“How much do you make in a month?” he asked.
That should have been my first clue, but I gave in. I saw him walk inside the restaurant and I was already in awe. Seven, seven boys I had rejected in the last week. This one ought to be the one. Moreover, this was not how the eldest sibling among four sisters was supposed to behave.
He was tall, dark and handsome. His profile said he had a decent education and was making enough money. That was enough. Actually that’s how the arrange marriage system works in India – the boy should make enough money, the girl should look pretty.
So when he asked me how much I was making, I thought he was genuinely interested in my career. We hit it off and were married within two months. That should have been my second clue – why so soon?
He seemed distant initially. All the love and affection he showered upon me before the wedding had disappeared. I even had this suspicious feeling that he was into someone else. Oh, I was turning into a stupid wife whom I didn’t like at all.
The mother-in-law laid down the chores for me. I was responsible for morning breakfast before going to the office and ironing clothes after coming back. This was not that bad, I thought. At the end of the month, she called me in her room and asked for my salary.
Now I was new in this house and I had no idea how the finances worked. I thought it was rude to ask for the ‘balance sheet’ yet it was imperative since my hard earned money was now going to be a part of it. I hesitated at first but given her audacity to ask me for my salary, my confidence went up a notch.
“Didn’t he tell you? - We need to pay back the debt.” She said matter-of-factly.
No he DID not! “What debt?” I asked.
“His father took a debt of 50 lakh and lost in betting. When we came to know, he was extremely ashamed. He went to the train station and committed suicide. It’s been 10 years now, the interest has scaled up. We still have to pay off a huge proportion.” She rattled off like she must have done a hundred times before.
And I was told that the father was a patient of depression and that made him commit suicide.
I stood up and walked back to my room. It was all making sense now. Maybe he was into someone else. Maybe I was brought in this house only to pay off the debt. Maybe I made a mistake by just going by the rule book – good looks and good money makes a good husband.
He was coward enough to give in easily. There was a Pooja in his life who was ‘just a school teacher’. His mother had worked hard to provide for his education and so, he had to bring a hen that lay golden eggs. I was the one who had to pay for his father’s betting mania.
Frankly, there was nothing to look forward to in life now. I packed my bags and told him that I will never come back. His family and his debts were his to handle, I was a confident young woman who didn’t need a ‘Mrs.’ tag to live my life. I could be divorced and happy.
I guess the mother-son duo was luckier than the father ‘cause I was back the very next day. Apparently, my parents threatened to commit suicide if I did not return to the place from where only my coffin should leave. Like every other time, I gave in.
That should have been my first clue – my life was going to be miserable henceforth.