If you are 25 and living in India, you are bound to have heard the M-word a million times now, from a multitude of sources. And with your friends starting to get married left, right and center as though it’s the most easiest thing to do, you start to realize you might have a problem for wanting to run away to the other side of the world just by hearing the word Marriage (*shivers*). If not for the numerous blogs on this subject by strangers and some of my single friends and that girl with awesome orange hair in the movie “Brave”, I would have started to believe I am the only one with some disorder.
I come from a society where there are two kinds of marriages. (And here I was, thinking that love is the sole criterion why anyone would even want to consider marriage). People go on to tell me that arranged marriages have gone through a revolution and they are not like before where you had to just go marry the stranger your parents had chosen by spying into their family histories and the star charts, because come on let’s face it, nothing says more about your future with your stranger better than earth’s motion around the sun. I agree, arranged marriages have changed. But I still don’t really understand it. Considering you are not in the glam bollywood world or the super upper urban class, please do enlighten me because it really gives me nightmares.
So you are given enough time to – go from meeting the person to – liking the person to – falling in love to – finally deciding if you want to spend your life with that person? The time period ranges from couple of days to couple of weeks? Hello! I take more time to decide on a phone and I know I am going to change it soon. I do not have a my-life-partner-checklist that I just meet people and see who fits the best. I am so fickle minded that i take forever to make a decision and then go back and forth even for highly trivial matters . How do you decide if you love this stranger person and would not minding spending the rest of your life with him within a couple of days? Would your parents understand that saying yes to such a big life commitment is something that scares the hell out of you? What happens if you lose the initial spark, lose the comfort, lose the connection, or find out that he is a closet male-chauvinist? Would they understand if you want to break it off because you are really unsure or would you have to go through with the wedding and “adjust” because that’s not a valid enough reason? The only answer I have heard for this question is that it doesn’t happen in India. Well, it happens to human beings.
I have nothing against arranged marriages. I am actually against all marriages, at least the one that is being portrayed in front of me: as a primary life goal. Marriage should be a choice and not a mandatory task or a duty to be fulfilled. I should get married because I want to, not because i need to. I know..I know people were happy in it, people are happy in it and that’s really great. I just don’t want myself to be generalized and put in that category and expected to be normal about it. At-least not till i am ready or have stopped fainting at the M-word. I know marriage is a gamble, but at-least I want to enter in with some good odds.
I have come to realize that wedding and marriage have no separate meaning here anymore. Nobody is concerned about your life long (oh my god!) journey with another person. It is all about one single day. One day where all the money saved so far has to be splurged. It is easily the most impersonal celebration you can have where people you barely know come and have fun and celebrate while you just grow tired and dizzy and nauseous. You don’t even get the time to appreciate the fact that “you” – the commitment phobic-jewellery abhorring-not wanting a conventional life-runaway bride – is actually getting hitched.
I try and try but I fail to understand how people finding love is treated as a horrendous thing in this society. If the kids are raised to become strong, responsible individuals who can take their own decisions, how does choosing a life partner suddenly become a crime? Parents should let them make their own identity in this world rather than just force feeding forever. There is a time to let go. Let go to let your kids achieve their dreams and make their mistakes and learn from those mistakes and become stronger adults who can face the world. Deciding to commit to a person is hard as it is, without having to match the caste, sub caste, gothra, mantra and make your third aunts and pets from both families like each other. It is such a hard decision (what with all the infatuations and heart breaks and confusions), that I think every family should actually stand up and applaud and when their kids choose their partners and decide to get married.
Well, I do not have much to complain in this regard because lately, after finding out how difficult it is to convince me for marriage, my mom has started feeling visibly highly disappointed in me for not finding someone (anyone), on my own. Ah. Parents, I tell you!
Modern marriages preach of equality and yet I can’t help feel that there is more compromise made my woman than the man and I cannot stop this rant without touching upon the most unfair tradition of all times: of the bride having to move in with the groom’s family. A woman moving out of the house and leaving her parents is something that is mandatory while a man doing the same is a sign of being a horrible son? Wow, which disoriented person came up with this. I feel married people should make their own life together, make their own home, discover each other and learn to live with each other. It is when you are given a whole brand new family to go live with that all the caste, class and other differences cause problems. Before you call me cold hearted, just imagine if it was the other way round. So all you men (and the respective mothers) please spare a minute and think if you would be happy if you had to leave your home, your room, your personal space and go completely adapt to your wife’s home and family and friends and live there forever by happily accepting them as your family and the strange new place as your home. The only repetitive answer I have got to this question is that – this tradition has been in practice from a very long time and we just have to continue it. Hey, Sati also was an age old custom that was prevalent for a long time; we could have just let it be then. Who you have to live with after marriage should be decided upon whose parents needs more support or who has health concerns or based on geography and not based on which partner has the prestigious XY chromosome. ( And dear Mother in law, think twice before telling me to treat your house as mine, my parents have had 25 years of experience tolerating me and you zero.)
I do not want to get married because I am 25 or because that’s what society expects me to do. I do not want to build my career around marriage. I want to get married when I start believing in it, when along the way, I find someone who makes that journey look less scary and when I find someone I think I can spend my quite-far-future with. I wont apologize because i have crazy expectations from life, its my life. I only get to live it once and i don’t want to live it for someone else. I don’t want my kids to fulfill the dreams that i couldn’t achieve, I want to achieve them myself. Now. Also, I have come to realize that being alone is not such a terrible thing. I know human is a social creature and needs companionship. But most of the times, it’s just you who can help yourself. People around you might help you and offer comfort when you are down or depressed, but you must have realized that at the end of the day you have to get up and get going on your own. You cannot depend on someone solely and demand 100% support and attention from them all the time. You wouldn’t give it and hence it’s unreasonable for you to expect it. So, I don’t think it’s a horrific thing to be single. I believe that being alone is a much better feeling than feeling alone even while being with someone.
So stop telling your daughter that a prince charming will come and take care of her after you. Tell her she has to take care of herself. Make her self-reliant.
Stop passing on the baton and hand it over to her.
PS : I applied for the one way ticket to Mars project and the prospect of getting selected there doesn’t scare me as much as getting married does. Wait, maybe I do have a disorder.