“Aditi, look at that beast just sitting in front us and looking at us off and on.” whispered Rama.
“Relax Rama, he is not looking at us, he is looking at you. You look so gorgeous in this dress.”
“Thank you Aditi.”
Their whispering voice was suppressed by the public announcement system of the train when it reached the Sovabazar station. Many passengers disembarked and many more embarked at the station. In a few seconds time the train started moving again.
“Look Rama your admirer has left.”
Rama looked in front of her. The train had become almost full by then. She swiveled her head to get a proper glimpse of the persons who were sitting in front of her. She realized that her friend was right; she could not find the young man.
“I prefer to call him or people like him as beast, Aditi.”
“Why, was it because she was looking at you?”
“Of course, no gentleman would keep looking at an unknown woman, Aditi.”
“So you suggest men to look at men only and not to look at women even if some came in their field of vision”, Aditi could not control her laugh.
“They can look at the floor, the roof, or not look at anything.”
“Perhaps, if there were no woman in the whole compartment. But if there were beautiful women like you around why would not they?”
“Staring at unknown women is uncouth, uncivilized, and unacceptable. These people flout the society norms and I will always loathe them” Rama wanted to close the topic.
Aditi remained silent for few seconds, thought for a while, looked at her friend to understand how angry she was.
“Can I ask you one question, Rama?”
“How your parents got married?”
“This is a simple question. Children, when they grow up should know how their parents got married. So why can’t you answer?”
“It was an arranged marriage for them” Rama replied with lot of pride.
“So your father did not see your mother before marriage?”
“Yes, he went to see her with his father and grandfather. He saw her in front of them” Rama replied.
“So that was a strictly censored look then.”
“Oh yeah, how your parents got married” Rama looked angry again.
“It was a love marriage for them” Aditi replied.
“Seriously”, Rama started smiling again. She turned her head and looked straight into her friend’s eyes. “Tell me more Aditi. I want the details.”
“Nah, I am not in a mood to talk about this now.”
“Stupid, I told you about my parents and now you are not in a mood to divulge your side of the story. You better get into mood and get it right now.” Rama sounded very serious.
“Okay no need to get mad, I was just kidding.”
“My parents first met at a marriage function” Aditi continued. “Both were university students at that time. My father told that he was unable to turn his head away from my mother when he first saw her, which you might call a beastly act.”
“I am sorry Aditi. You know how much I respect your parents.”
“I am just kidding Rama. But they had to wait, first to get their degrees, then to get employed and finally to tell their parents. Of course during that long waiting time they had never stopped seeing each other.”
“I got it Aditi, because your parents had a love marriage so they are so happy.”
“Actually there is a very small difference, like the hissing sound, between a love marriage and an arranged marriage” Aditi said.
“I do not understand, Aditi.”
“Look Rama, one can make hot water in two different ways. First method would be to fill the kettle with water and then put it on the stove. The second method would be to heat the kettle first and then pour cold water into the hot kettle. Eventually both the kettle and the water will attain the same temperature. The first method of heating the water can be compared with love marriage and the second method, which produces a hissing sound when cold water comes in contact with hot metal, with arranged marriage. The success and stability of a marriage does not depend on how it started, it depends on the adherence to certain unwritten Dos and Don’ts. If those norms are strictly adhered to, a marriage would generally last in spite of incitements and provocations created by close relatives from both sides. Of course the provocations by relatives would cause lots of unhappiness, arguments etc. but eventually they will sail across the turbulent water.”
“What kind of marriage is better, Aditi?”
“Arranged marriage, because the expectations are less and hence the chances of becoming unhappy are also less.”
“But Aditi your parents are very happy.”
“Yes because my father, before marriage, downgraded it to a state which could be called lower than arranged marriage.”
“Tell me how”, Rama wanted to know.
“Before proposing my mother he took her to a restaurant and while having food he told her how many broken chairs they had in their house, that neither they had any cot to sleep nor they had anything in their house which could qualify as a furniture, how many leakages were there in the roof, how his elder brother’s wife and his mother, who was a widow, used to fight day in and day out, till his brother’s family became separate, and how the fighting that was once a daily drama between his sister-in-law and his mother had become a daily topic of argument between his brother and his sister-in-law. He mentioned that she should expect that his mother would repeat the same thing with her which she did with his sister-in-law and in such circumstances he would ask to stop and if his mother did not stop, which was most likely to happen, then she had to stop. “
“And your mother agreed to those conditions”, Rama was surprised.
“Yes, my mother realized what was coming in her life, so she could prepare herself. Surprise is good only on birthdays.” Aditi replied.
“After a very brief period of turbulence these two women understood each other very well. They never had any big argument in future. And all throughout my father took a complete neutral stand and allowed them to settle their differences by talk. He himself is a great communicator. In fact my mother cried more when her mother-in-law died than her own mother. They lived under the same roof till her last breath.”
“So it is the dos and don’ts and good communication which is the secret of a successful marriage” Rama wanted a confirmation for her freshly acquired knowledge.
“Not always”, Aditi replied, “There are so many people who live on daily wages, where both husband and wife work. Generally men from this society develop a habit of drinking etc. A husband from such economic class blows away a good amount of his earnings on bad habits. His wife works day and night to maintain the family. She receives regular physical abuses from her husband. But still the woman stays in marriage because it is her abusive husband who protects her from the lustful eyes of their male neighbors who are not very different in nature from her own husband. But generally, women from this economic class would not have to bear such kind of abuses throughout her life. Generally their husbands would die young due to bad habits, by the time their sons would gain adulthood and would protect their mothers and their mothers would not receive any kind of physical abuses from anyone anymore.”
They heard in the public announcement system that it was Ravindra Sadan station, which was their destination.
They both disembarked.
Author: Mintu Ghoshal
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