Arranged marriages, a concept that some dread and some seek solace in. Some of the lucky ones like me find the true one themselves without any delay. But then yes, arranged marriages rule our world and our society. One such book describing the nuances of an arranged marriage through hilarious writing is Encounters of a Fat Bride by Samah. A book that defines how arranged marriages are built on a fragile foundation, and becomes more fragile if there are physical discrepancies in any of the parties involved.
The protagonist, Madhurima Pandey is single, 25 years old and weighs 93 kgs. Gradually she’s coming to terms with the irritating elbow nudges from family and friends of “you are next”. Somewhere she understands what other don’t, that finding a groom for her may be a difficult task thanks to over growing size. She knows she isn’t the ideal weight for marriage, even if her family believes she’s the ideal age.
After a string of no’s from many suitors, Madhu finally finds the one. Harsh, the boy with the no flaws and who agrees to marry her in one go. And that’s what keeps on gnawing at her, that how come he said yes. The low self-esteem makes her paranoid and questions Harsh’s intentions, whether he’s impotent or homosexual, but she doesn’t turn down the proposal immediately.
Soon, our Fat Bride starts settling into the routine of a new bride. Shopping, scrubbing her skin, a string of parlor experiments etc. She even goes through a negligible period of courtship, but Harsh doesn’t say or pay much attention to Madhurima’s intentions of breaking the ice. And that’s another thing which makes her suspect Harsh and his family’s intentions more. Finally, a hurried engagement is done but the day comes when everything comes in right front of her, making her regret that why didn’t she take more time? Will she ever find her happily ever after?
Encounters of a Fat Bride is another book that I can relate to. First, I am a newly wed, and I know how much unnecessary pressure a bride faces when she’s getting married. There is no scope of imperfection whether it is the dress you wear, or the make up you put on or the venue etc. Weddings are costly not because the bride and groom want it but because that’s what society wants.
Second, I am skinny, like super skinny and I am married into a family of ahem, healthy people. So I know how much scrutiny I face when I visit them because they start pulling me like rubber band here and there and keep on questioning, “Are you unhappy?” “Is he not feeding you well?” “You don’t even look like a Punjabi kudi” *Sigh*
Coming back to the Encounters of a Fat Bride, Samah is an intelligent writer. She killed two birds with a single stone through this book, one; the pressure of arranged marriages, and two; the size issue. I really loved the way Encounters of a Fat Bride is honest with its readers, there’s no unnecessary characters or extra insertion of funny moments or angry moments.
The story is simple, straight and to the point and a refreshing new take on Big Fat Indian Weddings. I really loved Madhu’s character because she portrays what a young modern woman expects out her marriage. The climax could’ve definitely been better, but then it was not that bad also. All in all, I really loved Encounters of a Fat Bride. And you will too, so make sure to grab a copy.