I wanted to address him as the ‘best husband in the whole world’ but thought it was being unfair to all those other husbands who are equally wonderful. The truth of the matter is that he may not be the ‘only’ best husband in the world, but for me he is the best and he will always remain the best thing to have happened to me. The right one, the perfect man who could handle a girl like me. Ever since our marriage, he has been my guide, philosopher, partner and the best friend that I never had.
After years of wandering, our paths finally crossed one day and from the minute I met him, I knew he was the one I was waiting for. At the same time due to my pre-conceived notions, I could not see romance and friendship developing between two people in an arranged marriage situation. However, my instincts were asking me to trust the cosmic process and to trust in him. I was skeptical yet strangely not rebellious to the idea of a stranger becoming my husband.
I must admit that I did create a lot of drama. I cried, I wailed, I even complained to all my friends, yes I did ! Honestly, I was petrified. I had seen love affairs and marriages fail before my eyes, I had no reason to believe that a girl like me could make an arranged alliance successful. But who can outrun their destiny. Our fates were pretty much sealed together. After our first meeting and that one phone call where we spoke for the 1st time, my instincts were already guiding me towards him. The chaos was only on the surface, underneath I felt an undeniable calmness, a peace like I had never experienced before.
Just few months ago I was a successful professional, earning a handsome salary and living my life independently in bliss. My organization was about to offer me scholarship to enroll for more advanced training in my field along with a two year contract upon completion of the training. This was a rare opportunity for anyone in my position. I was ecstatic and celebrated the news and waited for the official announcement to be made before I could inform my family. Unknown to me, my family meanwhile had some other plans. The very next day, early morning I got a phone call. It was my mother on line and I could tell from her tone that she meant business.
‘ Hi mama, it’s early..what happened ?’
‘Your visa is coming to an end in December this year, right ?’
‘Oh that..yeah…but I may have to extend it becau…….’ She didn’t let me finish my sentence.
‘Ok good, Dad and bhai are coming mid of November to help you pack your stuff and your flight back is on the 29th of November.’
‘What tickets ? What packing ?’ I panicked.
‘Tickets, back to India. You are coming back.’
‘NO, I AM NOT !’ Was all I could yell in desperation.
‘Listen, your initial plan was to complete your Msc and come back in a year. It’s been 5 years now. No more. You are coming back and a family is coming to meet you here. It’s time for us to think about your marriage.’ She said firmly.
‘NO I AM NOT GETTING MARRIED TO A STRANGER ! ‘ Furious I hung up on her.
Over the next few days I got many more such phone calls and it was all decided for me. I was going to leave my job, move back to India, to get married to a man I had never heard of. All the drama and trauma over this boy, coming from the U.S specifically for this purpose. Apparently, he had very limited holidays so the meeting had to arranged in December and if all went well then we could also end up getting hitched.
I detested the whole idea. I was upset and sulking over having lost such a great career opportunity for this stranger, whom my family for some reason considered perfect for me. I knew my family may force me to come back but would not force me into marriage, so in my mind I had already resolved to reject whoever this ‘perfect match’ was.
However, I realized that everyone at home was unusually upbeat about this proposal. It just seemed like they needed some pretext to drop one liners at regular intervals. Such as –
‘He is a scholar.’
‘ He passed from IIT Kanpur’.
‘PhD From Cornell University’.
‘Only child, great family’.
I kept my fist tight and just rolled my eyes……so much so that my eyes were strained of all the rolling !!! Each time I tried resisting, my mom would mutter under her breath (though audible enough for all to hear within the range). Her usual dialogue would be-‘ Very difficult to find such highly educated, well settled, oriya boys. We even know his family well. It cannot get any better than this, unless you want to pamper her at home for the rest of her life.’
My father had no option but to buckle in under the reality and obvious statistics of finding such a match again. So the date of the rendezvous was fixed. On the said date, I had strict instructions from my mother to wear a saree, to smile mildly and to speak only when spoken to. Everything that was opposite of my personality. I am a girl who is most comfortable in modern casual wear, I almost never wear sarees, I laugh loudly and I am easily amused, I speak too much and too often. Also, I am very opinionated ! Everything I am, my mom thinks is inappropriate for girls. Oh, how much I wanted to scream but somehow I managed to keep my nerves calm.
That day, as I waited outside with bated breath for my turn to enter the room, I could hear an unfamiliar but open hearted, loud laugh and the conversation of a excited new voice, speaking rapidly in between his bites. As my mother came to take me in for introductions, I walked in, single heartedly, with the resolve to say no to him. He stopped talking for a brief moment, glanced at me for a nano second and resumed talking. I must have been in that room for less than 10 minutes but all I heard him discuss was the difference between a polar bear and a grizzly bear and of the fun and adventure that he had had in his recent trip to Alaska. His voice had a thrill, words flowing straight from his heart, very coherent and well structured, nothing boisterous, very genuine. He laughed often and his smile reached his eyes. He also had dimples, I noticed. He paused only to refill his plate with some more snacks and did I mention that he was enjoying his food unabashedly, helping himself to second servings with glee. Didn’t ask me a single question…didn’t even give me a second glance. Though I couldn’t help but notice him. He had the personality which would draw everyone’s attention. He looked like a giant panda, spoke with wisdom and laughed like a child and I found his behavior around food to be unpretentious and adorable. He turned out nothing like I had expected him to be. We had similar personalities, he was almost my twin as far as food habits were concerned and I knew I had no reason to say no to him. With his genuineness and simplicity he had won my family’s heart and drowned all my fears and resentments.
We eventually did speak before formally giving in our final consent. Though it was meant to be a brief conversation – a simple Hi-hello-ok-bye, kind of an interaction, I remember we ended up chatting for over an hour. Nothing specific, nothing major…actually it was so miscellaneous in nature that I cannot even remember what the whole conversation was about. Much like the phone call you would make to your bestie and talk rubbish for hours, significant yet nothing significant. I felt exactly the same satisfying feeling of talking to a close friend. And that’s it, we got hitched. We had met once in December 2009, spoke only once in May 2010 ….were engaged by May 16th and exactly 4 years ago on 25th May 2010, we got married. If you are reading this- Happy Anniversary dear. It’s been the best 4 years of my life.
They say that if a girl is happy in her husband’s home then she hardly misses her old home. This is true. I have never been happier. This relationship has brought so much joy, peace and satisfaction into my life that I feel no void. Maybe I just got lucky and found my soul mate. But I am glad that I gave myself this chance. That I did not let fear freeze me. I thank God for all the blessings and for guiding me to trust my instincts.
There have been many more beautiful, public declarations of love and some very majestic structures dedicated to the essence of love. This article is my dedication to you and my declaration that I am blessed because I have you, I love you. Thank you for loving me just the way I was…for making me believe that I was perfect the way I was (even with all those imperfections). May every girl find a guy like you.
I hope this true story brings some faith back into the hearts of all those girls, who like me, dread arranged marriage. It’s not what kind of marriage you are in which makes it last….it is who you are. Give life and love a chance. Give yourself and your partner a chance. With the right mix of love, support, understanding, patience and some minor tiffs and lovely after tiff make ups, we all can create our very own fairy tale which ends with –
‘ THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVERAFTER ‘
Soumya Mania Ranjan.