In the first couple of years following our marriage, whenever someone would ask me how we met, I would tell them some fantastic story of how we came to be husband and wife. Some times, you were a family friend I'd known since I was a child. On other occasions, you would become my brother's classmate. Or a colleague. Or an aunt's neighbour. Back then I didn't want to appear like one of those sad people who had had an arranged marriage. One of those unlucky ones I'd myself clicked my tongue at in sympathy in the past, at their inability to find someone to fall in love with and be proposed to. I had placed an awful lot of emphasis on the means to finding a husband and not nearly enough on the end.
But in the following years, I've come to realise that how I met and married you is irrelevant. What matters is who I married. So these days I don't bother hiding it and often tell people, of my own volition even, that I had an arranged marriage. And I love the look of surprise that greets me when I disclose this fact. Most cannot reconcile the idea of an arranged marriage with the loud, opinionated woman in from of them. And their surprise multiplies when they meet you. Where they expect to see an old-fashioned, tyrannical Indian man, they are met with the most remarkably progressive-minded, gentle soul who wouldn't hurt a fly.
I've told you many times that when I agreed to marry you, I was succumbing to a certain amount duress . I was 26 and could not put off marriage any longer. I had already turned down a couple of guys, much to my parents' and assorted well-wishers' horror, when we met. What struck me straightaway about you was how incredibly decent, astutely bright and perceptive you were. You were someone I could be friends with. And what a great start that was for us!
Over the decade and some that we have been married, my suspicions about you have come true. You remain the wonderfully pragmatic man I first met. The only one I can imagine supporting me through my mad cap ideas. The only one I can rely on unquestioningly, unswervingly. And crucially, the only one I would have wanted to have children with and raise them together with. It goes without saying that there is no one else I can imagine sharing my arthritic, menopausal years with. When the time comes, I will wait for you and should I fall behind, I know you will wait for me.
Happy 40th birthday, my dearest Ramu.
What a blessing you are!
Lots and lots of love