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Nisha, my friend, broke up with her boyfriend. She was devastated. While I tried to comfort her, I often wondered about the futility of love and relationships with the opposite sex.
“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha
Have you ever heard of Rosogolla?
If you are a Bengali like me, you must be all-too-familiar with the name of the famed sweet. Or that divine sensation when you put the spongy, syrupy sweet in your mouth.
Now let’s imagine a world where everybody is obsessed with Rosogolla. Bards sing paeans praising Rosogolla; bright like the moonlight. Poets write poems about it’s out-of-the-world taste.
Filmmakers make films where the main theme is, well, Rosogolla and it’s virtues. Lovers feed each other freshly made Rosogollas. Newly-wed couples gorge on Rosogollas on their first meal together.
Does any of it make any sense to you?
You’re probably feeling befuddled, seeing everybody around you fussing over Rosogolla. It is, after all, just another sweet. Why this insanity for it?
Quite naturally, in a world obsessed with Rosogolla, people will look down upon you. Over time, you’ll begin to think that you are probably different from the others for not appreciating or understanding the allure of this sweet.
Now, if we replace the word Rosogolla with Love; and maybe you will be able to understand exactly how I feel about my existence in this planet. I am Aditi. A 24-year-old corporate lawyer. Welcome to my world.
* * * * *
So the conversation went like this.
“Hey, have you noticed the professor of Mathematics? He is such a dreamboat.” Nisha whispered.
I didn’t know how to respond to such comments.
“I… umm… I mean…”
While I fumbled with my response, Shweta chimed in. “You mean, Professor Chatterjee? The other day, in his class, I just couldn’t take my eyes off him. He has such a husky, sexy voice.”
All the other girls burst into an uproarious laughter. It seemed that just the woody, spicy traces of Professor Chatterjee’s perfume would give the girls of first-year a collective orgasm.
I mumbled an excuse incoherently and decamped from the classroom with utmost velocity.
During my teenage years, when all the other girls gossiped about men, I always found it hard to participate. I never took a fancy to any man. For a long time, I used to think that I was, probably, broken.
A thought that was hard to accept given the fact that I had a fairly regular childhood. Though my parents never showed any signs of intimacy in front of others, they had quite a functional marriage. They tried hard in their own ways to give me a secure, comfortable life.
While my father worked hard to ensure that bills were paid on time, my mother ensured that we had hot meals ready on the table when we were hungry. Then why did I grow up to be different from other girls?
For a long time, I simply didn’t have any answer. It’s not that I liked women instead of men. Surely, I was not a lesbian.
When I was in the final year of graduation, Nisha, my closest friend, broke up with her boyfriend. She was devastated. While I tried to comfort her, I often wondered about the futility of love and relationships with the opposite sex.
If this can lead to so much pain and heartache, what was the point of falling in love? I tried to explain my point of view to Nisha. But she merely sniffled and looked at me strangely. “You won’t understand, Aditi. Or you’ll probably understand when you will fall in love.” She turned away to hide her tears.
All this while, I was searching for the answers to my questions on the internet. Why was I so disinterested in men, even when I was well into adulthood? Why sex didn’t mean anything to me? What was wrong with me? Were there others like me?
As I started to dig deeper, I discovered that I was not broken at all. I was asexual. And there were many people like me all over the world. It was a revelation to me. As if someone had removed my blinders and I had started to see the world from an entirely different perspective.
After completing my studies, I had started working as a corporate lawyer with a reputed firm.
Meanwhile, Nisha’s parents had chosen a nice guy for her, and she had agreed to go through the arranged marriage route. As her closest friend and confidante, I was playing the role of a bridesmaid. I chaperoned her in all her shopping expeditions and visits to the salons.
“You know Aditi, he likes mountains. So we’re heading off to Shimla immediately after the wedding for our honeymoon,” she had said coquettishly.
“And what do you like, dear? Beach or mountain?” I enquired.
“I just want to see him happy,” she lowered her eyes coyly.
On the D-Day, when she was exchanging garlands with her husband, I realized that I, too, wanted to become a bride.
This nervous excitement leading up to the D-Day! This anticipation of stepping into a new life — blessings of elders and gods, the incomprehensible Sanskrit chants of the priest, seven pheras around the sacred fire, the bright red vermillion in the parting of hair, the glitz and glamour surrounding the marriage ceremony, the meticulous planning for the honeymoon —I wanted it all.
But at the same time, I didn’t want to put up with any dowry demands, curbs on my personal freedom, leaving the comfort of my own home, pesky in-laws or domestic violence, most of which are ubiquitous features in Indian marriages.
I wanted love, security and comfort. And I never wanted a man or a woman as my partner. In short, I wanted to be a bride, not a wife.
As I ran my fingers over the smooth fabric of the exquisite, lustrous silk saree. The golden threads forming intricate floral patterns make the Benarasi saree look appealing. The scarlet red hue of the saree matches the depth of the pleasure that I felt on my special day.
The salon girl’s deft fingers fiddled with my long tresses and arranged them in a neat coiffeur. I took a final look at myself in the mirror and adjusted the pleats of my saree one last time.
The bright red-coloured bindi at the centre of my forehead was sparkling. My kohl-rimmed eyes had taken on a new brilliance that day. Slowly, I descended the stairs. The heavy wedding saree had slowed me down considerably.
I sauntered towards the wedding mandap teeming with guests.
My parents had always been supportive of all my decisions and given me carte blanch to do as I please.
Though the news of my wedding had created quite an uproar on social media, my parents had not only supported my decision to marry, but they had also gone the whole hog to hire a decorator, a priest and a wedding photographer to make my wedding extra special.
Thanks to the decorator, the wedding venue had been beautifully decorated with strings of marigold and tuberose flowers. The priest who was supposed to solemnize my wedding beckoned me to go through the wedding rituals.
I had taken seven pheras around the sacred fire, mumbled Sanskrit chants after the priest and finally, applied vermilion on the parting of my hair.
Then, in front of the astonished guests, I fished out a piece of paper tucked safely inside my handkerchief. I had neatly scribbled seven wedding vows on the paper. I started to read the vows slowly.
I vow to accept myself with all my strengths and faults.
I vow to be my beloved always and in all ways.
I vow to live life on my own terms forever.
I vow to prioritize my own happiness forever.
I vow to comfort myself during times of hopelessness, despair, depression, disillusionment, or any difficulty that arises.
I vow to always forgive and believe in myself.
I vow to never refuse, abandon or scorn myself.
After wedding rituals got over, I went to the dining area to gorge on the delicacies prepared for this special day. I stuff my mouth with the delectable kosha mangsho [spicy mutton curry], unmindful of the stares of the guests who had, probably, never come across such a ravenous bride.
I know that many people mocked me, though some had applauded me, saying I’ll be an inspiration to many. Some had labelled me as being a narcissist, while some had criticized sologamy as a bizarre act, something unsuitable for Indian culture.
People’s opinions are a dime a dozen. But I have never cared for others opinions and had always listened to my heart.
Between mouthfuls of bhetkir paturi [steamed barramundi], I start dreaming about my honeymoon. The day after, I would fly off to Goa to enjoy the bliss of solitude in my solo honeymoon.
[Note: Sologamy is the act of marrying oneself in a public ceremony, also referred to as self-marriage or autogamy. While such a marriage has no legal sanction or status, the symbolic ceremony is used by many as an act to emphasize their self-love and independence. There are no rules or social norms. They can be similar to traditional two-people weddings, or not. Acknowledgements: Articles like this and this.]
Image Source: Vivek from pexels, free on Canva Pro
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An engineer by education, I am a civil servant by profession. A doting mother. An avid reader. I try my hand at writing as and when ideas tussle inside my head. read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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