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The only aim of a woman’s life, in social terms, seems to be a successful marriage, even if she has to compromise on many things for it. What she wants doesn’t matter!
Shikha, Sakshi and Shruti were best friends. They shared the same room in a PG hostel during 2 years of junior college. Their teenage friendship really bloomed and they grew into the closest of friends. After their junior college, Shikha opted for Medicine, Sakshi chose engineering and Shruti went for a graduation in chemistry.
In the course of daily life they got really busy. They were in touch for initial few years and then lost touch like all usual teenage friendships.
After 10 long years of not being in touch on a regular basis, technology and social media made it possible for them to meet again. All of them were so much excited when they finalized the plan. They thought it will be a blast – free flowing fun like the old days in college. They had preserved so many teenage memories of each other. With this reunion, they thought they would make a fresher set of fun memories to be cherished for another decade.
But reality was different. Each of them was bothered by the same question. Only one question coming out of the lives of 3 women living entirely different lives and dealing with entirely different sets of issues: Is marriage the only AIM of a girl’s life?
Let’s have a peek inside their lives.
She is a 35 years old, and a successful surgeon now. Completed her specialization from abroad and currently completing her internship/fellowship there. She has been living outside India for the last 5 years and visits India once a year, to see and meet alliances, just because her parents want her to do so.
She is very happy with her life and the progress she made in a career of her own choice. But every person around her is concerned and worried for her because she is 35 and still single. That is her only identity left in her family, friend-circle and community: A 35 year old SINGLE lady, left single due to her career choices.
Shikha, as her friends Sakshi and Shruti know her, always wanted to become a famous surgeon and serve poor people in her country who cannot afford healthcare because it’s expensive. In spite of being successful in achieving what she wanted, Shikha is not happy. She does not want to come back and cherish her dream now. Reason: she is tired of the irritating questions and unwanted advice like “When will you get married? – What exactly do you think of yourself? Do you think Prince Charles will come and marry you? Marriage is about compromise. You have to settle down for whatever you get. At this age you won’t get a good proposal anyway! Think about your parents who are getting older – say yes to any guy who is willing to accept you at this age!”
What went wrong? Shikha focused on her studies and career first. Studying medicine is very stressful and she did not want to divert her mind to anything else. So she chose not to get married before her post-graduation and specialization was complete. And now she is considered too old for marriage, over-qualified as compared to the proposals she gets in her backward community, and thus being rejected by most so called eligible bachelors out there. As per her family and society – She spoilt her life by making a glorious career, being over-confident and ignoring marriage proposals all these years.
“Is marriage the only DREAM that girls must chase? Is marriage the only AIM of a woman’s life?” – Asks Shikha.
Sakshi completed her engineering in computers and works with a multinational IT company now. She is the most reliable resource at her workplace and thus she is climbing up the success ladder fast. She no doubt is far ahead in her career than most of her engineering friends and peers. This is her professional side.
On the personal aspect, Sakshi stays alone in her own 3 BHK apartment. Sakshi and Satish got legally separated a year back. She is happy with her decision because it was not possible for her to stretch things beyond a limit, but society has a problem with it.
How can a woman be happy after divorcing her husband? She either must live like a poor ‘abalaa naari’ left by her husband or she must be an overambitious outgoing woman who could not take her marriage to success.
She met Satish in her engineering days. They had a most talked about love story for four long years in their college. Both Sakshi and Satish were placed in an IT Company as a part of campus recruitments. Like a typical father, Sakshi’s dad was very proud of her achievements and he expected a much better alliance for Sakshi. Her mother also shared the same opinion, like most of her other family members, that a groom must always be placed higher than the bride and must be earning more, otherwise male ego problems start creeping up in that marriage.
But Sakshi was firm on her decision to marry Satish and they got married despite family opposition. Satish’s male ego was certainly hurt because Sakshi’s family did not accept him due to his job and financial profile being not better than that of Sakshi – he eventually decided to quit the job and go for an MBA so that he could get a better placement.
Sakshi continued her job and also fully supported Satish’s decision, emotionally as well as financially. Sakshi was doing really great in her career and bagged a promotion by the time Satish completed his MBA. Unfortunately the market conditions were not good, and Satish could not get a better job on completing his post-graduation. He had to join same company with Sakshi’s reference and the equation between them changed.
Sakshi was a competitor for Satish now. Very soon the love between the couple was replaced by misunderstandings and fights. Satish’s male ego drove him crazy to an extent where he was violently abusive to Sakshi at times. She tried a lot to make things better, but nothing helped.
An emotionless, loveless, respect-less and sex-less marriage was not something that Sakshi had dreamt of and she decided not to take it forward that way, going in for a divorce. Her family and society did not support her in this.
Family said, “we knew this would happen but then you were the one to decide. So now it’s your responsibility to make it successful.” Society blamed Sakshi for trying to dominate poor husband as she earned well. People even condemned her as “a characterless woman who gets promotions by luring her boss and that’s the reason Satish left her!”
All the blame came on the poor woman who could not even figure out what was her fault. Marrying a person without any condition other than love? Being good at her job? Helping her husband get a job when he went jobless? Being submissive enough to accept the so called male ego? And after all this, she was made guilty for not being able to sustain her so called love marriage.
“Is marriage the only ambition that girls must devote themselves toward? Is marriage the only AIM of a woman’s life?” asks Sakshi.
Shruti completed her post-graduation in chemistry and joined as a lecturer in a senior college in her home town. She did get job offers from big names in chemical industry but Shruti was the only child to her parents and she did not want to leave her parents alone for her career. She was very well settled in her job and soon her parents wanted her to get married and settle down.
Shruti had always been in the comfort zone of her family and thus she agreed when her father that she get married to their family friend’s only son – Ashish. Ashish was a successful business man, he was running a pharmaceutical company in same town and both the families knew each other very well. The marriage was a grand affair.
Within one year of marriage, Ashish and Shruti were blessed with a baby. Before they could understand each other well and build a strong bond, they were burdened with responsibilities of parenthood. Shruti took a break from her job to take care of their baby, her parents and her in-laws. She was managing all this so well that Ashish did not have to bother about anything at all.
7 years flew by in this routine and their baby was already a school going kid, busy in her world now. Ashish on the other hand was so busy with his business and work that he hardly had any time for Shruti. They had never felt physically or emotionally connected in these 7 years of marriage. Shruti had started feeling lonely now. She did not realize how much she had made herself dependent on Ashish. She had no choice, could not take decisions or have an opinion about anything. Now that she thought she had free time, she decided to complete her PhD. Ashish was OK with it and Shruti made herself busy with studies again.
Everything was perfect for the world but Shruti felt a void – she strongly felt that Ashish was not interested in her. But she started ignoring it until one day she caught him speaking on a very intimate phone call with someone. She was totally taken aback…now she was able to tie all the loose ends and conclude how and why they were always just parents to their child but never had a strong husband wife bond.
Upon confronting him, Ashish agreed that he had an affair. He said that he was involved with this girl even before their wedding. He had to marry Shruti because of his parents but he could not let go of his feelings for Rakshanda. Rakshanda and Ashish had done their MBA together and since then, they loved each other. Ashish knew that his Jain family would never accept a non-vegetarian daughter in law from another community. Thus he never even tried to speak about it.
Post their wedding he made efforts to forget Rakshanda, but she left her family, her community everything for him. Moreover, he could not overcome his feelings for Rakshanda and develop any emotional or physical bond with Shruti. Every moment he shared with Shruti was just a formality and he made it very clear that he could not live without Rakshanda.
Shruti’s heart was broken into pieces. She did not know what to do now. She discussed the matter with both of her families. With the fear of bringing shame to the family names and out of care for the child, all of them suggested that she accept whatever it is and continue life quietly. After all, a broken marriage will be nothing but a laughing matter in society and the blame will always come on the woman.
Shruti finally decided not to break this marriage legally because she did not want her child to miss out on his father’s love. But then she was not willing to compromise on her self-respect and let Ashish continue with his extra marital affair. Shruti moved out of Ashish’s house and started living with her parents and child. It’s been 3 years now and her child thinks she stays with her parents and daddy stays with his parents because they both are too old now and need company. He gets equal love from Mom and Dad but not under one roof.
No doubt, ‘society’ gossips about them – they think Ashish left Shruti because she was an average house wife who could not meet his expectations and please him enough even in 8 years of marriage. No one knows the real reason behind them not living together now.
“Is this marriage really worth all the sacrifices she made? Is Marriage the only AIM of a woman’s life?” asks Shruti.
Author’s note: The stories of these three friends represent many levels of tortures women go through and problems women face every day in our patriarchal society, no matter how successful they are in their careers and how responsible they are with society. They have no identity of their own, outside the marriage! A woman is treated as a human, only if she is successfully married. I mean, seriously! IS MARRIAGE THE ONLY AIM FOR A WOMAN’S LIFE?
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