By Nikita Ahya:
“It’s a Baby Girl!”
These enchanting five words by the doctor put into my parents a perennial wish to get me married off with all gaiety as soon as they could. The web of imaginative constructs kept getting stronger with the passage of time as they saw me turn into a nubile would-be bride jettisoning my presence in the shaadi (marriage) market.
Today, at 27, I feel that it is a crime to be an unmarried woman at as it has ruthlessly shattered the dream of my marriage that my parents so dearly clung on. Their connect with others who hypocritically try to keep pace with the changing norms of society lead to a disconnect with me.
All of this social stigma is just an additional burden on the matured, meaningful existence of a self-made girl like me. To add to it, I have an additional garnishing in my life of friends who are married, with child and planning for the next. For me, the first rule of disaster management is just scrolling up faster when I see updates from their adventurous venture on some packaged honeymoon tour, not to speak of their selfies with babies and experience of motherhood. This entire ordeal when I am trying to steer my career to the desired destination is a sad celebration of my age. (I am now afraid of my birthdays; the cause is different, this time it’s for the increasing age and not pending bills)
The seemingly polite and diabetic aunties have their suggestion box unasked, yet open, whenever I bump into them.
“Why don’t you lose little weight?” My features are almost perfect, yet they get dull by the flab. Thin is in. Lean is better. All this is spoken by notoriously fat, overtly accessorized ladies, and it irks me.
The whole family circle sees my family with utmost sympathy as if we are going to miss a Government bailing package. The advice ranges from preferred astrologers to wearing some stones (none of them are cheap!), to some religious rites as and when told, not to forget the age-old renunciation by keeping a fast. My married colleagues talk about their bed-time experiences in the worst of expressions and auditory notes. I know it’s plain hoodwinking. The tragedy is that there is no bridge between unbridled girlhood and standardized womanhood except the institution of marriage.
The prophecy about an alleged affair that shall not get accepted gets a green signal at the sign of my grey hair. My parents are almost ready for any kind of groom now. My career has taken a backseat, and settling down connotes the inevitability of a union through marriage. My parents keep getting worried about having to cut a sorry figure in the smartly fashioned society. Besides, they always want to prove that their upbringing is correct. The poor me who has lived a quarter of her life already considers her existence as a burden. Occasional outbursts by parents are common.
To market this human sentiment, the online making of marriages, which was once the duty of heaven is just a click away. Match-making is a profession for some, habit for a few and hobby for all. The Indian mind is hard-wired into such magnetic arenas of employment with professional accuracy and street diplomacy.
In the marriages I attend (if I can’t escape attending them), my mother sees a prospective partner and the salaries and families more than the food or the couple. At the marriage, I am not even allowed to wear my favourite, best outfit because that’s well-buffered for the trousseau. I am supposed to engineer my lifestyle for those hours as appealing to anyone who could plainly consider me as addition to their family. Name same, titles changed.
In this drama, I am lost. No one ever asks me about what keeps me happy. I have earned independence from economic unleashing; let me not get divorced from my dear freedom. Grow up adults! My willingness not to marry is sufficient reason.