It was hard not to notice Rani, she was one of those happy spirits who caused heads to turn on campus. If there was mischief afoot in the girls hostel, innocent brown eyed Rani was somewhere near the scene of action. She’d surface at the very last minute in college registration line and there was always some problem to be sorted out on her behalf. The weary and sympathetic faculty and staff were always looking for some way to bend the rules so Rani’s problems could be solved. Strangely, no one ever complained about the extra trouble we suffered by having Rani on campus.

She was good at schoolwork, good at sports, a leader among the students, and seemed to have plenty of time to socialize into the bargain. Rani felt quite comfortable in any faculty home expatriate or otherwise, and when she was with you a startling array of ideas could be expected as she advised on how to run the school.

One of Rani’s special burdens was for the role of women in Indian society. She felt an Indian woman had the right to choose her partner, and life after marriage should be a sharing experience.

We’d nod our heads in doubtful acknowledgement, wondering if she was preaching cultural heresy, or not.

A telegram arrived one day ordering her home immediately. It was one of those “Mother serious, come at once,” communications we saw quite often. It usually signified to administration we’d not be seeing that student again. Some parts of India kept a close watch on their sons and daughters through a network of informers and if there was any hint of divergence from cultural norms those students would be summonsed home for counselling. In the case of young women hasty marriage proposals were sought. We heard later that her parents had married her to a man of her caste.

Later I met Rani and her husband, she now walked at the appropriate distance behind him and looked radiantly happy. I marveled at the transformation, and as soon as it was possible to talk to her without offending cultural mores I asked her to explain to me how a girl with her radical ideas had so easily fitted into the traditional way.

She cheerfully replied, “My father wanted it so.” That, she reasoned should explain everything!

I have often thought of Rani since that final meeting, and pondered her position prior to marriage, and willing acceptance of her father’s will when life’s important decisions had to be made. Her will was laid aside in recognition that her father wanted her to be happy in life, and she had much confidence in him drawn from her growing up experience. She felt safe trusting that his decision was for her best good.

While I believe there is value in a man and woman falling in love after a period of getting to know each other in Western Societies I have to admit in most of the cases I came across in India where marriages were arranged love developed after the marriage ceremony had been completed and that marriage lasted for life.

Why? Because those I’ve known had implicit trust in their respective parent’s ability to choose wisely for their future happiness.

Culture will always play its part and I do not foresee Westerners changing their view on choosing a marriage partner, but what a tribute to the relationship between parent and child that makes an arranged marriage so often successful in those parts of the world where culture requires it.

“© Copyright Ian Grice 2015 All rights reserved”

Photo credit. Bridalwearz.blogspot.com

24 thoughts on “Rani

  1. I found the trust Rani had in her father’s decision endearing and I hope she went on to remain happy but I’m still not fond of arranged marriages. On the other hand, I believe nowadays in the western world divorce must be too easy. I do believe in falling love but yes, the passion and love settles into a new phase and that’s where changes can occur. I just don’t think couples try as hard. It’s too easy to leave and give up (assuming the troubles aren’t dangerous). Loved your story, though, Ian..

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  2. Studies have shown arranged marriages outlast the kind we’ve embraced in the Western world. The stardust falls off Cloud 9 and settle as the novelty of romance wears off. What we’re left with the rest of our married life is the call for patience and kindness in the (often difficult) ordinary.

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    1. I suppose we need to look at the end result of arranged marriage within a culture. In most cases it works very well in India among the Hindus as they place great respect in their religion on the mother of the home and from my observation among educated classes there is genuine love and respect within families and the husband and wife remain together in that relationship until death. Of course that’s not the way we prefer to approach marriage in the west, but our divorce rate seems to indicate we can’t hold our system up as a model either.

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  3. Thought provoking post Ian and beautifully written as always. I feel that there can be much chancing to luck in love in the Western world, that it makes it a lottery! Hugs x

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    1. I guess you have to view the marriage practice within each culture. Whatever works to ensure people are happy within their cultural marriage and willing to spend the rest of their life together rather than just say it at the ceremony is the ideal. Then the test is between each culture, how many marriages actually last the course? 🙂 I can see very clearly in our Western culture why marriages break down. Sometimes its not violence on the part of either of the parties alone its the environmental pressures we live under today that impact on that marriage.

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      1. Yes Ian, how very true. Expectations can kill most things as it pulls people away from reality. In our ‘throw away’ society, marriages too can be thrown away. Pressure from life nowadays (especially in our Western culture) can cause souls to break. There is so much going on. We strive for balance don’t we? Hugs x

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  4. I have known several women over the years from both India and Japan who were in arranged marriages, some very successful and others very bad. I wonder, do you think those that are bad are because of the influence of western culture?

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    1. Hi Val. I suppose my opinion would only be speculation. It’s possible but I think it has more to do with the education of women. When women are educated they see totally new horizons and don’t have to be locked into a male domination the rest of their lives. You will notice from our news reports that even women in places like conservative Arab countries are beginning to see those horizons and rebel at some of the strictures placed on them while still being true to their religious beliefs. In India while women are still expected to conform to expected role assignments, eg their place in relation to the mother in law, and in relation to the husband there are conflicts when an educated woman begins to question their role. The Hindu religion places a high estimation on the role of a woman, but like all religions there is a gap between belief and performance. lol. Looking at Western culture today I can see the beginnings of the “Fall of the Roman Empire” repeating itself again. I fear for the kind of culture which will step into the vacuum created. Asia certainly has less divorce rates than the West so they need to be careful about imitating so called Western values.


  5. Seems to me that our western way of selecting partner is random and chancy – hence so much disappointment. The good arranged marriage matches upbringing, social status and personality. Falling in love is a process which may be accelerated by lust (falling in lust) but I believe that it takes time and work. I believe that the arranged marriage might often be a good formula for a happy life – seems that Rani’s obedience rewarded her – I hope so! I enjoyed Steven Covey’s perspective on love as expounded in The Seven Habits of High Effective People.

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    1. That was an interesting perspective. “Falling in lust!” It could be you have found a vulnerability in western view of love there. I suppose there are tragedies in arranged marriages too but from my observation in India most of what I observed lasted.


  6. I wonder if Rani remained happy. The system works when the parents place their daughter’s happiness over all other cultural and financial considerations. That isn’t always the case sadly.

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    1. I know that Madhu having lived in India 20 years and read the newspapers daily. I suppose I moved in a circle where there was genuine family love between parents and children and between the children of the family too. I include all the major religions I had experience with. One of the memories that stand out in my children’s mind is a picnic by a lake where I subsequently learned villagers made hooch in a secret wooded area. One villager obviously intoxicated was beating his woman mercilessly and my children urged me to intervene. I had to explain that I could prevent him doing that but as he’d lose face in front of the village men he’d probably kill her when they reached their village and no one in that village would raise a finger to stop him. It was the lower element of society and they wouldn’t know better. I also know that brides are burned for the sake of money. But that doesn’t apply to the majority of those of a higher socio-economic level as far as I’ve observed. I think there are less divorces in India than there are in the Western World.


  7. Have you seen the latest reality TV which is experimenting with the concept of arranged marriages in western culture? Twill be interesting to find out the outcome. Loved your story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The reality show is a bit different. Computers theoretically match personalities and choose the prospective groom and bride that way however computers are only accurate to the point that the input of data is honest. Parents in Asia do background checks through a network of people they know and interview the prospective bride or groom as a family. It’s a little more difficult to bluff when people know your history and eyeball you.


    1. There are always good and bad features in every culture. Travel is so important as it helps us review our own culture and compare so that the bad is hopefully modified if not eliminated and we accept the good in the culture being studied as part of our own lifestyle.

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