Sheetal was the most effervescent girl in the college. She was loved for her charming wit, stunning simplicity, penchant for the subject and above all for her being herself.
She was the lone daughter of an industrious middle class Government clerk. Upon graduating, while all her peers were busy preparing for Master’s degree, not once did she think of continuing to study . She embraced a mediocre job with ease.She knew it was her turn to support her family financially.
At work, she was the show stopper. She had the perfect attitude towards work. For her, work was worship. She consistently topped the performance charts with diligent efforts. Her greedy colleagues many times tried to imitate her, but Sheetal was one of a unique kind.
No matter how situations changed, she had a self contained goal in her life. She aimed to work for couple of years and pursue post graduation from a reputed institution and procure a high paying job. She wanted to be no more dependent on her parents and was secretly saving for this goal of her’s.
It was a pleasant summer evening. In their best costumes, Sheetal and her parents reached the venue of a family function. Dressed in a bright red lehenga, she greeted everyone with her warm customary smile. As a custom in Indian marriages, Sheetal touched the feet of the elders in the family to seek their blessings. With air flowing in between her broken teeth and with difficulty to speak, one of the oldies prompted that it was time Sheetal gets married. Instantaneously, Sheetal’s dad was informed about a prospective groom in their relations.
Though the boy was not present at the venue, she was introduced to other immediate family members of the prospective groom. It was decided that the boy would meet the girl the upcoming week. Her dreams of higher studies were shunned by her parents who were totally convinced this was the best match and it would be a great loss to miss the groom.
Following week, the groom along with his family members visited Sheetal’s house. She was dressed in a beautiful blue saree and was made to feel like an orthodox bride who was not allowed to talk to the groom. Her parents made extensive preparations inviting their family members and the event almost sounded like a mini wedding. Sheetal was still lost in her dreams of studying further and getting a better job. She saw her emotions getting submerged in the family’s decision for her marriage.
The guy okayed the girl and all the family members started showering their blessings for the to-be couple. Sheetal’s eyes welled with tears, people mistook it for happiness. Her ears turned deaf, and people likened it to arise out of excitement. The next day, preparations commenced for her engagement. Relatives were invited, venue was shortlisted.
Suddenly, Sheetal’s father received a call from the groom’s father and in a very subtle and melancholic voice, he quoted that the family was not too happy about the bride and they cannot proceed further. Sheetal’s parents were perturbed and inconsolable.
Sheetal over heard the news and she jumped in the air like a little school kid who won the running competition. Her dream world swiftly took a shape. She saw herself as one of the top executives in a reputed institute. Gathering her conscience, she walked to her parents and confronted about her dreams of higher education, better job and her wish to settle down in life before she gets married. Her parents were proud of their daughter and allowed her to fly to heights she aimed to.
P.S: Unfortunately in India, in the context of wedding, a girl’s choice is still considered taboo. The family decides the good for her and in return she is expected to nod in approval. With this growing technological culture, wish girls especially from the rural areas get a chance to speak their mind and given freedom to make their own choices.