They Thought My Height Was A Good Excuse To Demand Dowry

Posted by bonobology in Sexism And Patriarchy
March 23, 2017

The incessant ringing of the phone was annoying and my scooty came to a screeching halt. The number flashing on the screen was unknown, yet familiar. The voice on the other end said, “hello!” Now I knew he was Anuj.

This was the beginning of an association where the alacrity of calls and messages was ceaseless. It culminated in a few secret meetings too. There is a certain seductive but mean value in meeting secretly. Then, one day, he proposed over coffee, validating the adage that a lot can happen over coffee. I had been waiting for this. I accepted.

He went to his family to break the news and all hell broke loose. I too did the same, but since my family advocated and fostered independent views, there was ready acceptance. After the initial hue and cry, his parents agreed to meet mine. The entire Singh household (mine) was soaked in a festive spirit. Delicious aromas wafted through the air, and new cushion covers and bed covers were laid out. The brassware was being polished, and the entire house was getting a facelift.

I, too, was excited. The day dawned bright and the wait was long and unbearable. My in-laws-to-be arrived late at night, donning a stiff exterior. They saw me, gave us the shagun (token of acceptance), and seemed to relent a bit. After dinner and a discussion regarding the wedding arrangements, we all went to bed. The next morning was a different story. The stiff facade was back and they made no bones about it. The envelopes given by my parents as gifts were an insult to them. They left my place abruptly. I felt torn and humiliated.

This was followed by a spell of silence for a few months. We met again with a resolve to try afresh. He assured me that he was trying hard to patch things up and was adamant that he would marry only me.

This time his parents straight away refused, saying, “that girl is short.” Anuj kept comforting and reassuring me that he was determined to marry me against everyone and everything else. I resorted to tears and kept asking how much validation a girl needs for her beauty from outside. I was hurt, furious and determined to fight the situation.

Later, I realised it was not only about the height. A groom’s parents often look upon their boy as a marketable commodity. Not having their expectations fulfilled made them resort to stoic silence.

In India, before marriage, the women are analysed on the basis of their external looks and their ability to run the household.

Ours is a patriarchal society where we validate rotten belief systems. I wanted to take action, but could not do much against the parents of a person whom I loved so much. I respected him, as he was juggling hard between his parents and mine to resolve the differences. But things were not moving and I was getting impatient.

At one point I thought about giving up and asked him to marry someone else, but he was sure that he would arrive at a workable solution. My parents were getting equally impatient but on realising how determined I was to marry him, decided to discuss the matter with local authorities. They intervened by explaining to Anuj’s parents how the matter could turn against them if a legal dowry case was registered, which almost seemed to put an end to the impasse.

Anuj’s parents sensed the delicacy of the situation and relented to work towards an amicable solution. The wedding budget and other finer details were worked out. Finally, amidst drama, confusion, and apprehensions, we exchanged nuptial vows. This is how the tall and the short married at last and chose to live happily ever after.

(As told to Archana Sharma for