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Jab We Met

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by Agatha83, Jun 12, 2017.

  1. Agatha83

    Agatha83 Finest Post Winner

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    When I stepped in to my third and final year of graduation, the matrimonial talks at home, which till then was in whispers, grew loud, decibel levels shaking up the very earth beneath me. The reason – My paternal grand mother who was in her 60s and very active, took ill for sometime, which was enough fuel to fan her desire to see me in bridal wear before she moved in to the eternal world. Fearing her Durga avatar very much – which she would resort to frequently if her wishes were not fulfilled – there was no way I could put my foot down over this utter nonsense and me, the scape goat, could only bleat nay nay!

    After spending long hours in the lab, dealing with an array of acids, alkalis and salts during practicals, and having painstakingly done the records, the only thing I wanted when I reached home was some rest. But even before I could settle down for relaxation, a bunch of crisp inland letters would be shoved in to my hands along with a copy of my horoscope, planetary chart and biodata, which I had to copy studiously into these letters. Writing my Chemistry record was far easier than copying the planetary chart since it involved meticulous care in jotting down the exact positions of planets and the houses they occupied. My troubles didn’t end there, due to the never ending followup procedures – writing of the the addresses properly, smearing the corners of the letters with some turmeric, pasting the letters neatly and finally posting them in the letter box. Many times a bunch of return letters from the groom's party, pointed out to the grave errors I had committed while writing down my horoscope (horrorscope more like!) with some stern warnings and considerable advice!

    The next part of the process was more cumbersome because, when the horoscopes matched, the prospective groom's family wanted a photo of me standing. This necessitated a trip to the photo studio, a dull and drab space, but made lively with many photos of smiling, cheerful faces splashed all over, a camera on a tripod with a black cover on it and an aged photographer. Having worn a half saree all the time, it was a tedious process to wear a heavy Kanjeevaram saree, a-hand-me-down from my grandma, and then walk all the way to the studio. Those days make-up was bare minimum with only a coat of Ponds powder and a string of jasmine flowers on my plaited hair. By the time we reached the studio I was sweating profusely. The photographer, who took extra pains to see that I looked great in the photo when he came to know that the photo was for matrimonial purposes, left no stone unturned till he was satisfied with a great pose and a warm smile. Since I had quite a bit of lengthy hair which reached my waist, the photographer suggested to pull my plait to my front, to show off my best asset.

    Having a photogenic face is a blessing, which I had a great deal, resulting in an extremely good looking photograph of me - concealing my dusky complexion and acne-prone face.

    When I thought it would take some reasonable time for those prospective grooms families to take some decision, I was in a shock, for there came a slew of queries through letters asking for a good date for the girl seeing function as soon as I sent the letters. When each one of them insisted on an auspicious day and time, it was a nightmare since all the good days rarely fell on weekends, and clashed with my college attendance. I was sure that those strictly only-morning-girl-seeing rituals from the prospective groom party, was to confirm my real looks in the day light and not be hoodwinked under flashy neon lights in the evening. Some of the family members of the potential grooms side made anonymous visits to our house under the guise of searching for an address or a person. This truth was brought to light when one the potential groom's brother spilled the beans!

    The dates were fixed for each one of these ceremonies individually and confirmed by written letters. Alas when they came, them came along tagging with them their entire family, with high expectations of looking out for a beauty queen, based on the photo. While men dreamt about a buxom starry material as their life long partner, their family instead had issues regarding status as well as our financial standing in the society. Putting on my best cotton saree, and a false smile, I served snacks to them, even as they went on scrutinizing me with their magnifying eyes, bit by bit, making me cringe and curse with horror. With their posh cars, their best silks and dazzling diamonds screaming their rich status, I knew the match was not on equal financial footing. But my grandma in her over enthusiasm missed out the finer points. Most of the prospective grooms looked old enough to be my father. Some women in the group who wanted to check the genuineness of my hair and would sit near me and praise my glossy hair, slightly pulling it to confirm it is not an hair extension. Though the visiting party enjoyed the show through undivided attention they received, I secretly knew how mismatched the alliance was. Many went away with a word that they will be back with positive information, but not even a regret post card for all those sweets they had and for all those gruelling anxious moments they had put us under. Some regret cards came along with the vermillion mark (making it look as though it was a positive news, but alas, it wasn’t)!

    When I had enough of this drama, I cried to my heart's content for all the insults I had to put up from complete strangers. Those taxing moments, when I had to prostrate before complete strangers, embarrassing times, when my self respect took a heavy knock, where I was looked upon more of a commodity, in a slave market, to be bargained, haggled and finally let go, left me emotionally drained. When all their queries circled around my cooking abilities, i didn't have the courage to scream out that my knowledge started and ended with Bunsen flame in the lab. I would have been happier if at least one of the bridal party had asked me interesting questions about my hobbies, my achievements or even about elements in the periodic table!

    With all the drama over, even as I was getting ready for my final exams, there came this family of a prospective groom who wanted to see me, but this request came with an additional clause that their train fares be paid for a family of 8 people. My grandma in her anxiety to get some positive results accepted the offer hands down. When they came to our place, it was all fireworks, since they were furious as to why nobody had come to receive them at the station and why no arrangements made for their stay in a hotel. We were dumbstruck with their accusations as they being complete strangers it would have been highly impossible to identify them among scores of passengers in the railway station. Accommodation in hotels – never heard about it till then. The girl seeing ritual went on smoothly, with the usual round of snacks and coffee . Though they liked me, it was my dusky complexion which was bothering them since all the other DILs were fair and lovely. To compensate for it they asked for more dowry,. But for once, my grandma who was well versed with the fish market bargains, put her foot down. She said a firm no with an assurance that she would conduct a decent marriage and nothing more. Call it destiny, the prospective groom, who looked very quiet, took a firm stand that no more girl hunting in future and this was his final choice, take it or leave it. Thus my engagement went ahead the next day, with so much drama, that would beat hands down even an emotional Shivaji movie.

    When the exam results were announced, even a distinction in my main subject, could not cheer me up, for I was taking the Saath pheraas catching hold of my groom's hand. Looking around I could see my entire bunch of batch mates having lots of fun and frolic, now that my luncheon conversations of my matrimonial woes had come to an auspicious end. My grand mother was ecstatic with joy, looking more like a glowing teenager, now that her marriage project had turned successful . The members of the grooms family. were looking grumpy and critical, for both the groom and my grandmother had taken a hard stand, not bending to their demands.

    The deafening mantras, the loud nadaswaram, the smoke from the sacred fire camouflaged the anguished cries of my inner turbulence. As the priests chanted the mantra, I stepped in to a life long commitment, taking my first step of sapthapath – ready to face countless challenges, walk uncharted territories, preserve my equanimity and retain my zeal for life.


    "Mangalyam tantunanena mama jeevana hetuna

    kanthe badhnami subhage twam jeeva sarada satam”
     
    Shreema86, Srama, kkrish and 13 others like this.
  2. poi098

    poi098 Senior IL'ite

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    Enjoyed reading it. Hope theres more.
     
  3. satchitananda

    satchitananda Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Agatha,

    That is a wonderful narration of the bride-seeing and wedding. It took me back to the 10 years spent groom hunting for me. Such an agonizing process. I could write a book on each of the characters I met, but the whole process has left a bad taste in the mouth, so much so that I find it painful to even remember it.

    Am really glad the bride-groom stood up to his fullest height and put an end to his family's nonsense.

    That sounds like asking an accused to write his own execution order!
     
  4. Agatha83

    Agatha83 Finest Post Winner

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    Thanks poi098!

    Agatha83
     
  5. poovai

    poovai Platinum IL'ite

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    Agatha,

    Nice title for the thread! Brings back the past memories. Wondering, about the time frame? Guessing, it would be 70's or the 80's.

    One good thing, it is no longer the scenario for the girls. Everyone is interested in settling their career first and then, think about the life partner later. No more 'grandma' can dictate the marriage of the younger generation or we have more 'upgraded' version of grandma pushing the granddaughters into better life than they had.

    Now, girls rule the marriage market; boys have to wait till they get their shinny forehead (slightly balding) to match the salary range competition with the girls. No amount of inheritance will work, only their intelligence can speak their range during the modern suyamvaram.

    Now, the marriages are happening in late 20's or early 30's. The age gap between the bride and groom is only 2-3 years.

    What I struggled to achieve after my marriage is the norm today! It is a good thing!
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2017
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  6. Agatha83

    Agatha83 Finest Post Winner

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    Dear satchi,
    Looking back at those events which happened 45 years back- It was with a sense of detachment that I could come out with the narration, no remorse or sadness. The groom just 5 feet, stood tall among the family members, but keeping him company with his long strides in life's journey was no easy matter!

    Agatha83
     
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  7. fourthaugust

    fourthaugust Silver IL'ite

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    Would love to hear more from.you mam :)
     
  8. Agatha83

    Agatha83 Finest Post Winner

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    Dear Poovai,

    Your guess about the time frame is absolutely right. As you have rightly said the scenario has changed completely. Now it is the other way, like the girls want to have a feel of the family they are getting married in to and have no qualms about dictating terms to the prospective grooms family.
    But still in rural areas we have parents who get their daughters married off even before they attain the legal age of marriage, lest they run off with their BFs belonging to different caste or community. The newspapers carry the daily dosage of recurring suicides of young couples unable to cope up with the pressures inflicted by the society. Hope there is a change for the better in the society when it comes to marriage outside ones caste or community.

    Agatha83
     
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  9. Agatha83

    Agatha83 Finest Post Winner

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    Dear fourthaugust,

    Having sailed the troubled waters of married life with my DH for 45 years, the painful knocks I got all through my life, has made me more confident. From the naive innocent girl I was, now I am more emotionally balanced, assertive and can face any issue be it emotional or financial, with courage. The waist length glossy hair, which once was neighbors envy, owners pride , has given way to a small ponytail which resembles a withered coriander bunch. I am at peace with myself and life goes on at a leisure pace with God's blessings!

    Agatha83
     
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  10. fourthaugust

    fourthaugust Silver IL'ite

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    45 years is nothing less than a lifetime...i am sure you are a very beautiful , intelligent and confident woman who is aging so gracefully and beautifully. We all ( I am in my early thirties) need to learn women like you . Thanks for the write up.
     

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