Being in the wedding industry, I had gotten so many brides ready for their wedding and reception. At the time when I was single, I was overjoyed and quite enthusiastic listening to how my clients found their love and how their beloved proposed marriage. I used to invite myself to their reception to take their photos and also loved to get a glimpse of their first dance and listen to their beloved's speech. It was a feeling of satisfaction but at the same time a feeling of emptiness as I turned away with a tear forming in my eye. I would ask myself "Why hasn't my love found me?” As much as happiness was there for each of my clients, there was a personal void in my heart I felt every weekend as I completed a wedding booking.
I had no faith in finding my love, finding that one that was destined for me. With all the success, the blessing of a good career, a fine education, great friends and loving family, I believed that marriage was not written in my life. Although my description of true love was the basic foundation you find in friendship, everyone I met made me feel that I was born in the wrong era. It seemed that everybody lacked the patience to want to get to know me as a friend first with no expectation other than pure well being for each other. Everyone I was meeting gave me the impression of the fast tract of infatuation and lust in which I could not summon myself to accepting. I was looking for one love, the kind you walk hand in hand in front of God for Blessings. The love in which you are proud to introduce to your parents, and vow to love until your last breath and hope to relive and be with in all of your rebirths.
Being in the industry where I serviced many South Asian Brides, I was curious about India, Pakistan, Afganistan, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Fiji‘s culture and tradition. I wanted to visit all these countries and my first stop was India in January 2008.
Somewhere in Talwandi Saabo (Bathinda), Punjab I attended a wedding where I met a young chap, named Vikas Aggarwal, who approached me with well spoken confidence, and quite the gentleman. Our small conversation led us to exchange numbers at the time just as friends. Two hours later, Vikas' confidence turned into arrogance and he walked towards me out of the blue and blurted "Don't you know I'm good looking and a lot of girls like me!” Honestly speaking, it was this kind of attitude that always made me feel that there’s no man made for me. It was obvious that he was good looking but I was unaware of the need to broadcast this news so I turned around thinking why in world I gave my number to this foolish man. I did not want to have anything to do with him after his arrogant remark.
The next day, Vikas phoned me a few times but I ignored all his calls. Later that evening, he must have finally become tired of dialling my number because he sent me a sarcastic message wishing me best of luck with my India tour. I felt the sarcasm and felt bad and thought, what harm he can do since I will never see him again so I called him. This time, the conversation was at the level of that gentleman, the Vikas I first met who was humble and polite. In the next few days, Vikas was with me on the phone day and night curious about how my tour was going. He was very fascinated by my colourful perception of India, its’ people, and its’ culture.
Vikas told me that he would be willing to show me Chandigarh should I manage to make my way to his city. It is in Chandigarh that Vikas spent most of his University life and knows the city well in his heart. I was in Amritsar when I gave him the news of my plans to tour Chandigarh. Vikas showed me Sectors here and there and it was a lot of fun. On my last day in Chandigarh, his friends decided to give me a farewell lunch by eating out in a restaurant. Not yet immune to the food and water in India, I got very ill. I was afraid to go to the hospital and was quite stubborn to take any medication. With his connection of a very good doctor, Dr. Preet gave Vikas the instruction of what medicine to take at what time and how to care for me. It was not an option to stay behind as my tour was already set to navigate by car to Agra and then to Jaipur that very next day.
I was too weak to go on my own so Vikas came to accompany me. During this time, I have to admit that I gave Vikas a headache and a hard time because I was fighting with him most of the time. I did not want to take the medication yet he would lovingly coerce me to eat and fed me with his own hands all the while tricking me into taking my medication. As the good sport that I was, the diarrhea did not stop me from my tour. With Vikas beside me…we explored the Taj Mahal and a couple of forts in Agra and Rajasthan. For some, it’s so "bollywood” to be together in the most romantic places of India but I actually found it comedic because I remember Vikas and I running and looking for the washroom every few minutes for me. I got well thankfully on my last day in Jaipur where he saw me off to the airport. It was a bittersweet farewell, and I continued on with my tour from there. I could not believe the patience and tolerance he had shown me when we were together and thinking I was just a complete stranger to him. We both felt different and we missed each other’s company.
After my tour, I flew back to Canada having fond memories that Vikas and I spent together. In total, we only spent less than 12 days together and the rest was a long distance communication between India and Canada over the phone, via webcam, internet messaging, e-mail and the old fashion post mail.
Since our friendship started pure and was very innocent, it was so easy to keep in touch and continue our friendship. We both never expected for this friendship to blossom into love because of the long distance and knowing we were of different races. It was just the fond memories that made it easy for us to keep in touch.
In the next few months after my return to Canada, I started my day with so much enthusiasm from his simple hello in the morning and ended each passing day with a peaceful goodnight from him before going to sleep anticipating our next meeting. On the phone, I felt his presence and we manage to eat together, go to the temple together, watch movies together, laugh and cry together, go to work together, and even hold each other by the comfort of our voices. I felt so complete and the only thing missing was his physical presence but everything else was perfect!
When I finally finished my wedding season in Canada early November of 2008, I flew back to India to be with Vikas and meet his family. We both wanted to get married before I flew back to Canada. We anticipated that we would tie the knot by January of 2009 due to some family problems we expected to face due to our difference in race and religion. Vikas told his Mom and Dad about me a few months before my arrival in India.
Mom and Dad were hesitant of Vikas' desire to marry me but Vikas convinced them that I was no different just because I spoke another language. With Mom and Dad's reluctance in the balance it came down to their son’s ultimate happiness and they finally agreed to get Vikas and I married. Mom and Dad faced a lot of insults for their decision to the extent that they were almost disowned, laughed at, and had to endure negative remarks about letting Vikas marry a foreigner.
We met two weeks after I arrived in India. I remember how emotional it was for all of us when we met for the very first time. With my very limited knowledge of Hindi and Punjabi, and Mom and Dad's very minimal English, we communicated through the sincerity of our eyes. The kind exchange of smiles gave us comfort and peace that everything would be alright. Mom and Dad had only expected to meet and talk to me that first time, but somehow as we prepared for the departure they surprised themselves by giving me a "shagun” and set the wedding date a week later. I cried so much… I had seen this tradition performed for my clients by their family and I could not believe it was happening to me. The next few days, Vikas and I were busy planning what we could for our wedding given the very short notice.
And then came the day both of us dreamt of, our finally being together in marriage. Mom and Dad danced with so much happiness as their son was now married and they welcomed the daughter they never had. Mom, Dad, Monu (Vikas' younger brother) and some close family stood proud with diplomacy at the wedding even though a few relatives were very negative about the celebration.
Mom and Dad spent their humble beginnings in, and have only known the confined ways of the village life. It was never in Vikas' family history to have a love marriage, and to top it off, marriage out of caste, yet they manage to make accommodation and are accepting of the changes of having me as their daughter. For everything, I thank Mom and Dad for being so brave to face their critics and accept this change for their son’s happiness.
I was so overwhelmed with happiness and could not have felt more complete walking side by side with Vikas. I only wished that my Mom and Dad were alive and present to witness my wedding. I prayed for their blessings and I know, they could not be more proud of Vikas as my choice in husband for he has not only shown me the love I had been searching for, he also has blessed me with a new Mom, Dad and a young brother who adores me.
With my new life… there are so many new terms of respect and endearment that are new to my ears and for which I feel very honoured. I am now addressed as Chachi, Maami, Didi and most beautiful term Bhabi, not only to Monu but to Vikas’ cousin brothers, cousin sisters and friends. All of these are more than just mere titles to me and I feel they are uttered with so much love and respect.
I found a loving husband that has given a special meaning to my life and that I look forward to growing old with. The term WIFE gives me such a feeling of prestige and honour. I never thought that this four letter word could make one feel so proud. Beside my husband, I stand with grace, feel delicate and yet able to capture each day slowly as we build our life together.