Nisha could hear them talking about the wedding already. She plucked silk threads from the pallu of her saree. She could not remember the last time she felt her parents had been inconsiderate of her. She had always brushed aside the issue of marriage, but arriving back from work and finding a family sitting in their living room had shocked her. She had not realized her parents were so keen on her getting married. Not that she didn’t look forward to it herself. But a heads up would have been good.
When she had entered the house her mother had hurried her into their bedroom and handed her her mother’s favorite silk saree, the one with the swans swimming along the pallu. That was when Nisha knew they were serious about this. She had expected to be called into the living room for a while now. And having waited for a while she was getting restless. She paced up and down the bedroom and put an ear to the door to try and hear what was being said. When she heard words like ‘dowry’ and ‘cooking’, she shook her head, opened the door and walked into the living room.
Nisha walked directly to the empty sofa opposite the prospective groom and sat down in it. An awkward silence followed in which the prospective groom and his parents stared at Nisha and her parents as if to ask how she had walked into their conversation unassisted.
Nisha folded her hands and raised them to the groom’s parents, “Namaste!” “ Hello…” she said to the groom. They seemed too dumbstruck because no one said anything.
The overhead fan could be heard creaking in the awkward silence. Her mother’s bangles clinked as she folded her hands nervously.
“I thought you said your daughter was blind…” the groom’s mother said, “then how can she…”
Nisha sighed, why did they always assume blindness made people deaf. Why did this women assume Nisha couldn’t hear her.
“ I am blind but I am perfectly capable of walking around without bumping into things, especially considering this is my own house,” Nisha said. Another awkward silence followed.
Nisha could hear her father’s labored breathing, she resisted the temptation to roll her eyes.
“ So, what do you like about me?” She asked the prospective groom.
“ I…I think you are very beautiful.” The guy replied in a timid voice.
“Apart from that?” Nisha said.
“What else is required?” The groom’s father asked incredulity straining his voice.
“May I know what is your profession? Where do you work?” Nisha said. She could hear them muttering to each other.
“Nisha is a little… unconventional…” his mother said in a small voice. Nisha turned in her seat and stared in the direction of her mother’s voice. That shut her up for the moment.
“I work at a call center” the guy replied.
“Alright.” Nisha said, she was thinking of what else she wanted to ask the guy, when his mom interrupted, “she will need more jewelry when she comes to our house. This much will not be enough.”
Nisha took a deep breath, she will have to give her parents a piece of her mind. “I heard talk of dowry. How much are you expecting?” She said.
“Well, normally we would have been alright with one crore. But in your case we will need something more…” the groom’s mother said.
“And why is that?” Nisha asked innocently.
“Well, you know…”
“Why? Say it.” Nisha said.
“Well…because you are blind and we will have to support you for the rest of your life.” The groom’s mother said.
Nisha gulped down her anger, “I don’t see anyone supporting me now. Why would I have to be supported after I get married? Last time I checked I had a well-paying job. Dad is retired and I am bearing the expenses of the house. Why would anyone have to support me?”
“You parents were saying something about you having a job. What kind of a job do you do?” The groom’s father scoffed.
“I work as an instructor at a company that produces software for visually impaired people,” Nisha said.
“Oh ok. All that will have to stop after the wedding of course.” The groom’s father said in a matter of fact manner.
“Why would it have to stop? I am up for a promotion at work. And if everything goes well we will have a new office in Singapore next year. Is your son alright with moving to Singapore?” Nisha said.
There was silence in the room again. The groom shifted uneasily in his chair.
“Also can you son cook?” Nisha said.
“What?” The groom’s mother shouted out loud.
“I get late from work often and would like my husband to cook for me once in awhile.”
Nisha was almost enjoying the awkwardness of the situation. She had to stifle a smile, but she could not help herself, “ Also I am completely opposed to the concept of dowry. If we are getting married you are not getting a penny as dowry. I am not a cow at a cattle fair.”
Nisha would have paid anything to be able to see the expressions on everyone’s faces just then.
“Now look here,” the groom’s father said, “ we were led to believe…”
“What? That since the bride was blind you were doing her family a favor? That they would always be indebted to you?”
“Well…” the groom’s mother trailed away.
“Oh please get over yourselves and please get out of my house.” Nisha thoroughly enjoyed saying that.
“Never in my life have I been so insulted.” The groom’s father said. He waited around for a someone to apologize to him. Nisha’s parents were too stunned to say anything.
“Well..” the groom’s father got up, “ you have a shameless daughter. We will see how she gets married.” The family shuffled out of their house.
Nisha stood up and faced her parents, “Seriously?”
“Nishu, we knew you would not have agreed if we had asked you…” her mother said.
“And so you went ahead with it anyway?”
“But Nishu you do have to get married…” her father said.
“I don’t have to, dad. But I would like to…” Nisha said.
“Yes…and you know prospective grooms are hard to come by…”
“Because you daughter is blind, dad?” Nisha places her hands on her hips.
“Nishu…” her father says, as if to say of course he didn’t mean it like that.
“But still dad…this?” She says holding up her hands and she does roll her eyes.
“There are very few prospects, Nishu, I am sorry.” Her father said.
“And it never occurred to you to ask me if I had anyone in mind?”
Nisha was getting tired of the silences of the day.
“Nishu, you…” her mother said.
“But you, Nishu, you have someone in mind?” Her father said.
“Oh, why would our blind daughter have a boyfriend?” Nisha pulled out her phone and dialed a number, “Hey Karan, while you are busy watching your T20 matches, my parents are busy trying to sell me off like an underperforming IPL team. So if you still want to play in this match, get your ass here right now.”
Nisha’s parents were stunned. Nisha made some coffee as they waited for Karan.
Karan’s motorcycle could be heard turning the corner. Nisha went out to the courtyard despite herself. When Karan got down she held his hand tighter than she wanted.
“Would it kill you to wear some deodorant,” Nisha said.
“Hey, you made it sound like an emergency.” Karan ran his fingers through his windblown hair. “ So I am meeting your parents finally anything I should keep in mind?”
Nisha smiled, “ probably don’t call me ‘oye andhi’ in front of them, not yet anyway.’
They took a deep breath and stepped into the house.
[Image credit: http://ohtop10.com/top-10-great-new-year-resolution-ideas/index.html]