Twenty Lakhs Strategy

Twenty Lakhs Strategy

8 mins

Megha and Lolita had known each other for well over two decades. Those who saw them from close quarters concluded that their bonding reflected that of two beloved sisters.

When Lolita’s wedding date was fixed with her longtime boyfriend, the two girls sprang into action almost instantaneously to do all the wedding shopping. As they sauntered around, they reminisced their good old days when they shared ice creams and bike rides together and also, how they madly screamed in fear watching a horror movie during the sleepovers. The girls broke into a fit of giggles over such conversations. Lolita felt a twinge of envy seeing her best friend eat fries from her tray during the shopping; Megha often teased Lolita about the strict diet she was following. Megha gave hope to Lolita saying, she only had to wait for a few months before becoming a glutton again. The two thoroughly enjoyed the preparation phase of the wedding.

About two weeks before the wedding, Megha noticed strange, subtle changes in Lolita’s behavior. Lolita refrained from talking excitedly about Naveen, her fiancé. The elders brushed it aside as pre-marital tension. Even when Megha left no stone unturned to ask Lolita herself about it, Lolita evaded all the questions and also pleaded with Megha not to read between lines. Not one to give up easily, Megha insisted that the two go on a coffee date to talk about it. Though Lolita was reluctant in the beginning, Megha had her way eventually. 

The evening Lolita came for the coffee date, she had worry lines written all over her pretty face. She looked evidently mighty tensed.

“What is the matter, dear? I know you too well to believe your cooked up story that there is no nothing to it. Please be honest with me. I am with you.” Megha squeezed Lolita’s hand affectionately.

“Will you promise not to reveal any of this to anyone in my family or yours, Megha?” Lolita requested truthfully.

“I will not promise anything at the moment. But, I promise to do the best for my best friend and her family. I shall not let you do anything in haste. Go on, dear. Tell me what it is. “Megha assured good-naturedly.  

“About a month ago, Naveen requested for twenty lakhs rupees. “ Lolita started.

Megha was quiet.

“He told me that his father is a proud man, who strongly believes that his son is a well-educated and well-settled person and hence, expected the best for the son. Additionally, giving away some money from the bride side is an age-old custom in their family. More like a tradition. In fact, Naveen’s families were dead against this love marriage; Naveen put in a lot of effort in convincing his parents for this."

 “He promised me that his family would never ask for a single penny after this. They would let the two of us live happily without intervention. I thought about it, since I had savings from the last six years, I decided to give it to them. I really did not want to share this with my parents or anyone. What if the matters get escalated? I just want the marriage to happen without any hassles.”

“Don’t you think I have done the right thing, Megha?”

“Well, I am no expert to pass a decree. I am just wondering about the time you had inquired with Naveen if there was any expectation from him or his family for dowry. He being an educated and well-settled person vehemently opposed such thoughts and assured you. Whatever happened to that promise! If twenty lakhs ensured a marriage’s happiness, safety and sanctity, then marriages come quite cheap, Lolita! Are you fully sure his family will not ask you for fifty lakhs in order to save the marriage once you both are married? Say you give in silently the second time too just so your parents and society do not get an inkling about the troubled waters in the marriage, then as a well-educated and a well-learned woman, you should be prepared to shell out much more once you have a child isn’t it? Thereafter, after say two decades, post immense suffering and suppression having lived like a doormat all along, you will stand beside him like a loyal wife claiming you protected your marriage. Worse, you will preach the same to your children too. “

Lolita’s face was blank.

“Your dad too is a proud man. He ought to be. He gave his all just so you study what you like, you pursue your passions and dedicated his life in order to let you fly high. He has every right to expect the best for his daughter too. Just like Naveen’s dad. Lolita, you are a mature and a strong woman,  I do not want you to succumb to a pressure like this one. Dowry may come to us like a sugar-coated request; it is a dangerous crime in reality that can lead to killing families. It is illegal; it is a strictly punishable offense. Let me emphasize, Lolita, dowry is never a tradition. It is an excuse used by men consumed by greed. It is wrong.“

“What do you want to me do?” Lolita asked non nonchalantly. She was petrified at Megha’s remarks and observations. Lolita could not deny the harsh truth beneath it all.

“Leave it to me. “ Megha already had a way out in her mind.

One day later, Megha invited all the members of the families for a pre-wedding lunch. Lolita’s parents and family, Megha’s parents, Naveen’s family was present. Everybody enjoyed the hearty lunch at Megha’s home. Except Naveen who was busy with some office work.

“Lolita is such a lucky woman to be part of Naveen’s family. A family so well-known with such an impressive lineage." Megha’s compliment was received with vibrant smiles.

“Naveen and his family are fortunate too. Lolita’s parents and her whole family is immensely service-minded, kind-hearted, hardworking. They are so giving, loving and affectionate. Naveen will be looked after like a son. Lolita’s manners, talent and abilities are a proof how well her family has brought her up.” Megha quickly added in succession.

Except Megha and Lolita’s family, none from Naveen’s family bothered about the second part of the statement. Megha blissfully ignored the disapproving faces.

“Okay, so the reason why I invited all of you here is to have some personal time. Furthermore, we could discuss any expectations that Naveen’s family have from this marriage; if they feel something is not going well, we wanted to know what best we could do for the big day. So far, you have been so accepting of everything happening around preparations. So, I just thought this meeting would be apt for a casual discussion?”

Naveen’s parents did not quite follow Megha’s intention. Her words rang in their ears loud and clear though.

“Oh! Nothing at all, Megha. Nice of you to bring this up. We already mentioned things to Naveen. I suppose he and Lolita will manage it.”

“Oh have you, uncle? Not that we are aware of.” Megha looked at Lolita, who in turn hesitantly shook her head in agreement to what Megha said.

“Naveen did not say anything? Sure. I would not have minded saying it myself. Naveen insisted he will handle this on his own. Well, we wanted to let you know that , we would need about twenty lakh rupees. Just like a gift for a son-in-law. Nothing beyond that. Ideally, the sons in our families demand enormous amount of money. However, we want to be nice. Naveen told us about Lolita’s qualifications and all her monthly earnings. Very smart and intelligent girl, indeed!”

 “Post Marriage, whatever Lolita earns and accumulates is for us. So, we thought twenty lakh rupees should suffice for now.” Naveen’s mother interrupted her husband to declare complete authority over Lolita’s accumulations.

While Lolita’s parents did not react immediately, Megha’s parents on the contrary were furious. Lolita was shattered hearing all this. Her friend was so correct about Naveen’s behavioral pattern and consequences. Indeed, money must have been a constant in their head and hence, they chose to talk about it the first thing as soon as Megha gave them the platform. Such greed! Blatant lies about no expectations! 

Megha stood up. “This is quite a surprise, Uncle and Aunty. Naveen has not mentioned any of this. Additionally, he has given his word to Lolita that his family would not require a single penny. He has agreed with Lolita’s decision to take care of her parents. After all, just like Naveen, Lolita too is the only child for her parents. Since he is a well-educated man and Lolita is an independent thinking woman, he used to often say, how; there would be joint financial responsibilities but no real giving and taking transactions. Each one had their say in their earnings. In short, Naveen promised Lolita a marriage of equals. “

Lolita was far too moved by what Megha had said. Megha very smartly secluded the twenty lakhs episode between Lolita and Naveen and instead, chose to put forth his spineless attitude. Lolita, then noticed to her sheer bewilderment, Naveen had not even come to the venue.

“How stupid am I! I was so nervous I have failed to pay attention to his absence. If he has left me in dark today, in the presence of so many people, there is no doubt he will leave me midway in the journey of marriage when I most need."

Little after Megha’s narration, Naveen’s family did not respond but chose to leave. There were no heated arguments or fights. Naveen’s family understood it wasn’t worthy if the son had not yet told the bride’s family about the expectations.

For several hours much later in the night, Naveen tried reaching Lolita. Having understood the extent of damage done, he left a message upon realizing Lolita wouldn’t pick calls.

“So, you are not answering my call. It is fine. I have spoken to my parents. All we can do is, reduce the amount by ten lakhs. Maximum that I could do. Sure, you can take care of your parents. We can have a 50-50 share in your salary. Since this is a message, save it for your future reference. Hope this works out.”

Lolita blocked him as a fit response.

Lolita’s parents heard their daughter’s version and Megha, Megha’s family’s wise words and in the best interest of their daughter, chose to call off the wedding.

The marriage rested in peace much before the ceremony even took place. The financial burden, the intense emotional turmoil that Lolita and her family went through was insurmountable. Nonetheless, the experience was far better off than living a life full of control, regret and depression.

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