The Forgotten Choice

-by Teena Roy

Daddy when I grow up, don’t marry me off with dowry”, I told him one day. He didn’t say anything. I hadn’t given much thought about it before but when I heard my mother speaking of my cousin’s wedding and the arrangements for money for the same, I felt an intense dislike towards the infamous dealing.

Surpisingly my mom said,”dowry is not just some money we give at the time of marriage because the boy’s family asks; it’s also because we are sending our daughter to another family and we don’t want to send her away without anything“.

But mom, I’m gonna be working when I get married. Why should we give extra money when I can look after myself?” “Well whatever we earn are for our daughters so what we can give,…we will!”, my father said, effectively puting an end to his discussion. They didn’t want to discuss it further. But I was not done yet, atleast my thoughts were not. Come on, you are marrying me, marry me for who I am, not the for the money I bring. I am not some object to wager a price. My eighteen- year old self didn’t want my parents to give away their entire savings and energy to our in-law’s family so that we can have peaceful lives there. They are burning away their lives for us, since birth, for our health, our education, for our marriage, and now should they spend for us even after that? And even if they want to give something for their daughters shouldn’t they give it to the daughters themselves, not to their in laws. I don’t think my mother-in-law is gonna let me use the money in her account, is she? I don’t support the other way as well. Equality.

I am okay with giving the necessitites to live there, but getting treated well after bribing them? Oh no! You are mistaken. Not gonna give you a single penny. Treat me however you want. Jumping at easily obtainable money. Well every family tells they treat their daughters-in-law as their own daughters. Then why do you demand money for looking after your own “daughters”?

Dad I’m serious. I don’t want to get married by giving dowry”,I shouted upstairs. And he replied,”….what?

I woke up to the sound of the 6 O’clock alarm. I scanned my surroundings. Sunlight had started to pour through the windows. Nihal was still sleeping. The sound of breakfast being prepared could be heard from downstairs. I rushed to the bathroom to get ready. Office van arrives at 7. “Mom I’m going”,I told my mother-in-law while running towards the vehicle.

Stuck in the traffic, I couldn’t help think about my dream, that discussion, my resolution….all went with the winds, when I started getting no more proposals because nobody wanted a “useless thing that gives no money”. Maybe I could have waited. But I was scared, deep inside, would they treat me well if I don’t give them a car and 25 lakhs? Maybe I should have. I wish I had…….

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