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The Dowry

It was in the cold month of November when we first met. He was a doctor (I call him Mr. Doctor) and looked handsome. And I was the sister of his friend’s wife, both of whom are doctors. My complexion was not too fair, but then my sister envied me because I was taller than her. And my brother- in- law would usually arrange our meeting. He was of the intelligent type, and I admired his reserved nature and wise talks. He would look too often at me in the eyes, and in my way, and I perceived something was wrong. My mother had died because of breast cancer, and I usually stayed with my sister. I had given my exams for the medical entrance test and was selected. So at present I was in the first year of M.B.B.S. And my brother-in-law, I suspected had purposely made us meet so that we could grow to like each other. Maybe he had that marriage thing in his head for which I was unprepared. But love could spring forth unawares. I was taken in by his quiet and shy nature. My brother-in-law said he hardly spoke to anyone of the opposite sex. And he looked so thoughtful. We grew close to each other. And I longed for his presence. But I couldn’t see if he could ever express his feelings, if he had for me.
It was soon our semester exams and Mr. Doctor helped me in my studies. But then he urged me to take frequent breaks in between so that work didn’t put a strain on my brain. He told me to see the beauty of nature and the things God had created. Life was short, and we had to balance our studies, work and leisure. Simply working for success without appreciating Life and its beauty would turn the very purpose of life meaningless. His philosophy and simple laws of life made me love him with all my heart. I wished he was more eloquent with his affections towards me. Or perhaps he had some other woman in his mind and was trying to get rid of the feminine fear through me. I decided to ask my sister. She could ask her husband if Mr. Doctor really loved me or was using me to end his boredom.
I was hesitant to ask her, because then my sister would suspect some foul play; either on his part or on my part. And this setup by my brother-in-law was kept a secret from her. Both my sleep and appetite suffered. While I was thinking what to do, I received a phone call from my father saying he was coming to visit me. My father was a doctor, and a professor in Anatomy. I thought maybe he wanted to tell me something about the coming exams.
Next day, my father spoke to me of my mother. He told how he had first met her, and how happy their connubial relationship had been. But God’s will had to be fulfilled! I wondered why he was discussing a serious topic. Then he finally said, “Dear daughter, it’s time high that you be united to the man who is destined to be your better half. If you have anyone in your mind, you can tell me.”
I blushed. What girl could speak of marriage so frankly to her father? I thought of Mr. Doctor. His image flashed in my mind, and I knew it was him I wanted. But how could I say this to my father? My father took the role of a responsible guardian. He asked me if I knew a certain doctor. My heart for a moment stopped beating as I heard his name from my father’s lips.
‘How could he possibly know?’ I thought. But then he showed me a letter. And said, Mr. Doctor had personally come to meet him. And he had talked of our betrothal, and had asked my dad if he would give his permission. I was red with embarrassment. Did he say we met frequently?
  My dad asked me if I was willing. I lowered my gaze, my face flushed. He knew it was a yes. “It’s wonderful to feel that someone loves you and pledges to be a companion all your life. This young man, I trust loves you, and is however strange. He asked me a dowry; a dowry that is quite difficult for any father to give. But then you too must have loved him, and for your happiness, I will comply with his wish.”
I was furious. He had talked to my dad, without my knowledge, and was asking dowry. This cursed superiority complex of men would never go! I decided to do away with him. I had enough of love to last a life time! “These are his demands,” said my father, handing me a paper. “And a letter for you. And may God give everyone a son like him.”
I looked at the letter in his handwriting, and read the content. The list was as such:
1.      All my past photographs (my dad could keep a copy of them however).
2.      All my books and note-books that I had used till the point we would be betrothed.
3.      A copy of the religious text book (preferably in my handwriting) with English translation.
4.      An essay that I would write (in his presence), summarizing my life in 350-400 words.
5.      A letter I would write to my dad (in his presence) about my expectations from my future husband and married life in 100-150 words.
I was taken aback. Indeed he was a strange man! Even in front of my dad, I couldn’t stop myself from tearing the envelope to read the content of his letter.
Dear girl,
   I loved you every day, even before we met. I saw you and your sister images in my friend’s cell phone. I asked him of you and he said you were his sister. And I instantly loved you since thence from my heart and from my soul. I asked him to help in our union. And he talked to your sister and your father. It was your sister who told my friend that you showed the symptoms of love. And my friend asked me to woo you. But then, it’s quite difficult for me because I am a nerd and introvert. And I really do not know how to be a womanizer. I have no idea about the expectations of a woman from her man, and so I asked those things (I presume your dad must have told you about it) in name of dowry. I must know you and understand you, as you grew up so that I do not make mistakes and do not fail your expectations. And if you and your dad accept my proposal, it would be the greatest dowry on earth any man would be pleased to possess of, from the father of woman they truly love!
Will love you forever, and always yours, etc.

I closed my eyes as tears welled, sobbing on my dad’s shoulder.

The Dowry Reviewed by Polymath on 1:01 am Rating: 5


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