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Getting married because you are of ‘marriageable age’ and a ‘good proposal’ comes along has been the chains that bind women. Once tied up, it’s the end of their potential.
Shilpa and I were friends since elementary school. Shilpa was a good student from a traditional family. Ambitious from childhood, she wanted to become an IAS officer. After completing college, she started preparing for the pre-liminary examination for the civil services. She did not pass. She decided to give it another try. Another year passed. Meanwhile, her family received an alliance for her from a doctor from the United States. The proposed ‘groom’ was doing very well professionally.
Shilpa was almost 23. She had never had a job, let alone a career. Her family thought this alliance was too good to be skipped. They got her married.
Things did not go well. The couple had problems from the beginning. Having no degree, she was unemployable in the US, and probably in India too. Following a divorce, she returned to India. She spent the next few years of her life struggling to get back on her feet. She is in her mid-30’s now and has got a decent job after studying further. She did not pursue civil services as she felt it was too late.
Her family believed they did not do anything wrong by getting her married early. It was pure chance that her marriage did not work out.
This is a common attitude in Indian families. Daughters should get married on time. Now, I have no idea what ‘on time’ means. Some wise people have tried to explain to me what ‘on time’ means.
You get to choose from the ‘cream’ of eligible bachelors!
You will be fertile enough to have lots of babies! No complications!
You get more time to plan children! You could have as many as you want!
By the time your child is an adult, you will still not be retired, and can support him / her!
You will be able enough to take care of your grandchildren rather than being bedridden or dead!
Shilpa got divorced. It took her a lot of time and efforts to become financially independent. We all will agree in hindsight it may not have been a good decision. But let us assume her marriage did work out…
What did Shilpa give up?
Her social circle.
Her financial independence.
Her potential career.
What did she gain?
A good guy!
Is it worth it? Does one human being equate to everything she could have been? Is he Alladin ka chirag whose mere association will solve all her problems?
The quintessential ‘good guy’ in an Indian marriage set up is one who is well educated and earning well. Since this man has become professionally viable, he is probably few years older than the girl. His USP is that he can give her a good life….
Agreed. But why is our dear girl such a helpless little thing who needs someone to give her a good life? Why can’t she build her life first and then find a good companion to share her life with? Why is she a dependent?
If the man can wait until 29-30 to make sure he is comfortable with the direction of his career, why can’t women get the same leverage?
Does marrying the ‘good guy on time’ exempt us from the usual struggles of marriage? Would it not involve compromise and adjustment? Wouldn’t we be better equipped to deal with marriage and life, when we are more capable on our feet?
We all know that woman. She wanted to do an MBA. Now most people do MBA after gaining a few years of work experience. She got married and therefore could not complete her MBA. Now she has kids. Her MBA plan gets revisited on every major life event. When she is searching for a job after a maternity break…When she moves along with her husband after his job change…
She still has not done her MBA…
We know another woman. The very brainy one. She loved to study. She was advised to become an academician given her brilliant educational credentials. She is now pursuing her PhD.
People keep telling her this is a great time to plan her pregnancy! Time management! She is also told her that working hours are very family feasible!
Also, the usual line, ‘You can find a job easily. But not a good man!’ Is this statement even true? Look at our sex ratio! Men should worry about finding a woman…
A cousin of mine had an arranged marriage. His wife lived in another town. After marriage, she did not move permanently with her husband as she was not successful in getting a transfer from her job. Plus, she did not want to leave her social circle. After a year or so, the husband managed to find a job in her city and moved to be with her.
The mother of this lady was embarrassed by her daughter’s decision. She said sadly, ‘Aaj kal ki ladkiyan gaay nahi hai, jo kisi bhi khute se bandh do’.
My cousin achieved a ‘Devta’ status overnight by being so accommodating to his wife. But imagine if my Bhabhi had moved giving up her job and life. Would she have received any special admiration?
As a society we love to undermine a woman’s individuality. Even when we talk about respecting women, we say things like ‘She is somebody’s daughter, somebody’s sister’.
The potential of becoming someone’s wife, someone’s mother seems more attractive that becoming someone.
As women, it is ingrained in our mindsets that family should be our priority. Our precious years should be dedicated to finding a ‘good man’ and raising a child. The concept of ‘marital bliss’ is sold to us from childhood.
If having a family was so fulfilling why are more and more women becoming depressed in India than ever before? Having a husband and kids does not guarantee anything. A person’s overall self-esteem is a combination of many other factors. Our life has different components – family, friends, career, hobbies, etc. And no matter what we do, there is always a piece missing in the equation that makes us feel inadequate.
We need more… We are capable of so much more..
Please do not tell us that if we ‘delay’, we may end up without a man and child. That is not the supreme essence of our existence. We were not born to create life. We were born to live our own life.
Our ovaries, our uterus, and our destiny may or may not screw us later in life. But our mentality certainly screws us first….
Image source: a still from the movie Hum Aapke Hain Kaun
I like to write about the problems that have plagued the Indian society. I feel
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