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Hema M Lal | November 06, 2003 15:50 IST

Are you out of your mind?'

'I can't believe you are doing this.'

'Which century do you live in?'

'You are going to regret this.'

'For God's sake, don't do this.'

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These were the reactions I got when I told my friends and colleagues I was getting married. To be completely honest, they were not really against my marriage. They were aghast because I was getting married to someone I had not seen or met before.

What I was doing may have seemed strange to my friends in Delhi. The Biharis, however, wouldn't find it so strange. What was amazing was that not one person empathised with me or saw the situation through my eyes.

Before I go any further, let me confide that all this debate regarding my forthcoming wedding caused a lot of turmoil in my own mind as well. Was I being foolish by agreeing to this marriage? Was I throwing away my life? Several questions and emotions flooded my mind. All this, however, did not deter me from the path of an arranged marriage where I had yet to see the groom.

Some said only an uneducated woman would do this. With a Masters degree to my name, I surely did not fit in that slot. So what was my reason?

To tell you the truth, I just thought it would work for me. Call it faith if you like. I have seen all kinds of marriages -- arranged, semi-arranged, even self-found or love marriages as they are called. Several of my friends met their intended spouses either alone or in the company of their parents. On many occasions, I was a witness to the event. What struck me most was that there was no way two people meeting each other like this would know much about each other except for the way they looked. What purpose would such a meeting serve? At least you get to know what the other person looks like, some argue. That explanation may work for some people, but it did not matter to me. Besides, what was more important to me was the fact that my parents knew me well. After all, they had taken care of me for more than two decades. 

Everyone in office came to know of my impending wedding when I applied for leave. Till then, only two friends knew I was planning to get married. What was his name, my colleagues asked? Stupid me, I did not know! The grapevine had already started discussing the 'disaster' (read wedding) as they called it. After all that talk about equality for women, feminism and Gloria Stienem, she is such a fake, they said.

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People do not realise that when they talk behind someone's back, the conversation always gets back to the principal person.

Oh, by the way, I still believed in equality of the sexes -- my future husband had not seen me either.

I was hurt by everyone's attitude but I refused to retaliate or explain my position despite my best friend's insistence that I do so. What was the use? Sometimes, people are so wrapped in their own truths that they don't recognise any other viewpoint.

Finally, the wedding card was printed. Like everyone before me, I pinned one to the office notice board inviting everyone to the wedding.

A few weeks before the big day, I got a chance to meet my future husband's family. This was a very important occasion -- everyone knows an Indian marriage is not only a union between a man and a woman but their entire extended families as well. I met his mom, brother, sister, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and several other family members.

My mom decided they were the perfect family for me. Her reason -- both his sister and sister-in-law had short hair and I never liked my hair long. Good enough reason, I thought. My future husband, however, was missing from this gathering.

A few weeks later, it was time for our elaborate and lengthy Hindu wedding with hundreds of rituals witnessed by thousands of Gods and humans. My wedding lasted eight days. The ceremonies started four days before the actual day of the wedding. Finally, on the fourth day after the 'Chaturthi' ceremony (which marks the completion of the wedding), the two of us were bound for life.

Ten years later, all I can say is the nay-sayers were wrong. I have absolutely no regrets. If you believe marriages are made in heaven, then I have met the match God made for me.

Don't get me wrong, marriage is not a bed of roses; it has its own quota of thorns. The trick is to overcome the hurdles and strike the right balance. After all, think how boring life would be if it were just a straight path with no ups and downs?

I did not write this diary to advocate arranged marriages where one does not meet one's would-be life partner. I decided to write it to share with you some of my past, my confusions and my doubts. Everyone has their own demons to fight, their own awards to reap and their own paths to follow. Sometimes, though, someone else's confusion -- and how they resolved it -- can help you deal with your own.

Illustration: Lynette Menezes 

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Number of User Comments: 77

Sub: Re:A blind faith marriage

Dear Hema, Congratualtions..I say you are very lucky..but your article is misleading to the young people..I have no doubt that your husband is wonderful but ...

Posted by Vidya

Sub: Escapist Philosophy

Hi All, Great to see lots of views on the article. I call it an escapist philosophy if you say, you want your parents to ...

Posted by Raghu

Sub: Please ...

Please do not promote this 'Gamble with closed eyes'session to the upcomming youth & spoil their lives,to say the least! We only have one life! ...

Posted by seher

Sub: what luck!

All i can say is, You were very lucky my dear! cheers! Rajshree

Posted by Rajshree

Sub: hii didi

hii didi hope u would not mind if i called u a sis. well ur article was simply great it is an inspirational example for ...

Posted by roshni


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