“Have you read Anna Karinina?”
“No”, came the reply in a barely audible voice. The dusky beauty was too shy to look at me.
“Oh!” I did not know what to say next.
I was meeting her for the first time. My parents had met her once before.
Her parents were a little apologetic on the first meeting. “Hamari ladki thodi kaali hai,” they had said.
My parents, in response, assured that the colour of skin did not matter to them. The final decision, however, lay with me.
So, this was a very important meeting. If I agreed, I would have to marry the girl and live with her forever. If I decided otherwise, I would have to forget her forever. This, of course, was assuming that she and her family would approve of me.
Mummy, Daddy, Didi and her two young children sat next to me. Her parents, two sisters and a brother were with her. Most of the time everybody sat in the same room, looking at each other, trying to make small conversation. Stealing a glance at her was very difficult. I adopted the trick of talking to persons sitting diagonally across. This way I could enjoy a fleeting glance of her every time I shifted my attention from one person to the other. There were times I could see her looking at me. Whenever our eyes met, I could feel her talking to me in a silent language.
Finally, I was coaxed to talk to her. However, her plain “no” blocked any chances of further conversation. Mummy, Didi and Daddy tried speaking to her, and she replied in mono-syllables. Whenever she spoke something, I became super attentive to catch her every word.
She had a good voice.
And she was beautiful.
We were invited for snacks. For a brief moment I managed to stand next to her. There was no clumsiness in the way she ate.
Back home, my parents asked my views about her. I was too shy to say anything for some time, but later announced my decision.
She became my wife. That was thirty-two years ago.
She turned out to be a stronger person than I am. And a better person. More forgiving. More loving. More caring. Happier. Loving the good things in life.
I liked her thirty-two years ago. I started loving her soon after. Today, I cannot think of a life without her.
I love you, my wife!