Riya was sitting in the window seat of the bus as always, letting the cold morning wind whip her. This time though, she barely felt the wind’s cold hands cup her face. She did not eagerly follow the scenes that were always the same and always different. She did not admire the colorful collage of the closed shutters against the clear blue winter sky. She did not feel welcome over the freshly laid brown carpet of leaves. She did not marvel at the deft hands of the tea vendors busy in their morning chores. She did not enjoy feel grateful to embrace the orange warm rays of the sun. These days, she could have been in another world and wouldn’t have cared. She herself was in her own world – a cheerless world where she was all alone, misunderstood with nothing to look forward to.
She felt like a time bomb. Like an item stamped with an expiry date from the moment she was born. Her destiny was to be an unquestioning slave – first to her parents’ wishes and then to her husband’s demands. She was to be the ideal daughter – who abides by her parents’ choices for her with unquestioning and blind faith. She had to marry before it was too “late”. And she was to have no choice in it. Although she knew her parents wished her best, she struggled with the thought of getting married to someone completely unknown. It was easier to blindly believe an unseen entity called God than believing her human parents.
She was angry with the double standards of her parents. She had always been urged to be independent, to be a leader, to take on any job with confidence. She had been taught to carefully consider her decisions and then be responsible for them. She was raised to be fearless. How can the same parents now ask her to abdicate all this? Was she to lose her freedom, her right even? She wondered who among the two was more distrustful. Did her parents find her too young or shy or naive to find herself a mate when she was ready? She herself, knew that no matter how close she was to her parents, they did not REALLY know her. She had reason to be distrustful too.
This quandary continued for months on end. She could not, would not say “yes” to any of the suitors chosen by her parents. How could she? She knew nothing about them. How much could she know by meeting a person for an hour? Was he responsible? Would he even care about her and her needs? Would he be a son to her parents? Would he be supportive or demanding? It felt like she was staring into a well of question marks while being perched on its edge. Should she take the plunge believing that these questions would magically transform into a bed of flowers? The very notion of it all was against everything she had always been told – be risk averse, ask a thousand times before you believe, always think and reply, when in doubt stay away.
Each day was a burden. Each day made conversation with her parents more difficult. There was nothing natural in it anymore. Each tried to tip toe around the mine field they knew would blow at the slightest provocation. There seemed to be no solution in sight. At the end of one year of relentless pursuit by her parents, Riya knew she had only two choices.
What do you think are Riya’s choices? What do you think Riya should do? Post your thoughts and let’s discuss.