Little Love Lost



A big Barbie doll cake lay untouched on the decorated table. A dozen kids stared greedily; the birthday girl looked on unmoved. “How can you even think about eating my delightful dollie?” she complained, to no one in particular. “I will go put her with my blue teddy bear.” Her parents gave each other watery smiles. “It wasn’t my idea…” the man let out a whimper.

My talkative aunt looked on at the proceedings. The little girl’s Granny came and sat beside, a plateful of paneer tikkas on her lap.

“The daughter-in-law could have had better common sense. These girls, I tell you.” Granny made a face.

Aunt smiled; Granny continued on a tangent of her own.

“Right from the time they got married, I feel the girl is incompetent. She cannot even put the kid to sleep on time.” Some of the pudina chutney stained her zardosi sari. “Anyhow, I am glad the son got married before he could get started on a love marriage nonsense.”

“Oh, so this was an arranged marriage?” Aunt made the blunder of her life.

Granny looked thunderstruck. Smoke came out of her ears. “But of course! How can you even think like that of my son?”

Aunt was taken aback. “It’s just that children choose their life partners on their own these days…”

“Huh. My son is a good boy. You get that? Good boy! Not the kind to dance to the tunes of some black-soul-ed temptress!”

Aunt nodded, quickly moving away. Granny went on rattling her teeth in the background.


I wonder. Do only ‘black-soul-ed’ people fall in love? Is ‘temptation’ all there is to it? That Granny thinks so doesn’t anger me. She comes from a time when love outside of one’s family was severely looked down upon. You could only love your parents and perhaps, the pet lamb. Prospective partners did not see each other until alone in a decked-up room. But even today, while on one hand they indulge in expensive mobile phones and send their children for higher studies, there are people who hurl abuses at love.

There are people who spend the morning praying to their noble God and promising goodness and righteousness through the holy smoke. In the afternoon, they go about kidnapping a couple who committed the grave crime of falling in love. Finally, when darkness befalls, they produce knives from their jackets and dump the two bodies – slashed throats and all – into the very river they bathed that morning in. They say the killings were to uphold the family’s honour. How, after all, could the family continue to live in an ‘honourable’ society after what their children did? Indeed. Honour has always been about bloodshed, rarely about loving your fellow people.

“Aren’t their people enough in your own caste?” say the less bloody sort.

They are harried and worried about their child’s beloved, apparently also the one the child has decided to marry. “Can you not give one thought to what people will say to your sister? To your brother? To us? Who will marry the rest of the kids?” A very serious problem this one. No one will be willing to marry the brothers and sisters of a man who has married outside his caste. Never mind if the ‘outcaste’ was well-behaved, well-educated and hailing from a respectable family. What matters the most is how they spoilt the smooth scheme of things and cooked up a mayhem for their own lives and everyone else’s. What was the ‘need’ to bring love in the arrangement? Now, the families would have to forever walk with a crestfallen face and sheltered eyes – a huge ‘blot’ that the lovers would continue to hope to erase, perhaps with a trophy that their firstborn won at school.

I appreciate the good old custom of arranged marriages in society. The families do good research; they do not have to worry about status and caste differences that love marriages often present. All very well. But it also needs to be understood how the baba and the baby do not remain true to their names till the grave. They grow up too! If someone chooses a life partner for themselves, they understand the weight of responsibility that tags along. Being in love gives the individuals a chance to understand each other better, talk about everything under the sun, see for themselves how suited they are for a lifetime of togetherness. As long as none of the people involved come with a major objection – say a crime record? Or even a lack of regular income – I fail to understand what is the hue and cry and trauma associated with a ‘love’ marriage. Yes, this is one decision that will last a lifetime and it makes perfect sense to consider and ponder. But does it make sense to negate all the warmth that love brings only on the grounds of – ‘we do not allow a love marriage’ ?

Marriage Garland


If there was one thing I could change about the world around me, I want to see a more accommodating approach towards love marriages. No more hushed whispers and rushed explanations about a bride or bridegroom who belongs to a varied social, cultural or religious backdrop. A warm welcome to such a communion in place of sacrificing, martyr like glances thrown at the ‘erring’ child. It would be wonderful to be part of a society that acknowledges love as it happens – not chosen out of a predetermined sample space but wider, broader and much more compassionate.

“I wonder what Granny will do now.” Aunt broke into my thoughts. I looked up at her quizzically.

“It seems her other son wants to marry a South Indian girl.”

What will now transpire isn’t something I can speculate. But I will keep you posted.

* written as a part of Stayfree’s ‘Time to Change!’ contest on Indiblogger. To read more on the theme, go here.


34 thoughts on “Little Love Lost

  1. I so understand your thoughts. Let alone inter-community marriages. Inter-caste marriages within the same community become such dramas.

  2. So was the barbie birthday cake a cut out sheet cake or a standup cake with the doll in the middle and covered with fondant? If the latter,
    They really seem popular and I dont see the problem of just taking out the doll and eating the cake.

    anyway, the best way of countering prejuidices is setting good example.

    • Welcome to Saddi Delhi, Mizhi. 🙂
      The cake was a virtual doll – the hair was of son papdi, the lips of cherry, you get the idea. So, she could not bring herself to understand the doll was edible. Dollie looked so real! 🙂

      I agree. Setting a good example works. Even if you don’t get to counter a prejudice, you are happier for having followed your heart. 🙂

  3. One of my father’s friend’s daughter was not getting married and had reached considerable age. My father was suggesting about how would it be if she found someone on her own..That uncle reacted the same way -“we have not taught our kids such bad values!” :O :O some people I tell you!

    • Sad, sad. To choose a life partner for your life on your own is ‘bad’. Heck, even those princesses in swayamvar were luckier. Aren’t they part of our culture? Sigh.

  4. Beautifuly written and thought provoking Debo.
    I can understand the difficulty of love marriage in a country that highly uphold caste, like your country. Maybe one day it can change 🙂

    …however, fixed marriage is not always bad…my mom and dad were like that and they stayed together till the end without any affair happening in between 🙂

    • Yes Novroz, things are changing. But still at a pace which could do with mending.
      Ha ha… of course, fixed marriages have been happening since times immemorial and of both ‘parties’ are willing, I see no problem. It is just that the attitudes need to be friendlier towards the other kinds of marriages as well. They too are not bad. 😀

  5. Beautifully written, Deboshree! And your concerns are very valid! But I’d like to believe that slowly the whole stigma towards love marriages is changing. People today are increasingly becoming more and more receptive towards choice marriages 🙂

    Looking forward to reading the update on the younger son! 🙂

    And good luck for the contest!

    • Even I would like to believe that Deeps. And it is happening. It is only when I see such incidents/mindsets prevailing at close quarters that I realize how a lot of the stigma still remains to go…

      Oh yes, even I am anxious about the lad. Lets hope he manages a glitch-free wedding. 🙂

      Thanks a lot..!! 😀

  6. If all wishes could be granted … then the world would be such a perfect place to live in. I hope that your wish for change in this aspect comes true and I hope that my wish for you to win this contest also comes true 😀

    Good luck !

  7. A million likes for this post..

    This debate will go on for another 50 years more I guess.The only tension is whether our generation will also change their colors in future.I hope we won’t;at least I wont do it 😉 😉

    All the best for the contest

  8. A ‘love’ly post. 😀 It reminded me of the complex dynamics of a typical arranged marriage I’d read in Two States.

    Girl likes boy.
    Boy likes girl.
    Girl’s family likes boy.
    Boy’s family likes girl.
    Girl’s family likes boy’s family.
    Boy’s family likes girl’s family.

    All the six conditions must be satisfied in order for the marriage to take place! Hmph! That’s why love marriage is so hassle-free. 😀

  9. ah.. yes! The whole “love” debate!! 😛
    I so wanna know what happens regarding the younger son!! I wish him luck! 🙂
    and I agree with you – a more accomodating attitude is what is needed! 🙂 🙂

  10. I think that the main thing is to have an accomodating attitude towards castes and relgions and original states/languages background. If you can fallin love with a person of your caste-religion and state, probably there won’t be any opposition.
    Another issue is the love between husband and wife – in a joint family, being in love with your spouse is seen as a problem as they feel that you don’t observe family customs and forget respect of elders, give your salary to your wife, don’t buy gifts for the parents ..

    • Welcome to Saddi Delhi, Sunil Deepak. 🙂
      I think you have presented two very valid concerns. The falling-for-the-same-caste is a phenomenon that people prefer. Makes things so much simpler. Also, like you said, what business does a ‘son’ have being devoted to the wife? The thought opens a Pandora’s box of wounded egos and misgivings.

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