I never thought I would have a huge, incurable crush on a guy from my workplace at the age of 25. But well, it happened. I became friends with Mohit, and I thought that friendship would cure me of dreaming and thinking about him, every waking moment of my life - but sadly it didn’t. A year later, I wrote him a long mail (yes an email, we were colleagues after all) confessing my feelings. He took an entire day to reply, and when he did - he told me he had only always thought of me as a friend, and would never want to let go of me as one.
This hurt me quite a lot - but it was a closure of sorts, and so on my 27th birthday, I gave in to my parents to let them find me someone suitable. They met a marriage broker, paid him quite a good sum to set me up with some ‘eligible baniya guys’, and I came across Nitin’s profile.
He had had a good education, and was currently looking after his father’s business, and something about him felt right to me. I told the broker I wanted to get to know him, and would like to meet him. However to my surprise, the broker informed me a meeting just between the two of us wasn’t acceptable to his family. It did strike me as a bit odd, but I gave in and decided to meet the guy with his mother. I asked my elder sister and mom to come along too.
Nitin seemed like a decent chap, self assured and well dressed, and his first impression wasn’t an objectionable one. He seemed to be aware and open to new ideas, from the little conversation we had. Until, his mother took over after having stared at me for a good while.
I was dressed in a suit, and her first remark to me was why had I not changed into a saree? This question was followed by many others all of which ONLY revolved around various domestic concerns. I suddenly realised that she might be under the impression that I would give up my job post marriage, and so I told her I won’t. My mom chipped in to say, these details could be worked out later. As angry as I felt at my mother, I also noticed that Nitin hadn’t said a word the entire time his mother interviewed me - like he too agreed with her on all this. When my mom suggested that he and I should maybe go out in the balcony and spend some time alone, talking to each other - he just confirmed my fears right.
When we were alone, I told him I loved my profession, and wanted to continue at it. “But I earn enough to cover all your expenses. There really is no reason why you should run around in the city for a few bucks. Plus, you’d be returning home late, who will look at the daily chores? I hope you don’t expect my mom to feed us and maintain the house, even when you are there to look after it”, Nitin said.
“No, I don’t expect her to do that, I expect we can find someone to hire to do all that for her. And I am sorry but I won’t marry into a family to take on the role of domestic help, in the guise of daughter-in-law,” I told him.
Nitin rolled his eyes at me and almost instructed me, “Shreya, a woman’s first duty is towards her home and family and daily chores don’t make a domestic worker out of her. That’s the problem, you know, you girls step out of your cities, live alone for a while and get these silly ideas in your head that you need a career and all that. Trust me, if you can’t handle your home and raise your child right, your career is of no consequence. At the end of the day, you aren’t the bread earner of the family, you are the child rearer.”
“Nitin, I never said family is not important to me - all I am saying is my career, my work is equally important, and you may think it’s a silly idea but I don’t want my identity post marriage to only be your Mrs., and nothing else. What you’re expecting out of me is to give up any dream or ambition to have an identity of my own, only to maintain your home and your kids. The next thing you’ll tell me is that you also expect me to be a virgin for you.”
“Aren’t you?!” Nitin turned towards me and asked. He seemed scandalised at the mere idea that I wouldn’t be.
Without answering his question, I told him we should go back to our parents. I knew a possible marriage with this man was out of question, and soon after ushered Nitin and his family out.
A few days later, the broker informed us that the family wasn’t interested in taking things forward (like I was!), but my mom kept cajoling reasons out of him.To my surprise, Nitin told the broker that he didn’t want to marry me because I had dark circles that didn’t make me look as pretty, as I did in my pictures. Boy, was I shocked! I never knew that when I agreed to meeting these guys, I was actually agreeing to being treated as an object who would be minutely judged on her appearance, ‘domestic skills’, temperament, voice tone and family history. If this could happen to me in the ‘modern’ capital city, I really wonder what happens in places where women do not even have a say in who they’re married to.