Veena peeked beyond the curtain at the small crowd that was gathered to watch her and Naraj marry.
She should have felt nervous...at least more nervous than she was feeling. But she felt a bit numb. The emotions of the past few weeks were almost too much to handle so she would shut down, with her eyes wide in terror, wondering what had she done.
Was this wise? She was basically marrying a stranger.
It was in those moments that Naraj would glance over at her, or gently grab her hand and ask if she wanted to leave the room for a cup of tea.
She would nod, grateful that finally someone could look at her face and recognize their own terror and nervousness. They wouldn't say much during those moments, and she was grateful for it.
Naraj was similar to her, he needed time away to gather his thoughts. Much like her, he seemed to be surrounded by a family that rushed with their feelings, knowing right away what the right decision was, having the need to talk out thier thoughts and jumble up the air with unnecessary words.
No, she wasn't numb, she decided. She was confident, assured in her decision. She had spent the time she needed to think about all the details and what if's. She had even voiced some of her concerns with Naraj and he agreed.
She always thought of herself as level-headed and rational, so to meet a man who was even more level-headed than her, who made his decisions with the same painstaking precision and deliberate, unhurried speed was a relief.
She smiled as he looked at her . He already gave her comfort, even after only knowing him for a few weeks, she felt so much peace and security when she was with him. As if he would gladly fight off any dragons in the world that dared to menace her.
She couldn't help but smile at that foolish fairy tale. She wasn't a damsel in distress, she was a confident navigator of her destiny. If it meant that she would marry a near-stranger, then she was happy to oblige.
It wasn't a love match, but she knew that Naraj had the personality and character that she could grow to love.
Her parents were an arranged marriage as well, and they were happy beyond belief. The effort and hard work of their families produced a happy union with progressive values.
Perhaps too progressive and liberal for their ancestors. She knew that they would be satisfied if she were to claim that she never wanted to be married, perhaps that is why her grandfather made such a complicated will.
She adored her grandfather, but her love died a little when she found out the hold that he placed over her mother and father. Reading in black and white his conservative views of family and seeing just a bit of how he used his money to assure that his will was done.
The full amount of the inheritance...released upon the birth of a child...said child will be the biological great-grandchild of the deceased...else the parties accept forfeiture of the full inheritance.
If it was only her inheritance that would be impacted, Veena would have happily lived all her days protected in her lab from the cruel world, but that nasty document also entangled the affairs of her parents.
They assured her that they were financially comfortable and had made smart decisions with their investments, but Veena knew that it would be a large relief to have access to a part of grandfather's estate.
In a way, he had done her a favor. While she desired a fulfilled satisfying marriage, she was content not to pursue it.
Not to be hurt by the looks and angry words that would come her way if she attempted to let a man know that she was interested in him. She hadn't had much hope for a love match.
Most men looked at her face and her degrees with disgust, convinced that she was tainted and cursed.
Even her journey to an arranged marriage had been paved with thorns and detours as men lured by her wealth decided that it wasn't worth it to have to produce an heir with her.
As if she were a disease that was not easily rid of.
Naraj was different. He viewed her education as an asset, not with intimidation. He dismissed her birthmark as the potential deal-breaker that it was in the past to so many suitors.
She hadn't revealed the issue of the inheritance, but had convinced him that she desired a child...very soon.
He was hesitant of course, he was in her final year of medical school and worried about how they would care for a child. But the terms of the dowry gave him some relief. The couple would get a small sum of money upon the birth of their child, or their five year anniversary, whichever was first. The amount wasn't enough to make them rich, but it was a nice bit of security. However, she had convinced him that she wanted a family soon, and he wanted a family as well.
"Whatever I can do to make you happy, I will try my best."
Veena couldn't help but grin at her new husband as she remembered their conversation. Her mother said that Naraj was already in love if she could wrap him around her finger so easily.
She wasn't so sure. They had great conversations and could talk all night about the mysteries of the universe, but they lacked passion.
Maybe one day they would have the same passion as her sister-in-law, Myra, that seemed to bubble over at every chance. Or maybe they would have a mutual respect and admiration of each other, content to have a marriage of equals.
Built on the willingness to be there for each other while they both fulfill their own needs and dreams. Perhaps passion wasn't something that would fit into their marriage.
That didn't mean that their marriage would be less valid.
Perhaps passion was the aspect of marriage that wasn't valid.
Some posed photos