When her mom had thrust that picture in her hand casually asking, “What do you think of him?” she had no clue it would become the most important face in her life. “He's okay”, she had said matching her mum's tone even though her heartbeat had climbed up a notch. Then that weekend she met him for coffee. Even in that short hour she had felt at ease because he had seemed completely at ease despite the whole 'arranged marriage' rigmarole.
Yes she liked him, she had told her mum. She really did.
A month later after a few phone calls and dinners with him she'd found herself engaged. And another few months later here she was.. Married. A Married Woman! She vaguely remembered reading a book by that name, a book that didn’t have nice things to say about marriage. Quickly she banished those thoughts.
That’s what she’d done since the day of her engagement- banished all thought of what marriage would be like. Mercifully she barely had had much time what with completing the shopping and finishing her work assignments before she went on leave.
She sat in her new home while her new husband pottered around in the kitchen. He had offered to make tea while she refreshed herself after the long road journey. All those feelings, long suppressed, seemed to have woken up now and were clamouring to be recognised. Nervousness, excitement, happiness,... and DREAD. A wave of homesickness hit her.. Hard. And the dread!
How did I get myself into this? An educated, independent girl like me.. in an arranged marriage? For godsake who goes in for an arranged marriage these days? How much do I really know this man? She asked herself. What if he turns out to be an alcoholic, a wife beater or worse?.. she was alone.. all alone with this stranger.
Jerkily she got up from the sofa upsetting the bottle of water at the side table. Crash!!!! The bottle went crashing down taking with it a bunch of knick knacks. “Are you okay?” he called out from the kitchen. “Yes”, she managed to croak, her words stuck in her throat.
She bent down to pick up the bottle and there under the bed sat a carton full of books.
Playboys! OMG he's into porn! she thought. Shaking guiltily, she pulled out the carton. And there, in neat rows, she discovered…. her own bookshelf.
All her favourites..
Love story, Man Woman and Child.. He was a romantic! Jonathan Livingstone Seagull- a rebel and a perfectionist, Bill Bryson - So he liked travel and he liked humour. Then Joseph Heller, Ayn Rand.. Oh she did like him. Her eyes glistened with tears of relief.
'Chai garam.. he sang out from the doorway. She looked up hastily to find him balancing the tea tray in one hand while three boxes of biscuits were piled up in the other supported by his chin. “I didn't know which ones you'd like so I brought all,” he said with a boyish grin.
“You okay?" he asked as he saw the look on her face.
“Yes, I'm fine,” said she smiling shyly as she moved to help him with the tray. She knew she would be fine.