Rekha, 33, New Delhi
What do you do?
I work as a maid.
And you're married?
Yes. I married Mukesh when I was sixteen.
How did you meet him?
My family met his family and they liked each other. But then for three years, nothing happened. We didn't meet that entire time. Mukesh's family wanted to rush things, but my family said no at first. They thought I was too young. So after three years, Mukesh's family went to see another girl. But that day, Mukesh came to my house, and he saw me for the first time, and he said he didn't want to marry the other woman. He wanted to marry me.
What did you think?
I don't know. I saw Mukesh, but I didn't feel anything. I was willing to do whatever my family said.
But Mukesh knew immediately?
He did. He liked me.
Is it a good marriage?
Do you have children?
I have a son. He's fifteen.
Women these days date and have multiple boyfriends. What do you think of that?
I think people should experience things. The age at which I got married should have been the time to be young. I didn't know that. I was engaged when I was fifteen. There was a lot of tension. Instead of being young and enjoying myself, I suddenly had the burden of a husband and a home. I took care of everything. I didn't get a chance to explore anything, understand anything. I didn't question anything. I think it's good that people now marry who they want to marry.
Will you let your son choose his own wife?
Yes. It's his decision. Hopefully he'll be intelligent and he'll find a good life partner. Someone who will understand him and someone whom he will understand. I want him to be happy.
It sounds like you have a happy family. You got a good husband. But do you have friends for whom the arranged set-up didn't work out?
Yes. I have friends who've had unhappy marriages. Especially one who married someone who didn't look anything like her picture. He only saw her at the wedding.
Did your family have to give a dowry?
Yes. We were quite poor. We gave a bed, some chairs, a cycle, a wrist watch, a clock, a small black and white t.v., a table fan, and some cupboards.
That's quite a lot.
Mukesh didn't want any dowry. He had said no. But my family thought they had to give something. Mukesh comes from a richer family and he's more educated than me, so my family had to do something. He could have had a better match, but he liked me.
Mukesh and I were happy. We didn't need any of the traditions that go with a marriage. A simple temple wedding would have been enough for us. But the families wanted to follow tradition.
Do you think it's possible to fall in love at first sight?
Of course, of course. I didn't think it at first sight but Mukesh did. My father — why should I lie — he drank a lot. I used to get very angry — we were poor and my father drank a lot. My father really wanted Mukesh to fall in love with me. I didn't even like Mukesh coming to my house. I didn't want him to see our house. But then I also slowly fell in love with him. Now we get to live like a young couple. We go out, we do what we want. I don't know if it's luck or fate or God's work, but I got very lucky. Everyone always says how lucky I am. Mukesh is such a good man. He loves our son. He's so understanding. It's all fate in the end.