There was a mobile number scribbled on the register of the boy who was our tenant. I threw a careless glance at it, dismissed it and was soon gone on my Scooty. The incessant ringing of the phone was annoying and my Scooty came to a screeching halt. The number flashing on the screen was unknown but yet familiar. The voice on the other end said “Hello!” Now I knew he was Anuj.
This was the beginning of an association where the alacrity of calls never ceased nor the messages. It culminated in a few secret meetings too. There is a certain seductive value in meeting secretly, but it had its meanness too. Then he proposed one day over coffee, validating the adage that a lot can happen over coffee. I had been waiting for this. I accepted.
He went to his family and broke the news and all hell broke loose. I too did the same, but since my family advocated and fostered independent views, there was ready acceptance.
There was a hue and cry initially, but his parents agreed to meet my parents. The entire Singh household (mine) was soaked in a festive spirit. Delicious aromas wafted through the air, and new cushion covers and bed covers were laid out. The brassware was being polished, and the entire house was getting a facelift.
I too was excited. The day dawned bright and the wait was long and unbearable. My in-laws-to-be arrived late at night, donning a stiff exterior. They saw me, gave us the shagun, and seemed to relent a bit. After dinner and a discussion regarding the wedding arrangements, we all went to bed. The next morning was a different story. The stiff facade was back and they made no bones about it. The envelopes given by my parents as gifts were an insult to them. They left my place abruptly. I felt torn and humiliated.
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This was followed by a spell of silence for a few months. We met again with a resolve to try afresh. He assured me that he was trying hard to patch up things and was adamant that he would marry only me.
This time his parents straight away refused, saying, “That girl is short.” This was a severe jolt to my pride. Anuj kept comforting and reassuring me that he was determined to marry me against everyone and everything else. I resorted to tears and kept asking how much validation a girl needs for her beauty from outside. I was hurt, furious and determined to fight the situation.
Later, I realised it was not only about the height. A groom’s parents often look upon their boy as a marketable commodity. Not having their expectations fulfilled made them resort to stoic silence.
Ours is a patriarchal society where we validate rotten belief systems. I wanted to take action, but could not do much against the parents of a person whom I loved so much. I respected him, as he was juggling hard between his parents and mine to resolve the differences. But things were not moving and I was getting impatient.
At one point I thought about giving up and asked him to marry someone else, but he was sure that he would arrive at a workable solution.
My parents were getting equally impatient but on realising how determined I was to marry him, decided to discuss the matter with local authorities. They intervened by explaining to Anuj’s parents how the matter could turn against them if a legal dowry case was registered, which almost seemed to put an end to the impasse.
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Anuj’s parents sensed the sensitivity of the situation and relented to work towards an amicable solution. The wedding budget and other finer details were worked out, as both parties agreed to work towards it. Finally, amidst drama, confusion, and apprehensions, we exchanged nuptial vows. This is how the tall and the short married at last and chose to live happily ever after, as it happens in fairy tales.
(As told to Archana Sharma)