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Being a single Indian woman can be one of the ‘worst’ things to happen to one, according to society. However, the author differs in her opinions. Here is how.
It happened five years ago around this time. I know this for sure because it was when I ran my first half marathon. And I remember being very angry with my dad. He turned off my prospective groom’s family by requesting the wedding expenses to be split equally.
So turned off were they by this ‘atrocious’ request, that they made it very difficult for our family after that. To the point where we had to call off an already broken wedding!
Five years later, I am 30 years old and (still) single. I am someone who is almost always met with a sympathetic gaze, an uncalled-for remark about how one cannot be young forever. Or the someone who gets the unsolicited consolation on how it’s STILL not too late to find someone. Notice the emphasis on the ‘still.’ And there is always the unstated possibility of, you know, dying alone.
Uncles and aunties I grew up around (some of them even my blood relatives), refuse to set foot in my home. The home, I lovingly built and set up with my own hard-earned money. They refuse because it’s the home of a single woman they want to do nothing with!
Some of my friends talk about how having kids can be the most accomplishing thing ever. Countless number of times, I am told not to miss out on the opportunity of becoming a mother and not delay marriage anymore. To say that they are appalled whenever I retort with the fact that having kids need not necessitate marriage is an understatement.
Anyway, the point is, right now I am happy with where I am in my life and all that I have built into it. I am happier than I would’ve been had I married into that spineless, greedy family the one I encountered when my profile hit the arranged marriage market.
It is an altogether different story that the astrologer remarked that the prospective groom and I were supposed to be a match made in heaven. We apparently ticked off all the requirements on paper to be a blissfully wedded couple.
He did not know of one small catch, that none of that counts if the requests were made to split the wedding expenses. Had my Dad known the catch earlier, he probably would have silently borne all the demands.
Poor Dad, he believed in equality and felt that’s the least we could ask for, given all the hard work that went into making me into who I am. I am glad he did what he did. He stood up for what was right and (in a way) demanded that my education, my career, and family be given their due respect.
What is wrong with that?
If a woman is just as educated, makes the same money (if not more) than the man, how is it still okay to demand that her parents sponsor the whole wedding? At the same time, if the woman hasn’t achieved as much as the man (in quantifiable terms), isn’t it still unfair to make her parents spend their savings on the wedding? She is the one who bears the children, goes through the pain and anxiety and shoulders a majority of the child-rearing!
Yet, society has it all wrong. We constantly victimise the woman and her parents unnecessarily, right from the day she is born.
Yes, to raise a girl child in the society takes a lot of hard work and innumerable sacrifices by everyone. This is sometimes even more than it would have taken for raising a boy of equal stature!
As it is nature is unfair on us, the least the society could do is, make it a tad easier with better ‘rules’ for women and her family! Or be more supportive when a progressive person like my Dad spoke up!
But no, that’s not how it works. Even today my Dad has to hear, over and over again, how he made a big mistake by educating me more than “required” and letting go of one rare good match we found! Yeah, right!
Today, I am a well-traveled person. I have met so many people from all walks of life. And have encountered many an eye-opening experiences while not in the familiar territories. I’ve watched many a kind of love and heartbreak. And am equipped enough to differentiate true authenticity from the noise!
I am better now than I was 25, no longer the naive person. Having lost my ‘prime years,’ and with my beliefs, I may turn off several entitled men and their families. I am not the one to keep quiet especially when I see injustice meted out in front of my eyes.
With the opinions I hold, I can even threaten strongly held ‘values’ about an ideal women and how she should or shouldn’t be. I might hence end up not getting married the traditional way because of that.
You know what, I am okay about that and would continue to be unapologetic-ally myself, living my life my way. If this is what it takes to question the age-old norms that are not relevant anymore, then so be it!
I can see some of my more conservative friends, my uncles and aunties, and other “well-meaning” acquaintances shake their heads in disbelief at me. They mostly do it for voicing such strong opinions in a public forum.
To them and to others, I would love to get married AND have children someday. But when I do, I will do so in my terms. It will be with someone who would lovingly want to share his life with me, accept me for who I am. And, importantly, would try his best to get me accepted into his family.
Until then I will continue to enjoy my travel, invest in myself, my hobbies, take up new assignments in far-flung places. I would revel in the multitude of other things that my single-hood allows me to embrace.
Single women are not always old maids, depressed and resigned to their fates! Being single, contrary to popular belief, is not all that bad!
A version of this was earlier published here.
Picture credits: Pexels
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