“The problem with the Americans is that they get so wrapped up in this who-I-chose business,” my father, a surgeon and regular confidant of the OR nurses, told me when I was thirteen. “They will say, ‘He has changed’ or ‘She isn’t who I married.’ Indians never say that. We have no idea who we married!”
His logic was simple: When you don’t have passionate feelings to glaze over your partner’s flaws in early marriage, you are less likely to be undone by inevitable disappointments later on. True, I’d never seen my parents look dreamily at each other, but I’d also never heard them threaten divorce.
It was a karmic trade-off that I planned to make myself someday. Never mind my habit of falling for brooding musicians. Whenever I imagined the future, I saw myself in a version of my parents’ marriage—tied to someone I loved an acceptable-but-not-overwhelming amount, heat and heartbreak nowhere in sight.