Planned Obsolescence

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
A young couple find themselves on the brink of an arranged marriage, when they devise a plan to leave and make it while trying to find something a little more than they expected.

Submitted: August 03, 2017

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Submitted: August 03, 2017

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Prologue

“In India, all decisions pertaining to the marriage, beginning from the choice of a partner to the date and economics of wedding are taken by the elders of the respective families. Traditionally this would be the eldest male member of the extended family of the groom and bride with senior ladies being consulted privately. This is slightly different from the older arranged marriages in western societies where it would be the father of the boy or girl and not the entire kin-group measuring the desirability of a potential match. The other defining characteristics of Indian arranged marriages are the importance of caste. Arranged marriages in India strictly adhere to religious and caste regulations. Both the partners must not only belong to the same religion but also to the same caste and preferably follow compulsions of sub-castes as well. It is the primacy of the caste regulations that differentiate Indian arranged marriages from those which used to exist in aristocratic Western societies in the previous centuries. While the Western model gave supreme importance to religion, lineage and class, Indian arranged marriages traditionally depended on keeping the caste lines intact. Even now an arranged marriage is fixed in same caste groups with inter-caste marriages still being restricted to love marriages. Other traits of arranged marriages in India like negotiations regarding dowry, the role of the matchmaker, the bias towards patriarchy and matching of horoscopes in found in many traditional Oriental cultures as well.”

In Remembrance

The smell of Sandalwood filled the air, on the road to the airport. No longer looking toward the past it would be hard to forget the sights and smells. Unsure of what was in store, Aditi hands stretched out of the window into the evening air. Slowly blinking as if each flash was being captured on film. Aditi looked at Jagan from the other side of the cab wondering if he felt the same relief as her. He musters a smile through the worried look in his eyes. Aditi takes a deep breath and turns back toward the window. Chuckling at the sight of a small elephant on the street corner, a small tear fell down her cheek. “Shukriyaa,” as she looked toward the grey sky.

The taxi stopped. The cacophony of sounds was as loud as the Marigold was fragrant. Bollywood faint on the radio, Aditi kept her eyes closed to make the commemoration last. The trunk closes, “Mere saath aaeeyé! Mere saath aao, phaast!” Jagan uttered.

The airport welcomed, they darted. Flashes of gold and red illuminated the atmosphere. Aditi’s dress was not meant for running; she pushed through. The mallipoo slowly falling, she began removing the pins from her hair leaving a trail behind them. Aditi’s hand in one and the tickets in another, Jagan rushed them to the counter. “Kshamaa,” he whispered, feeling ashamed of hastening her.

Headed for the journey ahead they locked eyes, took a deep breath and waited to board. Taking their seats on the plane, Aditi’s heart was racing. Jagan was fighting tears, kept a brave face and held Aditi’s hand. Delighted; Aditi slept.

Ganesh Pooja

It was raining the night before and smelled of Geeli Phitti, like morning dew, the next. Aditi was in the mirror admiring her dress and the spot where the new Red Tikka would be adorned. Sadness on her face, everything was overwhelming. A few deep breaths and she knew she must be ready. Questioning everything, Aditi was a statue, immovable. She was not sure how she could face Jagan, her family and his knowing the truth, the plan. Going back and forth Aditi did not know if she wanted to go through with it knowing that she would shame everyone she’d ever know.

The Sarangi strummed, Dhol banged, Sitar played and the Tabla drummed. She knew it was time. The bridal party ahead, she looked down at their green marigolds, her mother and soon-to-be mother-in-law holding sunflowers she shook her head in disbelief.

Aditi awoke. Jagan continued to sleep, her hand still in his she listened as a time update was given over the intercom. Anxious, she slept again.

San Francisco

Home of the brave, land of the free. It was 3:30 AM in California. After waiting for the shuttle, they headed to the hotel. Both had been to the states a few times before separately. Wide awake they planned their course of action.

The sights they wanted to see, the pictures they wanted to take, the jobs they had to find, the apartment that was waiting for them and the food they could not wait to taste.

Excited at all the possibilities, they were equally saddened about leaving behind everything that they knew. Their families, their friends, their homes, everything they were accustomed to, and now their marriage.

“This was a part of the plan though!” they both exclaimed. Jagan unpacked while Aditi went to shower. A piece of paper rolled out, on it was a barely readable, “????? ?????.” Shaken and confused, Jagan quickly folded it back up and threw it into the compartment of his bag. He continued unpacking. Piece after piece, red after green, after black after gold, purple after yellow. Looking up at the bathroom door, Jagan clinched to one particular piece of clothing and tears ran down his face uncontrollably. He put the shirt on. The shower stopped, Jagan immediately ran to the door, “I need to take a walk,” and out the door he ran so that he would not be caught by Aditi.

6:00 AM in San Francisco, Jagan found himself on the Bayfront watching the sun rise. Sun’s hue was reminiscent of the agni, the fire they stood around during the wedding. Hanging his head in incredulity, Jagan’s mind wandered.

Aditi was out of the shower, finding something to wear she wondered about Jagan but chose to enjoy the time apart. She needed as much space as he needed, if not more. She began to think of what she was to do for work. If they were going to like living there. She loved it when she visited but knew it would be different since she was going to be living there. Pulling out a red night gown she felt, numb. The eerie reverence to the wedding dress flooded her with memories she thought would have went down the drain with the shower she just took. Everything seemingly came to a dead halt, silence ensued and she sunk back into the memory bank to her Mehndi.

Mehndi

This was when Aditi and her female friends and family members had henna patterns drawn on their feet and hands. That was followed by, the Sangeet which Aditi and Jagan’s families, socialized, mixed, are and danced with one another.

Construction

Jagan surged into the room.

Two newspapers in hand, he gave one to Aditi and she settled on her bed. Jagan took his and settled into his. Pages turned in the San Francisco Chronicle and red pen engulfed the classifieds.

Aditi managed a store front back in Delhi, she knew the ins and outs of a store, how to market, how to sell and had the organizational skills of seasoned professional. She knew her skill set could out due that of any competition, she just needed someone that would hire her.

Jagan was a well-off mechanic and electrician. A trade that he learned over the last ten years. Learning both of those trades allowed him to monopolize his area.

Jagan looked over, saw how determined Aditi was to find something. It was encouraging, it was interesting, it was different. He wondered how he could feel nothing for her. Questions came flooding back about how he got to this point. He did not know how families determined who should be together based on nothing but bias needs and desires.

Aditi was head strong, straight to the point and knew what she wanted. Not focusing on what Jagan was doing she was plotting out her path, she was pulling maps, planning the clothes she was going to wear as well as everything that she was going to need to land a position.

Glancing up, she caught Jagan staring. He quickly looked away. She wondered what was happening, what he was thinking, what he was doing. She could not bother with much thought surrounding him and his thoughts. She did remember the face he was making a time before. A mix of confusion with wonder, but not necessarily in a good way.

Seeing the Girl

When initially arranged, there was a ceremony for the first meeting. Jagan came in and sat in a room with Aditi’s family. The room was silent and Jagan nervously waited.

The music slowly started, Aditi came out. Joined Jagan at the table. Every step she took toward the table, another family member disappeared from the room. As she sat down to the table, the fervent smell of fresh fried Pakora, Masala Chai and Desi Ghee Sweets rested on the brushed oak table.

They looked at each other and hope for the best but found that there was nothing there. Both knowing that they could not disappoint their families nor break this arrangement they talked about themselves. Nothing in common, except one thing.

Leaving.

They both wanted to get out of the country and go to America.

Aditi wanted to experience a new world, a new life, a new area. Thinking that there is something more than what is here for her in the country. Limitation of choices, confinement, and ideas like arranged marriages are not what she valued and with no one to share these ideas she needed was at a lost. Finding someone that she had this in common with that she had to marry, she figured she would find a way to make this work her.

Jagan wanted the American dream to which everyone was provided. Choosing a wife, choosing a house, choosing a picket fence and a dog. He did not believe that was meant to put up with what he was handed, he wanted to the opportunity to better himself through his own strength, confidence and strong will.

The Plan

They decided to spend a year in engagement, and while working on the wedding they would also prepare to leave. After agreeing to be friends,

“Mitr hone ke lie sahamat ho?”

“Haan, ham mitr banen!”

They decided to carry it out as planned. The subsequent step was to obtain passports, set aside money for the move and enough to live for a few months. Continue to build their skills and learn more about their trades to make it more applicable to the job market. The pair needed to wrap their minds around leaving friends, leaving family, and isolating themselves. They would have to rely on each other through the process being in India and being in America. They had to work on their friendship and understand that they would only have each other.

And the wedding was announced…

During the year of the engagement the two plan the ultimate get away. They shared dreams with each other, they surveyed places to live and continued to plan how to last in the states. Imagined the wonderful land they’d chosen, conceived plans of making lasting impressions for themselves, and the sights they would see.

They took off!

The Subsequent

Aditi took work up at a corner store, which happened to be connected to the apartment that they settled in. Turning the store around, she was the best person for the store. She was friendly, fast, fair and firm. Traits that she learned from being home. Alongside the number of places that she could have picked, this reminded her of home and gave her comfort.

Finding comfort in a construction environment, Jagan also settled into something that made him feel at home. His talent for electrical work was quickly noticed and made him an asset to the company. Jagan found himself always working long hours, waking up close to 5 AM each morning and not returning until 12-15 hours later. Constantly exhausted he mostly slept.

Longing for friendship and companionship, Aditi sought tenancy in a small coffee shop not far from their apartment. It became habitual for her to walk there every night after work, take in the intoxicating green coffee, sit at the same rustic table, with her legs crossed and a book.

The two did not cross paths much Jagan always made sure to garnish the home with Sunflowers and Marigolds, Aditi’s favorites. Jagan was asleep in his room by the time she got home, and he was gone by the time Aditi awoke. Groceries missing, running dishwashers and subtle sounds of the washer and dryer indicated co-habitation without speaking much.

The Weekend

“Would you mind if I sat here.”

Aditi, startled,

“Sure,”

Without looking up, she continued reading. Finishing her sentence, she clutched and shook her coffee cup.

“Let me get you another one! Sounds empty.”

Lowering the book,

“No that’s alr…”

Distracted by the background music and lost in the words of Revenge Wears Prada she forgot someone was sitting with her. Looking up, she was greeted by a smile the color of ivory, the sun-kissed skin likened to that of the smoothest chocolate, a jaw line straight out of da Vinci’s sketches. Continuing to insist on buying her coffee she found it hard to refuse. As he walked away, she found herself almost breathless. She was taken back by his persistence and by the unexpected nature that they were meeting. She could not remember ever having this feeling. Awaiting his return, she closed her book and sat it down.

“Ryan!” the barista yelled. Returning, cups hit table and Aditi utters, “So, Ryan huh?” Conversation ensued.

Jagan, leaving their apartment passed by the coffee shop window. Aditi’s smile as bright as every star, he did not expect to see someone sitting across from her putting it there. Defeated by the sight, his smile departed, his hands unclenched and the marigolds fell.

He fled.

Unable to remove the smile from her face, Ryan left with a, “Same time tomorrow?” She agreed and removed herself after her last sip.

Spotting the trail of Marigolds outside on the way home.

Key.

Door.

Refrigerator.

Kulfi.

Couch.

Remote.

Power Button.

Movie.

Note?

“Got a new job, went to coffee shop to tell you. Sending for my things tomorrow. Starting my dream. Mere dil maein tumhaara baseraa hai.” – You live in my heart…


© Copyright 2017 Steph Terell. All rights reserved.

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