According to her, I was an old maid and the earlier I settled down, the better.
All my talks on child marriages being a stigma to our society fell on deaf ears. She was hell bent on pushing me out of her house. My father, who was , and still is, the quiet sort, started dropping in on my office just to see if I fancied any of my buddies. My brother started calling regularly reminding me about my dotage and my mother took out an advertisement in the Times Of India.
What an embarrassment. Not only my family, now the entire country knew about my sorry state of affairs. At 23, I was not only unmarried, I did not even have a boyfriend. How pathetic.
My mother found a man who she thought would suit her daughter just fine. An only son of doting parents, a professional doing rather well in life. And most importantly, a man who belonged to the same Bengali community. Holy cow. It was a match made in heaven. I, who always stayed away from such narrow minded way of thinking, rebelled. How could I get married to a Bong? I grew up in Delhi and I loved everything about the Punjabis...even their vulgar display of wealth. Secretly I always entertained the thought of getting hitched to somebody like Shashi Kapoor.When it came to matters of such mental anguish, I always ran to my cousin and her husband. They were my pillars of strength, my staunchest allies. They would surely rescue me from this predicament. "Give in gracefully" was their advice. Did I just say they were my allies?
After prolonged discussions and temper tantrums, draining conversations and staged walk-outs, I finally gave in. Fine. I would meet this suitable boy. But only this once. And if this did not work out, they would not bother me again. And also, I got to meet him first. I did not want them to coerce me into making a decision. Relieved, my parents gave in.
So, just before the summer set in in Delhi, when the weather was beautiful and romantic, one evening, I went to my cousin's house in East of Kailash to see this paragon of virtue. My father had vetoed my suggestion of meeting him in a coffee shop. As he threatened to disinherit me if I did not have any chaperone with me, I wordlessly gave in. You win some, you lose some. So on the appointed day, dressed in my designer outfits., professionally done up hair, I arrived at my cousin's door-step to meet the man of my mother's dreams.
Well, how do you know, in only a few hours whether this man you were meeting for the first time, would be your soul-mate? How do you select someone for you? Do you see his age? Do you see his qualification and work experience? Do you see whether he was polite to his elders and kind to dogs? Do you see if he has all his teeth and hair? How do you simply judge a man on the basis of one single meeting ?
As I sat, talking to a rather pleasant man of 28, wearing simple jeans and a T-shirt, polite to my cousins and playful with the family dog, a chemical engineer from IIT, working as a manager at Hindustan Levers, with all his hair and teeth intact, my mind went completely blank. What do I do? Do I say yes? But why should I ? I am only 23! Why shouldn't I ? After all I am 23! I was faced with the biggest dilemma of my life. Do I marry him? He had a nice smile. But is that a strong reason for marriage? He was articulate and seemed to like reading. He did seem caring, and there was some connection... But still...
I again turned to my cousins for their views on this. My brother-in-law, who had this ability to take down everything to the lowest common denominator sat down with his wisdom;
IIT grad. Means upper storey loaded.
Age 28. Means not too young to be reckless, not too old to be staid.
Polite and courteous. Means good family values.
Refusal to go to USA for parents as he is the only son. Means loyal to the core.
Staying away from parents in a different city. Means not too clingy and dependent.
Working in India's topmost (at that time) company for the last 7 years. Means stable and responsible and incredibly good work wise.
Just go for him with your eyes closed.
So that's when I took the biggest gamble of my life and plunged into holy matrimony. Since he lived in Bombay and I lived in Delhi, ours was a long distance courtship, wooing each other with cards like " Me here you there, no fair." We had a typical Bengali wedding with all the typical Bengali food. Our cousins told us later they had fun. All I remember was the endless amount of feet touching I had to do and the dramatic way I cried, clinging to my cousins, and the car, mentally singing "Main sasural nahi jaaoongi, doli rakhdo kaharo."
That was July 8, 1992. Yeah, yeah I know. Some of you were in diapers. It has been a long journey. It started almost as a business decision and ended up in love and respect for each other. When someone asks me what made me choose him as my husband I always say it was the smile and the dimple that did me in. But I know actually it was the IIT stamp.
Oh, I am so brand conscious.