It was 2015 and I was about to turn 25. This is when I encountered something typical that often happens to the people of my age – an arranged marriage. I met my husband just once – the day our wedding got fixed. Sounds rather uncanny in today’s world, isn’t it? But that is how quickly it was all finalised. The wedding was arranged in a jiffy. It was almost like ‘marriage at first sight.’
Except, there was a lot more to it than what meets the eye.
And that is my story – the bride’s story.
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Before the wedding, the bride packs all her stuff in suitcases and bags, because soon she would be moving to her husband’s home. When I became that bride, I suddenly saw my life being turned upside down and there was a strange uncertainty about it all. It tore at my heart. I still remember breaking down in tears as I was packing my stuff. I realised that it would shatter my parents to look at my empty room. I had to maintain the illusion that I was not gone.
Everything was going to change. This wasn’t me, it can’t be me, I just knew. I realised that these were the last few days that I would be spending with my parents and sister and these weren’t coming back ever. This version of me had an expiry date.
On the day of my wedding, I plastered a smile on my face and grinned from ear to ear. “Ab to tum inhi ki ho!” (now you are theirs): Every second person told me this, gesturing towards my in-laws. I kept looking at my parents all throughout the wedding, silently observing them while they were busy attending to the guests. I had this voice in me that said, “You will always be your daddy’s little angel and your mamma’s princess.” A part of me wondered whether grooms get to hear what brides did. That is, they now belonged to the ‘other’ family.
Even as the wedding ceremonies were about to start, I felt as if I was losing control over my sense of self. I felt as if nothing was mine anymore. My husband’s home would be my home, as would be his family. But in the midst of all this, what about my family and friends? Would I be in touch with them, would things remain the same or change forever?
I feared that I may get lost and confused in all these new changes. Will ‘I’ fade in comparison to the ‘we’? And why does the ‘we’ only include my husband and his family and not mine? Why do I have to leave my world in order to be ‘we.’ Why is the onus to build the ‘we’ on the bride’s side and why is not the bride accepted with her family and friends?
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With all these thoughts, hopes and dreams, I took a step forward to take my vows. The first round around the holy fire made me promise nourishment and food to my family, the second demanded me to be a pillar of strength though I didn’t know my husband’s weaknesses in the first place, the third made me promise my love to an unknown soul, the fourth vow was about showering all my joys to my husband. The next three vows asked me to cherish and honour him for the rest on my life. I promised myself to be the ‘best’ as a wife, friend, daughter-in-law, mother and what not. However even as I took these vows, I made a silent one, one that I made with all my heart as well. I made a vow to never stop being a daughter to my parents, and to be there for my sister and my friends. I also made a vow to myself – it was a promise to create and live for my identity even though I would try to fulfill my responsibilities. I also smiled to myself as I remembered: ‘A daughter is a daughter all her life.’
… As told to Manvi Singh