I wake up confused, should I be happy, sad, angry or depressed. We all make the choice every day and decide what kind of mood we will be in, but today was not a typical day for me. This was the day I was to be formally engaged to a man who was living with another woman. Previously I had written about finding out about the other woman in his life, or am I the other woman??? My parents still won’t face the fact they are forcing me to marry a man who is committed to someone else. My sister and I have plotted for the last few days how to get out of the marriage, we don’t know how. She is younger than I am but knows that this marriage is all wrong, he and his family are all wrong. She is the only person in the world, at that time that I trusted. She was so supportive, planned my escape and tried to execute it but we failed miserably. I think we were both too young to execute anything against our parents without fear. Fear gripped us which in turn paralyzed me, I had decided, I had no choice but go forward with the engagement to him.
I step outside my bedroom and like usual, the house is buzzing, it is the wedding week of my big fat Indian Wedding. Mom and Dad’s smiles are so big when they see me, naturally I smile back and then catch myself changing it to a frown immediately. What the fuck am I to do??? My mom yells at me from the couch, “Brush your teeth, eat something and the hair and makeup girl is arriving at 1 to get you ready for the tonight! Hurry up, don’t be so slow, it’s your engagement night. Your sari is ready to go, all ironed and laid out for you!” She is so happy, why is she so happy? Why are they pretending they don’t know the truth? Is anyone ready to talk about reality or are we to go about the day as if we are a part of some Bollywood movie where we just sing and dance no matter the circumstances.
I get into the bathroom and go about my business trying to figure out a way out. In my head, there is no way out. Leaving the bathroom I spot my sister, I drag her inside the room and once again try to come up with a solution for my predicament. Nothing, we come up with nothing except go along with it or runaway. It’s almost 1 so I put some food in my stomach and anticipate the arrival of the makeup artist. Why am I doing this??? The agony is unnecessary!
She arrives to get me all dolled up for the big event. I will admit at this point I get caught up in getting ready. Who doesn’t want to be pampered and doted on? She is enthusiastic about being the one to get me ready for my big night. I can’t help but get excited with her, at times I even forgot my reality! After a few hours of getting ready with giggles and talks I’m ready to depart my home to the venue where my future husband will put a ring on my finger to show the world he owns me.
We enter the hall as a family, my brother, sister and parents by my side. I greet the relatives from near and far with a smile and a hug. Everyone is gushing over me! I love the attention and again caught up in the moment, someone might actually mistake me for being happy about the engagement. I COULD HAVE MISTAKEN ME AS BEING HAPPY ABOUT THE ENGAGEMENT! In my defense, I was 19, I didn’t know any better. My dad comes to my side, interrupting my hellos and says it’s time to go inside. Now I’m nervous. Dad, my brother, and entourage of family walk me to the empty chair beside him. I haven’t looked up since I started walking down the aisle. I can’t even look at him, I’m nervous, shy, mad and upset.
I sit down in my place next to him, I hear a whispered hello. We haven’t spoken since the lunch. I can hear people at the tables laughing, talking and enjoying the scene but I still don’t bring my eyes to meet the crowd. So much is going through my mind with my head hung low and my hands folded neatly across my thighs. I hear someone telling me to get up, I look up, its’ the photographer. Apparently he sat down on the wrong side of me, we had to exchange seats. STRIKE ONE: We sat incorrectly! According to customs my parents start the ceremony of giving him gifts of a necklace, a bracelet and cash. In the end they are to put a mix of dried fruit, nuts and sugar treats in his laps. It’s wrapped in a red cloth (for good luck), my dad feeds him a piece and turns to walk away leaving the bundle of good luck in Raj’s lap. As my dad is turning away, Raj drops the entire bundle on the floor! STRIKE TWO: He dropped the bundle of good luck all over the floor, I can hear the crowd whispering because of the significance of him dropping it. It means we will have bad luck in our marriage, according to superstitions. I learned the significance of him dropping the bundle after the marriage, no one in my family spoke to me about it.
Then its was my turn to receive gifts. His family started fussing over me, I actually liked it. They put a gold set on my bare neck, filled my bare ears with earrings to match the necklace. Put a ribbon in my hair, fancied up my bare arms with red bangles (that were too small!) and put mehndi on my hands. Then he turned to me with sindoor in his hands. **Sindoor is only for women to signify she is taken by marriage. It’s the red powder you may see in a woman’s hairline.** I lower my head and allow him to put the sindoor in my hairline to lay claim to me. Lastly he has the ring in his hand, I can’t see it because I haven’t really looked up, my head has been hung low for the last 2 hours! He takes my hand and puts a ring on my finger. STRIKE THREE: I look at the ring; it looks like his mother’s old used and worn ring! If I was going to marry a lying, cheating jerk at least give me a ring that I like!!! 3 strikes and we’re out! I am so disappointed with the ring, my heart sinks. FUCK!
The guests are coming up and congratulating us verbally and with some money, then we are both guided outside for some engagement pictures. Talk about awkward! Both our siblings were our chaperones during the photo shoot. I look back and remember smiling and then hating him all in the same breath. I loved that I was the focal point but this time I hated why I was the focal point. I loved the magic of an engagement and still do, I didn’t like this was my engagement to a lying two faced bastard. I couldn’t keep up with myself! Was I unhappy or sad, and what was the title of our relationship? Was I his mistress or wife to be, he technically did belong to someone else but I was the newest to the threesome?!?!?
The night continued with a mix of emotions for me. People enjoyed the night at the expense of my life. My parents had made me the sacrificial lamb for the family honour. I kept looking at the ugly used ring that I didn’t want on my finger. I hated everyone who knew the truth but stood on the sidelines as if nothing was wrong with the picture. More than anyone, I hated myself. I hated that I was too young to use my brain, I hated that I loved my parents and family too much, I hated that I didn’t want to fight with anyone, I hated that I didn’t have enough courage to help myself and I hated myself for being so naïve and stupid. I hated him for putting on such an act, for lying through his teeth, taking advantage of a young child, and for ruining my life because he was selfish. I hated his family for being lying assholes, who made me out to be crazy to my parents.
While everyone else was congratulating me and taking a peak at my new jewellery, I sat there with my family and friends, confused and hating myself. I did what I had to do to keep my family happy.