This is the story of Sudha, a young, pretty telephone operator in a private company. She comes from a conservative family but her parents were broadminded enough to let her marry a man of her choice- an engineer. Unfortunately, his parents were not too happy about the alliance but they agreed all the same.
Sudha expected the fairy tale finale for her wedding- a happily ever after sort. But things haven’t turned out that way. Her husband, who was an ardent wooer as a fiancé, doesn’t want to displease mama further. He expected Sudha to invite his endless stream of relatives for dinner and quite often brings his colleagues home; to eat, without prior notice.
Sudha doesn’t know whom to confide in after a hectic day at the office and two hours of commuting during peak hours, she gets home totally spent and then begins her more taxing role as the wife and daughter in law. To make things worse, her mother in law has been after her for not conceiving a year after marriage. Sudha could not bear the taunts any longer and her husband was also keen to satisfy his mother’s wish for a grandchild. Now, she has to cope with morning sickness plus all the earlier problems.
There are many like Sudha who walk into a marriage with hope and find their husbands behaving quite differently from what they had anticipated. The denouement is all the more painful when the choice is theirs. In an arranged marriage, she can always blame the parents (not that it will help!) while in this case, it becomes a ‘you’ve- made- your- bed- so- suffer attitude from them.
Not that I am advocating an arranged marriage as the ideal solution. It has its drawbacks. But in a love match the onus is entirely on the girl who often fails to see beyond the boy’s looks or whatever that attracts her. In some cases love is so blind that the couple is awfully mismatched physically, socially, culturally and economically. But intimate existence takes its toll sooner or later and these differences slowly rear their head.
When parents choose a partner for their children, they usually look into details like the family reputation, their social and economic standing, skeletons in the cupboard and other details about the boy, his job and his activities. Armed with this information, they analyse the prospect of putting their daughter in that environment and her chances of leading a good life. As long as they don’t pressure the son or daughter, they do have a better idea of what is good for them. The spadework that goes into the proposal stage equips the girl or boy with adequate knowledge of what is in store.
When the man or woman choose a partner especially at a young age, they miss out on this investigation and rely only on how well they ‘vibe’ with each other. But marriages in India are not between man and woman as in the West. Here, the family is part of the package deal and when the lid is off, all sorts of pinpricks spring up, which the couple had not bargained for. They can’t cope with this ugly monster. So, they try to opt out of the situation or end up bickering, blaming each other’s relatives.
Before Sudha plunged into marriage with her dream boy, she should have taken a close look at his ‘after wooing hours’ lifestyle. Because, in most cases, “courtship is a very witty prologue to a very dull play.”