E-Zine / July 2010 / Transition By Meghana Joshi

Transition By Meghana Joshi

Transition in author’s words:

Of strange customs and traditions, of strangers living together, of falling in and out of love, of redefining love, of maturing into a loving, caring woman.. Of careers, higher education, in-laws, out-laws. Of life across two continents, nine houses, two babies and two marriages. This is the story of me, of you, of us…our lives.. no matter where we were born, what we do for a living, or what defines us. Trust, faith and love know no borders, and no limits. We act and react just the same way.. a little bit of black, a little bit of white, and a little bit of gray.. that’s all we are, no matter what shade of a palette our skins are.. Our hearts are all the same.. a little bit of love, a little bit of hate and a lot of indifference.

I am not a writer, I am not a story teller.. I pour the feelings and emotions that my heart goes through on the paper and bring colors of life with a black on white.

A cat has nine lives, but a woman has several. She is born and reborn everyday assuming a new role with changing landscape of the life. Sometimes a daughter, sometimes a friend, sometimes a lover, sometimes a wife, sometimes a soul mate, sometimes a mother, sometimes, just a woman .. for herself. Life is in transit, all the time, until we are in the last of the boxes to take our final journeys to an unknown place.

Synopsis of "Transition":

The novel opens with Medha’s mother telling her that she should marry and then pursue her dreams of getting higher education rather than go alone to an alien land. Medha protests, but her parents win, and Medha marries Rajiv, a software engineer working in US, on vacation to find a bride in India.

During the technology boom of the Clinton era, a lot of software engineers would return to India for a four week vacation and return married. The girls would educated, free willed and modern, but due to cultural restrictions agree for such an arrangement. What went on with their lives was a topic of debate for a few days and then died off.

Transition is a story of their life beginning from the day of their marriage to their tenth anniversary. Of the ups and downs they go through, of the love and hate they have for each other. Instead of a novel like pattern, transition follows a diary pattern where you read important dated entries from Medha, the protagonist.

Where to find "Transition":

Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (February 18, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 144148602X
ISBN-13: 978-1441486028
Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.3 inches

Transition is available for sale on Amazon, Lulu and Target, online.

A detailed review of Transition can be read here

An excerpt from Transition:

"Mrs. Medha Rajiv".

I try to introduce my new self to me for the hundredth time today, and I still lack conviction. Something is not right here. Thousands of shared moments on phone doesn’t help me justify the change. I fail to convince myself that I am ready for this, and I am scared to ask anyone to help me. Wedding jitters. That’s the official name for this turmoil, that apparently every bride and groom standing on the threshold of a new life face.

Here he was. Not the tall, dark and handsome that held my hands while we walked and kissed each other on the beach in my Mills and Boons inspired dreams, but a real good looking guy with an excellent resume of sorts to give me a good life later. A perfect guy to be a husband, a son-in-law and a dad for my kids later. And I don’t see myself falling in love with him and filling my dreams with him. What dreams should I fill him in? Do I picture myself in a sari shivering and dancing with him in snowy Alaska? Or do I dream of us shopping for groceries in a shady Indian store in San Francisco? Arranged marriage gives you a deal in the name of a marriage. Here is a boy, this is the resume, and this is a outline of his capabilities. Make it work for you, and you will be in heaven. There is no romance. There are no promises of eternity to be made. There are only commitments. To live together in sickness and health, in dreams and reality, till death parts you, or irreconcilable differences.

"Medha, are you done? The ceremony begins in the less than five minutes"

My thoughts are disturbed by my mother whose sole purpose in life from the past two days is to deck me up like a Christmas tree with the auspicious colors of red, green and gold, and hanging tinkling pieces of gold jewelry on my arms, neck, fingers, feet, or let’s just say, literally any place she can.

"Mom, I am scared", I tell her.

Patting my cheeks, she tells me it’s OK, and I see tears in her eyes welling up. I nodded my head when she told me that she understood my fears, but like everyone else, I would live happily ever after, and hugged me lightly. "I am so proud of you", she said as she looked at me with the rare affection in her eyes that I only saw when I accomplished something. In this case, I should be saying that to my parents later one day, if and when I have a happy marriage "I am so proud of you for finding me a good family and a good husband to spend the rest of my life with. I would have died a spinster if not for you".

My uncle walked in, hurrying us up, and held my hand to lead me in to the marriage hall. I follow him, with my head bent, avoiding everyone, and go sit next to my soon-to-be husband in front of the sacred fire. My father sat on the other side, and the priest started the vedic chanting, often stopping to ask my husband and my father to repeat after him. I am told that my father asked my husband to take care of me in my new life, and lead me with all good virtues.

I bent my neck in front of my would-be husband while he tied the sacred mangalsutra and took the sacred vow of "Mangalyam tantu nanena mama jeevana hetuna, kanthe badhnami subhage, twam jeeva sharadam shatam". He promised me that by tying this mangalsutra around my neck on this auspicious moment, he would bind our hearts and souls together for the next hundred years. I could neither confirm, nor deny that he understood what he just did, and he did it willingly. He was still a stranger to me who deserved the best of my manners, and best of my words, even though he is officially husband now, and we are taking our oaths.

I never fell in love, and now, I will deny myself one of the pleasures in life that has inspired art all over the world. Love. I will learn to love my husband one day. But I don’t know if I will love him for the person he is, or I will love him for the person he means to me. I touch the sacred necklace and in my mind, call myself "Mrs. Medha Rajiv" again to see if the hollowness before had vanished and it sounded genuine. No. I failed again. Medha is still not bound to Rajiv to be uttered in one breath.

"Stand up Medha", told the priest and asked my husband to hold my hand and take seven steps with me, making seven promises.

By taking the seven steps, you have become my dearest friend. I pledge my unfailing loyalty to you. Let us stay together for the rest of our lives. Let us not separate from each other ever. Let us be of one mind in carrying out our responsibilities of our family. Let us love and cherish each other and enjoy nourishing food and good health. Let us discharge our prescribed Vedic duties to our elders, ancestors and gods. Let our aspirations be united. Let me be the upper world and let you be the Bhumi or Mother Earth. I will be the life force and may you be the bearer of that. Let me be the mind and let you be the speech. May you follow me to conceive children and gain worldly as well as spiritual wealth. May all auspiciousness come your way. Soon, there was the Akshata program where everyone showers us with the sacred grains. We hold each other’s hands and we are officially husband and wife, now that we also signed the required legal forms for the Government of India to legalize our wedding.

"Mrs. Medha Rajiv", I said to myself, aloud.

My husband looked at me and smiled. I looked at him for the first time, half an hour after we got married, and I smiled too. It still didn’t sound real. For me, and for him. We didn’t know each other’s interests, our aspirations, our views on how life should be, but we promised each other to live it together. In short, we had no clue if we were compatible, which would be the only word to define us, and our relation in the future. All it was, was a lavish wedding of two strangers between thousands of unknown people arranged amidst a mysterious Vedic chant session. Not a marriage of hearts that would bind their hearts.

I bid goodbye to my family in a vedic ceremony, repeating after the priest that my husband’s family and honor will be my priority in life and that I will fill his life with happiness and joy by taking care of his parents, and carrying his progeny. My family had bonded with the stranger’s family to assimilate the two into one, and grow, through me, the daughter. I look at my relatives and friends surrounding us, cheering and supporting us that like them, who had an arranged marriage also, we would live happy.

Happiness is overrated. It is defined by what you have, what can’t have, and how much is enough for you. For me this was not enough. If I had a chance in life, I would correct this step in my life. This was not a wedding I wanted, and I am not happy about it. About my marriage, I am still clueless. So is my stranger husband. Time will tell us if we are happy or not.

I enter his house full of strangers, everyone staring at me like a newly bought piece of furniture and discussing in murmurs, my resume for marriage. I developed a thick skin, and a deaf ear, and focused on being independent. I am told that that is the first step towards a happy marriage. My husband and I talked rarely, in monosyllables even though it has been almost six hours after our marriage, and we are husband and wife, who pledged to share lives together. It was difficult. You can either perceive everything as unsaid, or silence. It is your choice.

"Medha" "Medha" "Medha" I heard strangers take my name and assign me duties as if they have all accepted my new role in life and moved on. Mrs. Medha Rajiv, or Medha- Rajiv’s wife was a new facet of my persona, already legal and accepted. My teenage days, when a bunch of friends and I would call ourselves "Mrs. Tendulkar" "Mrs. Dravid" for humor are put behind me, and forgotten as history that never happened, while the reality of being Mrs. Medha Rajiv sinks in.

That night, lying down next to each other in a room decorated with the whitest of white jasmines, we made an effort to truly know each other. And, we made a promise to give "us" a chance, in our words, devoid of any Vedic chants and hovering parents. I was glad that he shared the same fears that I did about our new life. Just like me, he had a thousand dreams woven intricately between his eyes and heart about his life, that didn’t involve me. But, from this day onwards, we would make conscious effort to be a part of each other’s dreams and lives, together.

We talked about us, we talked about our upbringings, we talked about our friends, our dogs, our cats, our neighbors, and everything that mattered to us under the sun. We talked about us, our new house, our new family, our destinations for honeymoon, our plans in career, our yet-to-be-born kids, and our feelings. The next morning, when I woke up, I saw his face. He was not a stranger anymore. He was my partner in life. I wanted to kiss him, but I didn’t know if he would like it. I wanted cuddle with him, but didn’t know if he would be comfortable. I lie down, close my eyes, and dream of him, dream of us, doing things that we planned doing together. Of us living and loving, together.

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E-Zine / July 2010 / Transition By Meghana Joshi