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When I was to be arranged in a marriage, my sheer work profile would scare off any prospective suitors. I remember my mother telling me that someone saw my profile, but they felt I was too fast and had seen quite much for my age!
Off late, I have been thinking of the price of my choices in life. The age-old saying that every choice costs something, either a penny more or a blow to your image or a lessening of your circle. Something always weighs in when you make a choice that is defying the herd.
I, for one, have always lived in a herd and also had friends in a herd, but ever since I was a child I had this streak of being the different one amongst the group.
I remember when I was in grade 5, although living with a joint family system in India there were many things one had to share, I was adamant about a study desk and a study corner. Of all the material desires any young pre-teen would have, I longed for some stability during my studies.
And my parents arranged for the same, I still remember my excitement of having something that was mine, and I didn’t have to share. But it came at a cost of being so different from my family, instead of asking for a fancy wardrobe or a bed I asked for something that labelled me the Nerd of the family.
There would be many days I would silently sit at my desk and have small tears come out as I would make my timetable, because of a comment someone said earlier that day. But that didn’t stop me at all, I enjoyed studying and till the time I was in academics I was always much above average and yes the first in my family to get the grades that I did in some very tough subjects.
Fast-forward to a few years into my early twenties, my life was already decided by my parents, but little did they or I know that my choices would again lead me down a different path. Taking jobs in very exciting profiles that required me to travel to unknown places within and outside India, the wealth of knowledge that I gathered, and the independence that I saw completely changed the course of my life.
That was the age when I was to be arranged in a marriage, but my sheer work profile would scare off any prospective suitors. I remember my mother telling me that so-and-so saw my profile, but they feel I am too fast and had seen quite much for my age.
And I would wonder, so is that a bad thing?
To be good at what you do and also get a chance to build your character and life skills set?
Even now that I am married to a progressive man, leading my independent life with choices we both make for the betterment of our lives. I still have to face labelling from people. In Indian society, there is very less place for a woman who wants to be an equal in her marriage, and who wants to prioritize mental peace over age-old traditions.
Here if you see a woman wanting to work, live separately from her family, and make bold choices for her life. There is bound to be a label.
Honestly, living in a borderless world, I see so many cultures through different mediums and I have realized one thing. In every culture, there is an expectation. But that expectation costs individuals quite a lot. It is up to every person to choose not to follow something just because they are forced to.
Of course, being called a nerd, ultra-fast and headstrong for my choices were labels that hurt me, but at the end of the day I have to live with my choices and if I can go to sleep each night at peace with my day.
Well, then being at peace is a label worth fighting for.
Image source: sinseehophotos, free and edited on CanvaPro
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It is easy to give in to patriarchal expectations from a married woman and lose your self in a marriage, but the path to happiness is in keeping your independence.
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Although both men and women may face this situation, women are generally expected to give up everything once they get married. Despite progress in several areas, expecting women to abandon their interests, passions, and friendships to align their lives with those of their spouses is still considered the norm.
The rising numbers of single women choosing this life shout out clear and loud that patriarchy and sexism will no longer break or chain us.
Another book on singlehood? It seems to be the season for books on the joys and freedom of being single. But Demystifying and Dignifying Singlehood: Life Journeys of Single Women Across the Globe by Uma Jain is different. The book does not glorify or glamourise the lives of single women in any way. These are real stories – with the good, the bad and the ugly, all there.
The book tells the stories of 15 single women across the world. A feeling of deep understanding and empathy fills you as you read the book and understand the challenges faced by the women who are single – by choice or chance. Some of the women chose to be single because they faced discrimination and even abuse as girl children. Some others had abusive marriages and sought divorce.
The tag line ‘Crafting pathways on rough terrains’ on the cover page is enough to tell you that this is a serious take on the issue of singlehood. If it focuses more on the rough than the smooth, that has been the reality for the 15 women.
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