Ours was an arranged marriage. It was done the traditional way. Our Parents took care of everything. My only condition was that she should be ready to work. Our horoscopes and photos were exchanged. Everything Matched. I spoke to her over the phone. We talked about things two strangers would talk. She was a lecturer in Bangalore who felt Chemistry was more important than Hindi movies. There was no engagement. The date for marriage was fixed in 2 weeks as I could not get a vacation after that. Even the vacation time I got was just 10 days.
Everything was fixed. It was supposed to be very hectic for me. We got married and 2 days later we had to leave the country. She cried like there was no tomorrow when we left. She would not talk to me on the plane. I thought that was usual for an Indian girl. I thought she would get over it. Once home she would not talk to me. She sat in a corner staring at the TV. For the first couple of days I had to catch up on some work and did not take her mood seriously.
A week later I sat beside her and asked her, “What is wrong?”
“Why did you bring me here?”
“What do you mean? What happened?”
“I want to go home”
“This is your home”
“No. I want to go home. Please buy me a ticket”
“Look, everybody feels homesick. I did when I came here the first time. It is normal. You will get over it. Sorry I have been busy with work.
We can go out this weekend. You will meet my friends and other people who will be very friendly. Come on be a good girl”
“I hate this place. I miss my family, my friends, my college. All the people I know are not here. I want to go home”
“Think for a minute. Try to reason it out yourself. What is your plan by the way? So you want to go back and never come back?”
“Are you crazy?”
“If you think this is crazy then I am.”
“It is ok if you do not answer this question. Is there someone else?”
“No. I want to go home. I will call 911 if you do not send me”
“First cool down. Think about it. Think about our parents. It is less than a month that we got married and now you want to return home. You very well knew that you had to come here. What were you thinking? Even if you are returning home what happens to our marriage?”
“I am not blaming you. I take the blame. It is my mistake. I can’t stay so far away from my family. If you are so interested come to India”
“I am family too! What you are asking is ridiculous.”
The next day she would not change her mind. I called my folks. They said that it was my decision and they would stand by me. I booked her ticket and put it in her hand the next evening. She was to leave in 2 days.
Nothing would convince her to change her mind. She was crying like a kid. Then she left.
She had done nothing for me to miss but something inside me was telling me that I was at fault. I tried to shake it off but as time grew I started feeling more guilty. I called her. She made it clear that she did not find me despicable but she would not leave her city. Her parents apologized profusely but they were helpless too.
I have had crushes. None of them were serious. There was this girl in my high school tuition whose phone no I managed to find out. Then the prettiest girl in college whom everybody loved, who talked to me once. Then the girl from my city who was at my university in USA who made me feel at home when I visited her place. I had ignored them once I crossed their paths. But Anjali was my wife. I could not ignore her.
I decided to quit my job. I went home. No one back home knew I was returning. I wanted to surprise her. I dropped off my bags at my place and went to the college she was teaching. The gate keeper would not let me in. So I had to wait outside for the classes to get over.
She walked out alone, struggling to carry her bag, tired, with slow steps. She was walking towards the bus stop. I silently followed her and went behind her and whispered, “Do you mind if I carry your bag?”
She was startled and turned to face me. Her eyes lit up. I was not sure if I could hug her. I was smiling and she had a 100 questions written all over her face. “I want to spend a week with you in this city. Show me the things that you could not miss”
That one week went in a jiffy. She was treated a kid at home with all the comforts. That explained her behavior. Coffee was brought to her in the morning. Even her dress was laid out for her. She would have breakfast and leave. The bus journey was an hour. She would sit near the window with a book. Then once in the college she would teach her classes and come out tired in the evening. She would stand in the crowded bus carrying her bag which would look heavy. Then she would alight, go home, have a snack and would head out to a friend’s place. Some times she’d stay home watching TV or listening to music. When her dad returned she would join him and they’d have dinner. Then her mom would tuck her in bed. Weekends were not much different. She would sleep late, wake up for breakfast and lie down talking on the phone. Then she would visit the temple in the evening and would have her singing lessons. Then she would eat out and would head home late.
That was her life. It was something every human being wanted – simple, content and happy. Of course to her I was a villain. I told her that I understood her. I wanted to know if it was ok if she stayed in the same city but away from her parents. Her only condition was that I should not stay at my parent’s place to which I agreed. So we moved into a small apartment. She knew nothing. She had to be taught everything. She learnt. It was hard to make her understand that she had duties and she had a husband. Coffee had to be brought to her in the morning. She made the rules and broke them. She did not care for me. Sometimes she would not return home but go to her parents’ place without informing me. I would have had to go bring her back.
Slowly she started realizing about married life. She would wake up before me, try to cook, agree for a movie, visit my friend’s place, invite me to her college, let me dress her up, dance in front of me, teach me Chemistry, talk about her crushes, play cricket with me, make me cry for a change. She was growing mature day by day. One day she apologized for the whole thing. I brushed it aside. Finally I had her the way I wanted.
Today I am happy and content with my life. She is still there crying to get her things done. I keep reminding her how she had threatened to call the police. She laughs it away. Some times I wonder how life would have been if I had not returned. Then again some things are left as they are.
That’s how life is…
There are two ways of meeting difficulties:
“You alter the difficulties, or you alter yourself to meet them”