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Marrying A Stranger

Posted: December 1, 2012

On the threshold of an arranged marriage, one young Indian woman wonders if she is doing the right thing.

By Pooja Gupta*

I don’t know what I intend to do by sharing this portion of my life with the whole web of strangers. Maybe, I hope someone will empathize and show me the way. Maybe someone will just give silent solace. My thoughts need an outlet of fresh air. Going round and round inside my head has made them stale and weary.

I knew marrying someone I don’t love would be difficult which is why I avoided giving in to my parents’ expectations for a long time. I wanted to marry someone I was friends with or had some feelings for. One day, I gave in. I agreed to marry a guy I met through a matrimonial site. A part of me was hopeful; a part lost, not fully understanding what was happening. I skirted around the reality not acknowledging it till it stood in front of me and punched me in my face. Here I am. Face me, it said.

I floated along the unruly waves unable to control them. I fought a losing battle trying to manage factors outside my control. Foolish girl, trying to fight fate.

I conditioned myself to be happy. I pretended to be happy. Love will develop, I told myself. Your stars are good.

Well wishers taught me to be happy. I conditioned myself to be happy. I pretended to be happy. Love will develop, I told myself. Your stars are good. Good boy, good family, wonderful city, I thought every day. Change is good. Welcome the good changes, I preached. Of course! Love and attraction aren’t everything, I concluded. Understanding and patience go a long way. Life is good. Life is going to be better.

Then, I would push away those feelings of dread. I would catch my heart from sinking at the thought of marriage that is just a blink away. I would also look happy when people expressed their happiness towards the happy event. I would look at the stranger as a life partner. I would try to keep ‘I’ aside and think of ‘We’.

Then, one day, that steel armour would melt. It takes only a moment to breakdown. It takes something as little as a movie or a song to let loose that clogged up river of tears and fears. And I realize how much I miss love. How much I miss being in love. How important love is.

It is easy to fool the world but fooling oneself is next to impossible.

An arranged marriage: Is it right for me?

How ever much I cry in the dark I remind myself that there is no turning back. I secretly search for at least one strong reason to escape. Make others change their decision. But it doesn’t happen. Marrying strangers is no new thing in our country. Lakhs of people have gone through it and are ‘happily settled’. If they can do it, I should too.

Years ago, I had dreams about my wedding – the guy, the feeling, the ceremonies, the clothes. I thought how happy I would be sharing the good news with the whole world. How I would show off my husband-to-be to everyone. What is happening now is not what I had dreamt – that I would be running away from the drastic change, looking at it like a trauma and my would-be as an outside threat to my life, identity and individuality.

Marrying strangers is no new thing in our country. Lakhs of people have gone through it and are ‘happily settled’. If they can do it, I should too.

Elders have told me stories of how they married a stranger and adjusted to that concept, that person. I try to put myself there and the only thought is no, I can’t do it. That’s just not me.

But here I am. About to marry a stranger.

There is an environment of celebration all around. Relatives and friends call me to ask how the preparations are going, how much I interact with in-laws, what the plans with the guy are. These phone calls create panic within me. And dread. I am marrying a stranger. I am marrying a guy who doesn’t know the real me. I am marrying. Everyone is happy except me.

Is this feeling acceptable? Is this normal?

*Name changed to protect privacy.

*Photo credit: Amature Photographer (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)

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