I have been tagged by ITW and this time it is an engagement story tag and that too my own. Well, be prepared for a disappointing account-no thrills here just the routine ‘girl seeing’ story. It was however made a little interesting by my uncle who negotiated on my mother’s behalf.
The story begins with a rejection of our proposal by a gentleman in Kumbakonam. He was a diamond merchant from Sri Lanka whose son was employed in Jalpaiguri. He corresponded with my uncle to the extent of writing that his son would abide by his decision and there was no need to have a formal girl seeing session. He offered to drop in casually for a peep at the girl and if all went well the wedding could be held between the 1st and 15thof June of the same year because that was the only time that his son could avail leave. My uncle insisted on seeing the boy and refused to entertain his request to have a casual ‘peep’ at me. Finally the gentleman backed out for some silly reason but his rejection made my uncle adamant that he would see to it that I got engaged if not married by the 15th of June and he started negotiations on a war footing!
Likewise my husband’s family had negotiated with quite a few families in Calcutta and Jamshedpur and when nothing materialized my mother in law sent my father in law to Chennai to stay there and ‘look’ for a suitable girl. He thus landed in Chennai with the sole intention of hunting for a bride for his son. My uncle advertised and my father in law responded with suitable references of people, some of whom were known to our family. I later came to know that other aspects being satisfactory, neither of them matched horoscopes thinking that the other person would do it. Finally my uncle invited the family to come over to see me.
Since my uncle lived in another town in Tamilnadu, I was blissfully unaware of these developments and had applied for admission to a B. Ed. As well as B. Lib. Course and was awaiting an admission offer from either of the colleges or both. So when a telegram announced that a family from Jamshedpur was expected to arrive to 'see' me, I was totally unprepared. It so happened that I got an admission offer on the very day these people decided to come over and I was hoping that even if I was engaged the family would let me do my B. Ed. For me, more than the career prospects, the thought of being allowed to continue at my mother’s place was reassuring.
The actual ‘girl seeing’ formality was neither exciting nor an eventful occasion to recall or remember. I remember feeling hot and waited for permission to change into some casual attire hoping that the trio would go away soon. But that was not to be. My uncle had guessed that my father in law would have short-listed more than one girl to see before asking his wife and son to come over from Jamshedpur. He was certainly not going to let them off easily. It was already June 10th and he had a point to prove. He requested my husband’s parents to convey their opinion immediately. My father in law was also not prepared for this. They had plans to visit another family and decide on the better of the two. However, this could not be disclosed. He started giving some excuse and from an inner room I was trying to figure out what was going on. My mother looked equally confused and I was beginning to enjoy the situation. My younger brothers, brats that they were, came in to give me a minute by minute account of the developments.
“The boy and his parents have been shifted to grandfather’s office.” They’d announce. Peeping from behind a half closed window they tried to get a first hand view of my future husband’s expression.
“The boy’s mother is trying to convince the father to say that they needed time to decide but the father seems unimpressed.” Was the next report.
“What about the boy?” I whispered. In my excitement about my uncle having cornered the boy’s family, it did not even strike me that no one bothered to ask me anything.
“The boy hardly talks” said my brother. “It is his parents who seem to be arguing.”
Finally in about half an hour the trio emerged and my future mother in law expressed her approval and came in to give me a warm hug. There was one more formality to be fulfilled. A formal engagement! The family priest was called and a suitable date around 3 weeks after the ‘girl seeing’ was decided upon and a small engagement ceremony took place within 2 hours of their arrival.
I could believe what had happened. I ought to have felt thrilled but I was more into a shock mood. My brothers had marked my husband’s height on the wall and made me stand by the side to see how short I was in comparison. Every one was excited but me. I tried to recall the face of my future husband but try as much as I might I could not. All I could think of was that I would be leaving my carefree life and going off to an unknown place among unknown faces. I had hoped that I’d be allowed to stay back and finish my B. Ed. I desperately prayed that my marriage be put off till January. “But why?” my mother asked. In 6 months time you will still have to leave. We don’t have a reason to give them." Marriage is a big gamble and in my case as in most cases, it paid off.
Sorry about getting sentimental. It was not my intention. Today we are a happy couple with a good rapport and it hardly matters whether horoscope matched or not. My husband teases me saying that the height mentioned in the advertisement was wrong by 2 inches and that he ought to have taken my measurement before saying yes. I try asking him what transpired between his parents and him in my grandfather’s office. He says that he could have escaped in tact only by saying ‘yes’ so there was no question of saying NO. It was a type of house arrest!
I recently crossed Jalpaiguri on my way to Darjeeling. I remembered the man whose refusal enabled me to marry the man in my life and realized that perhaps all things work together for good.