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Waiting to Exhale

Hello and welcome to my blog.

I am participating in the #writebravely #writetribeproblogger October 2017 challenge. The story I am attempting to write is not about just one ‘Asha’, but many like her in our society. The trauma and heartbreak her parents go through has been experienced by many more such helpless parents. This story highlights the issue of dowry demand and domestic violence in our society. Today’s post is part four of the story.

Today’s prompt is Bated Breath

Links to the first three parts of this story are given below. Do read these before reading today’s story as it is a continuation. Don’t miss out on crucial twists and turns of the story.

Part 1 Pattern

Part 2 Nostalgic

Part 3 Terminal

Asha waited with bated breath, her team members were equally nervous about the presentation they had just given in front of their Marketing head and a potential client. Asha is the Vice president (Marketing) of ‘Ideas Abound’, a sought after marketing agency in Delhi. She had been working on a presentation along with Roma, Josh and Vijay, for Today’s Fashion, a hip clothing brand for the new age customers. They had also prepared a digital marketing strategy for Today’s Fashion, Roma was the digital expert. Josh looked after the marketing research and Vijay handled brand management.

Mr Srinivas, CEO of the ‘Today’s Fashion’ stared at the blank screen in the conference room. He seemed to be mulling over what he had just seen on it a few minutes ago. The slides had been well put together and the models wearing the brand’s clothes looked great. The jingle, ‘Get Today’s Fashion, today’ had a nice ring to it. It appealed to the living in the fast lane, ‘Now’ generation. He had been to a few other agencies but this one had done the best work and he hoped to reach his target audience with this marketing strategy.

“I liked the presentation and would love to collaborate with you.”

“Yay”, the relieved and jubilant team shouted out in unison. Asha’s face beamed with accomplishment and pride at her team’s excellent work. Her boss gave her an approving nod before escorting their new client into his office.

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Asha rushed home to share her triumph with her parents. Her mother opened the door with a distracted look on her face. Her cream colour sari bearing evidence to the fact that her mother was cooking up a storm in the kitchen. The house smelled wonderful, the aroma of frying samosas wafted in the air and Asha sniffed at it appreciatively.

“Mummy, I am very hungry. Are you frying samosas? Could I eat before I tell you my good news?”

“I have good news of my own. Do you remember Vilas’s parents had come over last month and liked you so much that they had fixed his marriage with you? Today they all are coming to see you along with Vilas and his brothers and sister, their spouses and a couple of aunts and uncles. If all goes well we will fix a date for the wedding as soon as possible. Hey Bhagwaan, kripa kar.”

“But mummy…”

“Please, Asha. I am very busy preparing snacks for the dozen odd guests who will be reaching here in another two hours time.  You go up and change into the Banarasi saree Daddy had got for you last year.”

“Mummy, just listen to my news first.”

“No, please. I don’t have time for idle chit-chat today. I have a lot to do, beta. I love you. Go and freshen up”

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Asha waited with bated breath for her mother to call her down into the hall where the groom with his entourage was lounging. Snatches of conversation drifted into the room she was hiding in for the past 15 minutes. The irony of the situation wasn’t lost on her. Her mother had prepared a feast for them. The kitchen table was loaded with various boxes of sweets from Haldiram’s sweet shop. The memory of her triumph at the office today crawled into the farthest most corner of her mind and tried to merge with the darkness. Asha was aware of her parents’ emotional state and knew they wanted to find a good groom for her and get her married off before she turned 33 in a few months. Ever since she’d turned thirty, her parents had become desperate to find a good match for her.

In many cases, when the bride is as educated as her groom, sometimes more, and their economic status is at par, why do his family members act superior to the bride’s family? Why are the bride’s parents apologetic, servile and humble while even distant relatives of the groom behave boorishly? They throw their weight around and expect the girl’s family to do their bidding.

Vilas had come to see his would be bride before agreeing to the marriage, although his parents had cemented the deal last month when they had come to see her. Today their entire family was here; his parents, two brothers and one sister with their respective spouses. Two of his aunts and their husbands had also come along. His buas, father’s elder sisters, were very attached to him and wouldn’t dream of missing such an important family function. His future was being decided and they wanted to have a say in this matter. The total number of guests rounded up to an odd 13; the number considered to be unlucky by some. This also should have been another omen but her belief in the goodness of human nature prevented her from seeing the true colors of the people she naively trusted her life with.

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge

38 thoughts on “Waiting to Exhale

  1. Relevant short and crisp take on the prompt Sulekha. I missed the earlier part but this gave me a touching glimpse of what you wish to convey. I have a cousin who is doing very well in a big corporate house and earning a fat salary. Sadly, most boys don’t want to marry her because their ego doesn’t allow their future wife to earn more than what they do.

  2. Sulekha, that was good read. I can imagine Asha bursting to tell her news and her parents not interested in her career. I faced something similar but my parents were worried I was getting old at 23. I have a wonderful husband, and thankfully more freedom than I had at my mother’s place, yet at 23 I was too young and bursting with ideas. But parents had only one thing on their minds.

    1. Lata, thanks a ton. Am so glad that you have a wonderful hubby and are enjoying a happy married life. My parents too were worried about my marriage and relieved when they saw me take 7 pheras with my Naval officer hubby at 24 years 🙂 We will be different than them with our kids.

    1. Reema, parents have their children’s best interests at heart. They listen if you talk to them and explain your reasons for not getting married right now. My daughter is a practicing lawyer at 28 and wants to focus on her career and further studies, we Support her decision and respect her wishes 🙂

  3. Lovely read, Sulekha. I could picture Asha bursting with the joy of her success at work, but forced to keep it aside and get ready to welcome her would be groom and family. Well written, Sulekha. Waiting to read more about Asha.

  4. I seem to have missed the earlier parts. Is this a series?

    Asha’s exuberance is so understandable, even to me at the age of 39! I can only imagine her frustration at not being able to share the news. And what is it with people wanting to get things done, come what may? I do hope this has a happy ending. I mean I know it’s fiction and everything but Asha deserves better. Waiting to see how Vilas turns out. 😀

    1. Shailaja, it is a series. I have shared the links to the first three parts at the beginning of my post. Guess they aren’t too prominently displayed. Do read them to get the essence of the story, the end of the story is revealed in the first part 🙂 Thanks for reading.

  5. The whole act of ‘seeing the girl’ to me feels odd. Adding to it when parents give in to the societal pressure, the girl can not be herself. She goes through a change too.
    Poor Asha! Career achievement brushed aside to ensure marriage is settled. Such a sad reality!

  6. Parul, a lot has changed since our parents got married but still this ritual of going to the girl’s house with lots of relatives is common in many sections of our society. I am mainly addressing that section in my story. Thanks.

  7. The attitude probably stemmed from the fact that generations ago, it sure was the job of the husband to earn a living to take care of his wife’s needs. Hence the superiority complex. But society has undergone changes, and the women are capable of taking care of their financial needs, thanks to education coming in. However, attitudes have still not evolved in sync with the changes. Where the girls side ends up being apologetic, the boys side, seems to take it to their advantage and throw their weight….

    1. Ramya, it is these attitudes we are hoping to change, bit by bit. Unless the mindsets change, peoplein the society will suffer for no fault of theirs. Bringing about a change is important, we can do it.

  8. I don’t know when parents will understand that marriage is just a part of life not the life itself…. I am feeling sad for Asha… I feel like shouting and crying for her… “Plz let her live her life”…

  9. You are right in labeling it as a deal. I think the main culprit is patriarchy which allows for such thinking like ladkiyan paraya dhan hain. Even the girl’s parents want her to get married so that they can wash their hands off and their responsibility becomes less. Hopefully things and mentalities are changing.

    1. Prasanna, patriarchy is the main culprit. Parents want to palm off their daughters to her husband and in laws ,hoping she will be happy. If she is not, they tell her to adjust, log kya kahenge…things have improved a bit but a lot has to be done to bring about a complete change in mindsets and behaviour of people in the society.

  10. Just the other day I read a young blogger justifying the karwa chauth fasting (she didn’t need to) and saying there was nothing patriarchal about it. She asked why we question it, when we don’t question the large amounts of money spent on a girl’s wedding!! Huh? Exactly…..
    I remember my husband sharing with me about his friend’s wedding many year ago. The boy’s family and friends were told to overeat at reception hosted by the bride’s family to embarrass them!!!

    1. Corinne, there are so many ways the abuse starts right at the wedding, sometimes before. The barat takes long to reach the venue and sometimes the baratis continue dancing way past midnight just to harass the bride’s family. Harmless fun, they coin it. Throwing tantrums at not getting good food or not hot enough or some feeble excuse is enough to create a scene. Things are changing but very slowly.

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