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Why is it that in India, after a woman crosses her 50s, she is expected to only visit religious places or look after her children and grandchildren? Who makes these rules anyway?
A few days ago, my beautician, who is also a good friend, mentioned in the course of a conversation that her elder sister who was widowed at a young age, tied the knot a second time at the age of 65. A chance encounter with a handsome stranger, a few conversations and they decided to get betrothed. She did not have any kids, had lived her life in London, was widowed 15 years ago and had moved to Mumbai. She yearned for company and someone to share her life with at this stage of life and lo and behold, she got what she wished for! My mum and I were really happy to hear this. India is changing or at least some of us are, I thought.
On introspecting further, a few things struck me as obvious. One was that maybe my statement about India changing did not hold good. In this particular case the woman had no children so it was a sole decision. But what about widows or divorcees who have children? Can they think of marrying again? How receptive would their children or grandchildren be to the idea of their considering remarriage. One might argue that the mindset of people has changed these days, we are more open-minded but is that true?
Around 2 years ago, I read about an organisation that was started by a man in Gujarat, the purpose of which was to provide a forum for remarriage specifically for people aged 45 and above. A newspaper article carried this story and they had even narrated the story about a lady who was in her 50s and her children who were settled abroad registered their mother to participate in an event organised by this forum. They had lost their father many years ago and now both the kids were married, had good jobs and were settled with their respective families. They sensed the loneliness their mother felt and were happy if she could find a companion.
But how many of us think like them? Most of the cases, children resist the idea of seeing their mother happy with someone other than their father. But for someone who is no more or no longer a part of your life, isn’t it time to let go and think of those who are around? No one is going to take your father’s place. If your mother remarries why not look at him as your mother’s companion. What’s wrong in that?
At one point your mother sacrificed a lot for you, she struggled through those initial years of bringing you up, shuttled between office and home, and during those times, she hardly had time to think about herself, her happiness and to do the things that bring her happiness. And when that time finally came, when you were all grown up, married and settled down with your spouse, had your job to keep you busy, and friends and family to fill up your weekends, did you pause to think about her? More than anything else, it’s company that one yearns for in the sunset of life. Or do you expect that as she has spent her whole life looking after you, she can now keep herself busy looking after your kids? When it comes to remarriage, society has always viewed it as something not desirable, more so in the case of women. And if it is someone who is already a divorcee, then you are talking blasphemy.
Here we are talking of remarriage of someone who is not “young” and hence the illogical but often asked question “but why at this age? You should spend your time in the company of your grandchildren and in religious places.” Who has made these rules?
Here we are talking of remarriage of someone who is not “young” and hence the illogical but often asked question “but why at this age? You should spend your time in the company of your grandchildren and in religious places.”
When I reach that stage in my life, no doubt I would love to spend time with my grandchildren, but I would also like to spend time doing what I like, be it reading, writing, travelling and nothing like a candid conversation with someone who makes me feel content. I would feel the need of a partner more at that stage rather than now (with a demanding job and 10-month-old super energetic baby who keeps me literally on my toes the those day.) A partner with whom I can share the simple joys of life, a walk in the park or just a shoulder to lean upon. For society’s mindset to change, it’s important that we bring that change, first in our families and among our near ones. We should be open and accept the decision of a woman in the family who wishes to start life afresh with a partner, and accept it wholeheartedly without any hesitation and with open arms, and only then can we see the change in attitude one day; that day, when mothers who need not brush aside such thoughts just because their children would not be comfortable, that day, when age would not be a bar to marry or remarry. I hope this doesn’t remain a wishful but unattainable dream. I hope it sees the light of day.
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A very thought provoking article, Akshata! 🙂 Definitely made for a good read!!
Nice article Akshata. I have seen couples getting re-married at this age, but without children, or with just 1 child. This is very rare. But this option will not work out untill something is done with family property issues, as rightly pointed out by Mohna Joshi. It will not be welcomed in big joint families. Still India has to go a long way in encouraging widowed women at this age to think of even a re-marriage.
Hi Kanakadurga thanks for reading and taking time to share your thoughts. I do agree it would cause complications in terms of inheritance etc. But lets suppose the woman in question is ready to forfeit all her claims and give it in writing, and so is her partner? Would her family then agree and accept this union wholeheartedly? I doubt that would happen. This is the facet I tried to explore here in the article- more about people trying to change their mindset. If the woman decides to tie to knot or not, I do think acceptance by her chiildren would not significantly differ in either cases.
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