No title yet, sorry. It’s a WIP. this is just the beginning. Consider it a teaser lawlz –
There are not many easy ways to explain arranged marriage to your friends. When I first mentioned it, they looked at me sympathetically and told me things like “Oh, but you always have a choice” or “But you’re 23” as if these thoughts hadn’t gone through my head already. They gave me sympathetic looks later and told me “We’re always here for you if you need to talk” and “I can’t believe you’re going through with this” as the date of my wedding to Jay got closer and closer.
I’m not alone, and my story is not too unique. Instead of being told who to marry, now our parents tell us who to meet. They tell us who to go out to dinner with, and who to talk to. They tell us who is eligible and around our age. They nudge us into similar social situations and hope that something will click. They call relatives in India and ask if they know of any nice, eligible boys for their daughter in hushed, conspirational tones.
July 23, 2011 –
“Hi. I’m Pryanka” I say to the guy as he sat across from me at the café.
“Yeah. Hi. What’s up?”
“Trust me, this is weird for me too,” Jay tells me.
“Well it’s nice to meet you anyways. So how do our parents know each other?”
“High School. I think. Doesn’t really matter I guess. What would you like to drink?”
“I’ll take an iced coffee! I actually can’t stand hot coffee, but I love how it smells.”
“I’m basically addicted to coffee so as long as you don’t mind the smell, we’re cool.”
I smiled a little and felt some tension leaving my body. He didn’t have an accent! But he was going to have to be pretty amazing to cheer me up, because my argument with Dan earlier today had been devastating. I had nothing to say to him when he ended our relationship because he was tired of waiting. I would have been tired of waiting too, if I had been in his place and had to keep everything a secret for so long. We couldn’t have a “proper” romance, he couldn’t meet my parents and promise my dad he wouldn’t bring me home too late. There were just too many pieces missing in our puzzle, and I understood that, but when we hung up the phone, I was crying anyway.
“I’m sorry, this is really weird for me,” Jay said.
“You said that already,” I said, and snapped out of my thoughts – they were leading me to unhappy places.
The waiter came to our table and he ordered two coffees, one iced with milk and sugar. He looked at me, but before he could affirm, I nodded and said, “Yeah, milk and sugar please.”
I wasn’t sure of myself, it had been too long since I went on a date with someone new.
Indians don’t date. There is no word for “boyfriend” in Hindi. After the disastrous phone call and a sobbing session in the bathroom with the shower on, I had stepped out to get ready for this coffee with Jay. As I was getting dressed, my mother had said, “Have a nice time with him. Try to get to know him. He’s a really nice boy, beta.” They never called it a date. I hoped that the familiar term would help me come to terms with what I was getting ready for.
The coffees came, and his mug of coffee had one of those pretty leafy designs swirled into the froth on top. Maybe it was a latte?
I spent the next hour getting to know him as I had been instructed. It was even more weird than all of the mandatory icebreaker games I had played at club meetings in the beginning of my Fall semesters at college.
August 12, 2011 –
“FINE Ma, I’ll do it”
And just like that, I sealed my fate. To Jay Chopra. There was just silence around the table because my parents knew better than to act excited. Maybe they were relieved, and they were probably at least a little bit guilty. What could they possibly say to their daughter after she’s agreed to an arranged marriage? My mother got up to call his parents and invite them over for dinner. She had the decency to do that in the other room.
My ex-boyfriend, he didn’t understand either. If he had been Indian, I think I could have loved him. I could have pretended to meet him for the first time and gone for coffee. I could have invited his family over to my house and cooked an amazing Indian dinner to impress them.
As it is, I cooked for Jay, his parents, his older sister and her husband tonight. My mother oversaw the whole affair and I kept my tears to myself the entire night. If Jay could tell I was upset, he kept it to himself and the two of us played at acting like we were happy.