As a 32-year-old single woman, it’s very likely that every person you meet, hints or asks you about your marriage plans. It’s like small talk, like asking about the weather. On top of that, coming from a small town adds a different sort of pressure on everyone. Parents are always worried about you and the society! They get hyper and sometimes push beyond a fair point. This incident that happened a year back was life-changing for me!
I had gone back home for Diwali and my mom had asked me to carry some Indian wear for all the festivities. One day at home, I had gone to visit my childhood friend and when I got back home, we had some guests over. Before I could greet these guests, my mother ushered me right into my room and asked me to change into a saree before I meet the guests. I was slightly confused and asked her why we were going about it this way. She said Rajiv and his parents are here. My parents had introduced me to Rajiv recently and we had even met once and spoken on the phone a few times. But after observing some irrational and unacceptable behaviour on his part and some compatibility issues, I had told my parents to say no to them. Obviously, I was shocked. I refused and got agitated. I was hurt and wondered how my mom could encourage something that I had objected to. She told me that she had been talking to Rajiv and that he seems perfectly normal. She thought it was one of my antics to not get married. She also told me that Rajiv had mentioned to her the efforts he makes towards me and that I always ignore him. I was angry now. My own mother believed a strange man and not me. I wanted to walk out of the house, but she pleaded me to go and meet everyone in the living room. My mamas and buas had also come for this.
I went in to meet everyone. I was made to sit next to Rajiv and then what happened was unbelievable. He brought out a ring, and my bua handed me another one for him. I looked at my mother and was just shocked. I spoke out and said that I needed to talk to my mom for a minute. I took her to the room and asked her what was going on. She told me to go ahead and exchange the rings and then call off the engagement later. She said that they were under a lot of pressure at that moment since my extended family was also around and that they might spread rumours about us if anything went wrong at that time. I was very hesitant but because I had decided to call it off soon, I listened to my mother and went ahead with it. There sat a ring on my finger, a joyous occasion for most people, but for me, it was just a formality. I couldn’t believe I had actually been blackmailed into getting engaged. I was just waiting to remove the ring and give it back to that man. I let one week pass and thought maybe I should consider giving it a second chance. I tried to meet Rajiv a few times. With every meeting, I realized how incompatible we were and how much I wanted to end this. My mom told me that I was overthinking and that I was never going to find someone perfect. She was in constant touch with Rajiv who would fill her mind with things that were half true and the strange thing is my mother was convinced about him. Then one day, I had had enough. I just called him up and told him it’s over. At first, he couldn’t comprehend what I was saying. It seemed like he was in denial. He got really angry and said many nasty things and then put the blame on me saying I was a spoilt brat and an egoistic woman. He also said I’ll never find anyone better than him.
I honestly didn’t care and the next day I met him to return the ring. Even then he insisted that we get married. I couldn’t believe my mother had chosen a man like him to marry me, and more than that, I still cannot believe that she forced me to get engaged to him inspite of me saying no. It’s so sad that parents of a girl have to worry so much about her marriage. They forget how carefully they nurture their child to become a strong individual. They forget how much it hurt them to see her in the slightest pain. They sometimes come under so much societal pressure that they are willing to push a girl into a marriage without knowing what lies ahead, and more so without her consent.* Names changed to protect privacy. Images: Shutterstock