I was doing MA when I had my first encounter with a prospective bride. The curly-haired Sunita, whom I wanted to marry, was my classmate. She asked me to visit her parents and request the hand of their daughter in marriage.
The day of trial finally came after a long wait. My maternal uncle, who was not much elder to me, accompanied me as my guardian on this romantic trip. He was more than a ditto copy of me. I felt a sense of envy when he would apply the best cream on his face and wear a sophisticated cologne. These were luxuries to me. What pained me was that he looked more of a suitor than me.
As told by Sunita, we reached the house where the nameplate read "Dr...Sharma". With a trembling hand, I pressed the bell. Opening the gate, the maid asked, "Whom do you want to see?" "Miss Sunita," I replied enthusiastically. "Welcome! She has just gone to the market to bring sweets for some guests who are coming tonight." "Not tonight, today evening," my uncle corrected with a sense of eminent status, he being the guardian of a handsome suitor.
We kept waiting in the drawing room, but no one turned up. After an hour, a man in his 60s entered the drawing room. "Dr Sharma here," he said. Standing up respectfully, my uncle explained: "You know Dr sahib, this nephew of mine is the most talented boy in our area...we are here with a proposal...he loves your daughter Sunita...she is willing to marry him...your blessings alone can enable him to get her fair hand."
"What nonsense! Sunita is already married," the old man thundered with anger. We ran out of the house to save our skin only to find a fat, middle-aged Sunita at the gate walking towards us with a packet of sweets. How we would have savoured them had the situation been to our liking!
This misadventure proved contagious. Thus followed another trial! While proposing the second girl, I became a little fidgety. My prompt "yes" was followed by a frank "no". The blow was morally painful, but it gave me a wiser head on my shoulders.
I thus decided to be silent the next time. When the two ladies accompanying the prospective match asked for my opinion about the girl, I kept mum and simply nodded in approval. They rejected me, thinking I was dumb.
In my next match-finding exercise, my father didn't like to accept dowry. The girl's father rejected the proposal, thinking that "dishonouring" dowry would lower their family's status. Learning a lesson from it, my father asked for dowry in cash the next time, but the move turned counterproductive.
Dejected by such failures, I had dropped the idea of marriage when the unthinkable happened. Man proposes God disposes. After much resistance, I agreed to my parents' request to give it another go. I would have regretted it for life had I not. The moment I saw her, I knew she was the one. Even she liked me. When I blushed, she smiled and offered me burfi. Her etiquettes and smiling gestures gripped my heart. This daughter of a big landlord is my best friend for life.