A Marriage of Inconvenience – Short Story
A Marriage of Inconvenience
By Karthik Shankar
Our first night was rough.
No. Get those dirty thoughts out of your head before you read further. We entered our sumptuously decorated wedding room. I took off my clothes in a hurry and then in a stunning act of mature retrospection, realised how desperate I seemed. I then lost the urge to have sex; thinking of all the people still celebrating at the wedding party who knew we would seal the deal tonight. If this was a contest of one upmanship however, she beat me. She proceeded to cry. Softly at first with tears streaming down her angelic face, then gradually louder until her wail probably drowned out the loud music outside.
I was alarmed at this sudden turn of events, wondering if she wasn’t happy with what she saw. I sat next to her, patting her gently on her back. I should have taken a snapshot of that moment. A grown naked man pacifying a lavishly clothed crying bride. It would have made a very good comedy sketch. At the very least, it would have made one of the other million crying brides across the country crack a smile.
I then told her the worst possible thing someone can say at this point. ‘I know how you feel’. In a single swoop, I had not only taken the head off my figure of manliness, I had also changed her mood from sadness to Shiva level wrath.
‘You don’t know how I feel!’ she bellowed at me, leaving my eardrums ringing.
‘Tonight’s just the first night for the rest of our life as husband and wife. After our honeymoon we move in with your parents. Soon after, I’m expected to get pregnant and bloat up to 80 kilos. I have to give up my career because God forbid, a woman in this country can’t juggle two professions. So housekeeping becomes a full time career. Meanwhile you’re off working and gallivanting around town. I’ll become the person who keeps your life together and yet the person you resent because I remind you of your responsibilities.’
‘Are you having your period?’ I questioned like a newly minted fool. She then gets up in a righteous huff of anger.
‘I knew I never should have married you. You put on this act of a modern and caring man when we met but you also belong to this same patriarchal society as everyone else.’
‘Is there someone else?’ Boy, I was getting good at this.
The roulette wheel of her emotions spun again. This time it stopped at incredulity. ‘No there wasn’t anyone else! Are you questioning my virtue?’
At that point I lost my marbles and started laughing hysterically. ‘What is wrong with you?’ she asked. During my spurts of laughter, I explained to her how this would be a great story for our kids. ‘We had an argument before we even had sex,’ I said, continuing to cry laughing.
Then it came. The more radiant smile I’d ever seen. She also began laughing. ‘I don’t think we would talk to our kids about sex though.’
‘That’s a discussion for the future. In the meantime we have our careers, the long romantic dinners, travelling around the world and so much more. Kids can wait.’
She smiled at me. ‘How do I know you’ll not impose your ideas on me?’
I planted a gentle kiss on her cheeks. ‘Because Simran Kumar, I saw more than 20 women, all of whom had gentle demeanours and coy smiles. Instead I went for the woman who glared at her mother when she was asked to serve tea and snacks. I chose someone who’ll fight with me, challenge my ideas and make me see things in a different way. I can’t wait for you to teach this sexist fool your feminist ideas.’
She stared at me for a few minutes and then gently kissed me. I’m not one to kiss and tell but we made love for the first time that night. That eventful day was followed by several years of courtship and challenges thrown to win the hand of the fair maiden. I can’t say I always succeeded but I displayed resilience. Block by block, we built up a marriage. A bond that started off a series of rituals became something more divine.
We’ve decided we’re never having kids though. We’re fine with letting our crazy genes die with us.