THE ANATOMY OF AN INDIAN MARRIAGE I By Varalotti Rengasamy It was a dream wedding in every sense of the term. The whole Southern sea town was in a festive mood. Commemorative arches were ubiquitous. Political leaders, media people and even spiritual leaders were present. One of my richest clients was getting married on that day to the daughter of the richest man of that renowned sea town. We were housed in star hotels; posh cars were waiting to carry us wherever we wanted to go. Food was in plenty and there were enough service counters to cater to the thousands of guests. I can go on describing about this wedding. But the point of concern is that the marriage ended in a divorce within six months. The bride’s side and the groom’s side were actively trading charges, which only served to make the already painful divorce a messy one too. In another case I know the couple went on a honeymoon tour of the North. They were playfully teasing each other, which soon took a serious turn. The husband deserted the wife in an unknown railway station and returned to his home base. Meanwhile the wife with great difficulty reached her home. And the first thing she did thereafter was to contact a competent lawyer to issue a divorce notice to the boy. Another marriage. Boy, a flourishing software engineer in the US; girl, a well-educated girl from a progressive family. The only hitch: the boy had to leave for US soon after the marriage and the girl could not go along because of the proverbial US visa problems. When her visa came at last after a year, she was in no mood to go. Nor was she prepared to live with her husband. Result: divorce by mutual consent. Another couple I know have been fighting with each other continuously for the entire 45 years of their marriage. But still manage to stay together under the same roof, raising four children. The case of another couple is slightly different. They have children who have grown up to be corporate high fliers. Some thirty years ago the couple had an argument, which turned bitter. They have not been talking to each other for the past thirty years. All these incidents make one wonder about this strange thing called marriage. It is one of the oldest social institutions, one of the most sacred contracts, one, which we cannot definitely do without and one which can make a heaven or hell of our lives. Our life starts precisely at the moment when the romantic story or the typical romance movie ends, usually with the hackneyed words, “and they lived happily ever after.” The movie or the Mills and Boon book need not have to bother about the post-marital relationship and they could not do so, because it is beyond the competence of the Director or the romance writer. When we are curious enough to see a cross section of a frog’s digestive organs or a cockroach’s reproductive organs, should we not be at least equally curious to have a similar view of the anatomy of the marriage, especially in the Indian context? Pre-marital love and courtship, though popular, is yet to catch up with the Indians as it has with the Americans. So let’s have a peek at the honeymooning couple – of course not the unusual couple who fought with each other on their honeymoon, but the typical couple, consisting of average people like you and me. It is during honeymoon each spouse discovers that he or she has so many things in common with the other person. They discover with a romantic thrill which only the newlyweds can have, that they after all like the same books, same authors, same perfumes, same actors, same dishes – it is an endless list of “sames.” They ultimately discover in the cozy warmth of each other’s body “We are made for each other.” I have to harden my hearts to express anything against these sentiments, as I am a die-hard romantic myself. But there is no point in suppressing the truth. This discovery of sameness is an “optical illusion” as each free person is substantially unique in his or her tastes and preferences. While honeymooning the couple is busy hunting for a handful of similarities from out of an ocean of differences. They have pre-conceived the “made for each other” statement. So they go hunting for the rationale to support that. The irony is, at a later stage, when they are fighting with each other, they try to do the reverse: they hunt for the differences in tastes, which of course is available in thousands just for the asking.