Radha had an arranged marriage. Her parents belonged to a high middle class family. They ensured that Radha and her siblings had a good educational foundation and gave them the freedom to pursue any professional course they had an interest in. Radha was a beautiful young girl and had maintained her good looks as she grew up. And she was in love with flying. However, as her parents were not in a position to fulfil her dream of flying an aircraft, she opted for the next best thing in aviation. Soon after her graduation she appeared for an interview with a leading airline for a job as an air-hostess. She was selected without any problems and began her training. Soon she was flying on board aircraft as a member of the cabin crew of the airline. Initially she was on domestic routes and soon graduated on to international flights. She was happy to be flying and visiting various countries, adding on to her historical intellect. She was very happy and let the world know about it.
On one of her lay-off periods, while relaxing at home, her parents approached her with a marriage proposal. She was vehemently against marriage at this point of time when she was beginning to enjoy her career. But relentless pressure from the parents saw her reluctantly, agree to consider. She was pleasantly surprised to see that the proposal was from her Dad’s acquaintance, whose son was an Indian Air Force pilot. Her interest was further aroused when she found the prospective groom to be a fighter pilot. Without much ado, she accepted the proposal and conveyed her decision to her parents. She did mention to her mother that she would like to continue with her flying career and requested her to convey this to the “other party”.
The marriage was solemnized with the typical brouhaha associated with Punjabi weddings. Many relatives and friends from both sides graced the occasion. Radha was on Cloud Nine! The honeymoon over, she accompanied her husband, Gaurav, to his duty station, a remote airbase in the North Eastern part of the country. She was welcomed by her husband’s squadron mates and their wives, and settled down to setting up a home in the make-shift “basha” – a hut made of bamboo. After the initial euphoria ended, Radha mentioned to her husband that her leave from the airline was about to end and that she would have to rejoin duty. The husband went quiet. After a moment of deep thought he said, “Didn’t your parents ask you to resign before the marriage?” Now it was Radha who went quiet. Her parents had not mentioned any such thing. “But I want to continue with my career for some time,” she blurted. “Well, it is my parents’ desire that their “bahu” should not be working. I will check with them,” said Gaurav.
Gaurav’s parents were livid when they heard their son that Radha wished to continue to work. “The answer is NO and this is final”, said Gaurav’s father. All the pleas of Radha to let her recommence her flying career were rejected. What disturbed Radha was that her husband did not stand up to his parent’s irrational diktat. Radha was quite upset and dejected and, in the absence of any support on this issue from her own parents, was forced to accept this decision.
As life crawled ahead, she and Gaurav had two children. The kids took up her time. Her own desires took a back seat and she slowly accepted the fact that her career in flying, albeit as an air hostess, was over. Her flying ambition had gone awry and it took quite some time for Radha to reconcile to this.
Now, she and Gaurav have settled down to being grandparents. Although at times she does feel that things could have been different if her husband had stood up for her.
(Names have been changed to protect identities)Published in