• Yes, my marriage was arranged and it’s not as bad as it sounds. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Dad called me afterwards and said: ‘I know you’re too young to get married but hear me out …’
By
Aarti Bajaj as told to Elli Jacobs

30 Jul 2020 - 7:40 AM  UPDATED 30 Jul 2020 - 7:42 AM

Yes, my marriage was arranged and it’s not as bad as it sounds.

In India, we have something called the ‘Family Tinder’ or, as people would know it, an arranged marriage. 

The families do all the hard work for you; the profile checking, seeing what his qualifications are and more. And when all the above are matched, the girl and guy meet to check out their own compatibilities and figure out their lives. That is how I met my husband.

But first things first. This is how my father met my husband and subsequently introduced me to him.

He was traveling by train to meet a client when he received a phone call from a friend telling him of this guy, age 24, called Pawan. He had just started his internship after medical school and thought he might be suitable for me.

Even though my father agreed that I was very young for marriage, I had just turned 21 and was in my final year of studying physiotherapy, he still agreed to meet him.  

As fate would have it, his train was going to make a five-minute stop at the city Pawan lived.  

It was quickly arranged that Pawan with his father would meet my father at the station for a brief chat.

Intrigued by Pawan’s personality instead of re-boarding the train my father postponed the rest of his journey and joined them for coffee.   

Dad called me afterwards and said: ‘I know you’re too young to get married but hear me out …’ and he said Pawan was polite, nice and thought there would be no harm in me meeting him.

I always had a very open and friendly relationship with my parents, which meant they knew me very well, were aware of my strengths and weaknesses and understood what I wanted out of life.

I always had a very open and friendly relationship with my parents, which meant they knew me very well, were aware of my strengths and weaknesses and understood what I wanted out of life.

I trusted their judgement and their wealth of experience when it came to them helping me find a suitable partner.  

A month later, my parents invited Pawan and his family over for dinner to our family home in Surat, India.

That’s the first time we met. 

I liked him straight away. On first sight I found him very handsome and when we chatted, I found him highly intelligent and courteous.

I could tell we had the same perspectives on life. 

We agreed to move into the courtship stage for about a year to get to know each other and see if this could work. If it didn’t, we both had the freedom to move on.

At the time we were both completing our internships in different cities and worked five-and-a-half day weeks. Yet, every Saturday afternoon Pawan would take the train travel for six hours to spend eight hours with me and then take the train back the next day to work again.

Throughout, he never showered me with gifts. Instead, he gave me that time and this action made me feel that he was the right person to be married to. 

He also made it clear from the very beginning that he wasn’t going to accept any financial assistance from our family’s, and we were both going to have to work very hard to create our own life.  

He was also earning a very small stipend during his internship and had forewarned me that specialisation as a doctor is very challenging and that he may never reach that point. Would I still be interested in being with someone who may never earn good amounts of money? 

I accepted his marriage proposal after that year, and we got married in January 2007. 

I accepted his marriage proposal after that year, and we got married in January 2007.

By April we migrated to Australia. We had a dream to explore a new country. 

That’s when I began to fall in love. It was also the first opportunity we had to explore each other’s personalities as the physical distance was no longer between us. The way I describe our relationship is that first we got married and then we started to figure out what love and life meant for us. Prior to our wedding what matched was our values.

With belongings that fit into just four suitcases and our togetherness we began life in Australia. 

Pawan came here as a medical graduate and immediately began training and giving his exams to become a registered licensed doctor in Australia, and then a specialist oncologist.  Concurrently, I began training as a medical sonographer.

In our first years I was the only breadwinner and we had very little. The journey was difficult. 

I feel that any other couple would have broken under the circumstances. The strain and stress at the time was overwhelming. Staying together though through thick and thin is what marriage is.

It wasn’t until 2015 that he completed his specialisation as an oncologist.  

Over the years we managed to keep it together and we kept exploring each other.  In between we had our children. Rohan age 7 and Anika age 5.

In 2017 I also began my own production company, Wild Dreamer Productions. After working so hard and having stability for the first time many would just not want to add any more things.

But when he needed my support, I was there for him and when I needed his support he was there for me. And this is what keeps us going.

Our love for each other evolved over time and we’ve been married for 13 years and counting. And there isn’t a romantic notion that hasn’t been fulfilled over the years.  

Our love for each other evolved over time and we’ve been married for 13 years and counting.

From where I see the world and its emotional complications, I feel love is something people expect a lot from others. For me love is a process that keeps developing every single day, it’s not something that just happens. 

When you accept the good and the bad of the other person you understand you will never fall out of love. You will always be in love.

My attempt with my children will not be an arranged marriage but to be the parent that my parents were to me. Be friends with them and if they need my help, I will return the favour.

Today I think we lack tolerance. It’s very low. We break easily and our expectations of others is exceedingly high. As my father taught me, you need to know of your own responsibilities and be more aware of your actions rather than what you expect from others. It is the opposite in today’s world.   

Personally, I wanted someone who I could dream and grow more with. And as it seems my parents found him for me.

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