Here’s part two.
Darshan was, on first sight, the end of all my childish dreams of a lover and husband. He was better than any dream, the handsomest man I had ever seen, tall and broad-shouldered, heavily lashed dark eyes, black hair that curled over his forehead. Darshan had an attentive gaze. When we chatted, it was as if I was the only woman in the world. He leaned forward and his gaze never left mine. When we were interrupted, I could read the distress in his eyes.
I discovered, to my delight, that Darshan was a promising student at the same school as I, in the separate department of architecture, a burgeoning field in a city whose skyline seemed to change as one gazed at it. Now that I knew I might see him on our campus, I was thrilled and hoped he would be, too.
After we left for Padmini’s home she warned me about Darshan. Darshan was a superior flirt, she told me, and not free to marry just anyone. His father was expected to be the next governor of our state. His family was not only powerful, but rich and well connected. Darshan might not submit to a traditional arranged marriage, but he would follow his parents’ lead, and his choice would be advantageous to his family and above reproach.
Until that moment I had never thought of myself as “just anyone.” My family was good, my marriage prospects as good. I had been told I was beautiful. I was praised for my art, particularly my painting. I was both convent educated and carefully raised. I had rather thought that the man who wed me would be the lucky one.
If Darshan subscribed to Padmini’s theories of his life, he never let on. We met for tea on campus, once, then once more. He invited me to a party, accompanied by Padmini of course, and I accepted with delight. After a month of escalating meetings, like the dutiful daughter I was, I informed my parents.
My mother was, at first, concerned. My father and uncle, though, put her immediately at ease. Unless Darshan was not worthy of his family’s excellent reputation, we had nothing to fear. Either he would cut short our flourishing friendship and marry another, or he would persuade them to accept me. Whichever it was, unless I put myself in a compromising position, I could not be harmed by this informal courtship. I would know soon enough which it was to be.
I continued to see Darshan for months, most often on campus or when I was visiting Padmini, who protected us when Darshan and I wanted to be alone. I had fallen deeply in love by then, something I had hoped would not happen to me until after I was married to a good man. Many Indian girls of my class were making love matches, but I had seen first hand how many hurdles they had been forced to overcome. I had hoped to miss that particular obstacle course.
Tomorrow: Part Three