An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Steamships Short Story Award
WE MET IN THE CITY and fell in love instantly the first time we met. We were an adorable pair. He is a doctor and I’m an accountant with one of the largest and well known accounting firms. He was a true friend. Someone to laugh and cry with, to hug and confide in. I never dreamt that I would find someone like him.
I am such a career oriented person that finding love was the last thing on my mind. Being with him were the best moments of my life. He is everything I let myself dream of in a man. He is Hardworking, kind, funny, charming and intelligent. And to top of the icing on the cake, he’s from the highlands, because ever since I was eighteen, I always have a thing for highlands guys.
‘You are perfect. You will win’, he smiles at me eagerly. I winced smiled and rolled my eyes. So he pops the question I dreaded the most. He wants me to meet his parents. Ouch!!! . I just want to be with him. Just live with him with no plans for the future. But he thought otherwise. He loves me a lot. He wants to marry me. He wanted me to meet my in laws to be. It was a spur of the moment decision.
I half heartedly agreed. Guess I was just not ready for something like that. I got to admit that I am too embarrassed to meet his parents. However, when he met my parents and family. He won them over. They totally adored him. In fact, we got well on the phone. Whenever he called home to check in, I would talk to his parents every now and then. I flirted briefly with the notion of impressing my in laws to be. I don’t know how I would react towards the parents of the man I loved.
He finally proposed and I had no choice but to accept gladly. I counted down the days and contemplated on how I would impress them to win their hearts and their sons heart more.
My sisters gave me a good luck hug before we began the long and tiring journey, first by plane and then by road, to his village to spend the weekend. I really needed that though. We finally arrived at his village in the afternoon. It feels good to experience something different for a change. As we approached his parents’ house, my heart beat like it would burst.
I clutched his hands tightly as we walked. Well, everyone was there. I started greeting everyone brightly but not too much attention was on me .They all greeted their son with pride and respect and I stood there stunned. They acknowledged my presence too but I was ignored. I felt like a stranger. They were not thrilled to see me.
I close my eyes for a second and imagine that I’m somewhere else. But I was brought back to reality when he squeezed my hands and introduced me to his parents. After those phone conversations I thought they were nice people but maybe I was wrong. They just nodded and shook hands (with fake smiles!). I ignored their negative reactions and was being so pleasant towards them and gave them my utmost respect. I gave his parents the gifts I bought for them and started conversing with them.
Just then, his Grandmother walks past, glares at me and muttered inaudibly to herself. My instinct tells me something is wrong but couldn’t figure out why. I was nervous. I felt unwanted. Why am I getting these cold shoulder from these people I just met? . We don’t even know each other. What happened to ‘I am perfect. I will win’. Is this for real. I am a real person with real feelings and needs. So many questions raced through my mind. Maybe they didn’t like me. Maybe I failed to succumb to their expectations. What are their expectations anyway! . Maybe I am not perfect for their son. Maybe they don’t like coastal girls. I tried to think about the reasons. Why would they do that?
I finally decided to make myself comfortable and started conversing with his relatives. ‘This is a really great place. Will you show me around?’ I asked one of his aunties and we left the crowd milling around him. I stole a glance and don’t like the look on their faces , however, I refuse to let their behavior ruin my afternoon and weekend. I convinced myself that it is the best thing to do now. I have to be calm. I try to regain some dignity by being polite and deal with the in law issue. Maybe things will change.
That night as I was in the room, I could hear them talking and didn’t like the sound of it even though they spoke in their local dialect. I don’t have the heart to tell him how mean his parents and family were. I Pretended all is well with me when he asked how I feel about everything.I lie down on the bed and held the pillow to my face. I feel comforted for a while. It wasn’t a pleasing atmosphere but I forced myself to sleep peacefully.
‘Aiya-oooooooooooo..aiya-ooooooooo’!!, I woke up abruptly to the sound of women screaming and singing in their tokples It was when I walked out of the house that I see her walking towards the house. Women were dressed in their traditional attire and were singing and dancing around her. I saw his parents smiling away and talking nicely to that girl. I wondered what was going on. Just then he walked in.
‘I’m sorry’, he said apologetically. I never meant to hurt you. I am not involved in this. It’s my parents doing’. Tears stung my eyes as I put everything together. I only asked him ‘Do you love her’, he nodded confusingly. ‘I am not sure but it’s my parents wish and choice I can’t say no. I can’t go against their wishes after all they have done for me’, he said nonchalantly.
I totally forgot the celebrations outside. I felt humiliated, rejected, hated, deserted and betrayed for the first time in my life. I feel nauseated. Then he did something I wasn’t expecting. He left me and walked over to where the celebration is and gladly accepted the marriage arrangements. I just wanted to get away from this place. I was out of sight and standing alone. I was really upset but I have got to pull myself together. It all happened so quite suddenly and unexpectedly. I believed what I wanted I hear. They were too judging. I had to accept it and put it all behind me. I can’t look back.
I don’t know why I, Sandra Jones, Monica and David’s daughter, the pride of my family, a beautiful and talented 27 year old university graduate and professional accountant be treated like this. I have succeeded in everything but this. The man I loved and hoped to be with for the rest of my life was taken away from me by his parents. So I hear, the woman lives up to his parents expectations so was arranged to marry his son. I on the other hand don’t match his parents’ criteria. I don’t even know what criteria when we haven’t even really met to get to know each other well.
I wonder if marriage was the only thing missing from my perfect life. But one disastrous life decision changed the life I want to live. Happiness is living the life I want to live rather than the one I am expected to.
I was on the next flight home. Pretty soon I ditched all these bad happenings for my own happiness.