Previous: My Pre- Bridal Makeover
Two days were all that I had to myself in Rohini, before I would burn my fate while whirling around that holy- fire!!
Sarita didi had come over to spend some time with her maternal family and with me too. She (still) stays close- by. Incidentally, she is the 1st “modern” woman that I had learnt about. Back then, when I was in 10th, Ruby would tell me that how Rita still wore jeans even after being married. Wow, I had thought. I had always considered her as my idol; highly intellectual, very understanding- a perfect woman with 10+ points out of 10. She had desired to see the wedding dress; so had Chhabi and Pintoo.
Chhabi had gone to Chandni Chowk with me for shopping the dress and “gifts” for the groom’s family. Even though Hemant had told me I need not spend on such pretenses; Ruby had advised otherwise. Needless to mention, that she was right. I had gone to the same shop where I had visited only a week or so back. While looking at the dress- lengths, I had set my eyes on a lehanga drape length, and had wanted to buy that particular one. Since they (Ruby’s family, rightly so), all had wanted me to go budget- ways, Chhabi had made me move the entire day in that market trying to talk me out of that expensive dress. I stood crying while coming back when Chhabi had asked me if I had still wanted to buy that one. I and she along with me had run like were trying to run away from a fire- tragedy. It made no sense investing a big amount on something that I would wear only once- only that I wore a few more times- till 3 years back, when I had walked out my marriage. I had kept occupied and now have no social circle to flaunt around my dresses or self- my situation doesn’t leave me with any mental scope or space to enjoy “company.”
Chhabi had pitched in to travel with me to CC. This was roughly a month before my wedding date. I had desired to buy a Lehanga to sit pretty as an Indian Doll. A few days before that, Hemant’s parents had one day invited me over to accompany them to their trip to CC. Hemant had also insisted. I had known that that was only to take me in and get me a few dresses shopped- since that’s how it is supposed to be in Punjabi marriages. I had requested him- not to buy these splashy outfits for me- one because I worked in a Private Office (then Hutch); 2nd because his parents had already decided to spend on “our” Wedding. As far as the “tradition” goes, it’s the daughter’s father who is supposed to. Well!! I was pricked upon several times about this fact by then and later too (read: another post). The lady was so keen on dropping “if only my parents were around so they could have been restful and not so worried about these bridal nuances” every now and then. She had reminded me of the fact practically everyday, ever since they had come to my place– till I had stayed with them in Saket; both directly and indirectly.
I had relented going along but had to give in. Arpana bhabhi (elder brother’s wife) as Hemant addressed her; was actually his cousin mami (maternal auntie) in relationship. I had requested my TL for a half shift that he had readily agreed upon and reached Coffee Home- CP by 10.30am. The lady who I had heard so much about, didn’t as much as even look my way. Given the fact- that that was the 1st time we met; what an introduction- I had mused. His mother gave a half smile looking at my cotton formal suit. For all the readers, the one I wore was not a pastel, but a bright blue colored suit with huge printed motifs at the hem-line, with bright green salwar and dupatta. It was formal- but not plain or pale. He had cajoled me to not wear western- to hell.
We had hired a four- seater and had headed towards the whole- sale market.
I was made to sit in one corner and auntie had sat just next to me, Hemant was as if alienated at the farthest corner of the shop. The retailer had started showing off the best of his collections. So, Arpana, didn’t you know that those were out of your Bhabhi’s (Groom’s mother) budget. It was 2003, and paying 4k for each of those dresses was not within their capacity; I had been aware of that. I was furious- since I was tricked to sit there and choose a few of those that I had never wanted to- for starters. As it is, the arrangement was so complicated that I had not wanted any more of those “traditions” and “rituals” happening; anything that had to do with spending of Currency Notes. All my trials to keep the affair simple were going futile. The lady had kept nudging with her feet (urgghh, we consider that as a hell of an ugly mannerism), till I had picked up 4 of those very gaudy and loud colored dress lengths. I was politely asked to get up and made to shift and sit with Hemant now. I had given him a very nasty look. He apologized; not granted. He had silently helped me changing those “Holi” colored lengths into the ones that I had wanted to. Only the Crimson colored suit length was not.
Hemant had refused to buy a suit length for himself- with some mustered up courage because I had warned him that I didn’t wish to become the Dilip and Vyajanthimala straight out of Devdas movie; me in Indian traditional and him in western formal. We didn’t get to eat anything the whole day- I did not appreciate. Arpana’s sister in law, her husband, Arpana’s father-in-law had all joined us as if we were to be married in that shop itself. Indian weddings- I tell you.
Stop telling me to be compromising- ask yourself if you would have tolerated such nonsense of exchanging pleasantries with unknown people whole day long and practically starving. I did.
I was “to be” the daughter-in-law; so, was expected to be shut- up and quiet. I had already started feeling caged up. Seems; my brains too had given up on me that I could not really gage through those unending series of happenings and all to the least of my liking. Arpana had given a feedback to all that he deserved a better one; all we did was to fight with each other the whole time. Excuse me please- was that any of your business? Please look at your mirror reflection and then comment upon ME. You yourself had entered into an inter- caste, inter- state marriage; you could have been a little supportive of what was happening- if not much. What if we had started living together and not waited for 4 years uselessly for his family to agree upon this match?
While driving back, with Hemant beside me at the back seat, and his mother on front seat, Arpana had asked me that why I still addressed her as “auntie” and not “mummy”, the woman had sat still. Her mouth was as if paralyzed- making Arpana believe that maybe I had reservations about that. She had further asked that why was this affair handled so discreetly instead of had made efforts of settling down asap. That query had fell into two sets of dumb ears. I was labeled as the culprit. Maybe, that’s why the mis- understanding.
All of us had come back to their place. His brother read out the prices as if an announcement. My “to-be” brother-in-laws didn’t even hesitate to declare them when I was around sitting opposite to him; even better, his mother commented on that price- list. I had hurried back home, I had wanted to wash and eat. His mother had thrown a huge fit when those were delivered at their place after a few days because of the complete changeover. According to her; Crimson and Dark violet were same colors and emerald green and cerulean blue were same shades. Nevermind. A task to get them stitched on time had started hovering on me.
Yet another day, when I had casually mentioned that I would prepare the veggies upstairs in my kitchen and she could join over with chapattis for a family dinner after my marriage; she had to be taken to the hospital; she had suffered a trauma. Hemant had silenced me saying that she was a little affected mentally (?!) and hence, I should have had avoided mentioning anything that started with “I”. He had further briefed me that it would be a typical joint family with same kitchen at the 1st floor and a small room (my bedroom) at the 3rd floor.
The 1st floor was let- out to tenants which was a decent accommodation like the 1st floor one. Staying in that single room at top floor was as if being caged (room dimension of 10’ x 10’) with a washroom inside that space itself. They had constructed their 1st floor Janta Flat property to 3 storey building. I had asked him as to why had he agreed upon to stay in such a small room, to which he had said that he hadn’t inspected while that was being constructed lest he was teased upon or was declared as “selfish”. What the heck? So he didn’t want a wife but a scapegoat actually to satiate his parents’ obnoxious set of expectations?
Fine, I have had my share of days of struggle. (read: another post) But then, did and or does that mean that I would have to stay like a slum dweller for my entire life? So what- that once I didn’t have enough dresses to wear to work, did that mean that I remain tightfisted for all times to come? I had wanted a house to myself and not a room at the top floor like a barsaati arrangement. I had wanted a home and not an arrangement. I had wanted a space in a house and not one room in the entire building. As I write this, I wonder; why I had not retracted and squid-ed back and, had left them on their own with their even below the mediocre- life practices. Oh, they stayed in Saket- South Delhi and even then their subscription to such life- style? What had happened to my brain- cells?
So, my kitchen would have to sacrifice itself and so would my desires have to- to own a really sexy and neat cooking space. He had promised that he would sort that out within a couple of months. I had not wanted a joint family at all- I was a fool to have believed that it could be worked out after our marriage; hence, now paying the price. Not that I had not tried to adjust with them, I could not. I had observed his home practices and the woman enough for the past 4 years and had known well that the two of us could never stay inside the same yard length even if that was for our lives.
Both of us; all of us made a mistake- I am the one still paying the price.
They are a family, staying together wherever they were; I am yet again on the road- struggling out to make both ends meet and trying to lead my life- respectably. Wonder, just how many times would I be challenged in the hands of Destiny? Several times, I have been thrown out of my dwelling and was made to adjust with such blunt and abrupt developments; take them in my stride and smile like a fool so no-one exploits my situation.
When I write, it’s like as if I get teleported to the same time when it all had happened. It stabs me innumerably. I bear the sting to produce these posts. I have promised myself that I would want to become as strong and indifferent as if this had never happened. I had given so much into this relationship that I lay shattered and wounded still. Love, men and relationships have lost their meanings to me. Everyone seems to be so hollow and shallow in their approach. After my dad, uncle and a few more men, I had gathered myself back really tight only to be broken scattered like one stone of sand by yet another one.
It is as if my dad and husband have scratched a cross- mark on my life; one line each and have left me to fight it out.