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All I want is to love without reservation, explore relationships before jumping into a marriage, if I choose that. Not much to ask, is it?
Do you ever feel a disaster is hurtling towards you, but you cannot move, no matter how much you want to? Like you’re a car crash but in slow motion. You know you should get out of the way, but you’re paralysed, feet planted firmly to the ground because you simply cannot move. That’s what living has felt like for me for the past year or so.
I will preface all of this by saying this, I believe I’m extremely privileged on all counts – caste, class, economic background, and education. However, that does not preclude me from the predicament of South Asian women all over the world – marriage. Yes, it is a predicament and I will tell you how.
I am 26 and I believe I suffer from anxiety (self-diagnosed over the last year or so). My career and academic records are less than exemplary while I have a debilitating inability to make life decisions.
I told my parents that I wouldn’t get married before I turned 25. And the day I turned 25, all efforts were put in, to find me a suitable match. By suitable match, I mean he had to be a baniya, preferably with a B.Tech+ MBA or a CA or lawyer or someone with a Government job. My parents weren’t even considering any other career. The match should have to earn at least Rs. 15 LPA (I am assuming this because higher the salary, the more money the bride’s family is expected to shell out).
I agreed to all this because I’d come to terms with the fact that any romance I would ever recieve would be because my parents had arranged it. And not because a man and I came to the conclusion that we love each other and thus, wanted to marry each other.
However, life had other plans, I fell in love. I fell hard and I can, very safely, say the same for him too. We discussed pretty early on that while we don’t know how life will pan out, we would, like to date to get married.
The problems within that are endless. To begin with, he’s not from the same community, neither does he have any of the qualifications or the job I mentioned earlier. He’s in the creative field so it is safe to assume it’ll take him time to get to a standard ‘salary’ or anything that matches my parents’ expectations.
All of these are secondary problems. My problem is the requirement to get married in order to exist in society. I do not have a problem with marriage, for those who want to get married, they should.
However, the ones who don’t want to get married, why must they be taunted and reminded that theirs is an unnatural and partnerless existence? Why must marriage happen at a certain age?
My parents keep telling me to let them know if I have anyone in mind that I want to get married to but with T&Cs applied. ‘He should be someone we approve of! And you’re 26 now, if you had to fall in love, it would have happened by now. We can’t wait for you to fall in love.’
They still don’t know about my current love life, because of the terrifying aftermth that might take place when they find out about it. Also, I have reserved the right to keep this a secret because I don’t feel safe revealing it just yet.
How is it that, we as a society cannot understand the fact that the right to choose/not choose a partner is intensely personal? The moment you force someone to look at possible appropriate matches, you bring in caste and class into it. You maintain hegemony and privilege and never look at the world from beyond your narrow view. Even though you may claim to be leftist liberal you can’t let your children exist outside of your opinions and decisions.
How are we making headway into progressive technology, but not letting go of this helicopter parenting where people in their 20s aren’t considered adults? In fact, they are infantilised to the point where you choose when they get married and have children! Though it isn’t a minor issue, the choice of career and area of study seems like minor in comparison to this.
All we want is personal liberty. And all I want is to love without reservation, explore relationships before jumping into a marriage, that is if I choose to do that. Is that too much to ask for?
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Veere Di Wedding
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