Today again she was standing wearing the same dress, it’s not as new and beautiful as it used to be, but she had gathered her courage and was standing in front of the mirror watching her reflection closely. The  face looks a little wrinkly she thought to herself “I am in the thirties now, instead of the fairness cream I think its time to buy an anti-aging cream.” “Should I put some lipstick on? I don’t want to look goddy, but if I don’t put anything on it might seem like I didn’t bother to get ready at all.” “Do my eyes still have the spark or they have lost the twinkle? like Jui, my classmate whos eyes seemed a little lifeless.” She was thinking to herself. “Even Jui got married I hear” she could feel her smile disappear. She opened 2-3 lipsticks to check the colors, she so wanted to put the MAC Ruby woo on but thought it would be too much so went for the nude pink. She touched her cheeks and thought to herself ‘as a teenager it was such bad judgment to pop her pimples.’ She moved her neck a little to see her earrings swing which made her smile. ‘ i still look good,’ ‘ girls who are fat, skinny, dark, even ones who have a squint get married, why haven’t I found anyone yet.’ She thought. 

Nowadays the worry regarding her marriage in her parent’s eyes had started to bother her, made her feel responsible for their troubles. It must kill them inside to see their daughter who is so well educated, independent, earns well enough that she can afford a flat, a car also almost every weekend when she goes to meet the probable suitors in the cafes, she pays the bills too but doesn’t seem to find anyone worthy of marriage. All the girls in their community have found someone but their daughter Nah! They couldn’t put a finger on the problem, she isn’t arrogant, selfish, she is hardworking, intelligent and isn’t so bad looking either. What is it that those other girls have that our daughter lacks? They always wondered. Arranged marriages are difficult they knew but their daughter isn’t so bad. Especially the marriage season is the worst. Whenever they attend someone’s wedding the relatives get very judgmental. The elder generations in their extended family always end up asking what is the issue why are you not getting ur daughter married. 

‘I am tired of all the rejections. Am I damaged somehow and I don’t know’ everyone else has got someone, I had registered my name in an arrange marriage site when I was 25 years of age. There are many theories as to why maybe I haven’t found anyone yet ‘My aunt says that I am too old, my grandmother says that I am too much educated maybe. Hence I have even edited my profiles on the website and made it simple less overbearing deleted a few qualifications so that I don’t come off too strong. One of my aunts thinks it’s because maybe I am not fair-skinned, but for me, skin color is not as important, My demands are very fair and realistic. I don’t care if the guy is dark, he just has to be fair in his heart. My friends think that I am being too choosy. Not really, for being choosy I don’t have a lot of options anymore. 

I have met a lot of guys in the last two years and you won’t believe it but I wore this same dress every time, it’s like I am being superstitious. One of my friend’s mother suggested I wear this very dress in this fashion, lavender. Her daughter had worn a similar dress the first time she met her guy and the guy was mesmerized by her and said, “Nice dress, You seem to have a good choice” must be the dress, it was her choice, not mine. But before that the dress I used to wear was my choice a dark blue one, it also wasn’t appreciated by anyone either. 

‘Must be because I go way before the time of the meeting must make me seem desperate, but that can’t be it I was late a couple of times. Maybe the times I went late the guys wouldn’t have liked me going late. In all, I don’t know what seems to be the problem. This time when I go I think I am going to hide somewhere nearby and as soon as he comes I will go just in time not to seem careless or desperate either’.

I am thinking about this guy so much whom I have never even met. What if I wear what I like and meet these guys as if just for the heck of it, meet casually have a conversation pretend to have a good time, why pretend I might have a better time meeting the guys rather than with my girlfriends who keep asking me the same stupid questions about my marriage. 

In my thoughts, I didn’t realize that I had reached the cafe which was just around the corner from my house. I am now hiding behind a bush as I had planned. As soon as I see him I will enter the cafe, and there he has arrived. I better check his picture on my phone and make sure it’s him. I keep going through so many faces nowadays throughout the day on these dating and marriage profiles that all of them seem the same. Omg, this is that guy who has his own business and earns around one lakh per month. 

“Hi I am Bhavana, you must be Sagar?” This is the first time I have introduced my self like this to a guy without hesitation. I am feeling a little less stressed today, its just like one of those times when you meet a guy just for a quick coffee. Even if he rejects me I suppose it’s ok. But this guy seems a little shy. Must be new to all this arranged marriage thing. I am by now a pro at this. He doesn’t seem to even look at me so I also start looking around. These cafes have glass walls and I could use a mirror anyways. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking “ the red ruby woo would have been a better choice, and this dress is such a mistake. Huh!”

“What are your expectations from your future husband?” Sagar asked. I couldn’t help but think “All I want is for someone to say yes to me and get married” but I just smiled. 

I took a deep breath and said, “ To be very frank I should have asked you to reschedule the meet to some other day, I wasn’t feeling like going out today, but u know when you are desperately looking to get married you can’t waste a day, it’s been 6 years since I am looking for someone mom gets emotional and so had to come. This dress, I don’t like the colour at all I don’t generally prefer this pattern too but I have been wearing this dress to meet guys for a year or more. Because every time before you meet a guy, finding a dress that is a good colour, doesn’t make me look fat or dark or sleeveless and so on is such so tedious, hence this is like a uniform. I don’t have a pattern as such, I wear what I like. M sorry it seems like I am being too frank. Also, I suppose I should have just rescheduled the meeting for tomorrow. I guess its ok, now that we are here let us just enjoy the coffee and leave.” His face seemed blank. I was a bit surprised I thought he would react somehow as I was too frank. Bollywood movies always seem to have a happy ending so did my life, not that I fell in love with him or he did with me, but one thing happened that day, I fell in love with me. I realised I am loveable. But I always undervalued “ME”

You just read the translated version of Marathi article ‘Ghodnavari’, written by Sayali Kedar.

Translation by – Mrunmayee Bhave.

Apart from writing I love to go on bike rides and have coffee with unending conversations.

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