What is it with Indians and their intrusive obsession about marriage? My sister recently paid her girlfriend a visit. The girlfriend lives in another city with her parents, in laws - all in the near vicinity. My sister stayed the weekend but could not wait to get back home. She said, “I can’t relate to my friend anymore, she has reached the mental age of 50.” Later, in the course of the conversation, I found out that while my sister was looking forward to some fun and chatter, she was surrounded by a gaggle of people who wanted to know why she had not married and why she had become so fat. Then they kept giving her food, food and more food.
Yesterday I was talking to another close friend of mine in India, same age as my sister. After being in a relationship for more than five years, the guy she was dating chose to act funny just when wedding plans had finalised. It had taken a while for my friend’s parents to accept her man as he was already married with kids. And just when they had gotten round to accepting everything, they got another shocker.
Now preparations were already on and family, friends and relatives told about the marriage. Her parents do not know how to handle this 'public shame' and are desperately scouting all matrimonial ads to find a groom for her. Every Saturday, my friend has to meet a prospective spouse and the more men she meets, the more she is put off marriage. Not only does my friend abhor arranged marriages but the men she meets, no matter how educated, want to get married in a week’s time. My friend says she wants time to know the person she is getting married to but in the arranged marriage business, everyone is in a hurry. Last night my friend said, “My parents look for boys every week, it is like a form of therapy for them but they don’t know the damage it is doing to me.” With her refusal rate so high, she said she was scared she might end up spending the rest of her life with her parents as they don’t want her to move out too.
Sadly, our society straddles women so much especially when they are hitting their 30s. They put so much emphasis on when to marry, whom to marry that it can drive a normal person insane. I can imagine my sister’s idea of a good holiday screwed up and I can imagine my friend’s idea of a normal everyday life screwed up being surrounded by people who think marriage is the most important event in a woman’s life. Whether she has a good job or is independent is not important, if she has not been able to trap any decent man, that is a failure.
I remember when I got married my neighbours told me I should also arrange something really quick for my sister!! Little did they realise I got married because I fell in love with the man and not for the heck of getting married or societal pressure. I replied my sister would find someone herself and get married in her own time if she wanted to. They could not believe what I said because they thought it was my responsibility to find a man for her. Finding a man for a 30-year old? I suspect that is next to impossible.
Why can’t people let single women live alone without questioning their unmarried status? I can’t believe even friends do. They would say, “I agree, I agree, they must be left alone.” But at the next instance won’t stop from reminding how “it is high time now' for so and so 'to settle down”. Happiness does not end with finding a husband. Happiness begins with being happy about oneself and if people go on reminding someone how incomplete her life is because she has not found a man, they are doing very little to make her happy. One can be happy being single, one can be happy being married. The priority just shifts from 'me' to 'us' in a marriage. Of course, there will always be a reason to keep looking for that lasting happiness in life, because it does not end with finding a job, a house, a husband or a child.