Any marriage is a gamble. But isn’t an arranged marriage, something most Indians find themselves going
through, an even bigger one?How does it really work?
Case Study 1
Ranjit lives in the United States. He is 30 years old and his parents are keen that he gets married and presents them with grandchildren, before they pass away. But they do not want a girl living in the US, so they advertise Ranjit’s credentials in an Indian online matrimonial site, as well as in the Sunday columns of a popular newspaper. NRIs are considered prize catches, so Ranjit receives several proposals, including photos of the prospective brides. Aparna looks gorgeous, is an MBA from an IIM, works as a Business Development Manager for a leading multinational Company, is from the same caste and is 26 years old – all in all, she has all the qualities Ranjit is looking for.
Ranjit gets engaged to Aparna. Ranjit has lots of money and assets and family-owned properties and trust funds and such, and may, understandably, want to be
assured that Aparna is really the diamond in the rough, the woman for him, and not someone pretending to be all that with the intention of getting half of his property. Ranjit and Aparna have talked a lot about their respective upbringings -- he was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth and attended Harvard. She was born in a small village but matriculated from a Convent High School and did her MBA from an IIM before moving to Gurgaon to work for an MNC.
Ranjit’s father wanted to confirm the information about her, so he asks a cousin in India to do a little checking up on her. He already has her Birth Date, Passport and Aadhaar Number (because he needs all that to get her US visa).
With that information, the cousin contracts a local detective agency to verify the information on Aparna. In the perfect world, all the information will be confirmed with no surprises and they get married and live happily ever after.
However, the agency discovered that no one by that name attended that Covent School or that IIM. Someone with the same name and date of birth, however, has a relatively long criminal conviction record for theft, forgery, etc., in Mumbai. The detective obtained her arrest photos by completing a RTI request and paying a moderate fee.
He found out that Aparna has a rotten credit history, mainly because of running up, then failing to pay various utility bills, mobile phone connections and credit cards. He also found a prior divorce through the Family Court office, and a birth certificate listing her as "Mother."
The cousin informs Ranjit’s parents about the information he’s obtained, and the wedding is off... Ranjit is heart-broken, but wiser...
Case Study 2
I was born and brought up in Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal. I had just completed my B.Sc. from Agra when my parents decided to get me married. I was okay with it, since I had lost 2 years after my 12th standard in pursuit of getting a medical seat. I had to reject the first two suitors because of various reasons. The third rejected me because he thought I was too short for him. The fourth was the best. He worked in Bangalore, was from Allahabad and hailed from a good family. He was too busy with his work, so we met on Skype for the first time. We liked each other.
But there was one big problem: I had to give him my decision right after the chat. I asked for time and I got one full night to decide. Ironic isn’t it: you just get 8 hours to decide your future life partner, whereas you get 2 full years just to try for an entrance exam?
My gut said that he was good. I had just read Paulo Coelho's ‘The Alchemist’ then, so I thought the less time available was a good omen and was directing me to take the right decision. I agreed. Both families discussed, and our engagement was set in Allahabad, one month later. He used to call me regularly during this period. We both got involved in each other’s lives. On the Engagement day, I met him for the first time and damn! he was taller than his parents mentioned. But he looked like a movie star. I fell in love with him that instant! Alas, he had to go back the same night.
Our wedding was fixed four months later, on September 12th. His calls were increasing, I just loved it. I also got to know of his severe alcohol problem! But he promised he'd quit after marriage, so it was fine. But, suddenly in the middle of July he started avoiding me. He used to switch off his phone, cut my calls and never reply on WhatsApp. I got tensed. I wanted to inform his parents but was too scared.
I get a text at 3 a.m. on July 29th. The text was this:
"Are you a Virgin?"
I really did not know where that came from, but I was scared. However, I gathered my courage and replied, "Yes, but what happened? Why were you avoiding me? Has anybody told you anything bad about me?"
He did not reply. He started responding to my calls, but never spoke unreservedly. Even upon repeated questioning, he never told me the reason for his behaviour. I was really depressed and worried.
By then, my parents had already spent so much in preparation for the wedding, so I didn't want to do anything that would hurt them.
Finally, we got married. And he was downcast throughout the ceremony.
As per our tradition, the bride should go to the groom's place after the marriage. We went to their house. The bed in our room was really decorated, like the one you see in movies. Finally, we got to bed around midnight. He did not talk. I was shy too. I do not know if it's appropriate to mention here, but I craved for physical intimacy that moment.
I asked the reason for his weird behaviour. He didn't speak a word. Suddenly he started crying loudly. He said he had committed a grave mistake. I told him that we could solve it together. He mentioned that he needed a favour, but he would ask for it after going to Bangalore.
We left for Bangalore on September 20th. All these days, we never had sex.
Finally, I was told that he had bet huge sums of money on football matches after getting drunk. The amount was around 35 lakh rupees. That is a huge amount, even for both our families put together. But then, the next thing he told me, was the worst thing I had ever heard in my life. He had bet my virginity.
He had bet my virginity against 2 lakh rupees! I did not understand, I did not want to believe it. He said that there was a guy, named Aamir and he just wanted me to sleep with him and lose my virginity to him. I was devastated.
I could not think. I wanted to go back home and cry. But then, family, my sister, everything came to my mind.
But, have sex with a stranger, because my fiancé thought he owns me? NO. I told him that I wouldn't have sex with a stranger no matter what. He told me that he would try to sort the matter out.
I was completely broken. My first day in Bangalore gave me the worst news of my life. I just cried and slept. Two people arrived in the evening. I was under my blanket. Suddenly I felt someone entering. Then a guy put his hands under my blanket. I shouted loud. They got a bit scared I guess. Those people were having an argument with my husband. I don't remember a single word of it, but they finally left after 20 minutes. I was still in a state of shock, holding the room door closed tightly. I never let my so-called husband in that night.
I called my parents and told them everything at 3 a.m. They contacted one of our relatives in Chennai who came the next morning, picked me up and took me to their place. I stayed there for 5 days and now I'm back to Agra. We have filed a police complaint, formally filed for a divorce and I have still not recovered from my Bangalore horror.
I know I am generalizing, but please beware of alcoholics. He had every other quality right, but people make stupid decisions under the influence of alcohol which might sabotage the life of someone else.
What wrong had I done? Even though we were poor, I grew up with respect. My father spent almost 70 percent of his savings on my marriage. Now, lawyer fees and other expenses. What wrong had I done?
I might be considered as a 'witch' now. Why? I don't know. Other people and the police say that I am doing this for his salary. Would I risk the respect of my parents, my sister’s marriage and my entire life for a software engineer's half salary?
Case Study 3
“Marriage is an institution” of understanding, compassion and togetherness said my parents.
Hi my name is Punit (name changed). I’m gay. However, under society and parental pressures I got married to Pooja (name changed) a year ago on March 30, 2017. Pooja is a girl from Mumbai - Peddar Road area, who had put her details on a popular matrimonial website. My parents did the research and decided she had the ideal qualifications.
I was never interested in getting married as I was attracted to boys, not girls. I did not have the courage to inform my parents or my wife that I’m having an intimate relationship with my boyfriend.
I know I have ruined her life completely, by ignoring her, not spending time with her and giving lame excuses to avoid her completely. Besides, she runs the risk of getting an HIV infection from me. We both are miserable, and I blame my parents and society for my predicament.
Why can’t Indian society make it possible for persons with a different sexual orientation, live their lives the way they want.