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Nita was an MBA professional in a reputed MNC. She had had everything in her stride since she was young. Being the only child to her parents, she had been adored and pampered by all. She could go out with her friends whenever she wanted, she could buy whatever she desired. Being strong on the financial front, her parents bought the best of the toys and provided the best in everything to her as a child. As she grew up, these transformed into expensive dresses, accessories, books, a badminton racket and a comfortable room to herself where she used to pen down her thoughts in a diary every night.
However, at the threshold of her teenage; like every girl, she was fond of watching Bollywood romantic flicks. Everytime she watched these, a thought about her life partner crossed her mind. She would dream about having a husband who respected her parents, pampered her and believed in the equal rights of both to be balanced in a marriage. She thought that she would want to have a compatible partner who understood all her concerns and always was ready to listen to her problems or frustrations. Obviously, she used to make silent promises of how she would behave and support him as well. She wished to wait for the right time for as long as possible to meet the man of her choice.
Now; at 30, doing a job; she was ready to marry but still, on her own terms. She did not want to compromise even a bit. Whenever some friend used to tease her about who he would be; she would just avoid the question.
But in her quiet time she still used to think of the random qualities he must possess. One of the most important qualities that she could think of was a mature and an open thinking. Second was compatibility.
But, she could not describe it further and then did not think much about it. There were certain ideas lurking in her mind about marriages that generally involve giving cash, household equipments or a vehicle from the girl's side. She did not feel very good about such rituals. But, she never discussed these with her parents; herself internalising the thought that parents give out of love to their daughter. She had been to her cousins' weddings and however much feminists or open minded they were; the dowry always came in or was given in some or the other form.
Her parents were looking for a suitable groom; now that she had settled in her career. They had already taken her permission as in enquired if she is ready if a match was found. She had already met 3 guys. Even though they were good-looking, she could not convince herself for them. She always felt something lacking in them. One would walk awkwardly, other would not know how to present himself or talk well. Some other lacked the polite and a mature vibe that she expected from a life-partner.
There was always some or the other reason due to which she used to refuse. She also bore the criticism of some of the relatives who said:
"Ye to shaadi hi nahi karna chahti."
But, she ignored them all. She did not want to be married till she was not fully convinced; just because the society wanted her to.
Then, one day, it was a meeting scheduled with Rahul, who was 32 and an IT professional. She was eagerly awaiting this meeting because she had heard quite a lot of good things about him from her aunt who was related to his family as well. The meeting was scheduled on a Sunday and she went to office each day of that week, her heart thumping hard as soon as any thought about Rahul crossed her mind.
But, she still thought to make an independent decision this time too watching everything in him rather than being influenced by what people say. As Saturday came, her fathers phone rang and it was him. She thought it was regarding the meeting tomorrow, only to realise soon that Rahul was cancelling it saying "koi zaroori kaam hai office ka". She just thought in her mind: "to Hell with it; I am not marrying this guy at all." He had promised her father that he would call again in a couple of days.
His call never came for about 2 months. Then one fine day, her father again got a call from him. He had called after a very important project of his office was successfully completed. Her father tried to avoid the call saying that Nita was no more interested but, he just asked for one call with Nita to apologise for not calling up for so long and cancelling the meeting too. Her father obliged him; being an open-minded individual himself and thinking that Nita could decide for herself.
But, he only had one condition that this should be the first and the last call for him to talk to Nita. Nita listened to all their conversation and as she took the phone from her dad, she had anger and nervousness to counter with. Still, maintaining her calm she attended the call:
Nita: Hello Rahul!
Rahul: Hi Nita, How are you?
Nita: I am fine! I hope your office work is finished now. (releasing some anger calmly)
Rahul: Look Nita, I am really sorry for cancelling the meet but the project work suddenly came up and I had to leave the city for Bangalore for two months. I could have met you then but, I did not want to make a decision in a hurry. I did not want that you should not get time to think. So, I felt it feasible to cancel the meet rather than leaving it all in the middle of nowhere.
Nita: (melting a bit and able to believe him now) its OK! Can we meet now?
Rahul: Yes sure we can. Shouldnt we ask your parents first?
Nita: Yes, but I am sure they will agree.
Rahul: Ok! But, before we meet Nita; I want you to know somethings about which I cannot change my mind. I mean things and customs related to marriage that I cannot compromise with. I have been earlier rejected many times by girls' families because they do not like my rigidity in these matters.
Nita: (thinking the worst) ya tell me
Rahul: Nita; maybe you will feel awkward but I do not want any dowry. I mean, no furniture, no cash, nothing. And forget about any vehicle. Also, since I have been living alone for long now; I do not have much comfortable furniture here but I will try to bring in whatever required. I mean we can decide together.
Nita: (feeling excited and a bit awkward too) Ok! But, what if my parents wish to give me any clothes or jewellery?
Rahul: Whatever is yours exclusively you can bring; but make sure to keep a limit. I know they love you but I think that starting a journey together should not involve money. Love and respect is the most important thing for me. I want to make whatever is "ours"; together.
Nita: I am impressed by this thinking. But, before saying anything as final, I would want to meet you.
Rahul: Sure! Please just fix the time consulting your parents.
And Nita cut the call after greeting him goodbye. Her heart wanted to say yes on the call itself. But, she still waited to hear it personally. When she met him on the chosen day; she had the promises of a life-partner to-be, a person who was offering to share things from the wedding day itself. Yes! He convinced his and her parents that he would share the expenses of the wedding arrangement as well. Nita finally wrote in her diary that day:
I am going to marry you; Yes I do! I love you from the heart for the person you are. No matter what society thinks; taking and giving dowry is a crime and I am glad that we are starting a relation without doing one. Unlike many others, you have the guts and from this day, you are my strength, my love!
And her curiosity finally met the man of her dreams; someone who echoed exactly her thoughts about sharing, equality and feminism. P.S.: This is a fictional story. It is something that rarely happens in reality. Dowry is still a big menace in our country. We still take even furniture and such petty things in our brothers weddings without any conscience of changing the whole scenario. Parents give it saying it is for the comfort of girls. It has thus become an obligation for the girls parents whether rich or poor. Please stop dowry in whatever form you can. Teach your boys and girls to stand up on their own and this menace shall automatically be curbed. It should be a small step from all of us.