I got married when I was merely 19 years old. It was not the kind of marriage saturated with love that one expects at such an age. It was an arranged marriage making it essentially more formal and planned.
Being the eldest among three sisters, the pressure of getting married was real. Bhaskar’s family had come to see me when I was attending a Puja at my neighbourhood. I was summoned by my younger sister to come home at once because Amma (mother) wanted me to make tea for his family.
Although I was annoyed I reached home and slipped inside my room from the backyard door. I made tea quickly because I was eager to go to my neighbor’s home again where the Puja was taking place. However, I got annoyed when Bhaskar’s family kept on asking for more cups of tea.
Finally, they left and within a week the confirmation arrived that I was selected to be his bride for an arranged marriage set up. Within a month the ring ceremony was performed and in no time the arranged marriage took place. I didn’t know then among all arranged marriage stories our one would turn out this way.
(As told to Joyeeta Talukdar)
The Initial Days Were A Nightmare
Our arranged marriage story took off terribly. I didn’t know how to cook and the only training my Nana (father) had given me was how to cook fish and to prepare rice using a cooker. Making arranged marriages work felt like an extreme struggle to me suddenly.
Bhaskar was 10 years older to me. When I arrived in his rented house at Guwahati I found that it was more or less like a storeroom. My father was a government employee and we stayed in a B grade quarter at Digboi, Assam where there were no power-cuts at all. A shortage of water was out of the question and we had three lavish bedrooms and spacious backyard and kitchen areas.
Here, Bhaskar lived in a small room where they shared a common bathroom with the rest of the tenants. Bhaskar’s family was well to do but he used to stay separately for his work and this was more or less a bachelor’s room.
But later I realized that he had a fierce independent streak and had denied any help that was offered by his father to him. So he lived in the space he could afford. Bhaskar wanted to be a self-made man. I had grown to admire this about him.
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How my new home looked
There was a stove lying in one corner of the room. The government supply of water used to come twice daily and at the beginning, I used to miss those timings since I wasn’t in the routine of having to collect water.
The long power cuts made me feel afraid of the darkness and I used to cry and think to myself, ‘ Where have I landed? What is this arranged marriage doing to me?’
Sometimes I woke up at night thinking that this marriage was just a dream and at the break of dawn I shall be in my home with my parents.
But this wasn’t so. I used to grow angry that my parents just liked his family but did not care about how I would survive or what I truly wanted. I had started missing the comforts of my home which agitated me the most leading to my tantrums.
Bhaskar however always behaved like a grown-up and instead of getting angry with complaints of mine he used to soothe me and say, “I am extremely sorry Aruna for not being able to give you the comforts you are used to. But, I promise that I shall try my level best to make you happy. Just be a bit patient with me. I promise.”
His smile, the maturity in his voice and the determination in his eyes silenced me all the time.
He understood my situation
Bhaskar was an understanding man. He wanted to help me and provide for me. He used to get up early in the morning and fetch water that used to come during specific hours in the day. Among all these adverse situations we learnt how to become happy because we both grew up eventually.
I was afraid of the darkness so he came home before the evening power cuts so that during that time we could sit together and have our tea and have chats on how our day was.
Then, we used to prepare dinner together although we both lacked good culinary skills. This may seem like a small thing but even cooking together it seems, is a way of making arranged marriages work.
Our marriage started picking up
We often went for night outs. On weekends we used to make plans to visit the nearby spots on the bike and spend long evenings sitting near the Brahmaputra river relishing the fact that we were married now and we’re making plans about the future.
Somewhere besides being a couple, we became more of friends who started understanding each other. Making arranged marriages work stopped feeling like a burden and started feeling more like a process. We started planning dates, holidays and our future together and that really helped us get closer to each other.
We moved home
Slowly, Bhaskar got a promotion at his job and we rented one BHK room after a year. Things started changing. I realized he was willing to do anything for me. This is when our arranged marriage truly took a turn for the better.
It has been almost 16 years of our arranged marriage. We have two beautiful children now. One is in grade 10 and the other is in grade 5. We can now say that we are happy.
I am pursuing my ambition now
Bhaskar knows that I was a highly ambitious girl and always wanted to be independent financially but my early marriage had put my dreams to a halt. He encouraged me to study again. He understood me and my dreams and how important they were to me.
I started my graduate studies again when my boy was in standard 7. Now, this year I am going to complete my graduation and even I take tuitions of small children.
So slowly I am getting the financial independence I desired.
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I have taken training too
I decided to train as a make-up artist and Bhaskar supported me wholeheartedly, without a question. There was not a single day when he doubted my abilities or questioned my capabilities.
However late, I am happy that my dreams were finally taking shape although there might have been a gap of a good 17 years.
I have matured too in these years. Bhaskar is a happy-go-lucky guy and is happy to be with his family and has minimal needs but he has never discouraged me to go beyond my boundaries and chase my dreams.
He is there no matter what
Bhaskar truly became a friend to me. I could confide in him and share anything that was on my mind. There was an improvement in communication between us.
I know I can always back to him again and again after making mistakes and he will be right there waiting for me. I know that he will just hold me in his arms, soothe me and say, “Everything shall be alright, I am just by your side”. He truly means it too.
Faith is everything
In this 17 years of marriage the one thing which I understood is that things will take time and compromises are to be made by both but if you have full faith in each other then the relationship will work out.
My Amma used to say a good line about marriage, “Marriage is like a boat being rowed by two people who always sit on the opposite ends. They can reach the bank safely if one compromises and has full-faith on the other who is going to lead the boat during the time of high tide. Now, it depends on which side the tide might be. Sometimes, it can be towards the woman and sometimes towards the man. They should have a belief in each other that they can surpass the huge waves and reach the shore together by not letting their egos clash. Because the clash of egos is more dangerous than anything else.”
Both marriages have their positives and their drawbacks. In arranged marriage, the emotional work to be done is probably more but it can be an enjoyable experience if you have a reliable partner. At the end of the day, it comes down to you, your personality and what works better for you.
Like any other marriage, an arranged marriage is also anxiety inducing. But a little anxiety is a good thing because it means that you are dedicated to making this work. Preparing for an arranged marriage means having an open mind. Make sure to ask some important questions before you say “yes” to an arranged marriage.
It is not bizarre to expect love in an arranged marriage. Many arranged marriages turn into beautiful love stories or at the very least, stories of fabulous companionship. Arranged marriages teach you compromise and willingness.