The small city connect
I grew up in a middle-class family in Lucknow. After completing my education, I got a job at a call center in Delhi. Everything was new to me – the big city, the busy streets, the call center nightlife where women talked to men openly and even smoked cigarettes with them. It was here that I met Aman, my colleague. We use to hang out with the same group of friends and often ate together.
I secretly started liking Aman as he was tall, fair and handsome. I found out that he too was from a small city like me and had moved to Delhi just two years ago. We started spending more time together – hanging out and watching movies together. Soon we got pretty close and kind of disengaged from our wider group of friends.
A yes and no
Aman took me out for dinner one day. In typical filmi style, he put a ring in my wine glass and when it came into my mouth, I was taken back. He said the three words I was waiting to hear since last six months. I said yes and we were engaged!
We both knew it won’t be easy to convince our parents. Though we both were of marriageable age, our families were in no hurry to marry us. He was from a different community and his parents were extremely annoyed at my mention. My family was also not ready for marriage but after I insisted, they agreed to meet Aman. They liked him as a person but nothing more.
‘What’s the hurry to get married?’, asked my mother. She also added that we barely knew each other and should spend more time together. But I had made up my mind, Aman was the right partner for me.
Meanwhile, Aman’s parents did not even agree to meet me. They were clear in their decision. Aman decided to go against his family and supported me. His gesture deepened my love for him. We decided to live together. I moved in with him.
A dream come true?
Living in the same house with Aman felt almost unreal in the beginning – waking up next to him, eating the same food, cooking for him, packing his tiffin, making tea for him became a part of my life. After a couple of weeks, things however, started to change.
One morning as I was getting ready for the office, Aman came out from the bathroom and said, ‘Isn’t this dress very short? Don’t you think that you should just keep it for our honeymoon and not wear it to office?’
I had worn the same dress to office earlier too but Aman had never commented on it. I felt a bit strange about his behaviour but brushed it off as a one-off incident. However, this soon became a routine and he started to have issues with the colour of my kurtas or even how I did my hair!
Love or control?
As time passed, Aman started to exert his control on everything I did. He asked me to change my job as he suddenly felt that night shifts were not safe for girls. He also started getting irritated when I would stay out with my friends or even when I talked to my parents! I became quiet and withdrawn.
When I was in the kitchen or the bathroom, Aman used to check my phone. Sometimes he would send messages to my friends on Facebook and WhatsApp. Whenever I talked on the phone, he listened into my conversations and asked who I was talking to and why. Doubt was taking the place of love in our relationship.
‘I love you so much that I can’t share you with anyone else,’ Aman would often say. It was a line that used to floor me earlier. Now I was not so sure. It didn't make me feel good. Instead, I felt suffocated.
He would even decide the menu of our dinner and breakfast. One day I decided to cook my favourite kadhi chawal and he became so annoyed that he went to sleep without eating anything.
He soon began controlling my finances. He even took out a month's salary from my account using my ATM card and used it all to buy stuff for our home, without letting me know.
A ‘thing’ of the past
I no longer enjoyed living with him. I used to stay on at an office after hours. Six months passed and Aman was now getting restless to get married to me. He decided that we will go for a court marriage and inform our parents after some time. He even set the date for our court wedding – 13 November.
It was almost the end of October and as the date was nearing, I started feeling jittery. I felt scared and unhappy. I contemplated sharing my feelings with Aman but I was scared of him. Would I annoy him more if I said no to marriage now?
The fact that Aman was never physically violent with me made me feel guilty about the way I thought. I felt that perhaps I was making a big deal of our everyday circumstances a couple faces.
It was a day before our wedding. Aman was extremely excited and told me, ‘Now you will be mine, legally too. I will have full rights over you!’ He said this and went out to make some last minute arrangements. I do not know what happened. But those words just triggered a flurry of emotions.
I suddenly realised why I wasn’t happy. All these months Aman had been treating me like a prized possession, a doll of sorts without caring about how I felt about things. I no longer wanted to be his thing, but my own person. I packed my clothes, took my purse and just stormed out of the house.
I booked an Uber to the airport. After reaching there, I threw my phone in the dustbin. I booked the next flight to Lucknow. I flew away from Aman’s life, forever and reached my parents' home. They embraced me with open arms. It’s been more than a month now that I became a runaway bride but I am a much happier person!
*To protect the identity, names have been changed and the person in the picture is a model.