Its supposed to be the moment when you’re dying, when your whole life moves before your eyes in a flash. I wasn’t dying. I was fully, completely alive. And I was going to bring new life into this world. And yet, I was experiencing that moment.
The only reason I got married so early was because I was in love with this man. Correction. I was head over heels in love with this man. For him, I had turned my life upside down and shaken it up. Just to be with him.
Now, if you’re reading this and you’re not an Indian, you won’t be able to comprehend. Everybody gets married because they have fallen in love, right? Not so in India.
Here a ‘love marriage’ is an aberration. Something you need to hide or your parents will be sneered at. Here, people marry for their parents’ happiness. Or money. Or prestige. Or to bring forth thorough-bred offspring. Or if they were busy bachelors incapable of cleaning and cooking for themselves–then they get themselves a cleaning and cooking maid, one that they can legally have sex with and who would raise their children, all for free.
So believe you me when I tell you that this love marriage thing was no piece of cake. Everyone told me I would regret this. But I knew I wouldn’t. And I didn’t.
I was truly, really happily married. Every morning I would wake up, watch his sleeping face and feel an overwhelming mixture of thrill and serenity , all at once. I couldn’t just get over the fact that I had him. Here, before me, in my arms. I had every thing I wanted.
“You know I never feel like we’re married,” Sajjad would often tell me. ” It’s just as if we’re a live-in couple!” he would exclaim with wonder. We had heard all the marriage jokes and none of them applied to us. We were in our own private paradise.
I suppose that was because we respected each other as individuals, and never really expected each other to perform the “husband-wife duties”. Or if we did, we never took these for granted. I mean, what the hell, we literally said sweet thank you’s to each other for the littlest chore done. My entire life revolved around this man and being able to spend the maximum time with him.
All my life, from the time I was 12, I had been known as the super ambitious, super-competitive feminist. Everybody thought I would sacrifice anything for my career. But there was something more important to me than even my career.
Yes, I loved my job. Yes, I was crazy about being a journalist. But I could, and I did once, chuck it all up for him.
My biggest, greatest dream was to be with this man. To spend every second with him. To go on vacations round the world, to have romantic dinners, to watch movies together, to share silly, funny jokes, to go on long drives in the rain, to make love in every corner of the house. And I was doing it. I was living the dream.
I felt my dream slip from my fingers.