After 8 years, I finally married the man that I loved. Soon enough, my birthday came up: the first one as a married woman.
I have to admit, I was waiting to be showered with love and gifts from both families, so when the day finally came, it completely caught me by surprise. The eve of my birthday, my parents came over with a lot of gifts. That morning, I left my room, dressed up and with a huge smile on my face – I wish someone could have told me that it wasn’t going to last too long.
My husband came over to me and asked me to take off my mangalsutra. Surprised, I asked him why.
“Because it doesn’t belong to you.” Was his curt reply. My blank silence forced him to continue, “It belongs to my mother. So please remove it and give it back to her.”
Before I continue with my story, I have to tell you all about us.
My husband is a Christian and I’m a Hindu. His parents made it clear that we were going to be married only if I converted. Being the first wedding in my family, my dad had big dreams: he wanted a big Hindu wedding. The only way his family could agree to this, was if I converted.
And so I did. I wasn’t expecting much from their end, but a simple gesture of acknowledgment would have sufficed.
I tried to ignore this but now that I think about this moment, the unsettling feeling should have been a hint of what I was about to receive. “It belongs to my mother. So please remove it and give it back to her.” His words forced me back to reality.
My husband went on to tell me how the whole wedding was paid for by my husband, and so when he didn’t have the money to buy me a mangalsutra, his mother lent hers to me, for a month.
Had it been any other day, I would have gladly returned it, maybe even thanked for letting me wear it for all these days. But she picked my birthday to do this.
I was shattered. But this day only got worse.
I’ve always been a strong woman. Started working when I was 19, helped with the finances of the house, paid loans every month for three years, went through every hardship life presented me with, but never once did I break down.
Today, this lady, broke me.
After this argument with my husband, I went downstairs, hoping to salvage some of my birthday. I took my cake and went down to meet my in-laws. I greeted my mother-in-law and sister-in-law with a smile.
My sister-in-law walked off without looking at me once.
“It’s my birthday.” I whispered, almost to myself.
“Take it away.” Was the short, curt response I got from my mother-in-law.
“Please… what happened?” I almost begged, “Please take the cake?”
“TAKE. IT. AWAY.” Was all I got.
“Your blessings…” She left my sentence hanging and walked off, banging the door and screaming, “Take it away” over and over again.
I composed myself, smiled and replied, “Please throw it away if you don’t want it.” I went up to my room, to spend a few minutes with myself.
My darling husband who has known me for eight years is annoyed now because he thinks I’m overreacting. I sat at the edge of my bed, on my birthday, in silence.
Wondering, did I make a mistake here? Was I overreacting? All the insults to my family, the taunts from my in-laws and now my husband’s reaction to my ‘overreaction’.
I thought, did I not recognize my husband in eight years, or does he not know who I am? When did marriage mean leaving my self-respect at the door?
I took a deep breath, put a smile on my face and walked down to spend time with my family on my birthday.