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Friday, 10 March 2017

‘In our marriage, my husband and I are equal, but people find that hard to believe’

I first saw Shikhar in the lobby of a five star hotel in Delhi. Our families were sitting at the coffee shop and we were asked to ‘speak to each other’, so that we can figure if we should get married or not.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not against the idea of arranged marriage per se; but everything that gets added to this whole shebang is what bugs me—why should my family foot the bill for this meeting; why are all the expenses of the wedding relegated to the girl’s family? Whenever I questioned it, my parents would always shut me up saying, ‘This is how society works and we have to live in this society’.

Now, I was in a rather foul mood during the meeting and Shikhar sensed it instantly.

“Ermm..are you being coerced into this Namrata?”

“What? No..no..not at all. It’s..it’s just awkward and borderline bizarre..that’s it.”

“Haha! Tell me about it..I feel like I’m some model being paraded around; in fact once my mum even told the girl’s family that our son is very fair and in Marwaris that is such a rarity, you see. I had turned red then and there.”

“Wtf! Ohh..I’m sorry..I didn’t mean to say the F-word…”

“Hey, don’t worry. I say it all the time. Why should you not be able to say it?”

And somehow the moment he said that, it served as the icebreaker. He almost felt like my male version during the 30-minute-long conversation we had. We spoke about how he was hammered during a trip with his friends to Amsterdam and how he was once a douchebag to a girl because he refused her to wear a short dress.

“She was f**king attractive and I was insecure. I mean, I get it now how stupid I was then and I guess her leaving me was one of the biggest learnings I have had in life,” Shikhar said as he sipped on his macchiato.

As we walked back towards our families; they could read it on our face before we could say anything. And what pleasantly surprised me at that point was the fact that Shikhar’s family had already taken care of the bill.

My parents kept asking me on the way back if I told him to pay the bill; but I was only grinning from ear to ear.


We were engaged less than a month after that, and throughout our six-month-long courtship, the only thing we ever fought about was how I wanted his shervani to match my lehenga.

“This is soooo daft Nam! I don’t want to look like a looney toon on my wedding day, I mean I thought you’re smarter, boo!” he said.

“Shut up and let me fulfil this fantasy. Also, because my sense of dressing is better than yours; logic says that you should agree with me.”

And that was the end of that discussion.

Shikhar worked as the design head at one of India’s biggest start-ups and I was working as an illustration artist and often worked on independent projects with several architects.

After our wedding, we could not immediately go on a honeymoon because I had got a chance to work on a pet project with one of the biggest business families of the country. It was a golden opportunity for an upcoming illustrator like me!

Shikhar understood and happily postponed our honeymoon. His parents too were extremely supportive. Surprisingly my mum thought I was being unfair. “Such opportunities will keep presenting themselves, beta. I just don’t want them to use this as something against you. Such relations are very delicate,” she said.

 I was surprised at my mum’s attitude and explained to her how I would have been expected to step up if Shikhar would have had a big project that would have come up. So it’s only natural that he understands and does the same.

After a few months, Shikhar and I moved into an independent house in Green Park and it was Shikhar’s decision to do so. “Our work timings are awry and we can’t expect parents to understand all that time. Remember that day in February when you came home late and I made green tea for you? The house help told my mum that ‘Bhabhi ne to Bhaiya ko kitchen mein lagaya hua hai.’ I know it will take time for us to change the mindset of many around us and if it starts with us as a couple, then I’m all for it. It’s just that I want a peaceful life with you and that’s what we will have in our apartment at Green Park.”

Was my relation near perfect? I often asked myself; but the truth was that I had found a man who had realised that a couple isn’t about the domination of one half over the other, it is about being united by half. My half was as important as his half and Shikhar was a guy who understood this.

Many friends of mine often chided me as being ‘the lucky one’, for I did not have to change my surname or because Shikhar would sometimes surprise me with a home-cooked meal or that he had never made an issue till date if I came home late after work and he had to take care of his dinner on his own. I realised that at the core of our relationship, it wasn’t just love, but mutual respect for each other that bound us together. Equality in relationships is really underrated!

 I had conveniently categorised him as a typical male chauvinist; but the truth is that becoming a couple and learning more about your other half requires understanding from both sides and that is what has kept us going.

Three days ago, we celebrated our second anniversary and we still haven’t gone on a honeymoon. Honestly, we don’t even feel the need to. We’re both workaholics who respect each other’s passions and accommodate those in our lives.

In fact, just yesterday, we saw an advertisement on television, United Colours Of Benetton have a new campaign ‘United by half’. It was a lazy Sunday and Shikhar and I were lounging on the sofa when we saw the ad. We both looked at each other, smiling.

“I told you, things will change and it looks like they are changing,” he said as I bent forward to kiss him.

(Source: Blush)

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