NaNoWriMo Day 2

A quick note! The “—” breaks in the story symbolize separate blog entries. When the story is in its final format with dates/times, it’ll read much more easily but for now, I am lumping everything together into one manuscript so I can keep track of word count and post how much I write daily 🙂

Getting to know Jay has been even weirder than all of the mandatory icebreaker games I’ve played in the beginning of every semester at college.

The events of the past two weeks are swirling around in my head and everytime I try to write them down, I end up rambling. Like I’m doing right now.

My parents have been asking me to “find a nice Indian boy” since I graduated college. For two years, I put them off and romanced Dan. Loved him. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, I rebelled in every single way I could think of. I used my job as an excuse and went on dates with him. Movies, dinners, and “business trips” on weekends – I did what I could to steal away and live with him in our own little fantasy world.

Then it all just came crashing down so fast and one night when my parents were asking me, as usual, when I would find them a nice Indian guy, I just snapped.

He broke up with me. I cried and cried until all I had left was no willpower or desire. I told them to introduce me to one themselves if they were in such a hurry.

Clearly, they wasted no time and I found myself at Starbucks awkwardly drinking iced coffee with Jay that same week.

Damn, Indian parents move fast. It’s as if they’ve already planned shit out for you and just need you to trigger them so they can put their plan into motion. I was safe when my heart was enamored with Dan. I was strong and resisted and happy with my independence.

Then, I broke my own heart and gave them the push they were waiting for. I practically pranced right into this situation.

I’ve got nobody to blame but myself.

I’m coming to this blog now because if I don’t pen my thoughts I am probably going to spontaneously combust in rage. Suffocate in my own trapped fumes of anger. I don’t even know where to begin and what words to use that could possibly convey how I am shaking with rage as I write.
I have just walked away from overhearing my father discuss Jay and I as though we were a business distraction. Just fuckin great.

What an age-old story come to life. Jay’s father and mine planned our meeting for the future good of our families. Marriage is just some TOOL to them. What about our hearts? They don’t even give a shit about that.

“Marriage is compromise and adjustment. Look at your father and I. It’s been 25 years and we’re still together. These white people think they know all about love, until they get divorced. On top of that, they’re so besharam that they just go and get married again. What kind of love is that?”

I suppose if that’s how my mom rationalized it to herself all those years ago and it worked for her, she’s about as happy as she could be.

But I, for one, can’t imagine a life where we live together for so long without loving each other passionately, rather than just reproduction by copulation…

BUT ANYWAY back to why I am so angry – it’s nothing as drastic and ridiculous as dowry, because thankfully, our parents’ views have liberalized enough to the point of finding that idea antiquated.

I heard my dad ask somebody how soon we could expect to see the business merge. Then I hear him laugh about how “of course they’ll stay together and have kids, we’re giving them time to get to know each other right?” and guessed at who was on the other side.

THEN, they have the audacity to look me in the eyes like nothing is wrong and they aren’t ripping my heart apart and laugh as if I have told a very funny joke when I snap and yell that they might as well sell me off to the highest bidder.

I want to call Dan so badly and rant to him, but he will probably just shake his head sadly and wonder why I don’t have the strength to just say no.

I wonder all the time why I am talking to Jay at all but I remember how I can never be with Dan because in the end, my love for my family is tying me down to this arranged marriage.

See, if I say no to Jay, their family will play it off like there is something wrong with me. My father will be shamed and of course, as my mom constantly reminds me, “what will society think?”

Indian parents are all about that. What will society think?

What about your daughter’s heart?

—-

It’s been 4 weeks (and one day) since Dan broke up with me.

It’s been 3 weeks (and two days) since I first met Jay. After our first meeting at Starbucks, he took me out to dinner. It was something fancier and his sister tagged along, almost like a chaperone.

I complained to my mother and all she told me was, “People talk. You get married, then do whatever you want.”

So we endure the supervised dating for a little longer. I’m falling behind in blogging about all of this, so it’s time to play a little catch up.

I met Jay for coffee, and the conversation started out awkward. Then, like I just said, we took his sister out to dinner but after dropping her off at home, he asked me if I would like to go watch a movie the next day. I said yes but only because the way he suggested it was so cute – he told me to make up an excuse and meet him at the theater around noon.

It brought me back to the days when Dan and I used to do the same exact thing, and for some reason, the fact that he did the same thing as Dan had done, and that I had loved Dan just resonated with me. I don’t know if likening Dan and Jay or comparing them is the right thing to do, but I can’t help it. I wanted Dan. I wanted to marry him.

So if Jay is like him in these small little things, maybe that’ll make life a little more bearable?

3 weeks and 3 days since I met Jay now. Our parents are getting antsy. We have been talking to each other more and more. I don’t know whether it is from necessity or because he is genuinely interested in me.

He hasn’t rejected me yet. My father came up to my room last night, sat down at the edge of my bed, and just sighed.

Like he is disappointed or maybe even sad?

He asked me – “Is there somebody else, beta? You can tell us everything.”

But that’s always been the problem. I cannot tell them anything. I can’t tell them I have tasted alcohol, I have had a boyfriend, and I have lost my virginity. I cannot tell him that I have loved a man. And, because I don’t want to be ostracized, I definitely can’t tell him that the man I love is not Indian.

And you know what makes me cry isn’t that I can’t talk to him. It is that the reason I can’t tell him any of my reality is because I still love him and I know that telling him all of that would just break his heart. How can I tell my dad everything if I know he will forever feel that I have shamed him.

No matter how much they love me, Indian “society” is cruel. They judge and gossip and if I tell him anything, he will never hold his head up high like he should. It is ingrained in their minds that what I have done is shameful. So I can’t tell him anything.

There is never a choice. In anything. In their eyes, I have lived by the book, and that’s how it has to stay.

I caved. I gave in. I can’t hurt my parents so I’ll just hurt my dreams instead. No, I’ll just try to build new ones around my new reality.

I don’t know what I will do. My words from last night are still resonating in my head.

“Okay ma, I’ll do it.”

Jay is the reason I tipped over the edge. Last night he called me and I think you guys need to hear this. Maybe I just need to write it out so I can process. Explain myself to my readers.

“Hey, how are you?” he said as I called him last night. “It’s late, are you okay?”

It was only 11 at night, but I guess that’s the latest I’ve called him so far.

“Yeah, just wanted to talk to you.”

“Uh oh, you gonna break up with me? Over the phone? Ow.”

“Uhh no, not exactly. You would have had to ask me out first for that.”

A pause. “What’s wrong?”

“Why are you still talking to me Jay? It’s a setup. You and I both know that we aren’t the arranged marriage type but here we are. It’s been almost a month and neither of us have said no. We’re still talking. Why?”

Another pause. “You’re not crazy.”

“Excuse me?”

“You’re not crazy. I think we’ve got the same reasons. You love your family?”

“Yeah.”

“Me too.”

“Is it that simple? We barely know each other.”

He laughed at that before saying “Well that’s why it’s called an arranged marriage.”

Another pause. I briefly frowned at how long this guy took to get his thoughts out before he added “Besides, you’re the least crazy girl my parents have introduced me to yet.”

I hung up at that, annoyed that he hadn’t told me that he’d been introduced to other girls before.

A few things hit me that night. Aside from the fact that he was right, he wasn’t crazy, he didn’t get on my nerves yet, and I was jealous he had met other girls.

It’s like everything is accelerated because we are forced into a situation where we know where the end result isn’t just a boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s a life partner.

I thought I needed a lot more time to overcome my feelings for my ex-boyfriend. I guess that maybe if I talk to Jay about it, we can overcome that obstacle together?

So I’ve said yes. AHH. What am I getting myself into?

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NaNoWriMo Day 1

I don’t know where else to turn, so I will rely on the anonymity of the internet and the chance of gaining an online support group of readers who will help me soldier through this really weird period of my life. You don’t really need to know me – only that I’m 23 and about to make the craziest decision of my life.

No, I’m not about to quit my job and backpack through Europe or streak around the block…twice.

What I’m doing is probably much crazier. I’m about to accept an arranged marriage. I’m about to marry Jay, the man my parents picked out for me, and I’m about to convince myself that somehow, we will find love at the end of all of this.

Arranged marriage is a weird concept and very scary as a girl who was born and raised in the United States. As somebody who went to a very liberal university in New York City, I still cannot believe that I am going to allow my parents to make the biggest decision in my life thus far rather than try to blunder about until I find my man by myself.

Part of me is excited by the challenge of an arranged marriage, and part of me is revolted that I am feeling this excitement at all.

Mostly, I am just trying to reason through why I am saying yes, and explain myself to my friends and family. I don’t want to become bitter and resentful before I even give marriage a chance, although I admit that I feel as though I am giving up on love by saying yes to Jay.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with him – that’s not the problem. The problem is just that we don’t love each other, and I don’t know if marrying a man I don’t love will ever work out.
I wish that I could live out our possible futures in a dream and then pick the best possible path to happiness. I think Sabrina was lucky enough to have that chance in one episode of Sabrina The Teenage Witch. I think I am rambling.

The first time I met Jay was sufficiently awkward enough to convince me that I was right in despising arranged marriage. I think I was skeptical because I have kept so much of my life hidden from my parents that I don’t expect them to know what kind of man I can see myself with. They’re sheltered, you see, and what they don’t know won’t really hurt them. I don’t kiss and tell. (Except on this blog, and I’m going to enjoy the anonymity and blog away)

—-

I’m going to try to remember as much of our first conversation as I can.

“Hey, it’s nice to meet you,” I said to the guy as he slid into the seat across from me. We were at a Starbucks in the city located geographically in between my office and his.

“I’m Jay.”

“Yeah, I know. Hi, what’s up?”

I could already tell it would be awkward. We’d spoken on the phone once before when setting up this meeting and then texted earlier today already to make sure we were going to the right Starbucks. Clearly, he was Jay.

“Trust me, this is weird for me too,” I said to him.

“Oh. Yeah, I don’t often meet prospective wives either. Talk about pressure”

“So you mean you’ve met other prospectives before? Should I be flattered I’m getting a chance?”

He smiled a little and then the silence stretched on uncomfortably.

“So what do you want to drink?”

“I’ll take an iced coffee. Love the smell, can’t stand the taste. Of hot coffee, I mean”

“I’m basically addicted to coffee so as long as you don’t mind the smell, we’re cool.”

Then we settled into another silence as we contemplated what it could possibly mean that our first conversation was about whether we liked the smell of coffee or not.

A minute later, he got up to go order our coffees and I sat there mentally running through my checklist. The fact that he didn’t have an Indian accent was the most relieving part of my day.
“I’m sorry, this is really weird for me,” he says to me when he returns with our coffees. I made a face and shrugged. It was a weird situation, period. We just had to make the most of it.

“So pretend that this is our first date then. We met at a party last week and exchanged numbers. And now here we are.”

That’s what broke the ice – it was something we could both relate to because we’d both grown up here and it was a more comfortable introduction than a contrived meeting to discuss if we were compatible for marriage.

I won’t bore you with all of the details, but I think the beginning of that conversation was worth blogging about. Something to look back on and laugh at? Maybe despair over. Not sure yet.
So yeah, coffee. He loves drinking it, and I love smelling it. So far, so good.

I have this list of questions I wrote in High School when my parents threatened to marry me off to a guy from India if I didn’t get into a good college. It had been a joke, but I wanted to be prepared.

1. How many kids do you want?
2. Do you smoke?
3. What’s your opinion on women who drink?
4. Are you a virgin? (Probably NOT a good idea to ask this one at our first meeting unless I really want to scare him away)
5. Do you like to dance?
6. Are you a morning person!?
7. Favorite food? Cuisine?
8. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
9. Do you like to travel? (He had better answer yes to this one)
10. Pets?
11. Have you ever had a girlfriend?
12. Ass or titties? (Okay this one was mostly just for fun. Maybe a good test of his sense of humor?)
13. How religious are you
14. Do you like long drives?
15. How athletic or into sports are you?

When I was younger, I thought that list was a good rundown of the basics. The simple questions that I didn’t want to come later as a surprise, and the small things that I know I wanted in the perfect life partner that I fantasized about.

It’s strange because I made this list right after I went with my cousin to meet a girl our parents had picked out for him. “She comes from a good family, beta,” they told us both over and over. I was skeptical and I’m sure it showed on my face when I first met her. They had exchanged pictures before and were meeting in person for the first time today. With the whole family in tow.

I am so thankful that my first time meeting Jay wasn’t my first time meeting his whole family as well. I’d have blown it for sure.

See, I write things like that and wonder why I am trying to please them all. My parents, his parents, and him. Why should I care? Why didn’t part of me choose to rebel and dress in really repellant clothing and eat a lot of garlic before meeting him?

“I’m American,” I tell myself over and over. Growing up, that is how I have justified all of my unique thoughts. So now, when I could have easily worked myself out of an arranged marriage, why am I even contemplating marrying this man?

—-

I have thought some more about what I wrote earlier and tried to figure out why I am okay with arranged marriage.

I think it is time to introduce my readers to Dan. Dan is the ex-boyfriend. The first serious relationship I had with a man.

We broke up when I realized I loved him.

In a word, Dan was perfect. How can I go from loving perfection to loving anything else? He is my first everything, and no matter what happens, I cannot imagine a plane of existence where I will not be powerfully attracted to him.

But we broke up because he’s not Indian, and I realized that as fun and amazing and spectacular as our relationship was, I could never let it deepen into anything more because my parents didn’t even know he existed.

If you are wondering how one can possibly hide a five year relationship, just ask a brown girl.

There is no Hindi word for “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” For too long, Indian society has gone on pretending that it’s still alright for the community to play matchmaker, and honestly, I am sick of it.

I used to wonder what reasons there could possibly exist that would allow an educated Indian girl in today’s society to accept that age-old destiny and enter an arranged marriage.

Whenever Dan and I spoke about it, I would tell him I would never be one of those dumb girls without any ambition or desires of their own.

I still don’t think I am one of those girls, but I have found a reason nonetheless. That’s why I’m here in this predicament, blogging about how I might possibly be marrying a guy I don’t know. Clearly.

The reason is family. It’s an extremely unfair reason, but if I had to show you how compelling it was, I’d say envision all of the emotional blackmail, peer pressure, guilt, persuasive arguments, and bribes you have ever seen, and add them all up. Then throw in a really cute puppy for good measure.

My family is something that I have grown into and am inseparable from. I have a large family with many cousins, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, and elders. They have been there to give me life, love, advice, friendship, gifts, and wisdom.

If marrying an Indian man is the only way to sustain that family, then that is a small sacrifice to pay. Who am I to be so picky and declare that I won’t marry an Indian man.

I think that when I began dating Dan, it was to rebel against them and try to declare my independence in some contrived way. My own personal secret. But our relationship didn’t just end in a few months, and now trying to imagine a life without him is really, really hard too.

The problem is that I can’t just forget him. He didn’t cheat on me, and we didn’t have a really big argument that brought out any irreconcilable differences.

I am the problem. My ethnicity and the family that raised me is the problem. I love them, and that’s a problem.

Because the way I see it, I can never tell them about him. I can’t keep my love at the expense of breaking all of their hearts. So I broke off my relationship with him before we would get hurt anymore and now I will weep and grieve and mend in time.

Arranged

Arranged

I have found that there aren’t many easy ways to explain arranged marriage to my 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 only 23” as if these thoughts hadn’t gone through my head already. Then, they gave me sympathetic looks 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 voices so they won’t be overheard. And while they are doing all of that, they tell us in simpering sweet tones that they are just doing what is best for us and would we please stop teaching them how to be parents.
July 23, 2011 –

“Hey, it’s nice to meet you.” I said to the guy as he sat across from me at the café.

“I’m Jay.”

“Yeah. Hi. What’s up?”

“Trust me, this is weird for me too.”

“Oh. Yeah, 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. Love the smell, can’t stand the taste. Of hot coffee, I mean.”

“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 Indian 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.

“Right,” he said.

The waiter came to our table and he ordered two coffees, one iced with milk and sugar. He looked over quickly at me while placing the order, but before he could affirm, I nodded and said, “Yeah, milk and sugar please.”

This wasn’t a date, because Indians don’t date. At least, the good ones don’t. There is no word for “boyfriend” in Hindi. I told my mother that Jay and I were going to talk to each other and get coffee, and she agreed enthusiastically. Probably because the plan to meet over coffee had been the combined idea of our mothers anyway. As I had been 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.” She only used terms of endearment when she knew I was going to hate what came after, and this was one thing that I was really and truly dreading.

They still never called it a date. It wasn’t a date. We were just getting to “understand” each other, as my dad told me before handing me the car keys.

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 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.

If Dan 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.

Our tikka (tick-a) ceremony was completed that night. My mom procured gifts for the family out of thin air and just like that, I was off the market. I felt pathetic – I had only lasted three weeks.

August 20, 2011

The reality was sinking in, and the nights were getting chilly. Jay and I met each other for the first time exactly one month ago. I wasn’t happy, but my upbringing was forcing me to think optimistically. The rationalizations were killing me but they were better than the burning frustration the rebellious thoughts came with.

They wanted what was best for me. He was good. He grew up here, didn’t have an accent. We had both fucked somebody else already.

The mental list in my head was trying its best to expand. Reasons why Jay and I getting married might not be so bad.

I laughed as I thought about how it took me only 21 days to meet and agree to marry Jay. Just three weeks. My laughter was hollow as I contemplated just how defeated and desperate I must have felt to say yes to arranged marriage and give up a chance at love. “You’ll grow to love him. It’s better that way,” my mom told me, but growing up in America, I simply couldn’t believe that. There was just no way.

My parents’ marriage was arranged. All of their siblings entered arranged marriages too. Stepping down to my own generation, many of my older cousins had married the people they met through family. I had grown up thinking I would break that expectation, smash the tradition and meet the man of my dreams. He would sweep me away and family be damned, I’d marry somebody I loved with all of my heart.

But then, my parents asked me if I would marry Jay and I thought about life without any of my family. That’s why I said yes. It wasn’t because I thought we would make a good couple, but I knew that marrying Jay would mean that I would get to keep the rest of my family, and I loved them more than I loved my own heart’s desires.

Their timing was impeccable. I was vulnerable, bitter, and jaded. I felt like I could blame my parents if our marriage failed. It added a layer of defense, and I ensconced myself in thoughts like these and tried to tell myself that everything would be their fault.

September 3, 2011

Today was supposed to be a really exciting day – it was our engagement. Our mangni (mung-knee). I was dolled up in a new outfit, one of the twenty new ones we had picked out and had custom-tailored for my wedding. This one – a lengha – was an elaborate affair of teals and purples, my two favorite colors combined. There was gold needlework all along the blouse and the long, flowing skirt had splashes of gold-rimmed mirrors sewn onto an elaborate arrangement of flowing layers of teal and purple material.

The excitement of the wedding was getting to me – I had grown up enjoying so many of them, although this one was dampened by my perspective of being on the other side. I couldn’t help but think back to the engagements of my past, where I had dressed up, whirled around the dance floor all night, and enjoyed the buffet and Indian music. They really were joyous occasions, and as engagements go, this was supposed to be the ultimate one. It was my own engagement and I was surrounded by happy friends and overjoyed family and the pure joy on their faces overruled my heart’s doubts for tonight. I was glowing like a bride-to-be and swept away along with their visions of my perfect wedding.
I was starting to warm up to the idea and Jay and I were making the most of it. Having spent practically every single day since we met with him somehow, we were really getting to “understand” each other. We got along, and he helped me plan out all of the little details of our rushed wedding, which is more than I can say for some star-crossed lovers. We had a mutual understanding developing – I can see why my parents had phrased it that way now. He tolerated my friends, and I tolerated his, though the two circles hadn’t really meshed together yet. No matter, after our mangni, we had many more weeks of festivities before our wedding.

I hadn’t touched alcohol since we were promised to one another, because Jay didn’t like it. I also didn’t want to risk the entire house falling apart if he mentioned it to my parents or it came up in an argument. There are some things a lady must never tell, and there was no point stopping the inevitable now. We were getting married. And marriage was compromise.

If you had asked me when my next free weekend was, I would have had to ask you to come back to me next year.

December 17, 2011

Dance. Fireworks. Joy?

It was our shaadi! Jay and I sat next to each other in the wedding altar. I shifted uncomfortably and tried to stop my legs from falling asleep and he poked me playfully. Behind the sehra hiding his face from me, I could see him raise an eyebrow, a gesture I now knew meant he was asking me if I was alright while simultaneously implying that he found my discomfort amusing. I was surprised we knew each other so well already. It hadn’t even been six months but I could see us together.

I mean, I couldn’t see myself with anybody else. And that was a huge improvement in my condition when I first found out that I was going to be told who to marry. Briefly, my attention wandered as I thought about whether my parents had found out about Dan and I. Maybe that had fueled them into finding me an appropriate groom?
I was snapped out of my reverie with another poke on the side. Now he looked a little bit mad, but honestly, this part of the wedding is boring. I’d been sitting here for three hours now listening to the priest drone on and on, explaining my marital duties as a wife and as a woman. I couldn’t help but feel sleepy, and the thirty pounds of lengha, jewelry, and accessories I was bedazzled in weren’t helping my frame any.

These were the ugly realities that I had been oblivious to when I attended weddings growing up. I never really thought about being in the bride’s shoes. They were uncomfortable, and I caught myself before I sighed out loud and annoyed Jay even more. The mutual suffering was sure to create some memories we could bond over later. Most of my guests were wining, dining, and dancing. The only people who sat around the altar for this part were the immediate family; everybody else was happily eating and talking quietly amongst themselves. The older aunties were eying my friends, and I could see them mentally sizing everybody up and making more matches in their heads. Thinking things like “Oh she’s the perfect height for him” and “Look at her manners, bringing her parents food before getting any for herself.”

As much as I was enjoying the decor, the dress, and the food, the fact remains that I was about to marry a man who I barely knew. Of course, the past six months had helped and we were certain we wouldn’t kill each other, I didn’t know whether he snored at night, or if he was better at waking up in the morning than I was. The things that mattered were still a mystery, and although the little girl in me found a sadistic appeal in the uncertainty, the mature romantic in me was still trembling with trepidation. I was fighting my natural impulses with my inbred ones, and trying to sort out the inner turmoil.

The priest was still droning on, though it seemed as though he might be approaching the end of his speech – he was now gesturing at us with wild hand motions, and I looked sheepishly at Jay, afraid I had been caught again. He was still staring devoutly at the priest, but before I could poke him, his sister reached over for my hand and placed my left hand over his right. This would probably be the most prolonged physical contact we had ever had.

I tried better to pay attention to what was going on and I felt Jay swirling his thumb around my knuckles. I wasn’t sure if the gesture was absentminded, but I liked it.

February 14, 2012

“Jay, really? Pick up the damn dishes for once in your life,” I yelled.

“Sorry babe. I’ll get them, just leave em there,” he said.

“Fine.”

I turned away from the dining table toward the dishes in the kitchen and walked right into him. I stepped back and glared at him, mad that our first Valentine’s Day together as a couple was complete shit compared to the ones I had fantasized about. No breakfast in bed, no romantic movie, and no kisses. He was a complete bore. I guess that’s what growing up in business did to him.

“Well, it’s Valentine’s Day. So…so happy valentine’s day?” he said.

“Why do you say it like it’s a question?”

“It is though isn’t it? Are you happy? Are we?”

“I see a pile of dishes in the sink, I haven’t properly cleaned the house in a week, and there were no chocolates on my bed this morning. So yeah, I’m pretty unhappy.”

“Here, let’s stop arguing. Happy Valentine’s Day. I’ll do the dishes and make tea, you go sit on the couch and find a movie to watch or something”

“Kay, bring popcorn”

It was a different kind of Valentine’s day, but like two roommates faced with the knowledge that they couldn’t live apart, we really were trying to make the most of it. It wasn’t love, and I was still torn up about it, but he was beginning to be comfortable and dependent, which is what my parents might have wanted for me after all.

The mysteries were beginning to unravel at last. He only snored at night if he ate something right before bed, and I snored when I was really tired – an embarrassing fact that he still hadn’t quit teasing me about. And I knew he woke up early in the mornings because by the time I got out of bed, the shower was cold and he had coffee ready on the table for us both. So it was a good partnership. We had the teamwork thing down, now it was the relationship that we needed to build.

When he came into the living room, he brought the tea, but also brought me flowers, chocolates, and a note as well. A rare glimpse into his heart, it read:

I know our romance wasn’t ideal,
But our relationship and marriage is real.
Please keep believing that it will work –
You may not have fallen in love with me,
But I know that we can love each other.

March 15, 2012

I had just finished telling Jay how my best friend and I had mixed up The March of Ides with the Ides of March in high school, and how I had never been able to remember which one was right ever since when he leaned over and kissed me on my lips for the first time – it’s the kind of fact that you know you’ll never forget, and I filed it away in my mind right next to “almost falling asleep at my own wedding” and “accidentally pushing Jay off the bed on our first night as a couple.”

There were no fireworks, and I wasn’t tempted to kick up one of my stiletto’d feet like they do in the movies. But it was nice and it felt right. When I pulled away, I was blushing as though he’d kissed me goodbye at the front porch after our first date. I guess that’s the day our courtship really began.

——————-
I’m copy and pasting this from my Google drive, I’ll fix formatting issues in a bit

Arranged Disaster – Part 3 {{Sim}}

Sim had gone to college, and he had a degree: a bachelor of arts, or something like that. At any rate, this meant he knew enough English that everybody in the village went to him for their translations. Sim didn’t mind, but he did wish that more of the village’s young children aspired to go to college. Education was becoming increasingly important, as anybody who stepped out of the village would rather abruptly come to know.

But still, he could not complain much, because his unofficial role as the village translator allowed him sneaky glance s into everybody’s lives. He came to know tidbits of information which otherwise were obscured within complex family history. He came to know about the troubles, and successes, of cousins and relatives gone overseas. He came to know about the downfall of eager young villagers who had set off to Bollywood, aspiring to become famous and bring some respect to their small hometown. Overall, it was not a bad job. He peeled open a banana, ripe for one day too long, and reflected upon his life. He had gotten into a government college with a scholarship that covered all of his tuition and housing. He had snatched up the opportunity and made the most of it, graduating, as his parents proudly put it, “top of his class” and receiving the first Bachelor’s degree in the village. But then he had come back and, as was his duty, taken care of his parents. He helped the villagers translate their news, and taught English to other villagers – anybody who wanted to learn – but had no job. He was paid not with rupees, but with fruits of labor. Sometimes, he received bananas, and other times, milk freshly squeezed from a villager’s cow. The work may not have made him rich, but he was loved around town and the gifts brought to him were enough to sustain him quite comfortably.

As he pondered all these things and ate his banana, one of his closest friends came running down the small alley with a note in his hand. He looked excited. He watched as his friend bounded into the living room and, without so much as an introduction, placed the note down on the table and said “Isko mere liye angreji me padh yaar” (Dude, read this to me in English please?) He could guess who it was from – everybody in the village had noticed the love struck actions of his silly friend. He picked up the note, laughing and teasing his friend the entire time, and began to read to himself. Since the note was in English, he read it first to himself, so that he could translate it without losing its meaning. As he read it, he couldn’t help but grin, and his smile only grew wider as he read more of the note. Finally, relenting to his friend’s anxious pacing, he told him what the note said. It was actually a poem, some beautiful lines of verse. In it, she had explained the constraints of their relationship, and she hinted at her unwillingness to break away from social norms by herself to pursue her love for him. She was afraid, and sure that a rash and dangerous decision on her part could bring death upon both of them. However, she told him that, if she was worthy of it, he should never stop trying to get her. One day, she would be his. That is what the note said.

Arranged Disaster – Part 2 {{The Note}}

He would travel to the other end of the village every night, timing it so that his arrival there was just moments prior to her own escape onto the balcony for her daily tea. His heart, racing in anxiety throughout the day, would finally find its calm when he rested his eyes upon her, his love. She would sit on her flimsy rocking chair on the balcony and sip her tea quietly, all the while writing what he had, at first, thought to be a journal. As he continued to present himself though, she became bolder as well, and after much thought, allowed one of the written pages to slip through her fingers, fluttering down onto the dingy street. He leapt up, and she saw his face light up with unabashed ecstasy. This would be her first token of acknowledgment, and he promised himself he would cherish this piece of paper until he died. He caressed the sheet, feeling its texture, knowing from a single glance that it was high quality. And as her note raised his spirits, the realization of its futility shot him down. He battled with himself – reading the note would bring him that much closer to the inevitable brink of his destruction. She was above him in every manner – she was more graceful, more beautiful, and wealthier– and his love was going to lead to nothing but heartbreak. Deep down, he knew that, but still, he opened the note.

She had written a little verse, four lines of simple poetry. Her English flowed perfectly, and her letters were written with no hesitation. She knew better English than he did, but that, again, wasn’t going to stop him. He carefully folded up the note and set off for his friend’s house.

Arranged Disaster – Part 1

He was just having fun with his friends when he first saw her. He had been riding down the dirt path on his bicycle, and he suddenly stopped, causing the posse behind him to complain as they slammed their own brakes. He got up, swaggered to the poor rickshaw driver, and snatched up an air pump.

No explanations, no questions. He grabbed the pump and walked back toward his bicycle, ignoring the protests of the unworthy man behind him.

“But sahib, my passenger is in a hurry, and I must repair my tires before they can go any farther.” He plead fervently, because if she found another rickshaw to take for the rest of her journey, he would lose the RS. 10, and with it, break his promise to his son. His son had been craving chocolate for weeks now, but every time, he had to come home ashamed, with just enough money to make ends meet, if that. There 10 rupees would leave him enough room to buy a piece of candy. The rickshaw driver sighed, defeated and helpless.

She averted her eyes, looking down at the ground. Her long hair hung down her back in a simple braid. Her face was free of makeup, and she had on plain solid colored garments. But there was something about the beauty of her village charm that stopped him – he stopped in his tracks, muttering an excuse about not having been in as much of a hurry as he had thought, and handed the pump back to the rickshaw driver.

He was in love. Love at first sight – it didn’t exist in that village. Marriages were arranged, keeping in mind family politics and society standings. But he didn’t even know her name. He just knew that he loved her. He waited until the rickshaw had been repaired, and then, hooting and hollering with his group, he chased after it. The girl did not look up. The unnamed beauty of his dreams tried her best to ignore what she knew was happening. Her cheeks burned, not with desire, but with embarrassment. She was glad her younger brother was not with her. “What would my parents say if they saw this? I should just die from the humiliation right now. The entire village will find out, and I will never step out of my house again. I’m doomed.”

All that, because of a glance. But the boy, too, was aggressive. He saw her everywhere after then, not that it was difficult to do in their small village. He was not stalking her, persay – he was merely protecting her from the evil eyes of all the other eligible men. She was his.

He followed her into the shop. He felt that she looked very adorable buying vegetables. Such a simple task it was, but she did it with such grace and beauty, casually pushing her long braided hair back as it slid forward, caressing her nape gently as it did so. Little by little, the girl was growing accustomed to him. She was beginning to enjoy the attention he gave her – she enjoyed being doted upon. Growing up as a female in that small village in India was not easy. To live there was to live in a time long gone from modern civilization. It was a simpler life, yes, but in some ways, a richer and more vibrant one. Hand pumps pumped water out for daily use, and showerheads were unheard of – the only practical way with which one could bathe him or herself was by using a bucket and a pail. The outfits too were different – unmarried young girls wore simple garments so as not to attract unwarranted attraction, and were discouraged from flaunting their body around the town. They stepped out to do household chores and other such respectable jobs: buying vegetables being one of them.

Till Death Do Us Part – 6

"The scene slowly unfolds as the lights begin to fade into darkness.
Suddenly, there is a bright spotlight on a certain Mr. Richard Desmond, distraught and pale, shuffling his papers."

Richard Desmond’s (Evandra’s father) POV

(thinking out loud)
…Gabrielle left that bundle of papers for Evandra to open once she found out about the arranged marriage. Where has it gone, where could it be!? If I don’t give them to her myself, all hell may break loose. And now she’s run off to her little treehouse with Aiden. It’s as though she’s regressing into childhood memories to avoid what is now inevitable. Marry they must, and she has to understand this. She has to, there’s simply no other opt—what was that noise!?

But there was no response. I got up and walked over to the office entryway, where I could peek out at the entrance just fast enough to get a peek of Evandra’s outfit as it flashed by on the way to her room. I had no idea what that girl was planning. None whatsoever. I’d have to go deal with that once I found my bundle I suppose. Ahh, yes, the bundle. That’s what I was doing….

But now, back to Evandra’s POV. And on with the story, because Mr. Desmond’s ramblings may never cease

Evandra’s POV

I ran into the house, racing up to my room. I could beat that lazy Aiden any day. I ran up and grabbed the white board and marker I conveniently kept right by my desk. Quickly writing out "I WIN!" in big bold letters, I ran to the window and, panting, held up the sign with a smug expression on my face. I always won. ALWAYS.

True to my word, 5 seconds later, Aiden showed up, sporting his usual sad face and a matching sign that, of course, permanently said "I lost…again."

I blew him a kiss and pulled out a suitcase, thought better of it, and put it away, going downstairs to dad’s office to tell him about what I wished to do. Aiden was probably doing the same over at his place.

"Father," I said as I opened the door to the study, "I have an idea. Since you seem so adamant that I marry Aiden, we both feel that we need to get to know each other more first. We’ve been best friends, but I don’t think we’ve ever looked at each other through the eyes of a lover. I want to know how the two of us would interact together, and for that, I wanted to ask for your permission to do something." I knew my father wasn’t going to interrupt, so I continued right on. "Aiden and I wanted to go camping for a few days. Actually, I want to see if I can put up with him for so long without going crazy, but I’m sure if I tell you it’s a good bonding experience, you’d have to agree!"

****will continue this post when I get home from work. I’m not done with part 6 yet, but I don’t want to lose my work thus far, and I’ll probably finish the update at home, so yeah