I close the door behind me and yell as loud as I can though my tears, MOM! Where is she, where is anyone and everyone??? After what seemed like hours, I see her face at the top of the stairs. She starts asking what happened and other questions while running down the stairs. She’s at the bottom of the stairs now and I can see her and I’m telling her what’s happening, telepathically. I can’t get a word out, I’m so upset. Now I see my dad and the others (the house was full of family for the wedding stuff) at the top of the stairs looking down at us. From the top they have started shouting questions at me, what happened, why are you crying, did you fall, are you hurt, say something!
I can hear them talking amongst themselves, “She was just out with him what possibly could have gone wrong? I bet you she fell. She’s not feeling well. Did she hurt her foot?”
Finally, I just say it, “Mom I can’t marry him! He is no good and you know what Mom? He still has a girlfriend, a girlfriend mom! He doesn’t need a wife too!” (I’m getting emotional again writing this…why did I have to go through all this shit???)
Moms face changes from concern to sadness, she doesn’t say much. “Take off your shoes, let’s go upstairs and let’s talk about this. Tell us what happened and how you have this information.” I take my shoes off and allow my mom to guide me from behind up the stairs. At the top of the stairs everyone is staring at me, no one is saying anything anymore. I guess my statement silenced everyone in the house. Finally my massi (maternal aunt) asks what happened. I start spewing out the events from the time he picked me up to the moment I came back to my own front door. Everyone listens in silence. I can barely speak in between my sobs. Throughout my story telling, I repeatedly tell the whole room I am not marrying him. At the end of my story telling my dad speaks, “I will call his dad and see if this is all true.” I say, “ You’re going to call him and ask him if it’s true??? Do you think he’s going to tell you the truth, he hasn’t as of yet. The only reason I found out is because I actually met HER!” He continues, “Stop overreacting, it could have been a friend who is jealous of him and not happy that he has found love. These days no one is happy for anyone. Before you get to upset let me call him.”
He walks off to “ask if his son already has a girlfriend”. In the meantime, my mom’s family has started yelling at my mom. “You are not to marry her into that family, disgusting bastards. She is too young to know better so we have to do what’s right. Her life is already ruined and she hasn’t even lived a day with that asshole.” Nanaji (maternal grandfather) says, “You cannot marry Venya into that family, she is so young and innocent, we would be throwing our little girl away to the wolves, this marriage is not to go forward.” “Look at her, she is beautiful, smart, easygoing, family oriented and just a baby. We will find her a suitable match for in a heartbeat! Do not let this marriage happen!” “She is not even 20 years old! What’s the rush, let her be with at least a decent person.” The remarks continue and my mom is not fighting back, her tears have taken over her voice.
My dad walks in and states, “ I have spoken to his father and he is saying Venya is confused. They say their son does not have a girlfriend and if he did would he ever introduce the two? Venya, I too feel like you’re making up a story so you don’t have to get married. Anyway, at this point there is no option but for Venya to get married to him. How do we know who is telling the truth. If this marriage doesn’t go through, what will people say about our family, what will all the guests from out of town say, how will we show our face in society? Whatever has happened, forget it and get ready for the engagement party in 3 days. Stop all this nonsense about not getting married, I have given my word to the other family. My word is my honour, I will guard the family honour with everything I have.”
The family erupts in chaos, everyone is yelling over one another. My mom’s side of the family is backing me up, and my dad’s family is backing up my dad in the name of honour. Finally I get up and I go to my room, slamming the door behind me. I’m in shock, my dad is telling me I have to marry him even though we know that my future husband has a current girlfriend!?!?! Should I just run away? Should I call the police? What the fuck do I do??? I don’t know what to do but cry. Looking back at that day, I wish present time Venya was there for kid Venya to help her through this craziness. My mom walks in and while sitting on the bed starts talking to me. She asks me to repeat the events. I tell her everything again and she is still silent. I can tell she is very sad for me and wants to help her barely adult child, she starts to speak. “I know you’re not lying, I know you were excited from the way you were enjoying the wedding prep. You are a good, honest child who may speak her mind too much or necessary, but seldom lies. If you don’t marry him, there will be chaos in our family. There are too many people here and it’s too close to the wedding day for us not to go through with the arrangement. Look at the amount of money we have poured into your wedding, we can’t waste that! Whatever is done is done, you have to go through with the marriage. You should have found out earlier.” “Mom! What do you mean I have to marry him, I don’t want to! How was I supposed to find anything out about him? I’ve only met him 3 times in my life! I will find a way to repay the money, please don’t throw me away like this, please don’t! I hate you guys for arranging me to him, I hate him for being an asshole and I hate his family for starting this off with lies! Mom his parents are lying to you!!! Why do you want to send me away into a home full of dishonest people?!?!?” She says, “What can I do? Nothing.” She is very unhappy but I guess she was doing what she THOUGHT was right.
My dad walks in. “Forget everything, start fresh tomorrow. You have to marry him, I have decided and that’s final. It’s too late and too close to the wedding date for us to back out. If we were to back out now, you will never get married, you will become the girl whose wedding was called off days before the ceremony. I will not have people saying such things about you to tarnish your reputation. Like it or not you are doing this. Even if there is another woman, she will leave him once you start living in their house. She will have no choice but to leave him alone. Why did you even go and have lunch with him? Stupid girl, are you happy now with the lunch? It will be alright.”
“I’m running away before Saturday and you won’t find me! I will not marry him, he’s still fucking someone else and paying her bills! Why did you ever raise me, why didn’t you throw me away when you learned I was a girl and one day your honour may be tainted. You marry him! I hate him and his family and I don’t even know them!”
“What I’ve said stands. You will marry him, if you run away I will find you and we’ll deal with you then however we need. Do you really want to be the cause of a heart attack for me? Your dadaji (paternal grandfather) will die in his sleep due to shame caused by you. Do you want everyone to point the finger at our family because of you? Why are you such a selfish child, what about us? Did you ever think how our family will be destroyed if you don’t marry him? We will never hold our heads high again and you will never find another husband! It’s final, your marrying him!” He walks out of the room fuming and slams the door behind him.
“Mom, talk to him, talk to his family please don’t make me marry him. Him and his family will never accept me, they are already lying! Please Mom don’t do this to me. I promise I will be good, I’m barely 20 I will find another match I promise! You’re a girl, you have to understand, you can’t make me do this.”
“I do understand, I’m a girl and that’s why I understand. Men are all the same just different bodies. What’s to say the next one will be any better? There are no guarantees, you have to just close your eye and trust us as your parents. We would never do anything to hurt you or your siblings. Should something happen to your dad (heart attack) are you willing to take on the family responsibility? Will you be able to feed me and your siblings for the rest of your life? What happens if your dadaji dies due to shock? Your dad will kill himself if you don’t get married now and I don’t want to be a widow. It’s too close to the wedding day now to change our minds. You have to do this for the entire families honour.”
“No I will not! I hope all of you die! I hope you all don’t wake up tomorrow so I don’t have to marry him! I hate you all! Get out of my room!!! I fucking hate you all!!! Maybe you should marry him in my place, if the wedding must go on!!” I remember thrashing around on my bed, pillows being tossed anything I could grab I threw.
“Try to understand my perspective. He is handsome, has a good job, he has a home and they seem like nice people. You will be fine once you start living with him, trust me, it will be alright.”
“Mom! Looks have nothing to do this, I work too and I’m nice but I don’t fuck people over like this. I will find another person who has a heart!! Get out the fuck out of my room! I hate you!”
She leaves my room with her head hung low, her tears are flowing while she is uncontrollably sobbing as I am. I face plant myself into my bed. The arguing is continuing outside my door, it’s still mom’s family against my dad’s. Thank you massiji and nanaji (RIP) you always fought for me hard. Thank you for trying your damnest to convince my dad and his family that I had a choice, too bad it didn’t work. Thanks to my cousins who told my dad off in my defense and fuck you to the Aunties et all who said their daughters would never bring shame to their family.
It must’ve continued for hours, I locked my door and went to sleep completely defeated.