F_6. She Chose

She Chose
Sonalee Dutta

Volume 1, Issue 2, pp. 21-25

“Well, I had hoped that my daughters would marry in the community. Your sister did not exactly leave me with any choice. So I was hoping you would.”

Is it too much to expect my daughter to listen to me?”

But, Baba, you are not even willing to hear me out.”

Do you even realise what you are saying? You want to marry Neel, who is yet to get a job.”

He will get a job. He just needs a little more time.”

He has been trying for the last one and a half years.”

He has applied for some jobs, and he’ll get a good offer. I know it. Please, Baba, you have always trusted my decisions, just trust me this time too.”

Sumita looked at her father. She had hoped to have this conversation once Neel got his job. But with Neel not getting a job for almost a year and half after completing his MBA and her father regularly prodding her since the last two months, she had no choice.

There was a pregnant pause in the conversation.

Well, I had hoped that my daughters would marry in the community. Your sister did not exactly leave me with any choice. So I was hoping you would.”

Sumita looked at her father wondering if she had heard him right. Caste and community were never really discussed in her house. In fact, just a few minutes ago, Sumita could have sworn to the open mindedness of her parents, especially her father. Even when her sister chose to marry Jason, her parents had accepted them.

She did not know how to react.

Not getting any reply from her, her father continued, “I have, in fact, zeroed in on a boy. He is my colleague Prof. Mazumder’s nephew, an automobile engineer. He has a good job and you can continue with your PhD after marriage. Think about it.”

And her father got up from his chair, signalling an end to the conversation.

Sumita kept replaying the conversation in her head trying to understand the father she thought she knew.

It was her mother’s voice which brought her back to reality. She realised that it was evening already and she had to visit the cyber cafe to send some urgent e-mails. And also meet Neel.

She found Neel at the cyber cafe sending his CV for some job openings. He greeted her with a warm grin, but her response was a forced smile.

They finished their work and decided to go and sit in the park on the river front. Her silence surprised him. Usually she would be chirping happily about anything under the sun.

Where did you leave your voice?” he teased.

Which jobs were you applying to today? Maybe you could think of taking up a job that’s below you or lesser than your qualification.”

Neel looked at Sumita, “What happened?”

Nothing,” Sumita could not bring herself to share her conversation with her father. “I was just suggesting, since you have been trying hard for so many months now.”

Job was a raw nerve with Neel. It was not that he was exactly unemployed, but helping his brother’s fledgling business could not be called a job.

Neel could sense that his career had been discussed at Sumita’s house but he did not press her to share. Maybe he did not want to hear what she had to tell him.

I am going to Kolkata this Friday for a job interview,“ he said, quietly. A wide smile lit up Sumita’s face.

Don’t be too happy, wait till I get the job,” he added.

I am sure you will get this job,” Sumita said aloud.

I just hope you get the job, Neel. I need all the ammunition I can get to fight for us,” she said to herself.

Sumita saw a paper and a photograph lying on her study table as soon as she switched on the lights of her room. She sighed as she realised that her father was determined to go ahead with his decision.


The normally cacophonous dinner table was silent. She helped her mother clean up after the meal.

Your father is not your enemy, he just wants you to be happy,” her mother said.

And he thinks I will not be happy with Neel?”

Neel is yet to get a job and you know that Neel’s family is very conservative. They may not accept you.”

Neel has got an interview call for a job in Kolkata. And his family is nice. I have met them and they know that we are going out.”

I kept the bio data and photograph of Pritwish on your study table,” her mother said, without looking at her. “He is a good match for you. Of course, you may also choose to shock us like your sister. After all, we gave you all the freedom and you are now free to let us down.”

Ma, you never said these words to Didi and I thought you had accepted Jason.”

What’s the point of telling her? Can it be undone now?”

But she is happy with Jason.”

Her mother sighed, “So, you will also go her way? Fine. Do what you want to do. These days it’s fashionable not to listen to parents.”



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As Sumita lay on her bed, her eyes fell on the photograph. She picked it up. A serious, unsmiling face looked back at her. The biodata spoke of his academic success. A proud man with great achievements, indeed.

What kind of a person sends a biodata of academic achievements for marriage, she wondered.

Coming to think of it, her father had never really liked Neel. He would constantly say that Neel wasn’t serious in life. Yet, she loved Neel’s jovial nature. As the youngest of three brothers, he never needed to take things seriously at home. In fact, it was her constant chiding that ensured that he took his studies seriously. She, on the other hand, was always serious in whatever she did. To be successful was important to her.

It was a relief to her that there was no further discussion on her marriage for the entirety of the following week. And she kept praying for Neel to finally land a job.


Neel came back from Kolkata. They met at their usual hangout spot, the park. She noticed that he was unusually subdued.

How was your interview?” she asked.

I am thinking of joining my brother’s business,” Neel said, slowly.

But you are already working with him. Are you saying that you will not search any more for a job?”

I think it’s time I thought of earning properly.”

So your interview was not good?”

Why do you think so?”

What should I think? One moment you are searching jobs, next moment you want to join your brother’s business. You are never serious about anything.”

I knew you would say so. I am never good enough for the ‘topper’ in you.”

I can’t believe you just said that. You don’t understand the pressure I am facing at home. Baba has already searched a groom for me and here you are still undecided about your life.”

So a prince has been found for the princess. Great.”

Sumita walked out of the park. She loved Neel but she had to constantly remind him to take things seriously.

Not wishing to face her mother in that state of mind, she went to her sister Promita’s house.

Over a cup of tea, both sisters sat down to catch up. Sumita saw a bruise on the right arm of her sister, but when she casually asked about it, her sister brushed it aside. Sumita also did not press her, as she was more keen to discuss the sudden complications in her own life.

I wonder why Baba is suddenly so insistent that I marry according to his choice. I mean he knew that I was going out with Neel and we would eventually marry. A few weeks ago he did not seem to have any problem with the situation.”

There was no response. Promita seemed lost in her thoughts.

Didi, what are you thinking? I am saying something.”

So what’s up with Neel’s job search?”

Nothing, really. He has just appeared for another job interview and he is hopeful.”

And how’s your search for a PhD?”

Actually I was wondering whether I should rather take that job at the junior college.”

Are you mad? Didn’t you always want to do a PhD?”

Yes, I did and I still do. It’s just that I feel it would be good to start earning so that Neel and I can get married. After all my PhD will take time, and for a good life both partners should be earning.”

I don’t think you should give up on your dreams. It’s not worth it, actually.”

Sumita looked intently at her sister. Her sister had always been a rebel, choosing to excel in dance rather than academics in an academically inclined family. But after marriage, she had chosen to give up her dream of becoming a professional dancer.

Sumita realised her sister was crying.

Didi, is everything well between you and Jason?”

Nothing is right in my life. Jason just doesn’t seem to have time for me anymore. And if I tell him anything, he hits me. The bruise that you were asking about was one of many.”

Do Baba and Ma know about it?” asked a shocked Sumita.

Yes. They saw Jason drag me out of the mall and slap me in our car.”

Suddenly pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fell in place.

I think you should come home. Let Jason know that you have people who care about you.”

No, I don’t want to give up just yet. I refuse to believe that I made such a wrong choice.”

But Didi...”

I think it’s getting late and you should go home.”

Sumita left her sister, reluctantly.


Neel called twice. Where were you?” her mother asked.

You knew about Didi?”


You should ask her to come home.”

Her mother did not reply.

That night Sumita lay awake wondering about the turn her life was taking. What should she do? Should she listen to her heart or to her father?

She had met Neel when they were students in junior college. She had joined the famed college from an equally famous convent schools for girls, while he was from a vernacular medium school. He would regularly tease her for being too studious.

How do you manage to remember everything?” he once asked her.

Because I study.”

Yeah, you study. For 24 hours, right?”

She had ignored the barb.

Don’t you ever want to do anything else? Have fun like we do. Go to the movies. Hang out with friends.”

Don’t you ever want to do well in studies?”

I can, if I want to.”

Sumita had laughed aloud at the line, a rather contemptuous laugh. Neel had looked on.

He did surprise her by topping the next semester.

Congratulations,” she had said to him.

Told you, I can beat you if I want to,” he had replied, nonchalantly.

Sumita could not remember exactly when she had fallen in love with Neel. And after almost ten years of being together, their relationship seemed to be at crossroads today. She sighed.


I want you to get married the coming winter,” said her father over his morning cup of tea, after little over a month from their initial discussion.

Sumita looked at her father in shock. Winter was just around the corner. He had set a deadline for her and Neel!

The ring in Neel’s voice on the telephone was diametrically opposite to how she was feeling. He wanted to meet her, immediately, to share some news.

Over a cup of tea, near their college, Neel showed her the mail he received for the overseas job at a well-known company. He had to take a series of interviews over the next two months.

Sumita looked at Neel’s happy face. He really wanted this job. She wondered if this was the right time to talk about her father’s deadline.

Aren’t you happy?”

I am.”

Sure? You don’t look so.”

Have you heard anything from the company at Kolkata?”

Neel looked at her in surprise. “No, but I don’t care, now that I have got this.”

But Neel, this is just a call for the interview and there will be a series of interviews. And...”


And there is no guarantee that you will get the job,” Sumita added, quietly.

So you are back to doubting me.”

I am not doubting you. It’s just that I want you to get a job so that I can tell Baba.”

So wait and then tell him about this overseas job.”

Sumita realised that the discussion was not going anywhere. “Neel, Baba wants me to marry this winter and he refuses to talk about us since you don’t yet have a job.”

But what’s the hurry?”

I don’t know.”

Tell him about this mail. I am sure he will listen.”

He wants me to marry within the community and has already chosen the boy. I have to meet the boy two weeks from now.”

Neel was silent.

Why don’t you call up the company in Kolkata to find out if the results have been declared?”

And you think that would help?”

At least I can tell him that you have something in your hand.”

Neel gave a rueful smile, “And here I was thrilled at our future prospects.”



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Sumita saw her parents leave hurriedly, as she entered the house.

We are going to your sister’s place,” her mother said. “She has had a bad fall. And she is all alone at home.”

Wait, I am coming with you.”

They saw Promita sitting on the sofa with bloodied head and an evidently broken hand.

How did it happen, Didi? And where is Jason?”

Jason is out of town. I was trying to take out something from the top cupboard when I lost my balance and fell.”

Sumita looked at her sister’s haggard face. She seemed to have aged prematurely, she had lost her smile. She looked at her parents’ worried face and thought, “Don’t they deserve better in life?”

Sumita looked at her sister’s haggard face. She seemed to have aged prematurely, she had lost her smile. She looked at her parents’ worried face and thought, “Don’t they deserve better in life?”


It was evening. Promita was sleeping in Sumita’s room. She looked at her sister. Even the sleeping face seemed to speak of regular struggles.

Her parents were having tea in the balcony. Sumita thought it the right time to discuss her sister’s situation with her parents.

I have spoken with the lawyer. He wants to meet Promita before he drafts the divorce petition,” said her father.

I hope she agrees to it. Till now she is adamant that she does not want to leave Jason,” said her mother.

Sumita wanted to speak, but held back.

That boy spends so much time out of town, I am scared that he might have another family somewhere. And I still cannot believe that she wants to stay with him even after he has hit her, repeatedly? It’s just not acceptable,” said her father.

Let’s talk with her once again. Don’t tell her yet of the lawyer. In fact, I was just thinking that maybe we could get her to start dancing again. Her dance teacher had always wanted her to join his dance troupe,” said her mother.

Have you spoken to her dance teacher?”

No, not yet.”

Let’s request him to come and meet Promita.”

Sumita went back to her room, thoughtful. She felt bad for her parents, for her sister, and suddenly very unsure about herself. Was Neel the right choice? Will Neel also transform into a bad husband from a great boyfriend? Will her world come crashing down after they marry? Will Neel also hit her?

She met Neel a week later.

How’s Didi?”

She is better.”

Neel looked at Sumita, intently. There was something about her which made him uncomfortable.

I am meeting Pritwish tomorrow,” she muttered.


The boy Baba has chosen.” Sumita paused, then continued, “Baba and Ma are so worried about Didi that I don’t want to add to their worries.”

Neel knew that Sumita’s sister’s marriage was not going great, but he had never imagined that it would impact their relationship.

And what will you do after meeting him? I hope you know the answer that is expected from you after the meeting.”

Sumita was silent. She did know.

You can still convince your father about us. Maybe I could meet him too? Tell him about my plans.”

And what do you have to tell him?”

My first interview is scheduled in three days’ time. I am sure to get this job.”

Neel, you have been saying this for so many of your interviews. And you don’t realise, with Didi’s life being what it is, I cannot go to Baba and insist on us.”

Your Didi’s life is hers and our life would be ours. Why should what’s happening in her life impact us?”

Didi went against Baba and now her life is a mess.”

Neel looked at Sumita. He was suddenly alarmed at what was she was hinting.

It’s not necessary that our lives will be similar.”

Sumita took a deep breath. Two days back, she had finally given in to the entreaties of her mother and agreed to meet Pritwish. She knew that it meant turning away from Neel, and giving up on a ten-year old relationship.

I hope you are not equating me and Jason. I don’t know what is the problem in your sister’s marriage but you cannot allow it to impact our relationship.”

I don’t know anymore,” cried Sumita. “Didi’s life seemed so perfect and yet she is all broken today. I don’t want Baba to suffer for me.”

But why are you presuming that our lives would be like them?”

I don’t know. But seeing Didi, I am no longer sure about us. Life and responsibilities change everyone.”

We have known each other for a decade now. How can you be suddenly so unsure about me, about us?”

Those ten years were of growing up, we were still immature, maybe still are. I don’t know how our future will be.”

It will be how we make it.”

Meeting Pritwish would mean,” Sumita paused, “closing this chapter of my life.”

A completely shocked Neel was not willing to comprehend what he just heard.

There was complete silence as both just kept staring at the horizon.

So you are giving up on us?” stammered Neel, slowly, after almost an eternity.

A tearful Sumita got up from the bench and started walking away. She was still not sure of her decision of breaking up with Neel, but she did not look back.

Neel kept sitting on the bench in complete shock at what had happened.


Two months later, Neel got two letters, his appointment letter for his coveted job and an invitation to Sumita’s marriage.

About the Author:

Sonalee Dutta grew up in Arunachal Pradesh and completed her higher education in Assam. She has a master’s degree in Mass Communication. In her free time, she loves to read, travel, cook, and sketch.

[email protected]






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  1. The dilemma Sumita is facing perfectly reflects the scenario of most of the millennials. It’s a good story. It was kind of predictable but loved reading it till the end.

  2. Well written. However, the concept of arranged marriages is something that I do not like. Hence the story did not appeal to me emotionally. I would rather marry the man of my choice and suffer the ill consequence, if any, than marry a man chosen by elders and live happily ever after.

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