Our third and decisive meeting in the arranged marriage process took place on 18thMay, 2008.
I saw my husband for the first time when he came to my house as a marital prospect. He sat in a perfect straight-spine posture; gave me a warm, close-mouthed yet wide smile- the kind you wouldn’t expect from a stranger. He was not a Brad Pitt lookalike and it was definitely not the cliché love-at-first-sight. When I asked him, what it was that he was looking for in his would-be bride, he was clear. “A good heart,” he said unlike my list of 2,918 characteristics in my prince-charming.
In our first two meetings, I subjected him to essay-type questions and he did justice to them by answering with vivid, thoughtful descriptions. I gave short and diplomatic answers to his questions, leaving them to his interpretation. This was not some evil strategy but my natural disposition towards inexpressiveness. At the end of two meetings, I was almost sure that he was a good human-being and that with him, life would be an interesting and evolving journey. I was still a sweet, harmless mystery to him.
A month later, we met on the 18th of May, 2008. We did not communicate during the period between the second and third date. This gave both of us some time to retrospect- for him to do his consultant sort of research and analysis (He was working with Boston Consulting Group) and for me to weigh costs against benefits (I had just completed my MBA, so I thought I might as well put theories into practice). All said and done, only a few issues needed to be clarified on both sides and if nothing went drastically wrong, it was probably going to be a yes-yes situation.
After half an hour of the ‘question and answer session,’ there was silence. Impatient as I am about getting “work” finished, I blurted out, “I am ok, if you are ok.” Again there was silence, this time a more awkward one. He was looking at me in amazement coupled with a grin. It was then that I realized I had actually proposed to him. He looked at his watch. It was 5:45 PM. How rude, I thought to myself. Why on earth was he not saying anything? Was he laughing at me? I was feeling stupid about my ‘brave’ act. After 10 minutes he said he was “honored”. Was it a euphemism for saying no, I thought? As the clock struck 6, he took out a ring from his jacket, knelt down on his knees and slipped it onto my right hand finger (then, neither of us knew that engagement ring is worn on the left hand- a mistake we corrected later).
I was expecting a ‘Will you marry me?’ only to realize I had already done the honors. He apologized for the wait and explained that his family believed in mahurat (holy time-window for doing important tasks) which began after 6 PM.
I liked him in our courtship for the irritatingly righteous person that he is but began to love him after we got married. He looked extensively into my study options at Harvard while we were in India preparing to come to the US four months later for his business school. He makes sure I eat enough protein every day. And he surprises me just to see my eyes sparkle.
Three months after our “official” wedding was our engagement anniversary. He had told me that he would have to go out of town for work. I was pissed at him. But I knew something was amiss when my in-laws insisted that I see him off at the airport. My suspicion grew stronger when the car passed the airport. After a couple of hours, we reached a palace hotel in Rajasthan. I was indulging in royalty-swimming in the pool attached to our room, being gifted with Swarovski ear-rings, and being served with seven-course dinner. And then he wished me, “Happy Anniversary, Darling.”
Somehow my husband knew I was thinking why celebrate our engagement day in such a lavish fashion. He said, “It was the day I married you in my mind.”
(I contributed this story to Chicken Soup for the Indian Bride's Soul also)