I have seen many different kinds of people looking to get married. But there was one particular case that I will never forget. A woman stepped into my office one day. With short, jet black straight hair, wheatish complexion ( I never fail to notice in my profession), and striking eyes that felt like they held too many secrets. She looked thin and full of action. She sat down and shot, “I need a groom.”
“Of course, that is what I am here for! Now do you have a biodata?”
“No. But I have some requirements.”
“Yes, we will get to them. I will need some general information first. Now what’s your good name young lady?”
“Alright. But you were born Christian?”
“Yes, my mother was American.”
“Ok. What is your age?”
“Ok. Are you looking for a Christian groom?” “No. Can I tell you my requirements now? It will probably clear things up.”
“Ok. Tell me what you’re looking for, dear.”
“I am looking for a groom here in Bombay. He must be a widower or a divorcee with a child. He must be willing to marry only for six months after which we would separate. During the marriage I would not be looking for or be able to provide any kind of physical intimacy. I would be looking to legally adopt his child. However after the separation he can have back full custody of the child. For anyone fulfilling these conditions and willing to marry me, I am ready to pay twenty lac rupees. But this will be after separation. And for your help in finding me a match, I am willing to pay you one lac rupees.”
These bizzare conditions left me speechless and utterly flabbergasted! I could sense that she would divulge no more if prodded. I guessed the huge sums of money offered were having to do with some murky business that did not provide room for discussion. I was wary of taking up this case, but considering that I was an average match maker, whose commission was barely enough to pay office rent and basic sustenance, I decided to turn a blind eye to the mysterious and focus on the obvious. “So, do you agree to find a match for me?”
“I guess I don’t have a choice. I shall try my best to find you a groom.”
“That’s fantastic! Let me know when someone is interested!”
And she left.
After days of browsing countless profiles and running mental algorithms, I finally found a match. A man of forty who had a twelve year old son and a meager income from a bank job, who had agreed to Amanda’s conditions. The marriage was commenced in a courtroom with the groom’s son and Amanda’s friend as the witnesses. My job was done here, and as promised, I received my payment without any delay. I was satisfied and I hoped I never saw the end of it.
But I did. It was a year later that I received a phone call, from Amanda’s friend. The same one who was a witness to her betrothal. To inform me of her funeral service. At first I didn’t understand what had happened. But the fact was that Amanda was no more. She said that she would clarify when I met her at the funeral.
I reached on time. There were hardly any people. It looked like she didn’t have many friends or family. There was her six month husband, their son, a middle aged couple, and then I saw her friend. They all looked grim, but her friend looked like she must have cried a river. She beckoned me to come in and have a seat. I saw a brown coffin at the end of the room, and I took a seat a little away from it. This was the first time I was attending a funeral and I had no idea how to go about it. I had no idea about anything. It had been one year since she had stepped into my office, and today I was attending her last rites. I had a sense of foreboding after her marriage, but this kind of a drastic climax left me wondering about the missing pages of the past year. It was time for speeches, and her friend came forward.
" Hello friends. At the risk of sounding immodest, I believe I knew Amanda better than anybody else. This is because she rarely opened up to anyone. Even when she did, she never got what she deserved. I knew her wildest dreams and her darkest secrets. I knew what made her tick and tingle. I knew the beautiful person that lay within that tough exterior. She was very much like me, and yet so different. I, too, faced tough times, just like her, but it mostly made me bitter towards life. But not her. She kept sailing strong as far as she could. Till her body could no longer take it. She knew that she could never explain to her parents or her friends about our relationship without repercussions. While I chose to remain silent, she battled a storm by herself. But when she understood that she had to stand alone, she decided to take the reigns. And when she did, she emerged from the tornado as a queen. She died like a queen. All I have is because of her. I am what I am because of her. She was my saviour in my doom, a shoulder to cry on in my difficult times, and when she promised me that she would make it better she actually did. I feel like I lost a part of my soul today. A part that can never be replaced. And while all I can do is mourn, I do pray for the many men and women who are torn between society and their true self, who are unable to do justice to their lives and who are deprived of love in their lives only because their love is seen as different from normal. Because I know deep down that Amanda Hiller was a woman full of love. Of untarnished, passionate and limitless love.."
Never before had I heard words that impact me so much. After speaking to her friend who now I know is named Rosaline, I was able to fill a lot of the missing pages of her life. Amanda was born with a different sexual orientation which she discovered early in her teenage. She opened up to her parents about it, and they vehemently protested it. They forced her to join an order to become a nun so that she could forget about her indecencies, but there she met Rosaline who was in the same situation as her. There they developed a magical relationship. The ability to fully fathom each other’s suffering from unfulfilled love made them so close to each other than they fell in love and became inseparable. They ran away from the order back to their homes. But Amanda’s father did not accept her, and he grounded her so that she could not meet Rosaline. Rosaline’s family abandoned her and she had to do odd jobs to survive. Amanda’s father ultimated her that she would receive a share of his wealth only if she got married to a man and became a mother. She did not agree, and instead kept seeing Rosaline. Amanda was the only escape in Rosaline’s tiring monotony, and they indulged in all the pleasures of life.
After a few years, Amanda was diagnosed with AIDS. Her father had died two years before this, and had mentioned his conditions of inheritance in his will. Hence Amanda decided to secure her rightful share of fortune worth fifty crore rupees by marrying. After marriage she legally took her share and made a will to pass on every penny of it to Rosaline, barring the ten Lacs that she paid her husband and son.
The story of her life arose more questions in my mind than it answered. Did Amanda do something wrong or immoral? What if her parents had accepted her just the way she was? At the tender age of twenty seven she had seen more injustice and deprivation than anybody else. Wasn’t her uncontrolled debauchery that led to her death a product of the lack of acceptance and love from the very people she called family?
As I sat pondering all of this in my office one day, three years later, I was jerked into reality by a phone call. It was from Rosaline. She called me to thank me for fixing her up with a wonderful girl who understood her and they had decided to spend their life together. I had secretly started match making for LGBTQ community and had received amazing responses from them. My venture was called after a quote that Rosaline said many a times - “Love is for all.”