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.

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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.

 

 

What Did You Pray For Today?

My first school was a convent. We used to pray before every lesson (which was called period), before lunch, and during the morning assembly.  Other than this, my friend and I would visit the chapel inside the school before any exam. This was easily praying about 10 times a day. If a fellow class student was sick, we prayed.  If there was an earthquake anywhere in the world we prayed.  We also had a daily lesion of “Moral science” in which we were taught to become better human beings.  I therefore had a very God-fearing childhood.

The habit of praying for everything continued throughout my childhood and teenage years. The prayer would be very specific such as ‘Please God let me get a 100 on the Math exam.’ One of the strongest prayers of my childhood was when I prayed for my pet dog when he was sick. He died.  It was the first time my innocent mind had to come to terms to the fact that you could close your eyes, pray with sincerity, be a good girl and yet bad things happened.    The dog had died during Navratri. My aunt had told me he went directly to God. I believed her. Prayers continued.

During my teenage years, prayers became more and more shallow. From becoming beautiful and tall, to having my crush ask me out. One time,  I was taking part in an international drama festival on historical fiction in New York City. I was representing my school. It was my dream to win the award. This prayer was added to my list. In fact, it topped my list for few months. One day, I asked my sister (seven years elder) to also pray that I win the contest.

I wish that you win! But I am not going to pray to God for it!”

“What!! You don’t want me to win! It is just one small prayer!”

“I never pray to God for such things. I only pray for the life and health of our family. To keep us all well and safe. That’s all.”

“What do you mean? You don’t pray that you get the highest grade in college! Or that you get an internship in NYSE!”

“Absolutely not! I just pray that we are all healthy and happy. How do you know that winning this contest is the best thing for you?”

“What can be better than winning the international history day competition?”

“You don’t know anything beyond that! God obviously does! And anyway none of these things matter in life.”

This was a shocking revelation for me at 10 years old. Was this how everyone prayed? Non-specific prayer for life and health? What if everyone else listed everything in their prayers and I did not? Wouldn’t I be left out? How would God even know if I did not ask!

As I grew up I started following my sister’s way of praying. God knew the best. And I believed in him. In between I think there were some phases of specific prayers, in addition to the regular one for health and wellness. Please save my job! Please save my relationship!

But as life has unfolded, I have realized God’s plan has certainly been better.

Thank God I lost that job! Thank God I am no more with that person!

I hate preaching. I do not follow religion although I believe in God. But I am talking from experience.

For all those having a rough day, or going through a tough phase, this prayer is for you.

 

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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

 

 

Because It Was Real

Inspector Annirudh addressed the media exactly 120 days after the murder of D.M. Amarkanth.

“Sir, Mr. Amarkanth’s family has demanded a CBI probe. They are not satisfied with the investigation,” asked a reporter shoving a microphone into Annirudh’s face.

“Bangalore police has already solved the case. We have nabbed the murderer! What is the CBI going to do!” Annirudh replied. Not a sign of doubt on his face or his voice.

“But Sir, Amarkanth’s family is alleging that the picture was planted! He was never in a relationship with Kavya Roy!” The reporter asked again, refusing to give up.

That is the problem with this country! You cannot accept it when the police is doing their job. Kavya Roy was having an affair with Amarkanth. Kavya’s husband, Naveen found out and shot Amarkanth. The case is solved. There is nothing left for you to complain about. It is an open and shut case!”

Aniruddh ignored the sea of reporters, and multiple flashes of camera aiming at his face.

There was a sea of reporters at another house as well.  The residence of retired Lieutenant General Naveen Roy. Not many outside the fraternity were aware that Naveen Roy had not sought a voluntary retirement from the army. He had been dismissed following a brawl which had resulted in a fellow Officer’s broken jaw. This incident had come to light thanks to media’s extensive research on Naveen Roy, once he became the prime accused in the murder case of D.M. Amarkanth. The victim of the brawl had testified against Mr. Roy, and swore about his rage issues. Among the other witnesses was a doctor who had once treated Mrs. Roy. His five-minute interview had been viral on the internet for some time.

“I had met Mrs. Kavya Roy in October 2013. The skin of her nose was punctured. A blood clot had formed in the septum. It had created a perforation in the septum.  She was in a lot of pain. I had suggested that she report this to the police as it was a case of domestic violence. But she had refused.”

“And how do you know it was her husband who had hurt her? Did she say it was him?”

“I have been practicing for the past 25 years. I can tell what the patients try to hide. 90 percent of the women who come to me with injuries have been assaulted by a husband or boyfriend. This is the global statistic as well.”

“And why had you not reported it to the police? Was it not your responsibility?”

“My job is to heal the wound which is what I did. She was nervous and scared. I referred her to a female counsellor from my hospital.  I thought she would be more comfortable talking to a woman.”

“Did she visit her?”

“I am not aware.”

“What was the name of that counsellor?”

“Anjana Awasthi.”

Anjana Awasthi was a 55-year-old therapist with a master’s degree in psychology. Anjana’s life was quite mundane. She had spent the first 20 years of her married life raising her two sons. When the younger one left for college, she felt a void so strong that she was convinced she would not be able to survive the loneliness. One of her friends suggested that it was time she utilized her educational degrees. Even though she had not worked before, her empathetic face, her kind smile and grey hair gave her incredible credibility. It compensated for her lack of experience. Her patients connected with her instantly. They confided in her their deepest, darkest secrets.

One morning, Anjana had an appointment with a beautiful woman by the name, Kavya Roy. Kavya was not like other patients. When other patients came to Anjana, they came with a problem. They expected solutions. But Kavya was very resilient. She had accepted her fate. She never cried. She never made any plans. She did not discuss the future.  She did not ask for advice.  She just wanted somebody to talk to. She was a lonely woman who paid Rs 2,000 an hour to speak to someone.  

When Inspector Annirudh approached Anjana for an interview, her husband was reluctant. He said she did not need to get involved in a murder case. But Anjana had never seen any drama in her life. How could she resist this one opportunity?

Anjana was also upset because she did not like the way the media was building a negative image of Kavya. She wanted to put an end to all speculations.

“Was Kavya Roy mentally ii?”

“No!”

“Then why was she consulting you, Ms. Awasthi?”

“Not all people who come to me are necessarily mentally unstable. But I help them see their problems in a way in which they can work them out themselves.”

“So, what were her problems?”

“I am not allowed to share confidential information about my clients. It would be breach of trust!”

“This is a murder case madam! Not cooperating could result in severe consequences for you. We would need access to her file.”

“What is it that you need to know? She had nothing to do with the murder!”

“How do you know that?”

“Because she loved that man! More than her life. She could never hurt him! Her husband found out about the affair, and killed Amarkanth in a moment of rage.”

“How can you be so sure? She did not mind committing adultery! Maybe things got inconvenient. So, she and her husband plotted the murder together.”

“You cannot blame her for the affair. Naveen was awful to her! He hit her. He forced himself on her! He was toxic. She was so unhappy. She had nowhere to go to. Her parents were no more. She was scared to leave Naveen. Amarkanth was the first man in her life who treated her well. He loved her.”

“If he loved her, why did he send a picture of theirs to her husband? Was he trying to blackmail her for money? Doesn’t make sense because he was a rich guy! Or was she trying to end the relationship, so he sent the picture for revenge?”

“I do not know why he did that. Kavya had stopped seeing me three months before the murder. I don’t know what transpired between them during that time.”

“Do you remember the last visit of hers?”

“Yes. She had said she would talk to Amarkanth about getting married.”

“And what did he say?”

“Like I said, I have no idea. That was her last appointment.”

“Do you maintain notes of the sessions?”

“I have the recordings.”

Inspector Annirudh was due for a promotion this year. When he was assigned the case of the murder of D.M. Amarkanth, he knew it would be huge. Amarkanth was a well-known, high profile real-estate developer. His murder had created a public outrage. Initially, Annirudh had thought this must be about a business deal gone wrong. It was only when the IT team cracked Amarkanth’s laptop, and email passwords did he come across the email. The email was sent from Amarkanth to Naveen with a picture of Amarkanth and Kavya together. Naveen saw the picture, got infuriated, took his gun, went to Amarkanth’s house and shot him. A no-leads case had turned into an open and shut case overnight. He would definitely get the promotion for solving this one.

These women, he thought!  They have always caused wars! Look at the Mahabharata for instance! Annirudh had decided he would never get married. Although the case was almost closed, Annirudh decided to listen to one of the recordings of Kavya’ s sessions with Ms. Awasthi, just to understand what was going on in that twisted, cheating woman’s head.

I had got married to Naveen when I was 22. I did not know any life beyond him.  I had accepted my life. Not everybody is destined to be happy. I would tell myself.

Until I met Amar. He was a dream come true. He was nice. He was kind. He was gentle, and sensitive. I was a different person when I was with him. I was happy! I could not thank the stars enough for having met him! How did I get so lucky? He was the best thing to happen to me. My life was an unanswered question so far. No direction. No purpose. Now I know why everything ever happened to me. It all made sense. It was all a plan to make me meet him. It was all worth it. All the pain that I suffered. He made it all right.  I never knew my wounds were worth fixing. But he fixed them!”

Annirudh stopped the tape right there. He could not take it anymore. What non-sense! What a  confused, helpless woman! Why couldn’t she just get a job, and leave her husband! Why did she need another man to fix her! She had ruined the lives of two men! One is dead. One in in jail!

Annirudh had later arrested Naveen for questioning. After a third-degree torture, Naveen had confessed to the crime. The gun was also recovered as evidence. Motive, evidence and a confession! This was a stellar performance by Annirudh! Naveen was sentenced, although his lawyers had appealed the case. The trial would take years.  Annirudh was promoted. He had earned it! It all worked out fine.  Justice was neither denied, nor delayed. For everyone.

One year later:

Kavya’s journal

There is peace in the house.  It is nice not having Naveen around. Sometimes I wonder have my ears stopped functioning altogether? Or is there actually so much of silence? Life without Naveen’s yelling and abuses has probably made me deaf.

It is strange that I miss Naveen.  I miss Amar too.

I remember the day we had taken that picture. I was in Amar’s bed. In his arms. I was giggling. Smiling. Laughing. Smile please, I had said.

“Why are you taking a picture like this! Your husband will find out and kill both of us!”

“It is just a shot of our faces! Not a revealing picture!”

“The look on our face gives it all away, baby!”

And then he had kissed me.

That was a beautiful day. And then came another day. When I asked Amar when he would be marrying me. Somewhere in my heart I knew he was not ready for my marriage. Divorce would have taken time too. But I had never thought he will say this:

“What! What are you saying! I never promised to marry you!”

I cried. I begged. “Why were you with me if you did not want to be with me?”

“You are a consenting adult, Kavya! Don’t act like you are a child and I fooled you into anything!”

“I love you. Please. Don’t do this!”

“Come on. You don’t do this Kavya !  Don’t tell me you got so attached to me in three months! Now I am scared! Let us not see each other anymore!”

I had never deleted that picture. I knew it was a risk. What if Naveen found out? But the times that Amar was not with me, I could look at that picture. It made me feel good. It was all I had left of him. Especially that day when Amar denied our relationship. He invalidated me. He could have said that he did not want to marry me. Or that he is done with me! But he did not! He refused to acknowledge my feelings. He made me feel like a crazy woman. A crazy woman who was crazy about a man who did not want anything to do with her. He ruined everything.

 Amar was what made me real. Without him I was hollow. He was not imaginary! The world had to know that I existed. Our love existed.

I knew Amar’s email password. I did. Because I was his girlfriend. I was the love of his life. And now everyone would know.

From: Amarkanth.dm@gmail.com

To: Naveenroy@gmail.com

Sent.

I think there are two types of men in this world. One like Naveen. Chauvinistic, abusive, aggressive. The other like Amar. Caring, kind, gentle. Soft. Soft and weak.

Who is worse?

Sorry Amar. But I could not let our love die like it never existed. Sorry Naveen. But I wanted you to know I was capable of being loved.

And now Amar is gone! Naveen is also gone. The two men in my life… One scarred my body. One scarred my soul.

I wish I’d been there earlier. It might have made all the difference. So, all I can tell you is why he was murdered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Image source

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh the restless mind..

 

Monday morning started. The fact that Wednesday is a holiday gave me new zeal to rise and shine. My friends and I are always late to work on Mondays. I text on the group to check on them. They have missed the office cab. Every Monday this happens!  But today will be a very busy day for me. Work deadlines. Story contest deadlines. All to be completed by end of day.

Yet the mind drifts off….

11 am.

I should write a book!

Maybe, I should take the GMAT and get out of India…

I should get married….

2 pm

Friend and I are having lunch. We both narrated our weekend. It was a fun weekend! It starts drizzling. We take a walk. Wednesday is a holiday. We remind each other. Just two days. Today is almost over, she said to me optimistically.

4 pm

I am not able to file a tax return.  This is the problem. Nothing works here..

I should get out of India.  Today I will complete the quantitative part of the GMAT book.

6 pm

Tax returns filed. I am happy with my work. I drive back home. Song on my pen drive from Pardes plays, ‘London dekha, Paris dekha aur dekha Japaan’.

I love my India. I will never leave India. ***** GMAT. I belong here.

9 pm

Story for the contest done. I reread my story proudly. It is a lovely story! I should win the contest.

Maybe someone will make a movie out of it! But first I should write a book…. Then maybe someone will notice me..

10 pm

Didn’t go to gym. Didn’t go for walk. Didn’t study anything. KBC time has changed. Missed half an hour. Don’t want to watch Bigg Boss but will put in on anyway. I am bored.

Maybe I should get married….

I should write a book!

All I need is an MBA!

I should travel somewhere solo….