Rites of Passage—Becoming a Responsible Husband
Twenty-two year old Dhoomal Goswami is brimming with pride. Not only is he still ecstatic about his recent marriage to a beautiful and sensible bride, but also he knows he is capable of being responsible in their life choices together. His wife Prema studied through the eleventh standard and is a friendly, likable girl, who quickly adjusted to life with her husband and in-laws in their little home near the railway crossing of Jogipuri in Agra. Amidst the happiness of receiving a wonderful daughter-in-law, Prema’s mother-in-law was eager to receive a grandson as quickly as possible. She would often boast to her friends that she was actively placating the creator to quickly grant her wish. Every time she heard of her mother-in-law’s boasting, Prema would sit with a very heavy heart. Like every young girl, she wanted some time to live her life before inevitably taking on additional responsibilities. She dreamed of traveling and visiting historic places. Despite having lived in Agra all her life, she had never even seen the Taj Mahal! Prema tried to broach the topic of family planning with her husband many times. But Dhoomal, like his mother, subscribed to the view that the first child should be brought about by the grace of God. After many failed attempts, Prema finally summoned the courage and strength to ask him what he thought about delaying methods. Dhoomal was horrified that his innocent bride was even aware of contraception and demanded an explanation from her. Prema explained that, as a student, a group of peer educators from a sanitary napkin manufacturing company visited her and her classmates and held a discussion about menstruation and feminine hygiene issues. Since at the time Prema was awaiting her upcoming wedding, she displayed great interest in the topic. Noticing her enthusiasm, one of the peer educators took Prema aside and asked her several questions. Upon learning of Prema’s plans for marriage, the peer educator provided Prema with an abundance of information about family planning options that she and her husband could adopt. Prema very much appreciated this advice, which ordinarily she may never have received. Prema informed Dhoomal that they could delay the conception of their first child by a year or two, to which Dhoomal agreed. The couple decided that Dhoomal would use a condom; but Dhoomal did not realize how difficult buying condoms was as he felt very embarrassed asking for them at the shop. Dhoomal decided to approach his good friend and colleague Ashok for help, since Ashok had been married for 10 years and had four children of his own. Ashok was very helpful and introduced Dhoomal to a chemist he himself frequented often. Dhoomal was pleasantly surprised by the shop owner, who was both forthcoming about condom sales and showed Dhoomal a range of condom brands like Nirodh and Rakshak, even explaining how to use the products. Thanks to his wife’s wisdom, and his own initiative, Dhoomal feels that he has crossed an important threshold in his life: the transformation from a naïve boy into a responsible man.