I was born in a middle-class family in a remote village of Bihar, now Jharkhand. I had a lot of dreams, and I was ready to chase them. As generally happens in a lower-middle-class family, my childhood was difficult.
Sometimes, we got what we needed but most of the times we didn’t.
Despite all the hardships, I was determined to make it big. I'd like to thank my parents who gave us the best education possible. I had three sisters, and all of us were treated equally though it was not the norm in my village.
Men were always considered superior!
My grandparents were biased, but my parents had ingrained it in me to treat everyone equally irrespective of the religion, caste, belief, colour or gender. As a kid, I was a happy-go-lucky, shy kid who did not talk much. I loved cricket, music, movies and everything on this earth except baigan and mooli and a few disgusting people.
I always wanted to be a man in uniform and dreamt of becoming an army officer or a pilot.
Due to the pressure of studies, I had to quit playing cricket after class nine. It killed one of my dreams. But I studied hard and secured good marks in class 10 and 12 and then started preparing for the competitive exams.
My studies had started very late and by the time I passed class 12, I was already overage for most of the Armed forces exams.
My second dream died too. However, I appeared for the engineering entrance examinations, qualified and got admission in an engineering college. With college, started my first experience of life in a metropolitan city. Kids were openly smoking, roaming with their girlfriends and so on.
I felt so inferior.
Within a few months of college, almost all the guys in my batch were proposing to girls, and people who were once my friends became couples. Most of the couples are happily married now. I was left alone amidst all the couples. But there were several boys like me, and we had an entirely different friend circle where there were no girls. Slowly, our presence was felt in the college as the coolest bunch of guys. I made some excellent friends, and we are still in touch.
I missed mentioning that I am an average looking dark-skinned guy with an athletic built. I am not a very good speaker, but if I feel comfortable with you, I’ll talk a lot.
I was mocked and bullied for my complexion since childhood.
It was not just the villagers but also my own relatives who mocked me. I felt like killing them. Anyway, the first year of college passed smoothly, and it was in the second year that I had my first brush with booze and smoking. I got addicted to smoking, but I managed to concentrate on my studies because I knew it was the only way to ensure a decent life ahead.
I was never good at flirting with girls and was afraid to even start a conversation.
Then came this girl who started talking to me. She was beautiful, elegant and intelligent and the topper of our batch. I don’t know what provoked her to speak with me, but a few conversations and we became very good friends.
All my friends had cell phones except me. I got scholarship money once a year and this time, I decided to buy a cellphone for my elder sister (she was doing her masters then) and me. I bought two basic phones available in the market and gave one to my sister. Since I bought a phone, my conversations with this girl increased. We spoke a lot even during the exams, mainly to discuss studies. Slowly, there were rumours in the college that I had developed a liking for her.
It was true, I had feelings for her but I was too afraid to tell her.
She was beautiful, intelligent and caring, the ideal girl. She cared about every friend of hers. And I loved her for that. I had never imagined that someone could be so perfect. She was too good for me. When placements started in college, she got a job on the first attempt. I always qualified the written tests but was rejected in group discussions and interviews. Finally, after 5 or 6 interviews, I was able to crack one.
Since it was the last year of college, we’d stopped attending lectures. As a result, I started getting restless because I was not able to meet her. I am not referring to her as my girlfriend since she was interested in someone else and I never dated her. However, during the last days of college, my friends encouraged and provoked me, and somehow, I mustered the courage to ask her on a date. She agreed! It was the biggest moment of my life, though it was short lived.
The day I was going on a date, my friends encouraged me and gave me loads of advice. I bought her a gift too. We met in a park, I gave her the present, had coffee, spoke a lot and at the perfect moment, I told her about my feelings.
But her response was, “Stop thinking about it because I just see you as a very good friend”.
I had come prepared for this answer, but it still hurt me. After that, we stopped talking, and the phase of depression started. College was over, and we went back to our homes.
The recession marred the global economy, so my office joining was delayed. I was at my home and suddenly fell sick with typhoid and malaria at the same time. I was in bed for three months! One fine morning, I got a call from one of my friend to check my mailbox. I had finally received the joining letter, and everyone in the family was happy.
My mother was not willing to let me go as I was still weak and frail, but a job was a big deal in a middle-class family, and I didn’t want to leave a bad impression on the HRs of my first company. So I convinced her to let me go. My training started, and I was the topper in the training batch.
Three people from my college had secured jobs in the same company. One of the guys and me were the first ones to get a project. As a result, respect for us grew in the training batch.
This news also spread to our college friends and one day, while I was returning from the office, I got a call from her. She’d heard from someone that I was the topper of the training batch. It was like a drop of water in the desert. We started talking again but this time without any expectations. We were friends again.
I was a transformed happy-go-lucky boy with no girlfriends and no stress.
With time, our conversations decreased. Perhaps, she had found her soulmate. I also switched companies and got a chance to go to Singapore for an assignment. During this time, my elder sister’s marriage was fixed. I came to India for ten days, attended the wedding and went back.
I knew that it was my turn to get married. I created an account on one of the matrimonial sites, just for fun. I browsed through a few profiles and found one that caught my attention.
She was like the girl I’ve always wanted, “an independent working woman”. She was also working in an IT company, and her house was a 3-hour drive from my place. Her preferences were also the same as mine, so I sent a request to her, and she accepted.
Our first few conversations made me feel that we were made for each other.
Teasing and jokes began from the first day itself. We spent hours talking, but there was no vulgarity. We talked about our families, hobbies, and work, everything except sports and politics because she hated them. During our conversations, we discovered that though our surnames were the same, we were not from the same caste. We continued talking.
My assignment ended, and I came to back to India. Now that we were in the same time zone, we started talking for more extended hours, sometimes till 4 a.m. We began discussing our preferences for marriage. We chalked out a plan to meet, and it was going to be one of the craziest dates ever as we were going on a date on a train. She was going home during the Diwali holidays, and we booked two tickets for her return journey.
The first few moments of our meeting were awkward, but she was very talkative, and soon, we became comfortable. We talked, joked and had fun during the whole one and a half day journey. It was early morning when we arrived in Chennai. I dropped her to her flat and went to my hotel.
We had already planned the evening in advanced; a very long and romantic evening awaited us. We went to Marina beach and had loads of fun.
She was so comfortable with me; perhaps she knew that she was safe with me.
Our fun continued till late in the evening. We were in the rickshaw, on the way to the restaurant for dinner when she leaned on my shoulder and said, “Aap mujhe acche lage”. I was on cloud nine. During dinner, she said some more romantic lines. After dinner, I dropped her to her apartment and went back to my hotel. I was unable to sleep as I could imagine my life being perfect.
I had an early morning flight, and she called to wake me up. While on the way to the airport, I shared a few romantic words with her. I returned to my office, and we spoke almost daily. We started discussing the terms and conditions of our marriage like I’d cook rice and she would cook the dal, she wouldn’t wake me up early in the morning and other silly things.
We were the perfect match; we just had to tell our parents.
I was almost sure that we would get married. I went home and told my mother about her. I thought she would get angry, as the girl belonged to a different caste, but my mommy was as cool as ice and said, “Ok, we will talk”. I told her to talk to her parents too. I was happy, but again, the happiness was short lived.
The same evening, I got a reply from her that we could not get married, as her parents would never agree. I cried the whole night. The next day, I called her and pleaded that she talk to her parents at least once. I requested her to let me talk to her parents and if I were unable to convince them, then we’d part our ways. I don’t know what was on her mind but she didn’t budge and ultimately, yelled at me.
From “Aap mujhe acche lage”, our relationship had suddenly turned to “Don’t disturb me”.
I stopped calling her; I was completely broken and shattered. I hit the gym and started playing cricket again and this was the end of one more chapter. During this time, my parents also started looking for a girl for me. I told them that I already had an account on one of the matrimonial sites. This time, I sent requests only to girls from my caste and would forward their contact to my parents or sister for further talks.
One day a girl messaged me, asked a few random questions and immediately rejected my request. On matrimonial sites, once your request is rejected, you cannot check that profile. After a few days, she messaged me again and asked me a few questions like where do you live, what do you do etc.
I don’t know what God had in store for us but we discovered that she had attended my cousin’s engagement ceremony. A series of questions followed and several pictures of the engagement ceremony were exchanged only to realize that both of us were present in the ceremony.
We started chatting on WhatsApp, but this time, I didn’t have any expectations. She was a fun loving person, loved going to pubs and hanging out with friends.
She was a happy-go-lucky person like I used to be.
After chatting for around 6 - 7 months, she asked me to call her. It didn’t feel like our first conversation, I felt that we had been speaking for a long time. In the meantime, I was sent to Singapore for another assignment. Our chatting and calls continued, and one day, she asked me to marry her.
I was surprised. I told her that we should meet at least once before taking our relationship to the next level. She told me everything about her past relationships, and I told her about my heartbreaks.
Sharing each other’s pain brought us closer.
I came back to India, and we decided to meet. She was working in Bangalore, and I went there for four days. I had many friends there and was excited to meet them. We went on a date the first day. The first few moments were awkward, but soon, we became comfortable. The next day I had planned to meet my college friends.
On the third day, we went to a disco and danced like no one was watching while the last day was a casual meeting where we spoke for a long time. I came back to my place, and the series of ‘Love you’, ‘Miss you’ messages started. Video chats became a regular affair, and then, I proposed to her.
The next morning, I got up and saw her message. She had replied, “My father won’t agree” and loads of other reasons. I was shattered and broken again. I couldn’t understand where I’d gone wrong.
Perhaps I couldn’t understand girls or couldn’t understand life itself.
A few months later, my parents found a girl for me. This time, I’d entirely left the choice to my parents. I met her once, as happens in an arranged marriage setup, and asked my parents to decide. They liked her. I explicitly told her that since I was dark and not so good looking, if she’d agree under family pressure, she should tell me. She also had the same question for me since she was slightly healthy.
I didn’t believe in body shaming and she was ok with my complexion.
That's all we spoke, and our marriage was fixed. I am engaged now and will be married in a few weeks.
This girl really likes me, but the problem is that I’m not able to get over my last relationship.
We still talk sometimes. I am trying my best to stay busy and get over her but it seems impossible. However, it made me realize that in a country like India, arranged marriages are a boon for dark and average looking guys like me.
If it was not for arranged marriages, more than half of the Indian men would have died as bachelors.
As per my analysis, your behaviour doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter how good you are, what matters are your looks, your skin colour, and your money. Statistics don’t lie; take the example of fairness creams. Why are fairness creams like fair and lovely and fair and handsome so famous in India? I was very late in realizing it.
Any of the girls mentioned above would have married me had I been fair.
I don’t want to generalize all women but there are very few who will love you for the person you are, and they are a rare species. Now, I'm waiting to see what this arranged marriage has in store for me.