Shabuni, are you ready. The boy and his parents have come. "
A pretty innocent Bengali girl of eighteen adjusted her nose ring in the mirror and admired her reflection.
She whispered to herself "Perfect! maa, how do I look ?"
Shabuni's maa smiled perfectly "you look like Maa Durga. "
"Now come down ."
Shubhuni, adjusted her saree pleats and came down to the sitting where the boy and his parents were sitting to meet.
She got a glance at the boy as she gently handed the tea to him.
The young man dressed all in black. He seemed to be an exorbitant jewel which his parents were boasting about.
"My son is a peon, of the Lord, you can say he is their right hand. He attends all the angreji babu's parties ."
Shabuni, kept on grinning in her heart as she listened to the tales of a proud Bengali mom.
They came to the turn of the lean man, sitting beside the young man "My son is highly qualified.
He has done his inter ( 10 + 2)
Then came to his father's turn the lean man, sitting beside his asset "My son is highly qualified.
He has done him inter ( 10 2) with the first position and there and then he got the government job of peon. We owe our personal car and a bungalow in 24 Parganas."
"By the way, how much Shubhani has studied ."
Shubhani's maa said " our daughter has studied....." with hesitation "till class sixth. But she is a lady with etiquette and is highly well-spoken. She can dance, sing, and cooks delicious food, specifically fish ."
The young asset kept the half-finished cup, on the table and asked his parents "let's move ."
Shubhuni knew it was a "no" from the boy's side, as she was an illiterate one.
He was the sixth in the queue, who had come to marry her. But as she was not enough educated, they all run down her dignity.
That night Shubhuni heard her mother speaking to her father " oh! if only she could have studied. But it is vain to tell her at this time ."
"Our daughter is so beautiful. Why can't we get her married to some low caste man? Who will not judge her by her qualification."
Shubhuni's father, in a loud voice, replied " My daughter is a diamond, books are useless. Are you educated or me? Experience and wit matter the most and my daughter has all.
Don't worry, your daughter will get a suitable man.
Now go to sleep "
With a heavy heart, Shubhuni lied on her four-poster bed. "If only she would have studied more ...."
Days and months passed of and boys came and left. During the British era boys dreamed of Gori Mem and if they couldn't marry them. Their second choice was always a well-educated girl.
As time was passing by Shubhuni 's maa was becoming impatient " if you can't find a boy of low class, then get a divorce or a widower for her. The whole town is continuously talking about our girl ."
"She is getting a bad name ."
Shubani's father sitting on his rocking chair nodded his head, and then picked up his umbrella and briefcase and left the house.
It was a late night, when both mother and daughter earnestly stared on the road, to see the shadow of Shabuni 's father.
Passersby asked both of them, "what was making them stand there. Was all fine. " Shabuni's mom nodded her head and said reluctantly "all well."
And then Shabuni saw a long shadow of Aman with an umbrella and briefcase which was narrowing down as it came near to their house. Shabuni shouted to her maa "Maa,babuji has come, let's lay the dinner table ."