From the day they're born, every Indian parent dreams of walking their daughter down the aisle and granting her hand in marriage to a man no less than Prince Charming. Shit on it all you want, but arranged marriage is the reality for a huge chunk of the Indian population. And many, like Panchayat's Rinki, enter the terrain willingly, entrusting their parents with finding a suitable partner to spend the rest of their life with. After all who knows you better than your parents?
An uber excited Rinki's parents couldn't wait to meet the jewel of a man they had cherrypicked for their daughter. From a good, stable job to a noble family, Rinki's suitor had it all. It is vital to note that many times Rinki was asked for her consent regarding the matter. Her parents checked, and then checked again if she truly wanted to proceed. She was given the opportunity to get to know her potential partner on her own terms, with privacy. And after deep thought, Rinki agreed and the families decided to meet.
However, an unfortunate mix up led to both parties arriving at separate venues.
It is how people react to minute discrepancies, that reveal their true character. Test them not when they're at their best but when they're inconvenienced. And how Rinki's future family reacted to the situation uncovered a grim reality. No amount of money and degrees can substitute a shallow mind. Her in-laws go on to tell Pradhan Ji, "Itne sate mein nahi chorenge. Dahej mein bohut paisa bacha liye aap."
Not accepting dowry, is not doing someone a favour. The entitlement they exhibit with their holier-than-thou attitude is proof that they think they deserve a dowry, and that is a ginormous red flag. Their only achievement? They are the 'ladke-waale' after all.
Marriage is a mutual ordeal. Each partner is an equal half. A family who expects the girl's family to make all the arrangements, all the sacrifices, while paying all the bills today will expect her to slave her ass off for her husband tomorrow. Agreeing to their ridiculous demands is admitting that in the future Rinki will be the one to surrender her needs and put her husband before herself. All because she is a woman.
Pradhan Ji was right to recognise that the behaviour they demonstrate today, is reminiscent of their internalized misogyny. They might have power and status, but ultimately they are conservative and petty-minded, and that would alter the course of Rinki's future and call harm upon her. In a way, he saved her from a life of servitude.
Parents remember, your daughter is not a prized calf up for auction. No matter how good the 'ladke-waale' are, protect your daughter's best interests above all else. Yes, you might lose out on some shaan and shaukaat, but at least your daughter will march with her head held high. In this big, bad world riddled with patriarchal ideals, be a Pradhan Ji.
In the end, it all worked out for the best. Rinki's suitor turned out to be a psycho-stalker-freak and now maybe she can find love in the arms of Sachiv Ji? TBD.
Design credit: Sawan Kumari.