When Father showed me his picture today, I finally let out a sigh of relief. My family wants to get me married. But more than that, I need to get married.
Father very badly wants to marry me into Rajesh's family. My life would be set, he says. They own a family business that is well known in the entire State and Rajesh being the only son, is going to inevitably inherit the company and all the wealth that comes with it. I knew all this from the beginning. But I never expected him to be this handsome. His looks changed the entire ball-game.
All this while, when Father spoke of this family, I didn't know how excited I should allow myself to be considering how this is a routine in our home these days. The minute I'm back home for the holidays, all I hear are tales of important families and their sons that I should consider for marriage. Well, unfortunately for Father, it's us that these families do not consider. I blame him entirely for this because he always tries to get me married to the wealthiest guy available when we ourselves can hardly qualify to be called "well-off". Everyone says that my looks can land me any boy I want. So since the age of 16, I have been losing confidence over my looks because neither the rich boys nor their families seem to value it over our financial status. Except this one.
Whenever I got rejected in the past, I would just shrug and announce that I was hoping for rejection since I wanted to continue my education. "I love college!", I used to say. But I'm not at the liberty to say that ever since I got kicked out so I really need this to work out in my favour. He is handsome and rich. He runs his own family business. If this works out, I can tell anyone who asks that I voluntarily stopped my education to get married. God knows that is a lie, but this is the only way in which I can save face in our society.
Nobody knows the real reason why I got kicked out of college. Or at least the reason that led to the incident that got me kicked out. It was an all-girls' college. I'd only ever been sent to all-girls institutions starting from the time I joined pre-school. All I knew were girls, growing up. But somewhere around the time when I was 12 or 13 years old, things began to get a little strange and confusing. I began to notice not only the changes in my body but also in the girls around me. I was always the first to notice breasts in a girl and I loved what I saw. I fantasised about Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor with the girls during the day, and about the girls themselves during the nights. I was scared to tell anyone how I felt because I myself couldn't understand it. All that was in school.
Then came college where I was surrounded by even more girls. Girls who had the freedom to dress as they pleased and to dress up more than the average school girl. Beautiful girls everywhere. I stayed in a hostel where I shared my room with three other girls. My room-mates would change their clothes in front of me and I would secretly ogle at everything that remained hidden beneath their clothes. Somewhere down the lane, one of my room-mates, the prettiest one with the most perfect body, caught me staring. She didn't take offence at all. In fact, nothing changed between us. Nothing except the fact that she would sometimes call me by my surname. Narendran, my father's name. Every time she addressed me by my surname, she would giggle coyly and I would feel a surge of power and confidence sweeping over me. One day, when she addressed me by my father's name, we were alone in the room. So I leaned forward and kissed her on the lips. A kiss that left us both hungry for more.
On a weekend that everyone in the hostel decided to go home, the two of us stayed back. We had two days and four beds all to ourselves. At one point, we even broke the frame of our room-mate's bed. It was funny when it happened and we laughed till we cried. But the tears of happiness got replaced by real tears when one of our room-mates returned a day earlier than expected. She obviously had the key to the room and entered to find us both in bed, naked.
News spread like wild-fire. They discovered the broken bed-frame and started calling us "The Bed-Breakers" behind our backs. We were shunned from our friends group. Our other room-mates started behaving like they were mortally afraid of us. We were untouchables, and physical proximity with us was something everyone tried to avoid. My special friend could take it no more and decided to never return to college after the Christmas break. I, however, had to stick around to put up the façade at home that I loved college. Things began to get a lot more difficult when the girls realised that I wouldn't react to their bullying. One day, on my way to the library, two girls stood in a corner and called out my new nick-name from behind my back. Whenever I turned to face them, they'd pretend as if they were talking animatedly to one another. Well, they were the only other human beings around so who were they kidding? They kept at it till I reached the building. By then, I'd pretty much had it. So I turned around and walked back towards them. They froze when they saw me but before I could do or say anything, one of them lunged at me and pushed me on to the ground. That did it. All the feelings that I had been suppressing over the months resurfaced. So I jumped back up, caught the girl by her hair and dragged her through the dirt. I then sat on her and slapped her back and forth till someone intervened.
I got kicked out of college for physically abusing a peer. My parents couldn't understand why the college was being so strict about it because it was just one fight. But I knew very well that all the students and staff whispered behind my back. I knew especially when the Principal, Sr. Mary Anne, told my father that he should get me married soon.
This is why I need to get married. I need to be able to tell people that marriage forced me to discontinue my education. I need the girls from college to shut up. I need to survive this. And that rich, handsome boy who's shown interest in me is my only hope.