(As told to Pooja Priyamvada)
My upbringing was traditional and I never interacted with men
I grew up in a traditional family in the hills of Uttarakhand where girls are raised in utmost discipline and there never is any room to question the age-old beliefs about customs or traditions.
After primary school, I was shifted into a girls-only school and in the village too we weren’t supposed to interact with other boys except for brothers, cousins, uncles and family males, and in that too there were a number of rules ever since I turned 11-12. Never be without a dupatta other than when you are sleeping. Don’t make eye contact with any men and speak as minimally as possible in their presence.
I was a good student, secured good marks in my 12th boards, and cleared the medical entrance without any coaching. Coming to Dehradun for my MBBS was like coming to a new life altogether. I was in a co-educational classroom/institution for the first time, though I was still living in the same kind of environment at my aunt’s place there, as a hostel was completely ruled out by my parents.
Some boys did try to get friendly
In the first few weeks at the medical college, I saw there was a huge difference between me and the other girls and boys. They would interact freely among themselves, whereas I would shyly respond to a hello and then retreat to my introvert space. A few boys did try to get friendly and ask basic questions about the timetable, where I am from, where I am living, etc. but sensing my almost walled demeanour, soon the interest waned.
I did feel attraction towards certain boys and Bollywood actors, but my upbringing was so deeply set in me that I reined in my fantasies every time and believed that a woman’s desire, virginity and her body must be saved for the husband and holy matrimony.
So in spite of serious crushes and a couple of boys seriously pursuing me for dating, I just concentrated on my degree and had no romantic relationship in my five years at the medical college. Even before my internship was over, my family had fixed a match for me via matrimonial advertisement with a “doctor” family in Delhi from the same caste.
The arranged marriage went ahead
Anuj called me a few times in the next few months, but how well can you know someone over video calls? We were both very formal. He told me that he had a girlfriend in medical college for a while but she was from a different caste so the relationship didn’t have any future. In my heart I found that very jarring, but again, how could I disagree with my husband?
Though now all my fantasies, including romantic sexual ones, had a face. I would often imagine what our married life would be like. Traditionally the hullaballoo is about the “suhaag raat” or the first night post-marriage, as it was conventionally believed that that was the first time the married couple has sex and the marriage is consummated. So was the case amongst my cousins and friends, as they all knew I was still a virgin at 24.
I was excited too, but after all the ceremonies I was so tired and I presumed so was Anuj, that we hugged and kissed and just dozed off. We were scheduled to go for our honeymoon after 3-4 days to Goa, so I interpreted Anuj’s disinterest in anything sexual as his saving the best for the honeymoon.
Related reading: Married and a virgin, I want to have sex before I get too old
We did consummate our marriage but…
In Goa our marriage was consummated and we did also do everything else honeymooning couples do, clicking pictures, buying stuff, PDA, but to my surprise sex only once. Now I had begun to get worried, did he not find me beautiful or attractive? I was average looking, but my mom had said men like women who save it all for them, then why?
I still didn’t have the courage to ask Anuj directly or say anything to either my mom or my friends. The pattern continued for a few more weeks. I was getting increasingly frustrated sexually, wasn’t marriage supposed to be a new sexual life too?
So finally I did confront Anuj and he told me that he just didn’t “feel” the need to get sexual with me regularly. When I hinted at some medical/hormonal issue, he simply dismissed me citing his better credentials as a doctor and asked me to stop thinking like a “whore”!
It has been three years. I’ve had a daughter with him, but the marriage remains largely sexless. I do not know how to get out of this rut. I feel even more frustrated that I didn’t even experience any kind of romance before marriage, “saving it all” for my marriage, and now I am stuck in a sexless relationship for the sake of family, society and my daughter. And also the fact that he is a good man otherwise and treats me well except for the intimacy part.
Maybe I have a lifetime to live like this, wondering what went wrong and envying people who have a wonderful married life!