Welcome guest blogger, Zee Monodee!
I was 14 when I received my first proposal. No, it wasn’t from my then-boyfriend! Instead, a professional matchmaker – called an agwa here – brought this offer to the table. How did this happen? I had been to my cousin’s wedding, and there, dressed in a lehenga suit (you know those Indian outfits with long embroidered skirts and short, equally embroidered blouses, with a hugely heavy drape called a dupatta), I easily looked to be around 18 with my long hair pulled up in a complicated updo (yes, we stopped at nothing to shine at weddings. Some even went as far as outshining the bride, but she’d probably not mind, seeing how an Indian or Indian-origin Muslim wedding went on for about 4-5 days).
The match? A young doctor, 26 years old, who’d recently come back from England after his studies. Very good prospect (I mean, a doctor!), from a good family, and better yet, he had fair skin. In short, a handsome boy. And he was ready to wait for me to finish high school!
That match received a ‘no’ from me. Seriously, I was 14! But it was the first of many such ‘good’ proposals I fended off between then and the age of 17 (when I did get married! That’s another story, but in a nutshell, my British boyfriend, who, thank goodness for the family, happened to be a Muslim boy, and I couldn’t be allowed to ‘date’ seriously. It’s marriage or the highway. We were married shortly after...and divorced just as quickly. So here I was at 18, back in Mauritius, a divorcee, while my peers were graduating high school. Springboard for penning this story.... Anyway....)
In traditional societies like India (whether you’re Hindu, Muslim, Tamil, or even Christian), a girl is ‘allowed’ to flitter around like a caged butterfly until she is 20, tops. If she gets married before then, all the better, because let’s face it, what else is there for girls except than to become wives and produce the first offspring (preferably a male!) a year later? Beyond 20, she starts to become a ‘case’ because *gasp* what if she ends up an old maid?
Such is the case for the Indian diaspora all over the world, and the Indo-Mauritian community is no different. Marriage is the end of the road for a woman.
So what happens when that marriage explodes, and you end up getting divorced? Back in the year 2000 and around, it meant you’d be shunned, labeled a divorcee as if that was a scarlet letter to be ashamed of. And also, how dare you even imagine you can end up with a ‘proper’ boy when you are ‘tarnished’? (Understand by that, a man not a divorcé or a widower).
What happens is that you, as the ‘jilted’ woman in this equation, put on your big girl knickers and go out to forge your own path on your own terms. Sod what the rest of the world thinks or how they are labeling you – life is waiting for you; you simply have to embrace it.
Less than a year after my divorce, I met a man, who was divorced too, and that shared bond of being ‘castaways’ became the foundation on which we built a marriage that has been going strong for over a decade now.
Lesson learned? There is always hope; we just have to believe.
The Other Side
|The Other Side available HERE|
Divorce paints a scarlet letter on her back when she returns to the culture-driven society of Mauritius. This same spotlight shines as a beacon of hope for the man who never stopped loving her. Can the second time around be the right one for these former teenage sweethearts?
Indian-origin Lara Reddy left London after her husband dumps her for a more accommodating uterus—at least, that’s what his desertion feels like. Bumping into him and his pregnant new missus doesn’t help matters any, and she thus jumps on a prestigious job offer. The kicker? The job is in Mauritius, the homeland of her parents, and a society she ran away from over a decade earlier.
But once there, Lara has no escape. Not from the gossip, the contempt, the harassing matchmaking...and certainly not from the man she hoped never to meet again. The boy she’d loved and lost—white Mauritian native, Eric Marivaux.
Back when they were teens, Eric left her, and Lara vowed she’d never let herself be hurt again. Today, they are both adults, and facing the same crossroads they’d stood at so many years earlier.
Lara now stands on the other side of Mauritian society. Will this be the impetus she needs to take a chance on Eric and love again?