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commander selvam



 Love Marriage


Over 25 years, ago when I used to teach college, I had a two door hatchback to drive, and My wife and I were living in a small apartment in a low income housing complex in downtown Atlanta. Our life was beautiful, and our needs were few. We went places, even on long vacations, in the hatchback, with three teen age children and wife. No one complained, except my wife occasionally, that the car was too small for five. The apartment had two bedrooms, and only one bath, consisting of a sink and tub. The mornings were kind of difficult and an exercise in continence. We didn't know what a half-bath was! All the children were in school, using the free bus service. My wife finished college, got a job, and bought a brand new four door big expensive car, as her job was so far, only 200 yards away from home. One American dream realized! I left academia, and started selling insurance, had the same hatchback with no radio and no air-conditioning. I was tempted to use the new car for my business, but did not succeed in getting it. Next the apartment seemed too small to my wife and she drove all over the town to buy a house. But, it would take another 9 years to realize the second dream. I was so attached to my cheap place, and did not want to move out, and shell-out more money, which I did not have. My wife went ahead and rented another apartment in the same cheap complex, and started living on her own with more space. I was still at the old place, with all the three children. My wife ran back and forth to cook at both places, and took care of both homes. We eventually advised our son to move out and live with his mom, while I stayed at the old place with our two daughters. My brother's family came from England for a visit, and wondered why we had two separate apartments, and not one bigger one. We explained, that the apartments bigger than ours did not exist in the low income housing complex, and we, especially me, did not want to move away. Then came, a friend's family from Virginia to visit, and spent a weekend with us, they asked to see my wife and son, and so I took them to the other apartment. My wife got mad, and said that I should have called and asked her to come to our old place, and may be stay there, as before, for the weekend. My friends thought that we were separating, just as my wife suspected they would. But my friends, asked me anyway, "Apka Love Marriage Tha Kya?" (was yours a love-marriage?) after seeing us at two separate places, and suspecting our marriage had dissolved. Traditional arranged marriages, do not allow for separation (living separately and eventual divorce), hence the question about a "love-marriage," which is not expected to last very long anyway. Most marriages in India are still arranged with the help of parents and seniors on both sides of the family. Divorce is still taboo, and an exception. No one walks out of wedlock, as the decision for marriage involves numerous people from both families, and the society or village at large. It works like the US Congress, where you can vote a dissent, but once the opinions are counted, the majority wins, the so called "family-whips" control the entire affair, and the matrimony, thus can not be dissolved without a long parliamentary process. This process may not be pleasant for the divorcing couples, but most of the time they give in to the external pressures, and the marriage is saved. Many times it may end up in an unhappy marriage being carried out for the benefit of the children, as well as for the convenience of both sides of the family. But mostly it is due to the inconvenience of going through the whole process again if one wishes to remarry! All this made a lot of sense to me; so I tried to arrange the marriages of all three of my children, but did not succeed in any. My two younger brothers in England and India, both had "love marriages," as had our three children in USA. In my case, however, things were different. In remote Bihar India, after finishing college, I came home for summer vacation. It was the 1960's and my father said to me, "You better get a hair cut, as we will take you to get married this weekend, in a different town." I was 19 then, had finished my Masters in Science earlier than most of the students in my age group, and was considered bright. I had lived the city life for several years, where I was now teaching college for the last couple of months. But I had no courage to ask anything of my father, or to anyone else for that matter. Hence, I got married to a 16 year old girl, from a far away place, selected through the process of an arranged marriage. People ask me, when did you first see your wife. I answer, four days after getting married! At the podium, the bride was under a veil. After the wedding we were separated, and only allowed to be with each other four days later, on an auspicious day. We are still together, for the last 45 years, or so, with plenty of turmoil, dissensions, and heartaches. We did not separate, in spite of the numerous problems we have had, as it was not a "love-marriage." ____________________________________________________________________
Arun Misra


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