It is with great pleasure that I introduce our newest writer. Jayasree is a young wife in India who loves to write romantic stories. Like Tina, our first Indian author, Jayasree writes about how love and romance can grow and flourish in an arranged marriage. This story, "I Love You," has some really great humor as well as tender feelings of love. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did. Jayasree first introduced herself to this Web site with the following comment in our guestbook. It shows her great passion for love, marriage, and writing. If you missed it, here it is.
I adore this site. Such sweet stories...in a time when the world is getting cynical about marriage and fidelity and everyone talks too easily about losing the drive after marriage. I would love to contribute soon to this site. As a writer from India, hopelessly in love (yes, in an arranged marriage just like Tina) I hope to be able to write something others will love reading in this forum.
Ria noticed the little piece of paper on top of the pile of ironed clothes. She picked it up, thinking it to be trash, but then she noticed Samir's handwriting on it.
"Wifey, I love you!--Samir" it said.
She smiled happily before putting it away in a drawer where lay all the notes that he had ever written to her, on greeting cards and on wrapped presents, and sometimes handwritten love letters that he gave her for no occasion at all. Three years of a solid marriage, and he was still leaving her love notes! Of course they had had their quarrels and rough patches, but she had to admit it, he was extremely appreciative and grateful for her, never taking her for granted. She hoped it would never change, it was so adorable.
But the words on the note had led her to think of something else that had happened before their marriage.
Theirs had been a sandwich generation, Ria had often thought. They were severely traditional at home, but were exposed to romance via movies and books. Now the human imagination has no boundaries, and almost every young man and woman dreamed of falling hopelessly in love with an ideal soul mate. Secretly, of course. Some did convert their dreams into reality, causing scandals for months. Others dreamed and then got married as per their parents' wishes.
Ria and Samir too had had an arranged marriage. But it wasn't so clichéd in the sense that they never set their eyes on each other before the wedding. In fact they met and chatted for a while before consenting to be engaged. After engagement, which was a social function, they had a courtship of nearly seven months, after which they were married.
During that period they spoke for hours together on the phone, met almost every Sunday, and holidays, also talking and meeting periodically with each others' families, for they both lived in joint families, and Ria fully intended to continue the tradition. She had lost her father when she was barely ten years old, and lived with her mother and paternal grandparents. Her mother was a strong, cheerful, dignified woman, who had worked hard to bring her up.
Samir too had a working mother, and both his parents were so affectionate with each other that sometimes Ria's heart ached for all the pleasures her mother had to miss. She was worried about her mother handling things alone after the marriage, and though Samir had already made it clear that he felt the same responsibility, she was uncertain and concerned.
Two months into their courtship, on yet another Sunday, Samir and Ria were eating ice cream together. They pretty much knew each other's likes and dislikes now, and were extremely comfortable with each other. Samir had a great sense of humor, and kept her in splits most of the time.
"Ria," he said, a serious tone in his voice.
"Yeah?" she asked, a little startled.
"I've been waiting to ask you this. Please don't overreact. I want you to understand that it is very natural for any couple in love. I've dreamed of it, quite frankly, and I am stubborn enough that I want this before marriage. What do you think?"
Ria was shocked. Mouth agape, her head spinning in disbelief, half-eaten ice cream melting in her hand, she stared at him.
What? She thought their values and outlook matched! He can't be serious! She could never agree to premarital intercourse. It was just not right, according to her. But how can he say such a thing, out of the blue! They hadn't even gotten very physical with each other, just brief shoulder hugs and chaste kisses on the hands.
"Well, say something!" said Samir, clicking his hands in front of her face.
"I--I can't believe, I really don't understand--are you really...?"
"But it's nothing wrong!" he went on, "We are going to be married, and its every man's fantasy! So what if it's an arranged marriage? Aren't we in love?"
Ria felt hot and flustered, and the ice cream broke off and fell onto the road. She was in such shock that she couldn't muster any reply.
She couldn't even look him in the face, and she stared at the ground, feeling a bit repulsed, when she heard peals of laughter. She looked up. It was Samir, laughing heartily, so hard that his eyes were beginning to tear up.
"Look at your face! You look as if someone doused you in cold water. My, oh my, you are red! Come on, Ria, what did you assume? I just wanted us to say the magical words, 'I love you', to each other! Do tell, what did you think I was asking?"
"Samir!" she screamed at him, and started chasing him around the road, laughing helplessly herself. They stopped and recovered after inviting the attention of quite a few passers-by. "You are awful! And you know what I assumed--you wanted me to think that's what you were asking!"
On the way to Ria's house, both still smiling widely, Samir asked her again. "So, what do you think? Should we say it now?"
"I've never thought of it as such a big deal, but don't men usually initiate this?"
"It's not a rule, but heck, I'll go first. I've been wanting to, anyhow. And today, seeing you in this cute outfit, watching you blush so hard, it really is irresistible. Ria Mehra, I love you! I love you, very, very much!"
Ria beamed at him happily. Before she could respond, though, he interrupted.
"But how can it not be such a big deal for you? Let me warn you, lady, that I am a big deal!" he said with mock pomposity. "Hey, if it hasn't occurred to you to say it yet, let's not rush it. I want it to come voluntarily, just like everything else should. No, no," he waved off her protests. "I know you are romantic at heart, and I am not in the least hurt, I promise! Just tell me when it feels right, and until then, enjoy hearing me say it--quite a lot, really!"
Ria was blown over by his simple approach. He was showing no false pride whatsoever, and actually practicing his theory of letting her be herself.
A week passed, and Samir ended their conversation and sent her texts with a lot of "I love you's." She enjoyed it, and thought of telling him the same, but she knew he would sense that it wasn't spontaneous. But she did love him!
Two days into the next week, Samir had told her he was going to drop off a few things at her place sometime during the evening. Some ceremony-related stuff, addresses and so on. Ria felt sad because she had continuous meetings that day, and didn't expect to return until much later than usual. But soon the hectic pace of the day devoured her, and she had forgotten all about it when she returned home from work, exhausted. Samir took official calls at night, so they always had to end their conversations before eight. Since it was already late, she didn't expect to hear from him tonight.
After changing, Ria gobbled up her dinner, as she was ravenous.
"How is the food?" asked her mother, with an odd smile.
Ria was surprised. Her mother always cooked delicious food, and she rarely asked this question.
"Fine. A bit salty. Why?"
"Samir made this," her mother smiled, and Ria's eyes widened.
Her mother had always been conventional, and the thought of her making Samir cook was nothing short of stunning. "Why--how?"
"When Samir came to drop off the items, he had called in advance, but when he reached me, I had a bad back spasm."
"What? Ma, sit down!" and she pulled her mother down to a chair, now worried. Her mother's back had given her trouble for two years now, and when it gotten bad she could barely move. It was most painful, and today even her grandparents were out of town, visiting their daughter.
"He sensed I was in deep pain, and he took me to the doctor. Of course I had to have injections, and I was so drowsy when they discharged me from hospital that I hardly remember the ride home. I slept for a while, and when I came back to the kitchen, he had already finished the dinner I had started before leaving! And he had bought me tablets and fruit juice, and he sat talking to me as he made sure I ate. He offered to stay here till you turned up, as he had already missed his official calls. He even asked me to move in with you all after the wedding!" Now she was grinning. "I'd never do that, but it was so lovely to have such a genuine offer!"
Ria could barely see, her eyes were filled with tears. Her mother, a strong woman who rarely displayed tender emotions, was now looking ecstatic, even happier than she had been on the engagement day.
"Thank you for agreeing to marry Samir, my girl. He is such a kind boy, and so in love with you! I've always been proud of the daughter I have, but now I have a son as well, and I am deeply grateful!"
Ria washed her hands and ran to the bedroom. She picked up her phone and called her soul mate.
"Yes, honey?" he sounded surprised, but glad as always to hear from her.
"I love you!"
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