became a constant.
It was as though I had really found a best friend. We liked and disliked the same things, had same opinions on social issues, had similar interests, and were equally ambitious, focused and intelligent.
After 6 months of our virtual dates, we finally decided to meet and take a decision. Because deciding anything virtually was not acceptable to both of us.
It all went well. We met, and we decided that we can take things ahead. So, I met his family, and it went well with his family too. They also invited my parents and me to visit their hometown and stay there for a couple of days so we all could spend time together, and further think on deciding the other course of action in this matter.
So, we booked our tickets and were about to leave in a few days to their hometown. A couple of days before our trip the guy’s mother called my mom and asked her to measure my height.
Yes, you read it right. My Height.
Our instant reaction to this unexpected and unacceptable request was – we were furious. But we measured my height and told them anyway, because society conditions the woman and her family into believing that a little bit of ‘adjustment’ and letting go is ok when it comes to marriages.
So though this weird ask was unacceptable to each one of us, we measured and sent them my height – 4’11 to be precise! Oopsie, so short- how can a woman with 4’11 be suitable for any guy?
After knowing my height, they called my mom and said they have a problem with my height.
Apparently, they had trust issues. So, what made them have this trust issues? You won’t believe what I’ll tell you.
So on the matrimonial site, we had written my height as 5ft as it had been recorded on my school records. We never really measured my height with a measuring tape while registering there, to be honest.
His family was skeptical about my height. As per his family I did not look 5ft as I was a few inches shorter than his mother, who was 5ft. And because the height we measured and sent them did not match what we had written while registering my information, his family decided to base our integrity, my self-worth, my loyalty, and my values as a human on that 1 inch of my height.
So basically, I fell short of 1 inch to be a suitable wife to their son. I fell short of 1 inch to be a good and honest human. And I fell short of 1 inch to prove my worth and integrity to someone to whom outer appearance is the baseline to accept and love a person. And this when I have been so honest that I had shown the guy even my increment letter, and had told him everything about myself and my family (with proof). If I had to lie, why would I lie only about ‘one inch’ and be honest about everything else?
Never in my wildest dreams have I ever imagined that ONE INCH of my height could define my entire self-worth and could be a reason for an otherwise arranged match to break up like this. What was more shocking and disgusting was the fact that a family, where people were Engineers and Doctors, decided to base a woman’s worth and integrity on something as shallow and petty as her height and outer appearance.
It is a very sad state of affairs, that even today, we have people in our society who though well-educated on paper, lack the basic humanity and the basic sense of affection and depth of thoughts.
Of course, we did walk out of this taking our dignity and respect, and were fortunate enough to have taken a stand against this. But this was insulting and humiliating. If they had a problem, they could’ve said it the very first day they met me. Why wait till inviting us to their hometown and giving us a positive hope?
To bring to everyone’s notice, the guy isn’t tall either; he is 5’3”.
Oh wait, but how can I be sure if he is 5’3” and not 5’2”? I did not measure his height. Well, ok let’s say 5’3”, as he has written this on the matrimonial site, because one should never question the integrity of a Man and His Family, when it comes to arranged marriages. Because only women are put on the rostrum and expected to prove their worth.
With my experiences so far, I have learned that Indian matchmaking is a platform where only one gender is put on display and is judged on the basis of everything and anything. It’s high time we as a society change the way we look at someone. And the change begins within.
I urge everyone reading this to take a stand for themselves and people around them who go through this.
I am fortunate that I had that power and support and strength to raise a voice against this. So many people still do not have this power, this privilege in our country yet.
To every woman reading this, take a STAND for yourself and share your victories and struggles with as many as possible, to inspire more people around.
Anyone, irrespective of their gender, who ever had to go through anything bad or a heart break, just know that we all deserve selfless and unconditional love, kindness and affection. I am glad and thankful for this experience, as because of this, I have understood that I deserve the kind of love I give back, and I am hopeful that someday I will find it.
If that guy is reading this today, I want to let him know that I hold nothing against him and that at core he is a good person. I wish him all the luck. I had found a genuine friend in him at a given point in my life. He had told me that he had supported my stand, but that he had failed in convincing his family and so he gave up. I hope he never stops taking a stand against such things, and that he doesn’t fail others the same way.
Image source: a still from Love Per Square Foot
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A corporate serf and aspiring baron with a passion to write fictional and non fictional-
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