Suitors, Samosas, and Dowry : Bonus Winner | Season 5

– Niha Khalid

Another day, another suitor arrives, witnessing the dramatic saga of my life. They shamelessly devour the piping-hot samosas and jalebis that I painstakingly prepared for their visit, only for them to leave without care, never returning my baba’s call. This unending cycle leaves permanent lines of disappointment on his forehead, each suitor adding another mark to his burden.

Every day, I’m summoned to transform into a glamorous diva, adorned in my finest attire with just a hint of makeup. These suitors, often hailing from prestigious institutions and foreign shores, harbour a peculiar dream: a modern-day superwoman. They seek someone who can flawlessly juggle the roles of a career woman and a domestic goddess, mastering the delicate art of cooking, cleaning, and earning all at once.

In their eyes, the epitome of femininity sports a BMI of 16, a ghostly pale complexion, and a figure that dances on the brink of malnourishment. She must be an obedient puppet, her vocabulary devoid of the word ‘no.’ Yet, alas, this idea exists only within the boundaries of their wildest fantasies. In this lamentable reality, regardless of the boy’s appearance or demeanour, society insists that the girl must embody the very essence of an angel.

In this relentless quest for the ‘perfect’ bride, the grand parade begins. I step forth as if onto a magnificent stage, my every move dissected with unblinking precision. Their judgmental eyes scrutinise my ability to navigate life’s intricate choreography. Suddenly, as if ripped from the pages of a melodramatic play, a hand dares to reach out and tug at my hair, as if unveiling a concealed wig.

All of this unfolds while my parents silently plead to the heavens for their beloved daughter to be the ‘chosen one.’ Meanwhile, my secret prayer remains unwavering: that they take their leave.

But among these suitors, there exists a peculiar breed—those whose obsession lies in my baba’s hard-earned wealth—the infamous dowry. Shh! Now, it’s merely a ‘wedding gift’ that my baby will benevolently bestow upon the fortunate groom-to-be. While most gifts are usually a delightful surprise, this one is scripted in advance and etched in stone.
He must procure a fully furnished residence in a bustling city, grant the groom his long-coveted dream car, and reimburse the exorbitant costs of his education—a fair exchange, they claim—for their significant investments in his scholarly endeavours.

As I prepare to join their abode, my baby must prepay my living expenses for a decade or two—a bill that may cost him a fortune. And let’s not forget how my dear mother must relinquish her cherished jewellery, especially those adorned with the shimmering splendour of gold, all of which she joyfully contributes to the dowry for my ‘oh-so-lucky’ wedding.
Oh, and don’t you dare mention the demands they present a mere day before the matrimonial celebration—those are hush-hush, for such is their privilege as the ‘ladke wale.’

The mystery lies in why the ‘ladki wale’ continues to cower in the shadows of inferiority. After all, we, the daughters, embark on the adventurous journey of leaving behind our childhood homes and families.

In a just world, it should be our fathers wielding the magnifying glass, meticulously investigating every nook and cranny of the prospective suitor. They are entrusting their precious piece of heart, their beloved daughter, into the care of another. Marriage is not a business transaction but a sacred bond that should be handled with the utmost care.

However, amidst the carnival of Indian weddings, we girls have, ironically, become prized artwork, up for auction. Reluctantly, our babas play the role of auctioneers. The less we meet the suitor’s checklist, the more the dowry continues to soar to new heights.

This circus of absurdity goes on, and I can’t help but grimace at the endless parade of suitors, each armed with their ridiculous list of demands and expectations. It’s both heartbreaking and maddening to witness this crazy tradition persisting stubbornly in the 21st century.

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