Being from a typical Marwari family, dating or ‘being too friendly’ with guys, as they chose to call it, was off limits for me. Arranged marriages were the only accepted way of life. The parents would decide who you were to spend the rest of your life with and you had to simply agree. Old school and bloody orthodox, I know, but also very true.
I, on the other hand, had always been different. While I had all the luxuries and was pampered like a princess at home, I was the only one in my entire family of businessmen to have studied to become a doctor. Post my studies, I started practising at AIIMs, Delhi and that’s where I met Sameer. He was 5 years elder to me, a senior doctor and also my mentor. Sameer was intelligent, ambitious, mature and mentally sorted. Soon we started dating and honestly, it was just so refreshing to date an older guy. Things were going extremely smooth for us. He would always take care of me and we would both take out time from our hectic schedules to be together. The thing about being a doctor is that the hectic shifts usually leave you sleep deprived. And only another doctor can understand and love you, in spite of your lifestyle and work hours. But how would I make my parents understand this? This thought gnawed at me, every now and then, making me extremely anxious. And the thought of my parents finding out through someone else drove me crazy.
Finally, I mustered the courage to tell my mother about Sameer, knowing very well that this meant that the message would travel to my dad as well. After hearing me out, my mom said nothing. She then outrightly told me to end the relationship, as dating was completely against our family rules. My face fell and disheartened, I walked out of the room. I grabbed my stethoscope and got myself ready to face Sameer, who would be arriving any moment to pick me up for the hospital. Walking out, I was lost in my thoughts, trying very hard to make sense of it all. The thought of breaking up with him, the thought of having to end this beautiful relationship pinched me from deep within. The moment I got into the car, I started crying. I narrated the whole conversation to him and he politely asked me if there was anything that would make them change their mind. And at that moment, I really don’t know what came over me but I asked him to stop the car, make a U-turn and come home to meet my parents. Honestly, I was expecting a blatant ‘no’ or ‘this would make things too serious’ or ‘I’m not ready for this’, but Sameer surprised me for doing just what I had asked him to!
He greeted my parents and told them that he dearly loved me and that we had been dating for a while. He wanted them to be fine with it, given that he was a respectable and hardworking man, who really cared for their princess. Dad told Sameer that dating was against the family rules and that he must keep his distance from me and never speak to me again. I actually feared my dad slapping or insulting Sameer. What I heard Sameer say next, sent me into a state of shock. He asked my dad, what if he married me, then the dating rule would no longer hold. This statement threw me into a frenzy. I knew that we both loved each other and we were quite serious about each other, but I had no idea that this man, standing right in front of me, loved me so much. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with me! Not only that, the fact that he stood up for us, in front of my parents, at the very first meeting was overwhelming. Besides, he had never explicitly even spoken about getting married.
I wasn’t the only one taken aback. My dad too seemed to calm down a bit and asked all of us to sit down and have a proper conversation. Thereafter followed a detailed discussion about his life, lifestyle, profession, family and how he planned to keep me safe and happy, always. After mom and dad had satisfied themselves with his answers, they looked at me for my final nod. I looked up at Sameer, then looked at mom and dad and said, I do love him, so yes. And that’s the first (and the last time) my boyfriend met my parents, because soon after came the wedding bells!