It was a hectic day. I had just picked up my lehenga and wasn’t quite happy with how it had turned out. I always dreamt of a pink lehenga and the cliched red that I was cajoled into buying by my fiance (let’s call him Aarav for the purposes of this story), wasn’t really exciting me like your bridal outfit really should. It must have been a month before the D-day and my nerves were on fire owing to a number of reasons.
Firstly, my mother-in-law to be was in town and I had never really felt comfortable with her in the past. My parents were supposed to visit her in the evening regarding some wedding arrangements and I don’t know why but just the thought of that meeting was making me all jittery. However, I kept the apprehensions aside and got ready for my pre-wedding photoshoot that was scheduled the same day.
I reached the venue with my brother and the photographer and literally waited for more than an hour for Aaarav to arrive. However, he got off the car with no trace of an apology on his face and casually told me that he got late coz his mom created a scene since we didn't take “her permission for the photoshoot.” I ignored the ludicrousness of it and we decided to wrap up the shoot earlier than planned owing to bad lighting. However, even before we could reach home, I received a call from his mom. She literally shouted at me and asked, “Where is my son?”
I was shocked by the tone but I calmed myself and told her that he left with us and must reach in 5. However, instead of listening to that, she started shouting at me, blaming me for trying to control her son and my parents for planning a lousy wedding. I was too shocked to react to all that I was hearing and simply disconnected the call to calm myself. I tried calling Aarav but his phone was switched off. It was pretty late in the night, and I didn’t want to worry my parents, so I decided to settle all of this in the morning. But Aarav’s mom had already called my mom by the time I reached home. I could tell simply from my mom’s face that the conversation was not going well.
My mom talked to her calmly and then asked me to sit. All of it was too much to comprehend after the long day I have had and yet I was about to hear the most unnerving part of the day. In the meeting with my parents, his mom had asked them to give 25 lakhs in cash. “Sab in dono ke liye hi toh hai,” she had said, just a month before the wedding having found the perfect moment to show her true colours with the thought that it was obviously too late for us to protest. To my horror, my dad had agreed to her demands. In the meeting, she had also told my mom that she doesn’t like “bai ka kaam,” indirectly implying that she was expecting me to do all the housework.
My mom looked worried but I saw a certain strength in her. She wasn't worried about the dowry part, she was worried about how Aarav’s mom had suddenly started talking to her, and worse, me. However, she didn’t say much and asked me to sleep well aware that I had had a tiring day. It was hard to sleep but I think I dozed off sometime around 3-3:30, only to be woken up by Aarav at 6:30 in the morning. He told me that his mom was so pissed at him that she actually refused to open the door, that he ended up spending the night in his car, and could not call anyone coz his phone’s battery had drained out. I felt bad for him but only until he told me that everything would settle down if I would visit his place and apologise to him mom.
“What am I supposed to be apologising for?” I asked. “Oh, because you didn’t take her permission for the photoshoot na. Also, she just told me that you hung up on her call last night,” he replied nonchalantly. Absolutely shocked, I asked if she had told him about her 'cash' demands from my parents and the way she spoke to us. Amazingly enough, he knew and told me that his mom is not “like that” and just loses it when she is angry. But what the fuck was she angry about? Asking for dowry? Misbehaving with and shouting at both my mom and I? Not opening the door for her son and then asking me about his whereabouts?
“Hey listen, I am not giving any dowry to anyone,” I cut him off assuming that he had no idea about the dowry part and that he’d be as mad as me. However, to my absolute horror, this is what he said in return: “Arre, it is not dowry baba. Dowry lene hota toh why would we have asked for just 25 lakhs? We are just helping you budget better. Why waste all that money on random guests and wedding when we can put it to good use in our future?”
That certainly was the final nail in the coffin.
I went to my mom and told her everything. ‘I think we have to call off the wedding,’ she replied in a tone that told me that she had already decided, even before I told her about the conversation with Aarav. My dad looked relieved when we told him about this. However, Aarav and his family weren’t easy to back down. They entirely changed their tones when my dad talked about calling off the wedding and said they’d set everything right. They asked us to wait for his dad to come 'talk it out' face to face, who tried negotiating the wedding for almost 20 days before he finally arrived.
Perhaps they were expecting that we’ll give in to their demands and also to the societal pressures that they kept talking about. But we didn’t. My parents had already made all the wedding arrangements but didn’t care about even an iota of that money. They just wanted me to be happy and marrying me off in that vulturous family nowhere aligned with that idea. We finally called off the wedding 10 days before the actual day and I think it has been the best decision of my life.
That one decision has directed my entire life since then. It taught me the need to be independent. It taught me to stand up for myself and never endure injustice. It taught me to speak my truth and never take any crap from anyone. Oh also, it helped me find the love of my life. I have never been happier. I called off my wedding 10 days before D-day and I have zero regrets.