“I don’t think it will be easy for you beta(my child), think twice before stepping into this”, Supriya’s mother’s words were echoing in her mind over and over again. Especially after her daughter Ruhi was born things had changed a lot for her in the Malhotra house. What affected her the most was the indifference in the attitude of Ajit.
Ajit and Supriya had known each other for years, studied in the same school, they had literally grown up together. Even when Supriya went abroad for her higher education they were always in touch and even though neither of them had committed to each other expressly there were sparks in the atmosphere and their heart skipped a beat every time they saw each other’s name on their phone screen.
On the night of new year’s when the world was bidding good bye to 2011 and welcoming 2012 Ajit’s proposal was replied in an affirmation by an overexcited and happy Supriya. It seemed to be a scene from some fairy tale back then, after all how many were as lucky as she was to find love in her childhood friend.
Her parents were not as excited though. Her father had advised her against this decision of hers and her mother had told her to think twice. She really couldn’t relate as to why they couldn’t just be happy with it. There used to be hours of counselling by her mother and maasi (maternal aunt) as everyone knew that the Malhotra family had a different reputation in the locality. Hurling abuses were not considered bad by any of the family members and aggression was an ingrained part of their attitude. Sonu maasi told a tear eyed Supriya one day, “Bete shaadi do logo ka nahi, do parivaro ka milan hota hai,sirf akele ki khushi nahi dekhi jaati”.(Marriage is an association of two families and individual happiness should not be given priority over the family in such matters) Papa said “Ek bar jo is ghar se gai toh dekh lena sirf tumhari zimmedari hai, mudke aana nahi fir rote hue”, (Once you are married then it’s totally your responsibility to see it through, don’t ever come back to us crying over it)
Despite all the odds and advices Supriya had chosen to follow her heart and so on the 22nd of February, 2014 with the blessings and best wishes of the elders in the family Supriya and Ajit finally tied the knot. Everything was good initially and the glow of her inner happiness was remarkably visible on her face.Six months later as the good news was shared amongst the family members everyone was very excited and were eagerly awaiting to welcome the new member in the family. Mr. Malhotra said “Ensure she has almonds the first thing every morning, dekhna kitna tandurust pota hoga hamara”(Eating almond would ensure that the grandson born into the family would be healthy). On the day of the godbharayi rasam, a ritual conducted in the seventh month of pregnancy, in the presence of all the relatives and friends Supriya’s mother in law proudly said, “ it will be a grandson for sure, hamare gharo me betiyaan nahi hoti”( we don’t have daughters in our house) Both Supriya and her mother exchanged an uncomfortable and concerned look with each other on that. After all Supriya, Sujata and Kusum were three sisters in all. There was no brother in her house. At night while going to bed when Supriya shared the incident with Ajit instead of being supportive or understanding her concern he jokingly brushed away the topic saying, “it’s correct what Maa said, after all who will inherit all the property we have”
Supriya was surprised to hear that. Was this the same Ajit she was friends with for all these years?? On 3rd of May 2015 Ruhi, their cute and healthy daughter was born. It was a normal delivery and both Supriya and Ruhi were absolutely fine but more than their well being or the happiness of a baby being born there was lack of enthusiasm and excitement as if someone had failed to obtain the distinction in a paper or achieve the first place in the exams. Ajit too was behaving differently. Supriya was feeling restless and deeply hurt. Trying to reason with Ajit’s indifference was becoming difficult for her. Even though it was probably due to his family’s expectations of having a male grandchild yet how could my Ajit, the one who loved me to the moon and back be behaving like this. We are educated people, he does know that the gender of the child is not by choice then too why? Why is he being distant? She was trying her best to appear composed on the outside and hide her inner turmoil. There were a few tussles at home, some nagging and taunting but eventually everything settled and the family was kind of adjusted with the child but as soon as Ruhi was about to be two year old the family started expecting them to plan their next child as a grandson was yet to be born.
All this hassle in the house was upsetting Supriya a lot. These conversations were in fact affecting their personal relationship negatively. “Wasn’t a child to be born out of love more than a compulsion?” thought Supriya. What was changing in Ajit, he was nothing like this in our courtship days, our dating days were so much fun and filled with love, what had caused this change? During one of their arguments Ajit had rudely said “if only you would have given birth to a boy in the first place none of these issues would have arisen in our family, this is coming from your family, there are no boys there, it’s all your fault!” Supriya couldn’t believe her ears. She cried herself to sleep that night feeling as if she didn’t belong there, as if she was lying next to some stranger in the bed. The fights became a routine and even though poor Ruhi could not understand the reason or content of their arguments she would get startled and terrified by their loud voices.
Supriya had made up her mind, her decision was final that come what may she will not bend to this demand from Ajit or his family. Wiping off her tears she decided that one thing which she would not further compromise on was the self respect of herself and her daughter and she will ensure that her child’s social, physical and emotional well being is not played with by anyone. Ruhi was her priority. It was a tough call but the decision had to be made and so she did ! The very next morning she spoke to her in laws and Ajit on the breakfast table. “ I have decided that I will not have another child, Ruhi is more than enough for me”, said Supriya. Her mother in law angrily said, “this girl is bringing one inauspicious incident after the other in this house, just see how she speaks, I have decided it seems, who is she to decide??” “ There is no assurance of the gender of the second child we plan and neither of the third one which we will be forced to plan in case the second one turns out to be a girl child or the third or the fourth” retorted Supriya. Ajit and Supriya had a huge fight that night and to her surprise all that Ajit was complaining about was her attitude problem and lack of manners while addressing the elders in the family.
As years passed by and Ruhi grew up, Ajit’s aggressive attitude and indifference towards her increased and they never really bonded with each other as father and child. The distance between Ajit and Ruhi eventually creeped into the relationship that Supriya shared with Ajit and there was a permanent vacuum with which they learnt to co-exist. Supriya had got used to the heartache, her tears had stopped flowing and the love that she and Ajit once shared only became a distant memory. In a rather harsh way life had taught her that ‘love or arranged’ didn’t really make any difference to their marital status. After all only ‘love’ was never enough to make marriage a happy one. It required a lot more out of the two people who enter into this lifelong commitment, to sail together as life partners, through this journey which we call ‘life’.