We’re not religious, we’re just a couple like most; we have the usual ups and downs any ordinary marriage has. Why should there be media focus on us as ‘interfaith’?
I got yet another call from a media house today, asking to speak to my husband and me, about our interfaith marriage.
This is a little ironic, because we’re both atheists. The only faith we have, is in each other, our family, our friends and our principles. The idea of religion and and god, is anathema to us, but in the eyes of the world, we’re ‘interfaith’.
And against our better judgment, we’re speaking to this media house once again, because we have voices and need to use them for those who don’t. Be they interfaith, intercaste, same sex, anything.
We’re speaking, because someone needs to speak up for the scores of young people in love, who haven’t yet reached the stage of confidence and comfort we have. Who will be bullied by their families, because they’re young, and vulnerable. Who are unsure about careers, god, culture – everything, but each other. To let them know that we made it, and they can too.
However, I’m deeply uncomfortable at how the media comes back to certain easy to access people like my husband and me. I don’t like that we’re in the public eye, simply for being a married couple. It makes me as uncomfortable as ‘social media influencers’ do – famous for doing nothing. It’s almost vulgar. Perhaps yes, we get credit for fighting family and Hindutva goons to get married, but it’s all that is done now.
Our daily issues aren’t over god – they’re over dog, and who will walk it? They’re WHY THE HELL CAN’T YOU STOP buying carpets? AND WHY THE HELL should I move to the middle of a desert for your damn job?
It’s unfair and wrong, to expect interfaith couples to be the poster children for happy marriages at all. And yet, there’s no pleasing everyone, because someone unfriended me on social media some time ago, and shockingly, said it was because my post declared that I was sickeningly happily married. Apparently, I wasn’t feminist enough since I was such an embracer of a patriarchal institution.
I told her not to the let the door hit her on the way out because I am not here to be a poster child for either love marriages or feminism. We’re all beautifully human and deeply flawed. I have no doubt I could do a lot better in my marriage, as could my husband. And I have no doubt we both have a long way to go in smashing the patriarchy.
And while we have earth-shakingly loud fights, I don’t owe it to social media to announce them. If you believe that I owe you that, you’ve got bigger problems than you are aware of. Social media, is a living room, with guests over for dinner. It’s not where we come to air dirty laundry, but it is a place where we can often choose to have conversations that others might sometimes find uncomfortable.
I post honestly enough for people to know that we have an irreverent relationship, and an equal partnership. And that bit of sharing, is my choice, not my duty. When people post pictures of the food they have cooked or ordered – we don’t ask them to post the contents of their toilet bowl the next morning, do we? So what is this vicarious, vicious demand for the ‘whole picture’? And who the hell is anyone else to demand it?
I dislike the way we interfaith couples are being burdened with the duty of presenting the perfect marriage. We’re as good, bad, mature or immature as any other couple. The only difference being, we chose our own partners. We don’t wait for our parents to label our partners halal for coitus, kosher for reproduction. So yes, these marriages are as likely to work or not, and there will always be a partner who will pressurise you into converting or giving dowry. And there will always be one who will not.
When we ask why young people in love convert, we forget that young people in love will do anything, just to be with each other. There’s a sweetness to that and a sadness too. We forget that marriages, even arranged ones, are fraught with blackmail, bullying, patriarchy and much other toxicity. The nature of the beast is such, that no matter how you begin, you often encounter the same challenges.
Who we marry, what we do, why we convert, what we bring to the marriage, where we give in, what we demand, and how we engage with each other, is personal. It is no one else’s business. It is a sorry day indeed, when we have to go on national television, smile for the camera and put on display our intact marriages, our happily-ever-afters. We might, or we might not be happy. But it’s getting tiring to have to bear witness, or speak for a cause.
We’re not a cause. We’re just regular people who were getting on with our lives until your hatred and bitterness seeped into our lives and put us in the spotlight, forcing us to speak up.
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