Just like a child gives birth to a mother, the mere idea of matrimony gives birth to a bride. And just as each mother has a unique parenting style, each bride is different. There are terrified brides, hurricane brides, feminist brides, budget brides, no-frills brides and bridezillas. And then there’s me—the ravenously hungry bride. In a world of women who go on near-starvation diets even before the wedding date has been set, I’ve been stuffing my face like food is going out of fashion. Bring on the curly fries. Don’t hold the mayo. If the Boyfriend is hoping I’ll grow into the role of the blushing-and-breathless-with-excitement bride, he’s in for a long wait. The mere thought of being a married woman results in panic attacks.
I have to admit, the Boyfriend has taken my un-bride-like behaviour in his stride without batting an eyelid. But while he’s happy to pass me the ketchup as I dig into my mountain of fries and wake up in the middle of the night to tell me, for the nth time, that I won’t be a horribly unsatisfactory wife, there’s one thing he won’t let me do—he won’t let me travel alone. I was surprised by the vehemence of his ‘no’ when I announced my travel plans for the next few months.
“No?” I asked, shocked. “You’re not going anywhere alone.” For a second, the single girl in me blazed. ‘I am a woman, hear me roar’ and all that. But then the woman in the relationship took over. I reined in my anger and said breezily, “Then come with me.” He was delighted. A word of advice to women everywhere: think long and hard before marrying a self-employed man. His spontaneity erupts at the most inconvenient times.
The last couple of months have been a whirlwind of cities, airports, train stations and bus stands. Vacationing together, even for short periods of time, has never been easy for us. I’m a mountain girl and he’s a beach bum. And here we were, talking about a two-month-long expedition. Minimum distraction of work, poor internet connectivity and no one else for company. Travelling with the Boyfriend made me realise a few things about him and remember some things I’d promised myself earlier this year.
I’ve realised that the Boyfriend is a Good Boy. A really, really good boy. I can say this with such certainty because I’ve dated the other kind. Of the vast catalogue of Y-chromosome mediocrity, I have always, unerringly, honed in on the shittiest of the lot—popularly known as Bad Boys. More specifically: degenerate gamblers, chronic drinkers, pathological liars, nymphomaniacs and financial pile-ons. My last one was the prize jewel that finally turned me around. After years of dating losers of all stripes and thriving on the emotional drama, the thrill of staying one step ahead, of being impervious to their charms and playing the player, I finally missed a step and got taken in.
All the clichés—the ambiguity of the relationship, the constant rationalising of incongruent behaviour, the ambivalence and emotional posturing, loving and giving too much—came true. And then, as everyone had predicted, I got my heart trampled on. The good thing was it made me realise that since I wasn’t always going to win, I had to stop playing with my heart. Kicking my bad-boy addiction was a lot like kicking my smoking habit. I knew that if I went back for even one last fix, I would never get out. It had to be cold turkey.
And then, I met the Boyfriend. For starters, my friends were massively relieved to see me with someone closer my age than my father’s. He did what he said he’d do and when he’d do it, and when he promised he wouldn’t do something, he didn’t. After a long time, I was with a guy who I trusted enough to leave alone with a child—or a parent, for that matter. I had forgotten what it was like to be in a relationship where you weren’t constantly wondering if the other person really valued your happiness. He was a shock to my system. And the thought of being the Miss Wrong to my Mr Right was petrifying.
In the last two months, the Boyfriend and I have discussed many things that somehow never get said back home. He admitted that his sudden refusal to let me travel alone was because he was feeling vulnerable and needed me around. A friend had once told me that to know what a person is really like, travel with them. And the thing about a good guy is, when you wake up in the morning after an overnight journey, with a constipated tummy and hair crackling with friction, he will still be there.