The Arranged Love Marriage

“Madam, I have draped the sari like mermaid! It is giving you very young and slim look!” The beautician bent down to fix Bittu Kumari’s sari pleats, pleased with her work.

“I am young! I am 26!” Bittu Kumari frowned.

“Oh! I thought you must be in 30’s! Was wondering why you are still bachelor!”

“I am not! A bachelor is a man who is not…”

“Bittu, you are still not ready! The boy’s family has arrived!” Bittu Kumari’s mother stormed into the room. She looked at her daughter from head to toe. “Shabnam, I had asked you to make her look thin!” she said disappointed.

“Aunty Ji, I have given her slim look only! This is mermaid style sari! My world-famous style in Saharanpur! She is little healthy no, what can I do!”

“Leave it! No time now!”

Bittu Kumari was dragged to the living room.  A lean, dark, young man, his mother, father and possibly his brother who looked like a rounder replica of him were seated on the three-seater sofa.  Opposite to them, were Bittu Kumari’s father – Mr. Mishra, and his teenaged son, Sonuraj. Mrs. Mishra’s sister and husband had also been invited for moral support. Bittu Kumari sat next to her brother.

“Mr. Pandey, this is my daughter, Bittu Kumari! She has completed M.A. in English literature.  She teaches English in St. Mary’s high school! Convent! And herself educated in English medium convent! Throughout topper!” added the proud father.

“That is great!” said Mr. Pandey with an approving nod. “Lallan also wanted to do B.Com. But after Matric he joined my business. He completed PUC through correspondence.”

Sonuraj giggled. Bittu Kumari was horrified. She looked up to confirm if she had heard correctly. Her eyes met Lallan’s. Lallan smiled at her, beaming.

“All that is okay! Doesn’t matter!” Mrs. Pandey seemed to have read Bittu Kumari’s thoughts. “For a boy, what matters is how well he is earning. Our business is flourishing. Lallan is handling it single-handedly now! And what matters for a girl is how she looks!” She paused, giving a sharp stare at Bittu Kumari’s bulging stomach which Shabnam’s Rs 1500 mermaid style draping could not hide. “My elder daughter-in-law Chhaya is so pretty! Even after having two daughters, she has maintained herself like a stick!”

Bittu Kumari raised her head again to look at Lallan’s brother’s paunch, trying to imagine him with his stick-like wife.

What does Chaaya do?” asked Mr. Mishra, visibly annoyed.

She is a housewife!” Mr. Pandey stepped in. “We wanted a working girl for Lallan. Actually, we wanted a housewife. But Lallan wanted a working girl.”

Lallan blushed.

“Working, not working is not main criteria! We want a fair, slim, beautiful girl.” Mrs. Pandey clarified. “Your daughter is very healthy. At this age, she is healthy! After a child, she will bloat even more!”

Mrs. Mishra shifted in her chair uncomfortably. Her fear came true. This was the fifth time the boy’ side had rejected her daughter for being “healthy”.  This time, Bittu Kumari did not look up. The words seemed to have pierced through her heart and created a hole. How is it possible that for all these years, she had heard it all – healthy, fat, moti, bhais, elephant, yet it hurt her each time? Shouldn’t she be immuned by now?

“Mrs. Pandey, I think you should let Lallan and Bittu Kumari talk once. They are the ones who have to get married! Let them decide.”

“We would have let them talk, Mr. Mishra. We are very modern. That is why we got Lallan. He was keen on your daughter’s profile. But… sorry to say your daughter looks nothing like her pictures. You must have edited them and sent to us. She seems 20 kg more than we had expected!”

Mr. Mishra looked at his wife accusingly. She had gone to the biggest studio in town to get her daughter’s pictures photoshopped. What was she supposed to do?  Those who saw Bittu Kumari’s real pictures rejected her even before meeting her. She had to give her daughter a fair chance!

“If she was slightly healthy also, we would have tried to adjust. But she is obese! Young girls exercise! She is probably lazy too! Or maybe she has some illness. And moreover, daughter-in-law’s beauty determines the looks of the children also. If we get an obese daughter-in-law, she will give birth to obese daughters, and then we will have to worry about their marriage also!”

“Ek minute Aunty, you have gone too far!” Bittu Kumari finally spoke up.  “Who said I wanted to marry your son!”

“What! Then why did you all call us!” Mrs. Pandey frowned.

“We were deceived too! We thought your son had completed B-Com. But now we know he never went to college. I did not know I was signing up for a college dropout! Just like you did not know you were signing up for a fat daughter-in-law. But you know what Aunty, fat women make completely decent homemakers. Look at you!”

“Such a shameless girl! Doesn’t know how to talk to elders! And I am fat now! When I was your age, I looked just like Hema Malini! Come Lallan, let us go.” Mrs. Pandey got up, grabbing her son’s hand. Her elder son and husband also got up almost in a reflex. “We don’t need a fat and proudy girl.”

“It is proud Aunty, not proudy!”

Lallan looked at Bittu Kumari. He paused. He wanted to say something. But his mother pulled him away.

And just like that, the entire Pandey family was gone. Mr. Mishra put his hand on her daughter’s head and smiled. “Bittu beta, we don’t need them! You are a diamond. These people don’t know your worth.” Mrs. Mishra went back to the bedroom to pay Shabnam who was locked up in the bedroom, waiting for the boy’s side to leave. Mrs. Mishra’s sister and brother-in-law left rather unceremoniously. Everything went back to normal.

Two days later, Bittu Kumari received a text message.

‘Hi Bittu Ji. I am sorry for finding your number. Got it from the school.  I am sorry for the way my mother talked to you. I know how you must have felt. Four girls have rejected me because I am dark! One was educated and English-speaking, and did not want someone like me. I know my profile says that I have done B.com. If talks would have progressed, I would have told you the truth. My brother had edited my profile so that people at least express interest. I may not be that educated, but I do manage to run my business well. I may not be good-looking, but if you give me a chance I will take care of you. I know what it is like when people judge you without getting to know you. I really liked you. Would like to be friends with you, if it is okay with you.”

Bittu Kumari was shocked. No man had ever showed such interest in her. Without telling their parents, Bittu Kumari and Lallan started chatting. Bittu Kumari realized that Lallan was no different from her. He was also looking for a decent partner, while struggling with his own insecurities, and cruel judgment of random people. He was running a growing business, with hard-work and sincerity. He was not as stupid as she had expected. Rather, he was quite intuitive and witty. He was also very sensitive and mature. She grew quite fond of him.

Bittu Rani and Lallan have decided to get married. Mr. Mishra is insisting that Lallan completes B.Com from distant learning. Mrs. Pandey has agreed provided Bittu Kumari loses 10 kgs. Mr. Pandey is happy for the children. Sonuraj is preparing a solo dance performance for the wedding.

Mrs. Mishra is grateful. To Shabnam. And to the photographer.

Image source

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Want To Live With My Parents After Marriage? You Horrible Un-cultured Woman!

I spoke to a man for an arranged marriage meeting. Before telling me about himself or asking anything about me he told me that his parents would be living with us after marriage from Day 1. He said that he wants them around. Not because of any health condition. He just wants to “make them happy.” They feel lonely in their hometown.

For the past eight years, his parents have been  living in the hometown because he was living with a roommate. But  somehow, the moment he gets married, they will become lonely and helpless!

Very politely, I told this man that I would not be comfortable with this set-up. It will be difficult for me to adjust to three new people immediately. I said that during the first few years of marriage, the husband and wife should live alone because they are still trying to adjust to each other.  He then told me that I will be “allowed” to wear jeans and that his parents are very nice people. As long as they are taken care of them, they will not “scold” me for anything.

I told him “No”. He later sent me a text message  wishing me good luck in life, and that he is looking for someone with “family values”!

He also wanted me to “appreciate his honesty” because he told me about his expectation before marriage. I was honest too! Why didn’t I get appreciation for my honesty? He wants a woman to take care of his parents, because it is convenient for him. He gets to be Shavan Kumar by doing nothing for his parents except getting married. I refuse him, so I get to be a vamp!!

I don’t understand why this should be the norm. Let me tell you this is one of the reasons people still prefer to have a son. Because they can live with their son forever but not with the daughter.

When I say this, it is immediately interpreted as a rebellious, uncultured attitude. I want to ask these so-called custodians of Indian culture, are girls’ parents any less old? How come they manage alone? Or since they have given birth to daughters, they are so unfortunate to begin with that we don’t even count them as senior citizens?

Some men and even women say that “Yeah, but any guy with prefer to have his parents around.  If you were a boy, wouldn’t you?’

Some even add, “Why do you even want to get married then!”

This statement is garbage. It reeks with chauvinism, and enjoying the benefits of patriarchy at a woman’s expense. This is how they justify dowry too!

No marriage is not about living with in-laws. People in the western countries also get married. They do not do this.

Please don’t get me wrong. Of course someone should be there to take care of parents in emergencies. In fact, if the parents can live in the same city, or nearby it is great. I know of people who even stay in the same apartment complex but in different apartments. That way, they are there when required and also have their privacy.  Sometimes they stay together for economic reason. Some stay together for grandchildren. Living together can be a great form of support for parents as well as children. I am not saying they should not.  As long as they are happy doing what they are doing, it is none of my business. I know of families where the girl’s parents also stay together.

What I am trying to say is in the Indian set-up, living with in-laws can become difficult because of high expectations. Especially in the initial years of marriage when the relationship between the husband and wife is not even stable. But no, it is not a wife’s moral obligation to live with her husband’s parents and take care of them from the first day of marriage! It is not a man’s birth right to demand it. If she is doing it happily, great. If she refuses, it is okay too. It is her choice. It is difficult to adjust to one person. And definitely more difficult to adjust with more people from another generation, especially when they come with a sense of entitlement and expectation.

I have a request:

Indian men, when the girl you meet at shaadi.com refuses to live with your parents after marriage, you don’t get to shame her. You respect her choice, and find someone else. Please do not tell her that she does not have “family values”. Unless you also want that her parents should also live with you guys. “Respect for elders” and “family values” apply to elders who have borne daughters also.

Parents of girls, please do not force your daughters in to such marriages saying “so and so is also living with in-laws. This is our culture etc”.  You will not be there with her each day to maneuver her way. She will be alone there. Let her decide for herself.

And girls, please know yourself. If you are not comfortable with the idea of living with in-laws, then be sure about this point before you get convinced into such a marriage. It is your whole life ahead.  Later on complaining about it will get you nowhere.

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Seeing the comments on the article, about women being equally responsible for such upbringing or social conditioning, I am adding this quote of Ms. Kamla Bhasin. Thank you readers, you always provide the much needed perspective.

 

 

Qarib Qarib Single – Refreshing and realistic

The name of the movie is Qarib Qarib Singlle. I thought it was Qarib Qarib Single Single. I enjoyed the movie in the first half thoroughly. Few good laughs. In the second half, I felt the movie lost its plot. Nonetheless, it was better than most Bollywood movies.

Yogi and Jaya meet through a dating website. Jaya is a 35-year-old widow. Yogi must be older. What is the romantic life like for a single woman in her mid-30’s in India? What is dating like through these mediums?

In a pro- nepotism industry where most love stories revolve around good-looking college students who magically fall in love over a series of songs shot across foreign locations, a realistic romantic plot revolving average people, in mid-30’s is a breath of fresh air. I will overlook all other parts of the movie which I could not relate to (like how come Yogi was rich!)

Here is what worked for me:

  • Jaya’s single life

The casting song captures Jaya’s lonely, uneventful, painfully boring life brilliantly. The highlights of her day are her skype chats with her brother. Doing well in her career, confident at work and hesitant about relationships. She spends time outside of work babysitting her friends’ kid, cats and paying for their shopping too. Her friends seem to be taking advantage of her.

I remember an episode of Sex and the city if which one of Carrie’s married friend with kids had shamed her for buying very expensive shoes. Her friend told her that she has a very lavish lifestyle, something which was a luxury for her – a woman with a family. Carrie counted how much money she has spent on her and her family so far – Wedding gifts, children’s birthday gifts etc. Story of all financially comfortable, single women. Little (big) things we buy for our friends and their kids are always measured against our “lack of real responsibilities” in life. I had written an article on this but never published it. I do not wish to get boycotted by all my married friends! 🙂

  • No efforts towards relationships

Jaya seems to have accepted her single status. She does not seem to be doing anything about meeting people until one of her friends reminds her that she might “regain her virginity”. This phase also comes in the lives of single women. Where they give up on men completely!

  • Dating sites

Jaya is hesitant to put her picture on the site. The moment her profile becomes active, she starts receiving all kinds on creepy messages.  It reinforces her belief that probably she should not have done anything! Something that has probably happened to all of us!

  • First meeting between Yogi and Jaya

Yogi looks extremely objectionable the first time Jaya sees him. It reminds me of the movie, ‘Life in a metro’, in which Konkana’ s character meets Irrfan’s character for the first time. She rejects him because he stares at her chest (something he later tries to justify to her)! In both these movies, Irrfan Khan looked weird to the women, and the audience the first time. However, as the story progresses the women saw the better side of him. Does that happen in real life too? Someone who we meet through a dating / matrimonial site is given second chances? What would happen if instead of being judgmental we would give them a chance?

  • The ex- factor

Both Yogi and Jaya seem hung on their exes. However, they don’t realize this about themselves, as much as they realize about each other. This for me is the number one biggest turn-off in a man!! A deal breaker!

  • Ex-lover turns into Mamaji

Yogi lives under the misconception that his exes are destroyed because of the break-up! He meets one of his exes, who is now happily married with her family. She introduces him to his children as “mamaji”. Yogi explains this happens in small-towns.

I know this is true. Non-lovers were put into “rakhi brother” categories, before the “friend-zone” was invented!

  • Good acting and zero songs!

Irrfan is perfect. We know that already. But I had never seen Parvathi before. She was very good too. Reminded me of another actress, Madhu from Roja. Nice to see a character of a hindi film heroine who was just being herself. Not young, not wearing skimpy clothes and not dancing to vulgar lyrics, not even in a dream sequence. This itself is an achievement!

Go for it! Better than most movies we spend our money on.

Image source

 

 

Thirty Years of Me!

On my 28th birthday, I had posted this article. I had even created a separate category on my blog called ‘Birthday Memoirs’ based on one article! Last year I got lazy and shared the same article again. But today, I have turned 30. How can I not write about it!

Give me some sunshine. Give me some rain. Give me another chance. I wanna grow up once again.

Last week, I was on a whatsapp video call with my cousin and her six-year-old daughter.

Cousin: What’s the plan for the birthday?

Me: No plans. I am turning 30!

Kid excited: Mausi’s 30th birthday is coming up?

Me: Shh! Don’t say 30 out loud! It is a secret between you and me.  Don’t tell anyone!

Kid with a thumbs up: Okay Mausi. Secret. Done. I will tell everyone you turned 39!

Me: Hey! What kind of a secret is that! The secret should be beneficial to me!

Kid confused and disappointed. She had given her best shot at faking.

Cousin: You should reduce Mausi’s age. 39 is worse than 30!

Kid was still confused. She did not understand why turning 30 was bad. Why was turning 39 even worse? It did not make any sense to her.

Past few months I have been upset about turning 30. Should have talked to the kid sooner. She would have made me realize it really does not matter!

Last year this time

Aaj kal paon zameen par nahin padate mere, Bolo dekhaa hai kabhi, tumne mujhe udate huye

I was pretty happy. I had a new job. New friends. An international family vacation.  In the beginning of 2017, I won an award for blogging. Life seemed to be going well.  And I was pretty optimistic that by this time, this year I would have un-singled myself!

Oh dear men!

No! Not all men! Just talking about the men I met this year. Instead of becoming partners for me, most ended up becoming case studies for my articles. One became the sole inspiration behind my series, ‘To the Geet without Aditya Kashyap, and the Queen without the international vacation’.  I think this year I have written more about relationships that any other topic.

I had met a gentleman through an arranged marriage set-up. He was good-looking, soft-spoken and well-dressed. It was during the phase when I was certain I should get married. He lived with his parents. He was very clear he would continue living with his parents after marriage too. He said that I will be “allowed” to do whatever l liked. As long as I respect his parents and take care of them.

Few years back, such a statement would have sounded harmless to me. But I have become smart. Or rather experiences have taught me better.  I imagined my life of marital bliss with him.

Wake up before everyone else –

Pehli Kiran Jab Se Uge, Bhabhi Meri Tab Se Jage. Sabka Pura dhyan Dhare Woh, Shaam Dhale Tak Kaam Kare

Feed three adults.

Seek their permission to go to my parents’ place. Actually anywhere.

Be fully covered since the moment I leave my bedroom.

Forget about watching Mindhunter. Or Game of thrones. Or anything. 

Not being able to put my legs on the center table stand while watching TV. Ever.

Weekends will be spent grocery shopping. Identifying sales from Big Bazaar. And watching Indian Idol for fun.

Is it worth it? I asked myself. Don’t answer the question. Most of India is doing this. So I am pretty sure it is worth it.  It just made me realize that in case it never happens for me, or happens much later in life, it is okay. I am not missing out on a lot!

My current life

I made a lot of friends this year. From Shaadi.com to tinder, from Jeevansathi.Com to Trulymadly, from meetups to events in the city– I was everywhere! I Did meet some nice and interesting people through these mediums who I would not have met otherwise.

Weekends I get up at 12. Have lunch and head out. Evenings are usually spent in some nice restaurant / pub.

Come on, come on, turn the radio on. It’s Saturday and I won’t be long. Gotta paint my nails, put my high heels on. It’s Saturday and I won’t be long

Come back at night. No wonder, a lot of women in their 30’s and 40’s prefer not to get married unless they meet someone awesome. A lot of single women I know and I myself spend a lot of time and money on ourselves. Hair spas. Hair smoothening. Sexy dresses. Fun events. Nobody to answer to.

What was good this year

Writing has been going well. My articles on Womensweb, as well as on my blog did really well. More people have been writing to me. Feels good.

My sister and niece visited twice this year. Niece is a lot of fun to be with. She is also one of the most affectionate and loving children I know. Till the time that she was here, I would look forward to coming back from office. She would give me company for everything – Whether it is staying up late at night, or going to gym. She makes me believe in all the good things in the world. She also makes me believe in marriage and family.

People and their ways!

Kuch to log kaheinge, logon ka kaam hai kehna

I have spent most of my life overthinking and overanalyzing. This year also, like any other year I have been hurt by some people’s words and behaviour. Today is a good day to let go of all the bitterness. Let me focus on better things. I have noticed that I may not like what some people say, yet I am grateful that these people have managed to stay in my life. Even if they say some stupid things, at least they call, text or show up.  Better than the ones who are not in touch. I guess this is the first sign of ageing! Gratefulness!

The single factor

Single Rehne De Mane Single Rehne De, Happy Hoon Main Happy Happy Rehne De!

The other day, I went out with four of my girlfriends.  We are all in the age group 29-42. All single women. We started talking about boyfriends and our broken relationships. One girl decided to ask what each one of us may be looking for in a partner. One girl said she wants someone who is a poet or an artist. Shayar type. Another one said she would prefer someone who is earning very well, in a stable job because she wants to be a homemaker.

I don’t know if it was the Vodka but all of this just made me laugh. I told the first girl, if she likes poetry or art, why doesn’t she do it herself?  I asked the second girl, who should be paying for her expenses then?

I am not laughing at them. I have no right to, as someone who spent the entire year trying to unsingle. I am laughing at all of us. At the expectation that someone will come, and make our lives better. The emotionally unavailable boyfriend who does not want to commit, the undekha anjana shayar, or the decent gentleman who promises a stable life, provided his parents are taken care of. Single, wise, older women still waiting for a man!

Do Patte Patjhad Ke Pedon Se Utre The, Pedon Ki Shaakhon Se Utre The, Phir Utne Mausam Guzre Vo Patte Do bechaare, Phir Ugne Ki Chaahat Mein Vo Sehraon Se Guzre

I guess it is badly ingrained in our minds that relationship will make us happy. I have had enough with this expectation. And the efforts directed towards achieving it. The next year will be all about me. About all the things that I have wanted to do. Here are some:

Teaching kids

When I was in the United States, I used to volunteer to teach children at summer school. I was quite young myself – about 16. There was a kid (fourth grader) in one of my classes, who was Hispanic. He struggled with English. I struggled with him.  But he was hard-working. I tried my best to help him improve. He responded.

On the last day, his father had come to pick him up. The kid had got a rose for me, as a thank you. Except that he felt too shy at the time of handing it over. So, he gave the rose to his father to give it to me. The father was sooooo cute!! He thanked me for helping his son. The awkward, short, scrawny, braces wearing teenager inside me could not stop blushing.

I also taught Kindergarten another summer. Those kids were too young to learn anything. But they were very cute and innocent. Teaching was a very rewarding experience. Not because of the cute Hispanic man. But because I really enjoyed myself. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher.

I don’t know how I will achieve this with my full-time job and writing. But let me for now put it in my to-do list for this year.

Taare zameen par…

Lasik surgery

I don’t know how many times I have gone to the doctor, got an eye-check-up, weighed pros and cons (there is hardly a con), nodded when the doctor has asked me to come back for a final consultation, and then chickened out and never returned. People who have got laser surgery have told me it has made their lives much easier. I think I should too. At least I would become less averse to travelling, and water sports. Maybe I should stop watching youtube videos on the surgery, because they just scare me. If any of you have got it done, please do let me know how it feels like.

The book

I think about it every night and day, Spread my wings and fly away. I believe I can soar, I see me running through that open door

I hope the book that I have been working on gets to see the light of the day. I also realized I have posted very few guest blogs this year. Please do keep sending me story ideas.

GMAT and MBA

This is the most farfetched idea. But it is still there. Maths had always been a nightmare for me. I used to dream that I have failed in Maths even long after I had finished school. Then came chartered accountancy and the nightmares became real. I used to have a recurring dream that I have failed the CA exams till years after I had qualified. But those dreams had stopped. Until recently.  I dreamt that I  failed in Biology. I have never been a Science student. I attribute that dream to my struggle with Maths with the GMAT book I bought this month. My sub-conscious brain probably could not process failing GMAT yet and substituted it with biology.

I met a friend from the US who is doing MBA from Singapore. I had met her though blogging. I confessed to her that I am not really interested in GMAT or MBA. I just want to get out of here. She said that it is a common reason for a lot of girls from the Indian sub-continent!

But I think two factors would not let it happen for me. 1. I love India way too much. 2. I am horrible at Maths.

So there. I better end it now before this post becomes an autobiography.

Maula tera maali, O hariyaali jungle waali,
Tu de har gaali pe taali, Uski kadam kadam rakhwaali

Image source

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But Why Do You Even Want To Get Married?

Received an email from a woman who is single and has been searching for a guy for a long time. She has a full-time job, good friends and a good life. That does not change the fact that she is looking for someone for marriage. She is in her early 40s. She also wants to have kids. She is a happy person. But when she tells people she wants to get married, they start saying so many annoying things.

The first question is ‘But why do you even want to get married!’

I can relate perfectly. How many of you are single? When you tell people, you want to “un” single, do they judge you? It is not like you are saying that you are desperate or unhappy or incomplete. You just wish you had someone. Many people who say these things are actually married themselves.

Here is a short list of some of the things people say to single people who are looking. Feel free to add to the comments.

  1. No one can complete you!
  • When did I say I was incomplete?
  1. Be in love with yourself first!
  • Main meri favourite hoon….?
  1. You will find him once you stop looking!
  • Does he know I am looking for him, and therefore hiding? Shh…he might hear us and hide back!
  1. When you are happy you attract people…
  • Been happy… attracted people.. Now what?
  1. If you feel lonely alone, you will feel lonely in a relationship too.
  • What does this even mean? Did they think so much before getting into a relationship?
  1. Your spouse could die. And you could not have a child. So, marriage does not guarantee that you would not die alone.
  • Wow…what optimism!

I guess when people mean it is better to be single than married, they mean to say it is better than being in a bad relationship. I agree. If you see your friends desperate and unhappy in a bad relationship just for the fear of being alone, please go ahead and help them see reality.

But if they seem to be happy and doing well, yet searching then it is a normal thing to do! They do not need to justify anything! Isn’t it natural (for some people) to want love, romance, marriage. kids?

I am a feminist. I do not believe that marriage is the ultimate goal of life. It is a personal choice. It is okay to be single.  It is also okay to wish for one.  It does not mean that someone is weak. Single people do know relationships do not work sometimes and that marriage requires a lot of work.

Let us be a little kind to our divorced friends, and the ones who are older yet single. Let us not decide that it is better for them to be alone! Let us not tell them that marriage is this reward they will get once they have attained the above checklist! It is a well-meaning thing to say but it does not help them!

 

 

 

To The Geet Without Aditya Kashyap And the Queen Without The International Vacation – Part III

This is my third article in the series. The first one was very general. At that time, I did not know that the series would get popular and I will be asked to continue with it. The second article was on divorce.  This article is about getting over a relationship that never quite existed (to the other person).

Times have changed. Relationships are no longer well defined. People have also become more willing to explore without any commitment (not judging).  When exactly does a relationship starts?

When one person says I love you and the other one reciprocates?

Texting all day and talking through the night?

The moment a physical involvement begins?

I have had friends who have got to know a man through a matrimonial website, talked over the phone, met maybe a couple of times and got emotionally attached. One fine day, the person just leaves and they have no idea what they did wrong. In dating terms it is called “ghosting”. (I don’t think there is any term for it in Indian arranged marriage set-ups. I have written more on dating in this article).

Then there are women who get into a fling or a short-term relationship.  Except that they did not know that it would be short term. They were probably looking for something serious. They just realized after getting dumped the other person was not serious.

The women in the above scenarios feel heart-broken and depressed. The man may not feel anything because he never made a commitment in the first place. Was it really a relationship? Who gets to decide that? But does it really matter? The fact is someone got hurt. When you feel hurt and sad, nothing else matters much.

Such non-relationships should be easy to get over, right? But trust me they are not. There are some unique aspects to it that are painful. If you tell someone about it, here is what you are told:

It was not even a relationship! Doesn’t count! Get over it!

How could you be so stupid to fall for it in the first place!

While you are already dealing with the loss of not having someone with you anymore (no matter how brief it was), you also have to deal with your feelings being invalidated, by the guy himself, and probably those around you.

At least when a person gets divorced, or breaks up from a long-term declared relationship, they get some empathy. You get none! You feel a certain sense of shame for being so non-existent. Your friends secretly think you are weak and stupid. The best they can say is ‘forget him, not worth it.’ You did not gain any long-term benefits of a relationship, yet you got a very real sense of pain and loss? Not fair!

Somehow Bollywood has always romanticized unrequited love.

Ek tarfa pyar ki taqat hi kuch aur hoti hai … auron ke rishton ki tarah yeh do logon mein nahi bat’ti … sirf mera haq hai ispe” – Dialogue from Aye dil hai mushkil. There was a beautiful song in the movie, also the title track which was all about being in love with someone who does not reciprocate. There are millions of other examples.

Yesterday, I watched a video of Matthew Hussey that made me smile. A lot of us try to hold on to the idea of someone, after they have left. Something to fill the void.

But think about this. There is someone of the opposite gender who you may find interesting. But they seem too hung up on someone from their past. Would you want to date them? Even if you try you will feel frustrated.  Do you really want to become that person?

There is nothing attractive about “unrequited love”! Human beings have the ability to adapt! You become unattractive the moment you show that you have no ability to move on and you are stuck in the past! Even if you meet any decent potential partners, they would not prefer to have anything long term with you.

You don’t have to be ashamed of anything. You tried. It did not work. People who try eventually succeed. If you are looking for a serious relationship, you will probably find it. You are closer to finding it that most people, as you are trying for it.

I remember a girl who kept saying that a guy she met once who had shown a lot of interest in her, and suddenly disappeared was “perfect” for her. She mourned for him for a long time. She said she would never find anyone that great again.  It is natural to feel this way when one day someone dreamy walks into a life only to leave making us realise that the dream was not real.  But here is the thing. Someone who is right for us is someone who wants to be with us, not someone who fits the checklist. He is a great guy, and he spent some great time with me does not equal to he wants to be with forever. Harsh, but true.

Being sad and bitter will only make your personality less appealing. Less appealing to someone who may actually want to be with you. 

“You must make a decision that you are going to move on. It wont happen automatically. You will have to rise up and say, ‘I don’t care how hard this is, I don’t care how disappointed I am, I’m not going to let this get the best of me. I’m moving on with my life.” 
― Joel OsteenYour Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential

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To The Geet Without Aditya Kashyap, and The Queen Without the International Vacation – Part 2

This is my second article in the series, ‘To the Geet Without Aditya Kashyap, and The Queen Without the International Vacation’. This is dedicated to the women who are going through a break-up, or a divorce. They may not have necessarily found someone else, or have the luxury to travel to discover themselves like our Bollywood heroines. How would they heal? You could read the first part here.

******

I was waiting in the family court.  As I looked around, I felt like I was the youngest person to be here. I probably was.

‘Why me!! Why does everything happen to me!! I don’t deserve this!’ I thought to myself or was probably screaming to God.

An older lady wearing a silk sari who looked very strict pointed towards my legs. I looked at my legs. Then at her. What was she trying to say?

Don’t cross your legs. It is considered disrespectful to the judge!” said a slim, pretty looking young girl sitting next to me.

“Oh ok.” I uncrossed my legs, embarrassed. “I did not know that!”

She smiled.

“You are here for…”

Yes.” I nodded. “You too?”

“Yes.”

“You have kids?”

“Oh no no! We were just together six months. You?”

“I have two daughters. Nine and seven years old!”

“Wow! You look so young”.

“I am 29!”

“Oh! Just three years older than me!”

“Yeah I got married very early.”

“Love marriage?”

“No Arranged. You?”

“Same! You have come alone?”

“Yeah. My father used to come with me.  But he has not been keeping well since last week. Ever since I separated, I moved in with them. My mother passed away from cancer last year. Since then he has become weak. He was hospitalized. Low BP. Past four years have been like hell.”

“Oh my God! You are going through a lot!”

I watched my parents outside the room, looking out for me protectively.

First time, during that day I did not feel like a victim. I felt grateful.

“Do you work?” I asked her.

“I have started teaching. Completed B.Ed. I was not working earlier. But since we separated I had to. Two children I have to support.”

“Was he giving any child support?”

“No nothing. That is why this process getting delayed. He is not agreeing to give a penny.  I have been struggling like anything just to survive!”

A man in a fluorescent coloured shirt walked in and spoke to my lawyer. The lawyer then came and said something to me.

“Is that your…?”

“That’s his brother!”

“What a bright coloured shirt he is wearing! Who dresses up like this in a court!”

“He is a very moronic person. Maybe he thought this is a wedding.”

She giggled. I giggled too. The lady in the silk sari gave us a sharp look.  We felt like two school girls being scolded by a teacher.

A hefty looking man entered. He looked very aggressive.

“That’s my…”, she said.

“Oh! You both look like a mismatched pair!”

She smiled. “Yes, you both too” – She said, looking at another man looking equally aggressive. “He looks much older than you too!”

After a moment, she said, “You know the Judge should grant us just by looking at their faces! They look like they will start hurling abuses here any minute! I mean just look at them! ”

We both laughed again.

“No they won’t. They would not take such a risk here. That behavior is reserved for the wife.”

“These idiots don’t realize how they ruined our lives. They deserve to be alone because of their behavior and actions! It was our horrible fate that we ended up with them. They will grow old and regret everything! We will find someone else!”

“They will too!”

“Isn’t that scary?”

We laughed again.

Doesn’t matter to us. We have to focus on our lives. You will be fine. You are a strong woman! And you have to live well for your kids. Have faith in yourself”

Yes dear. Everything will be fine! You too be good. We are getting our freedom today. This is day to celebrate!”

“Yup!!”

After the hearing, I stepped out of the room to have a discussion with the lawyers. It was time to leave.  I went back to the room to look for my friend. The stranger who had made the day light. Who made me laugh on a tensed day. With whom I shared hope. Who took away the loneliness.

Her hearing was about to come up. She was standing in the queue. She was also looking out of the door, probably looking for me. I smiled and waved. She waved back.

******

To all the Geets and Ranis out there, my two cents and non-expert yet tried and tested advice:

  • Count your blessings. There is no end to suffering in the world. Look around you. There are always people dealing with so much more. I get annoyed when people tell me the same thing. But it is the truth. It is also the only way to go on.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of small joys in life. Little moments help in healing. Be greedy for them and grab them all. Sharing a lame joke with a stranger, going out with friends, watching an old comedy movie, downloading the latest Punjabi number and playing it in gym, ordering brownies, binge-watching Friends and Seinfeld for the nth time, 2 am Maggie, playing with your niece. Do it all. When you laugh, you laugh. It does not matter if you were sad the moment before.
  • Remember why things ended. Either someone was not good to you, and you had to make the choice to leave or someone left. Either way, they choose not to be with you. And there is nothing you can do about it.
  • Keep loving yourself. Your relationship with yourself is the most important. Keep working on it! Only you can nurture it!

 

 

 

 

 

She Deserved it!

I think like me most of you knew even before Anamika Majumdar started playing Kaun Banega Crorepati, that she is the contestant who would be winning Rs 1 crore, thanks to news and previews of the episode. Anamika Majumdar was the first contestant of this season to win Rs 1 crore. She is a homemaker from Jamshedpur who runs an NGO called ‘Faith in India’ which uplifts children and women through arts and social awareness. It was not clear to me whether she educates or employs them, but it seemed like she gives them a direction in life by engaging the children in dance, and the women in bhajans while teaching them about personal hygiene. I will update this article once I find out more about her NGO.

I have been writing a lot on KBC episodes lately. People who come on this show are ordinary people like you and me and they reflect societal attitudes. I also feel guilty because these are not celebrities and they are not putting themselves out there to be judged. Therefore, I do not want to make this article about attacking her husband. But here is what happened:

Mr. Bachchan asked Ms. Majumdar’s husband how he feels about her NGO work. He said that it is okay as long as she is able to manage her household work. He added that if he comes home, and she is not there then it may not be so great. Mr. Bachchan asked Ms. Majumdar something like who needs her more, her own kids or the NGO kids. It was a strange thing to ask, and I felt that his only intention was to get the response from her, that she manages both well.

Would a male contestant ever be questioned on how he spends his time and justify how much of it is worth spending on other than his family?

Then there was an audio visual where the lady went on to explain how she finishes all her work of home, and then only she goes to the NGO. She added that initially the kids may not have been used to not having her own around but they soon understood that their needs are being taken care of. Her mother who by the way was very intelligent herself, and answered one of the ‘jodidar’ lifeline questions correctly, supported her daughter.

Ms. Majumdar was beautiful. She had such a sweet voice. She knew the answers. She had great general knowledge. She was so smart that even when she did not know the answer for sure, she could make an educative guess through the process of elimination. She was confident. She was kind-hearted. She cares about children and women who are not her own, and she wants to do something for them. I could not stop admiring her.

I know a lot of women like Ms. Majumdar. They are almost perfect. But forget about being admired, they are made to feel undervalued. They are made to feel guilty and worthless. Often, by a person who has vowed to support them for life.

She said on the show that at one point she had felt hopeless in life, and would speak to a tree for guidance. I do not know this couple personally so I would not like to blow all of this out of proportion and impose my assumptions.

Keeping them aside, I would like to say something to the women reading this:

You are much more than what you may be given credit for. Don’t let anyone define your self-worth. Do what gives you happiness. People will always be unhappy no matter what you do. Might as well do what makes you happy.

And to all men, please value your wife. She is probably doing the best she can. A little empathy and support from you could you make all the difference.

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Sometimes The Best Closure Is……. Complete The Sentence

I was 12 when I had the term “closure” for the first time.

At that time, I was living in the United States. A 17-year-old woman had gone missing after her morning jog.  She was a high school student, ready to apply for colleges with her whole life ahead of her. There was an extensive search initiated to find her. Everybody was praying for her safe return.  After some 15-20 days, her decomposed body was found in some forest, with her throat slit.  The murderer was already caught, and he was the one who has led to the body.

The news reporter broke the news with a solemn face. She added,

“We hope that this has given some closure to the family.”

I hated the term. How could knowing that their daughter was dead, killed brutally, and finding her body bring anything positive? The reporter was trying to say was that were in trauma for the past weeks by not knowing what happened to their daughter. Now at least, they knew…

At least. Another term I despise…

As I grew up, I came to know that the term closure was used in the context of relationships very often. My next encounter with it was in an episode of Friends. Rachel falls in love with Ross but only after he is with Julie. Rachel is now at a restaurant on a date with a new guy but all she can think about is Ross.

Michael: Look, I’ve been through a divorce, trust me you’re gonna be fine. You just can’t see it now because you haven’t had any closure.

Rachel: Yeah! Closure. That’s what it is, that’s what I need. God, you’re brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that? How do I get that?

Michael: Well, you know, there’s no one way really, it’s just, you know, whatever it takes so that you can finally say to him, “I’m over you.”

Rachel: Closure, that’s what it is. Closure.

She then borrows a phone from a reluctant man and dials Ross.

Rachel: [on phone] Ross, hi, it’s Rachel. I’m just calling to say that um, everything’s fine and I’m really happy for you and your cat who, by the way, I think you should name Michael: And, you know, ya see there I’m thinking of names so obviously, I am over you. I am over you and that, my friend, is what they call closure. [hangs up and tosses phone in the ice bucket]

By the end of the episode, Ross realizes he is still in love with Rachel, and they end up kissing.

Bollywood loves closure too. Lovers almost always come back. They apologize. They repent. They want to be taken back. The heroine either takes them back and they live happily ever after or she find another guy who is so much better! Pyaar to hona hi tha, Queen,  to name a few.

The best example I can think of is Jab we met (I loved the move like everyone else). I have blogged about it before in To The Geet Without Aditya Kashyap and The Queen Without the International Vacation. Geet calls up Anshuman, and showers him with abuses. He hangs up, looking traumatized. He also realizes his mistakes and comes back to Geet. Meanwhile, Geet falls in love with Aditya Kashyap. She gets to reject Anshuman, make him feel like an idiot and then marry Aditya Kashyap. What a wonderful closure!!

But real life is so messy. If someone actually says the things they want to say in an attempt for closure, they will get to hear an earful, and end up feeling worse. It could be a chain that needs to be closed for our sanity. Maybe we reach out but get no response. Maybe we decide not to call in an attempt to savor what is left of our already damaged self-respect. I don’t think we get that many closures in relationships, (unless we are a fictional Bollywood character). Quoting from my own article:

What about women who don’t necessarily find another man like Geet? What about the ones who don’t get to travel like Queen but continue their routine life feeling worthless after getting dumped? Living each day with a spout of misery with the most cherished moments of their lives becoming mere memories  and evoking mixed feelings? How do they ‘get over’ someone?

Maybe closure is overrated. It is still as absurd as when I had heard it for the first time in my life. When someone is gone, they are gone. There are no ifs, buts, what ifs, how, why. There are no answers. At least not answers that we will get from another person.

The harsh truth is there may be NO closure. We have to somehow make ourselves understand. I did research to find the best thought to complete the sentence – Sometimes he best closure is…

But I did not like anything I read. So here is my list. Please feel free to add to it.

Sometimes the best closure is knowing that I tried.

Sometimes the best closure is knowing that there is nothing else I could do.

Sometimes the best closure is accepting that I may be hurting, but I am not broken.

Sometimes the best closure is knowing that I have survived the biggest pain I have ever known.

Sometimes the best closure is closing the door to the negativity within me, and I alone have the power to do it.

Adding a good one sent to me by a friend, after reading the article:

You have to accept that some chapters in our lives have to close without closure. There’s no point in losing yourself by trying to fix what’s meant to be broken. – www.stevemaraboli.com

And finally the one from ‘He’s just not that into you’ , the dating Bible for women (along with Mathhew Hussey’s videos)! It is not on closure, but it is on happy endings. Isn’t that what we are all looking for?

And maybe a happy ending doesn’t include a guy… maybe its you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over, freeing yourself up for something better in the future. Maybe the happy ending is…just moving on. Or maybe the happy ending is this… knowing after all the unreturned phone calls, broken hearts, through all the blunders and misread signals, through all the pain and embarrassment you never gave up.” 

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