We had been dating for about 6 months when Varun first took me to meet his parents. We went out for a nice dinner at a nice formal restaurant. They seemed very sweet and greeted me very warmly. I was asked what I wanted to drink, and I replied that I would have my usual - whisky and water. I was met with a glare from Varun, which at first I really didn’t understand. “She’ll have a glass of red wine,” he promptly told the waiter. I looked at him in something between surprise and dismay. “What was that?” I thought. But the dinner moved along, and so did I.
A month later, he took me to meet his sister. She was married and lived in a house not too far away from their parents’. Once again, she was very sweet and greeted me warmly. “I’ve prepared some snacks for you guys. Let me go get them,” she said. Just like Varun, I sat, smiled and waited for her to bring them. “Why didn’t you get up and offer to help her?” he said. “Excuse me? Why didn’t you?” I replied. “My god, I wonder what kind of wife you’ll make. You don’t even want to help out with household chores.” I was horrified, but before I could even reply, his sister walked back in. Just like the last time, the chit chat started and I couldn’t respond to something that had really upset me. The tea ended and I just wanted to get back to my place. I needed to think about what kind of guy Varun really was.
But the next morning I woke up and I had forgotten all about this. Varun had randomly sent a bunch of flowers for me to my house. And that was all it took for me to forgive his very rude and sexist comment.
Months went by and our relationship continued. The occasional sexist comments turned into almost a daily thing. And I...sometimes I retaliated, but let it go almost immediately too. Maybe I had gotten used to it. But when I look back, that was the worst thing I could have done.
I loved working out, still do. And this started to annoy Varun too. “You like to go to the gym more than you like hanging out with my family. How can I live with a girl like that?” he would often tell me. “I like working out. It’s a great stress buster and keeps me happy and fit. I like it!” was what my standard response would be. And truth be told, we would have dinner with his family at least twice a week. And this was because I genuinely loved them and made an effort to make plans with them. I thought I was making quite an effort given that Varun never, ever initiated making plans with either his own family or mine. It was all left to me.
Soon his point about “not spending time with family” turned into: “I don’t want to marry a girl who doesn’t even have the body of a woman. Your body has become so masculine. You better stop working out so much if you want this relationship to continue.” I was furious to say the very least, but I didn’t feel the need to respond to such a ridiculous remark. Instead I just carried on working out and turned a deaf ear every time he said such things.
Months went by and this daily dose about me “not being ideal wife material” carried on. “Why was I listening and not doing anything?” I wondered often. I was too weak to walk away from a relationship I was now 3 years into. Our families were close at this point, and I was worried about hurting them too. It wasn’t just about us any more. But everyone has a breaking point, and mine wasn’t far away.
One day, I came home after playing a game of basketball with my friend, Rohan. Varun was there - sitting on my bed in my room as I entered, waiting for me. “Hey, what a surprise!” I said, and went over to hug him. “You went to the gym again? Seriously?”
“My god, Varun, not again. We’ve been over this. Besides, I didn’t go to the gym, I was playing basketball with Rohan in his complex,” I replied. He lost it after that.
“You go to the gym, your body looks like that of a wrestler. You go out with your stupid friends and dance like a crazy person. You drink whisky, for god’s sake! You’re not a girl one wants to marry. I made the biggest mistake by introducing you to my family. You play basketball and other sports with random guys who you claim are your friends. You probably sleep with them too. That’s probably okay for you too, right? Just like everything else. You’re not worth getting married to. You’ll probably leave our kids and go play basketball with your boyfriends instead.”
“Please get out,” I said.
“Oh, ya? Why? So that you can come running behind me? You know you’ll never get another guy,” he said.
“Varun, get out and do not bother calling me or trying to meet me again. Leave. Now.”
He walked out...and all of a sudden, all the horrible memories of the past three years came flooding back. How could I have let him do this to me? He had shattered my confidence and faith in myself. He had made me feel horrible about myself. I had constantly been competing for the past three years with everything and everyone in his life. I had forgotten who I was in trying to be the girl that Varun would want to marry.
I realised one thing that day - it wasn’t that I was not “wife material” like Varun had so often put it. It was he who was not worthy of being any woman’s husband. At least just not yet.
He was threatened by a strong woman, and so he sought to weaken me. He didn’t want to marry me because I wasn’t afraid of being who I was. I liked drinking whisky rather than wine. I liked working out and keeping myself fit. I liked playing sports - even if with other boys! I’ll play a sport I enjoy with anyone who offers to play, really. I don’t like playing the coy, sweet girl when I’m with my friends. I like to let loose, because I can - and they won’t judge me. If these things make me “not marriage material”, then I’d much rather be exactly that!
I do want to get married someday - it’s not like I don’t. But it will be to someone who learns to see my loyalty and love and places these things much above anything else. It will be to someone who can see how much love and respect I give their family - even if it is twice a week over dinner. It will be to someone who doesn’t judge me by my hobbies or things that make me happy - rather, loves me even more just for those things!