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My father didn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to marry a boy who drove a Mercedes. Only my mother did.
An Indian daughter is raised to marry her off.
I was 26 and ‘still’ single. My father had been looking for a suitable boy for me for 3 years now. In his quest, he had travelled to Delhi, Bangalore and many such places. Girls younger than me were getting married and every time my father came back from attending such a wedding, he would be upset for days.
There were a few relatives who made matters worse. One in particular was quite nasty. He made it a point to visit my father every few days and wind him up.
“Your daughter is 26 already, how many more boys you want to meet. You need to stop listening to your daughter and your wife, or else your daughter will never get married. These women don’t know about the society or how it works,” he told my father one day. The same person committed suicide much later. Karma spares no one.
One of my mother’s best friends told her, “I doubt you will find a groom for your daughter in our community. All good boys get snatched early and your daughter is 26. Maybe you should look in other communities or consider a divorced person.” There was nothing wrong with being married to a divorced person, but the way it was said was derogatory.
Such people created negativity in our house. My father would be depressed and I in turn would feel guilty.
The truth was, I had met 6 boys in three years, but none of them clicked. The first person I met, loved reading as per his bio-data. When I asked him what books he read, he drew a blank. He told me he didn’t even get time to read the newspaper. He started early morning and worked till late night. His sisters had added ‘reading’ to his bio-data to make it look interesting. I was shocked. People actually did that!!
The second boy I met told me laughingly, “You actually have a brown complexion!”
“What does that mean?” I asked affronted.
“In your bio-data, you have mentioned your complexion is brown and you actually are. I was expecting a much darker skin tone,” he joked. I was not amused. But he wasn’t wrong. Because, you see, due to the Indian obsession with fairer skin tone, the girls wrote fair when they were actually brown and very fair when they were fair. I have also seen ‘white’ written against complexion. I remember one boy was ready to marry my cousin without even meeting her, just because she was extremely fair, and he wanted fair or white coloured kids. Did you just say Oh My God!! Yes, this is the great Indian wedding tamasha!!
After meeting such weird men, there was a time when I had actually lost all hope. I seriously doubted there was a ‘suitable boy’ for me in this world. I told this to my mother who is one of the wisest and most practical ladies in the world. She was my sounding board when I got upset. And the fact was she was one for her husband too. A husband who wanted to see her elder daughter getting married into a nice family, because he had a younger daughter for whom he needed to do the same exercise, and very soon too.
At one point, my father asked me, “if you like someone already, let us know so that we can stop looking.” A father from a conservative Agrawal-baniya family in the early 2000s asking that to her daughter was a big deal.
I shook my head.
“Then what’s wrong with the boys, I find for you?” He was exasperated. He didn’t understand why reading books were such a deal breaker with me. He wanted to see me happy, with none of the struggles that he and my mother had seen. Little did he understand that my happiness would be in my husband’s mind and not just in his bank balance.
My father didn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to marry a boy who drove a Mercedes. Only my mother did; she knew I was not interested in a fancy car or bungalow, but in a man who I could discuss books with, who wouldn’t frown if he sees me with a glass of wine or wouldn’t mind if I went out with friends. It was with the help of my mother that I trudged on. She once told me, “if God has created you, he must have created the right person for you too somewhere. It’s just that sometimes it takes time to find him.”
I finally found my husband the same year through mutual contacts. Not only does he belong to the same community, but he also reads books and is very liberal in his approach. And I thank God every day that I didn’t give in back then under the pressure.
A lot has changed since a decade and a half. My cousins who are 26 and 27 are least bothered about getting married. Even their parents have not begun to start looking for a suitable boy for them.
What I mean to say is that we make a big hype about marriage. A daughter is raised to be married off. Why? Why is marriage considered the yardstick for measuring happiness?
Any person who has been married for more than a decade will tell you that marriage is like walking in the Garden of Eden. There maybe traps and you may get bitten. Tell me how many of us don’t reminisce about the good old days in our parents’ home where we didn’t have to get up earlier than the entire household, where we didn’t have to pack tiffin boxes, where we didn’t have to worry about the grocery, the maids and the ever ubiquitous ‘aaj khana kya banega?’. Don’t tell me you haven’t once felt like upping and leaving it all and going back to those days of carefree happiness.
Let’s raise our daughters to earn and be independent. Let’s tell our daughters that find a good man first and don’t be pressured into marrying because of age and biological clock. Let’s make them understand that they don’t necessarily need marriage to be happy.
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Anshu Bhojnagarwala, is a popular parenting blogger. She likes sharing her thoughts on health and
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