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Modern Family: With Tanzila

Posted: June 18, 2012

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This month’s brand-new 15 minute episode of the Modern Family podcast features Tanzila, who recently married for love against the wishes of both families.

“Love… bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails,” says the Bible. It’s a wonderful sentiment to aspire to, and like all aspirations, considerably hard to achieve.

An entire generation of Indians, mostly urban and educated, are now choosing their own life partners. Girls are paying for their own weddings to boys they met at work or college. From arranged marriages and love marriages, Indians are now talking of “arranged love marriages”. Even Bollywood, that dependable indicator of popular attitudes, has retreated into Reasonable India, where inter-faith / inter-caste / inter-regional marriages are no longer taboo or even all that unusual. Only barbarians and bigots stand opposed to love in this India wherein Aamir Khan proclaims its sanctity on national television.

But reality, as we have learned over the course of this series, can be much more complicated and confusing, not to mention more interesting. When I began this conversation with Tanzila, for instance, I was looking at a young woman who’d married outside her faith, against the wishes of both families, and was now living with her in-laws. As a citizen of Reasonable India, I never imagined that her weight would be the primary problem in her relationship with her in-laws. Nor did I think of her mother-in-law’s motivations until Tanzila brought it up.

This frank and unexpectedly intimate chat is perhaps the best conclusion to the Modern Family podcast because it reminds us that human relationships chart their own course against our expectations. People are seldom the simple caricatures we see on paper, they’re the complicated result of their environment and expectations.

As Dr. Philip pointed out in an earlier episode, the old ways are crumbling and with them we lose the clearcut blueprints for marriage that our elders relied upon. We’re pioneers, each and every one of us. And our successes appear to divide us from our more traditional, more rural cousins. It is with a conflicted identity that we look toward the future.

Let us hope, then, that Love never fails.

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