A writing prompt I once found on WordPress was this – “conundrum“.
As soon as I read it, nothing came to mind, the reason being that I did not know its meaning. There, I said it. My vocabulary is not so good. Ok, so coming back to the topic, after I read the meaning in the dictionary – a confusing and difficult problem or question, the first thing that came to mind is – Indian girls.
We Indian girls face this conundrum no sooner we put one foot, and then another, across the imaginary border of 18 years of age : Beta, when will you get married?
This question comes sometimes from the parents (yes, even in the 21st century, some Indian parents are backward in their thinking and want to get their daughters married off as soon as they are of legal age, and in some bizarre cases, even before that!). But mostly, it comes from the notorious gang of nosy-neighbourhood-aunties-who-have-a-habit-of-sticking-their-noses-in-other-people’s-business.
Yes, they are more interested about when your groom will mount the proverbial white horse and take you to his abode. Irrespective of the fact that the girl’s parents are not worried, and the girl’s boyfriend (if she has one) and maybe even his parents (if they are aware of their relationship) are least bothered about it.
So, how do we answer it? It is certainly a paradoxical question, because marriage is not the ultimate goal. Moreover, some girls (like me) may have numerous inhibitions and expectations from the M-word. The memories of having seen one’s mother suffer the brutal words of her mother-in-law remains etched, and gets revoked upon hearing the question. Even the daily soaps contribute generously to these fears. Hardly do we ever see a mega serial in India where the saas loves her bahu. And even if she does, it might be because she hates her daughter. (This last one holds true for even American shows – remember Monica’s mom in Friends? She loved Rachel but hated Monica)
But, even otherwise, don’t, and aren’t girls supposed to have their own dreams and aspirations? Some might be the only child to ageing parents, or some might have other such constraints, where they have to be, literally, the SON to their parents. Some might even answer in the negative to the question lurking ahead of them – the simple reason being that she has been so traumatised by the events happening around her that she wants to live independent of a MAN. Or, she might want to tie the knot when she is confident that she has fulfilled her dreams, and when she finds a man who will hold her hand, and not lead her, throughout her life.
The bottom-line is, is anyone else other than a girl supposed to be bothered about her marriage plans? Should the society decide which is the right age for her to get married? Shouldn’t she become financially independent at least before she shares her life with another human being? This is the conundrum, my friends, faced by girls all over India (and maybe in other countries too).
What is the answer to it?
[Disclaimer : Based on real incidents and questions faced by the writer, Aishwarya Kannan, as soon as she turned 18, from her prying neighbour aunties and some irritating relatives.]